Langkawi (Part 2)

This article is the second part of my 2016 Langkawi Trip series. Click here for the first, third and fourth parts.

My second morning in Langkawi begins at New Water Garden Hawker Centre Langkawi (新水乡小贩中心). Unlike Wonderland Food Store, this is a place that is frequented by locals.
This hawker center in Kuah has around 10 stalls. Food served here includes Char Kuey Teow (炒粿条) and Kuey Teow Soup (粿条汤).
After breakfast, my next destination is Kota Mahsuri, a historical attraction at the south-central part of Langkawi Island. This place is also the site of Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri's Tomb). The ticketing counter is open from 8:30am to 6:00pm. Admission ticket is RM12.00 for adult.
Langkawi's history revolves around the legend of Mahsuri, a maiden who was wrongly accused of adultery and subsequently executed in 1819. In her dying breath, she laid a curse on the island, vowing that there would be seven generations of calamity. Factually speaking, the Kingdom of Siam (predecessor of Thailand) did invade Langkawi in 1821, causing widespread hardship to the local populace.
Telaga Mahsuri (Mahsuri Well) is a well which Mahsuri reportedly used to bathe and wash her clothing. It is believed that this magical well bestowed her with beauty.
The historical complex also houses several life-size Malay houses. Most of these traditional houses are built on stilts due to frequent flooding during monsoon season. It is interesting to note that these wooden houses were assembled without using any nails, but only with wooden pegs. It is amazing that the carpentry is so precise.
The residence of the penghulu kampung (village headman) is usually the largest in the village. In pre-modern Malay communities, the headman serves as the arbiter of disputes. Therefore, his house is also a public place for fellow villagers to congregate.
There are also several interpretive displays of traditional Malay culture. For example, congkak is a game between two players. The game involves a wooden "boat" with sixteen cup-shape holes, as well as seeds or shells as game pieces.
There is also an oversized display of lembing (spear), a traditional weapon of war before the advent of European colonial powers.
Further back, there is also a cage of fowls. I believe that free-range livestock is the norm during those days.
All in all, Kota Mahsuri is a decent place to visit if you are interested in Malay history. Depending on how detailed you want to go, you will most probably spend an hour or two here.
Moving on to Padang Matsirat, the main attraction in this town is Beras Terbakar (Burnt Rice). Conveniently, there is large parking lot nearby. Visitors have to walk pass a handicraft bazaar to reach the attraction itself.
This is one of the places where massive burning of rice occurred. The site is inside the compound of a private house. During daytime, the gate is left open and visitors are allowed to enter as long as they do not disturb the inhabitants.
During the Siamese invasion following Mahsuri's death, the local militia adopted the scorched-earth policy in the face of overwhelming opposition. To prevent the Siamese army from gaining a foothold on the island, they destroyed most of their rice stockpile. Nevertheless, Siam still successfully captured Langkawi in the following year.
My next stop is Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells) near Oriental Village. There is a parking lot at the foothill where a parking attendant collects RM2.00 per vehicle.
The uphill trail consists of 638 steps in total. Depending on your stamina, it takes between 30 minutes to an hour to reach the upper falls. Be advised that this trail is moderately strenuous, so go slowly and take regular breaks if you are exhausted.
At the halfway point, there is an offshoot which directs hikers to the lower falls. A stream flows over the vertical cliff and cascades down several large boulders, providing a place for hikers to soak their feet in the chilling water. The rocks in this area can be slippery, so use caution especially on wet surfaces.
The trail ends at the top of the upper falls. Telaga Tujuh refers to the 7 ambiguously-counted pools just above the upper falls. According to local folklore, fairies frequently descend from the heavens to bathe in refreshing water.
Strictly speaking, the end of the trail does not provide direct view of the upper falls itself. As a result, it is hazardous to wander too close to the edge. Nevertheless, this danger does not deter a local troupe of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). The macaques are generally harmless but it is wise to keep a distance from these wild animals.
Apart from several gazebos, there is also a half "bridge" which extends across the river near the edge of the upper falls.
This suspension bridge provides excellent view of Gunung Mat Chincang (Mount Machinchang), the second tallest mountain in Langkawi. Visitors can also see cable cars traveling between Oriental Village and the summit.
At the far end of the half-bridge is a transparent glass panel as the floor. This is a good place to check your fear of heights before heading to the Langkawi Sky Bridge near the summit of Gunung Mat Chincang.
The downhill hike is much more relaxing. On the way to the parking lot, there are several stalls selling food and other trinkets. After an exhausting hike, reward yourself with nourishing coconut water for RM5.00.
A short drive from Oriental Village leads to Perdana Quay. There are several yachts docked here. A row of Mediterranean-style buildings overlooks this marina on a lagoon.
There are several upscale restaurants, bars and boutique shops at Perdana Quay. Most restaurants also offer al fresco dining on the boardwalk. This is not a bad idea considering the scenic view in the evening.
Mare Blu Kafé is one such restaurant here. Although Perdana Quay obviously is tourist trap, it is possible to have a meal at Mare Blu within a budget of RM20.00.
Taman Buaya Langkawi (Crocodile Adventureland) is an attraction on the way to Pasir Tengkorak. The park is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Admission fee is RM18.00 per adult. Besides being a ticketed zoo, the place is also a crocodile farm where crocodiles are bred for their leather.
Taman Buaya Langkawi showcases several species of crocodiles, alligators and gharials. According to the attraction's brochure, there are over 1,000 individual crocodiles in this park. Many crocodiles are hidden from view because they conceal themselves in muddy water.
Crocodiles are cold-blooded reptiles. Although they are not as active as warm-blooded mammals, crocodiles are usually apex predators in their habitat. To conserve energy, crocodiles prefer to ambush prey by remaining motionless until the victim gets too close.
Crocodilian species bred in Taman Buaya Langkawi include saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), New Guinea crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae) and Malayan gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii).
Since crocodiles usually remain motionless for hours, the park schedules several feeding sessions so that visitors can see these majestic creatures in action. Crocodiles are fed whole chicken, which they seem to swallow in a single chomp. If needed, crocodiles are also able to lunge out of the water to catch unsuspecting prey overhead.
Taman Buaya Langkawi also schedules several shows where park rangers demonstrate how they "tame" the crocodiles. In one act, a ranger extends his arm into the crocodile's open mouth for several seconds. Visitors will need to spend 2 or 3 hours in order to watch all performances.
Juvenile crocodiles are kept separately from adults as crocodiles are known to be cannibalistic. The park also raises several "handicapped" crocodiles - a hunchback individual as well as a tailless one. These crocodiles are the result of genetic mutation and will not survive in the wild.
Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (Sandy Skull Beach) is one of the less-traveled beaches of Langkawi due to its relative remoteness. The sand here is cleaner but is still far from being ideal. This beach is a good place to catch the sunset view.
For centuries, the Malacca Straits (Selat Melaka) has gained notoriety for being as a piracy haven. Pirates in this region often target merchant ships that travel along the lucrative spice trade route. According to rumors, captives were often forced to walk the plank. After drowning, their bones and skulls are sometimes washed ashore here, giving this beach an eerie-sounding name.
Around 5 kilometers north of Langkawi is Ko Tarutao (เกาะตะรุเตา), an island under Thai administration. Formerly a penal colony, Ko Tarutao is one of the most pristine islands in the Andaman Sea. The island is also part of the Tarutao National Park.
Long-tailed macaques are present throughout Langkawi, but their presence is particularly prominent at Pantai Pasir Tengkorak. Accustomed to humans, these macaques have developed boldness in approaching visitors. It is advisable to keep a safe distance from them.
A short hike up the adjacent hill provides an alternative path back to the parking lot. Along the way, check out the interpretive panels on the rocks.
Today's sightseeing adventure ends as soon as the sun sets. Langkawi Eatery in Kuah is where I have dinner. This restaurant claims to serve 5-star nasi lemak at an affordable price.
Click here for the third part of this article.

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