Monday, 9 April 2012

Langkawi Day 1 The Arrival April 9th 2012

Wait for me!

The Northern most Island on the Malaysian Western seaboard, about a hours boat ride from Phuket, further north into Thailand. Its a place I was in two minds about going to, but then came along the Air Asia seat sale with a bargain £10 seat and my mind was made up!

Flight is at 1.15 pm, and it's the 401E bus that stops at the airport terminal. Last meal at Jaya then, and off to pack, although I didn't really unpack that much. The 401E is not as frequent as the other buses it's a good idea to leave an hour buffer zone, just incase it all go's pear-shaped. I can either hike to the dock, or to KOMTAR to get the bus, it's equal distance from Banana. KOMTAR it is then, and here I am on the move once again - 2 heavy backpacks in 32 deg c heat, but looking forward to a new destination.

It's a small Airport, just a few check-in desks, not that many people around. The Air Asia desk is just a bag drop since I have already checked in on-line and had the boarding pass printed. No queues anywhere, straight through the security check, not even a beep, no frisking. Renovations everywhere - extensions and improvements according the apologetic notices. Perhaps a few more check-in desks. Only about half a dozen gates,  and parking for probably around 7-8 aircraft, how they squeeze a jumbo jet into here must be something worth seeing! Air-side cuisine though leaves a lot to be desired. The coffee is premixed vended stuff, and eating is a choice of crisps, a cookie or flavoured bread! For about £2.50 I risked the coffee and took a chance on the cheese flavoured bread - I didn't feel well for the next hour, nothing serious, just not all in metabolic agreement.

On Board the plane at last, 10 minutes late, but soon roaring down the runway. A good view of Georgetown as the aircraft climbs and banks left. An entirely new perspective and most strikingly its clear to see the extent of Penang's  pollution. About 6 minutes climbing, another 6 minutes straight and level and 10 minutes descending. No time for anything like snacks or drinks, hardly even time to go to the loo! Getting close to the sea, no sign of any pollution. Yachts, Mountains then the runway as the plane touches down. Another small airport, even less room to fit a jumbo jet. Nicely laid out though, flanked by hills and mountains to the north and east and beach to the west and south.

In the baggage hall, waiting. A host of tourist information is available to read whilst those bags are en-route to the belt, hopefully! First thing of note, no public transport. Anyone going anywhere has to take a taxi, and looking at the free map, could cost plenty if all the attractions are to be visited. Thankfully, most people are heading for the beach at the village of Cenang and sharing a taxi is surprisingly easy - 9 RM each to the village then, about £1.85. The main town is some distance away, so without public transport it's going to be the beach for the next 3 days.

A tip from a Dutch tourist - head for the Gecko Guesthouse as a starting point, the taxi driver knows where that is, about 10 minutes South. Research beforehand suggests Langkawi can be an expensive place to stay so with Gecko being the only decent budget place on the island, it's very likely to be full - and it is!

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