Dec . 9, 2012: Our first morning rather noon (since none of us could make before 12) after a happening long journey was a sunny Sunday. As we came out, splendid green landscapes mesmerized us. Fresh and jovial with a good night sleep, we were all set to appreciate the abstract sculptures aesthetically erected just opposite to our home stay. It was later learned that they are related to the myths that surround magically beautiful Lungkawi Island.
Langkawi is traditionally thought to be cursed. According to “the Legend of Mashuri dated back to around 200 years, an innocent woman Mashuri was executed at the false charges of adultery by the then Langkawi village Headman. While taking her last breath, she laid a curse on Langkawi that it shall not prosper for seven generations. Thus the island experienced a period of tribulation after that prompting the native people to believe in Mashuri’s curse.” Like other beautiful places in the world, Langkawi is surrounded by several myths and legends. We were handed over a location map that highlighted at least seven Legends of Lungkawi identifying seven tourists’ spots worth visiting.
Literally, the word “Langkawi means reddish brown eagle in colloquial Malay. It was given the title of “Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah” in 2008 by Kedah’s Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border. Lungkawi is a duty-free island. The coastal areas consist of flat, alluvial plains punctuated with limestone ridges. Two-thirds of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, hills and natural vegetation.”
We decided to avail most of the pre-conference stay to see the trail of legends and started our journey with the Eagle Square, closest to stay after treating ourselves with a typical Malaya Buffet. The menu offered variety of fishes, chicken and mutton curries, cooked with lots of local spices, veggies and plain white rice. It’s a challenge for travelers to sync their taste buds with native delicacies of any visiting place, however, we thoroughly enjoyed our first Malaya meal with Cappuccino.
By the time we reached Eagle Square, it was already late evening and the place was fully illuminated with colorfully-decorated baradaries that housed shops and cafeteria, a tall fountain, lake and a big reddish brown eagle—the trademark of Langkawi.
A local showman with a big cobra on his shoulder and around his neck offered tourists to take shots with his pet at just 10 Ringgits . Two of our group members dared the offer while the rest kept busy in capturing the moments. Before we realized, rain started and by the time we rushed to the nearby shades we were all drenched from top to toe.
During our stay in Malaysia, it was raining almost every day — a part and parcel of Malaysian lifestyle that doesn’t hinder any activity in the tropical island. It was raining cats and dogs while we were having a heated debate about the conference prospects, our hosts, Island hoping etc., We decided to visit the venue of the conference Meritus Pelangi as soon as the rain stopped . On our way to our coaster, I spotted pools of drainage and rain water on the roads, something that reminded me my homeland.
It was already dark and the hotel seemed farther than we expected since we had to follow a deserted route. As we entered the entrance of the hotel, I traced a board that read “Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa … a luxurious five-star hotel inspired by a Malaysian traditional village concept. It was situated along a kilometer stretch of white sandy beaches of Lungkawi. Covering an area of 35 acres on a beachfront location, the Resort offers a relaxing atmosphere amidst lush tropical environment and landscaped gardens.”
What made the visit more worthy was our meeting with Professor Shanta, a Sri-Lankan descent academician and professor from a known IT university in Canada. He was a congenial and humble person with a magical smile who came to chair the ELLTA conference.
It was the first time, I happened to be at the Langkawi beach lying beside Meritus Pelangi . The sea was silent in complete darkness though we could trace the waves in the reflection of lights coming from the beach and hotel. We took a long walk on the beach and reflected on several sensitive issues from turmoil in Pakistan to the remarkable progress of Malaysia. Finally, we returned to our place by midnight and went to bed with planning for another adventurous day ahead.
Dec. 10, 2012 Monday had an early start since we decided to explore some more attractions in Lungkawi .
After collecting a location map and taking local currency from the airport, we headed towards the key route to the Mount Mat Chinchang and happened to dash a jetty, Oriental Village and Cable Car Spot before we finally reached the Seven Wells Waterfall.
As per the guide “Seven Wells Waterfall is located in Burau Bay, about 45 km from Kuah, has fresh water streams cascading down 90 m through seven natural pools. The first fall was around a 15 minute walk into the forest via a clear but steep track. Rest of the Natural pools was right up to the top and can be accessed via a walk up 638 steps on slippery and even steeper rocks.”
First we stopped by and took pictures at Jetty, then we hopped around the tastefully constructed Oriental Village that housed a museum, variety of shops, traditional rides and most importantly Cable Car. Cable Car ride takes tourists to the mountain peak which is over 800 m above sea level and gives a spectacular view of the Andaman Sea and Thailand’s Tarutao Island. It was also a great spot for Trekking.
One of the best drinks in Malaysia is coconut water. After refreshing ourselves with coconut treat, we were all ready to take our way up to the waterfalls amidst a crowd of toursits, monkeys and the wild life. The track to seven waterfalls was an amazing combination of natural beauty and human efforts. Malaysian Tourism Industry did a great job to facilitate visitors without compromising its natural beauty.
We were out of breath while reached the first fall, however, the mountain breeze and crystal clear water rejuvenated us to climb up some more rocks. Sitting there, one can’t think of anything but the majesty of Nature and artistry of Creature. The place was full of life…children playing in water, youngsters swimming. sitting, lying and posing on the rocks to behold the beauty of the moment, they were all enjoying themselves.
On my way back, I was both happy and sad… happy that God gives me an opportunity to experience His blessings and Sad about the fate of my ownnow gifted homeland, Pakistan and its beautiful valleys of Swat, Gilgit, Baltistan, Kaghan and Naran, which are equally blessed but remain underdeveloped first due to lack of will and under the threat of terrorism.
In the evening, we formally met the team of University Utara Malaysia– ELLTA Conference Organizers and Host. The evening got colder after showers of rain and the dinner was a treat at the Meritus Pelangi that warmed us up for the Conference Proceedings during the following two days.