Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A sea change........an unplanned anchorage in Langkawi



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.

During the onshore 'highlights' excursion, which I have to say all went smoothly despite our unexpected arrival, we were taken around the island with a stop here..............

 .........Laman Padi, the Rice Garden.........

.....an eco-tourism attraction where we viewed all aspects of rice cultivation.


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.......

 .....snake charming - Kim and Rob seemed calm as Bob and I quickly made our departure from the scene!  Note the one around his neck is the small one - the big daddy is resting quietly in the background!


.....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.


Looking back down we could just make out Queen Elizabeth (in the center of the photo) peacefully anchored among the beautiful islands.


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!



13 comments:

  1. We've not yet been to Malaysia but it is definitely on our list of places to visit. It is great that they allowed entry to all of you when Thailand wouldn't. They've certainly had their troubles of late. Best wishes, Tammy

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  2. Beautiful pictures as always, Mary! And as always, a very educational and interesting post! Love your travels!

    XO,
    Jane

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  3. Beautiful photos. I especially like the first one with the pinky-blue-gray sky. And I scrolled VERY quickly over the snake one.

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  4. It sounds like you had the best sort of day anyway!

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  5. It is soooo beautiful there. Your pictures are amazing, Mary. I would have run the other way from those snakes too....lol.

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  6. I could almost feel the relief from the heat when I saw your photo at the top of the mountain. It all looks magical.

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  7. So frightening! But I have to say, getting to see the rice paddys had to be a treat. I love the waterlilies! You took some gorgeous pictures. I bet you were happy though to leave when you did!

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  8. Glad you are safe. What a beautiful part of the world you have chosen to visit. I am going back to read more of your trip.

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  9. My husband and I stayed in Langkawi for a few days once. Not much to do there-we hardly left the pool. I was disappointed in Malaysia which has absolutely no interesting architecture due to Muslim beliefs. The only interesting things we saw were done by immigrant Chinese and Indians.

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  10. I so enjoyed reading all this post. I have never wanted to take a cruise, but like I said i have enjoyed seeing what all you do on a cruise
    very interesting and brave of you, I have friends who just returned from a cruise and they loved it

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  11. Lovely pictures again. Yes, Cunard almost certainly subscribes to at least one corporate travel advisory service, whose warnings are often well ahead of our daily newspapers. Most big corporations with international travel involved use them.

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  12. What amazing adventures! And how lovely for you to make this unexpected stop. The gondola ride reminds me of the one we took in Taiwan. It was so peaceful and beautiful to climb the mountain and oh yes, the cooler air was truly a delight. I remember that heat so well.

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  13. What a fantastic surprise and adventure!

    Sft x

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