Our next scheduled port of call was one many people were really excited about, Phuket, Thailand. Having recently visited Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I too was looking forward to seeing southern Thailand's famous beach area.
Our Captain's announcement came as a complete surprise the afternoon prior to the scheduled arrival. We were unable to dock in Thailand due to immigration problems. The Thai government had, without warning, decided they required a one on one, face to face, passport clearance for all 2000 passengers and 1000 crew! Obviously this was impossible as it would take at least 5 hours of the one day there, and planned shore excursions would be held up. We felt sorry for the Thai people expecting us, anxious to make money by transporting, feeding, selling their wares to us etc.
So we sailed on.................leaving beautiful Thailand in our wake and heading instead for the Malaysian island of Langkawi. This interesting mountainous island is just 203 square miles in size and was used as the film location for Anna and the King (1999) starring Jodi Foster. Thailand refused permission to allow filming.
Lacking a berth (dock was taken by a Costa cruise ship), we anchored off Langkawi and were taken ashore by QE tenders.
QE at anchor in background.
.........Laman Padi, the Rice Garden.........
The most interesting and exciting stop, after a 45 minute wait in line in sweltering heat - but fortunately under cover out of the sun - was riding the Langkawi Cable Car to the top of Gunung Machinchang (2,323 ft.) the second highest mountain on the island.
Leaving Oriental Village situated around a lake - complete with gift shops.....
.......colorful clothes for the heat.......
.....hookah smoking, which has to be unhealthy surely.....
........and fish feeding, perhaps a new pastime for those of us not actually into fishing!
The very steep and exhilarating 1-1/4 mile ride over the rain forest took 15 minutes with views of splendid waterfalls, neighboring islands, and southern Thailand.
Kim and I were just thankful to rest a little while after the long, hot wait for our ascent.......but agreed it was worth it to enjoy the gorgeous view and cooler air at the summit.
So, unexpected as it was, and disappointing that Thailand didn't seem to want us, Langkawi was a fun stop and another place I've had the fortune to visit.
In closing, have to say that perhaps southern Thailand would not have been a good place to be as there were several bombings a couple of days later........we feel now that QE was perhaps advised of the unrest in the area and felt it best to sail on to peace and beauty!