Feeling let down that we hadn’t gotten to enjoy the beaches in Thailand because of all the rain, we looked for a good beach in Malaysia, and found it! Langkawi is located in northwest Malaysia, and Pantai Cenang was the perfect choice, with soft white sand beaches, an array of restaurants and shops, and a relaxed, slow paced atmosphere. We enjoyed wading in the water, watching hermit crabs busily at work, basking in the sun, and strolling on the beach. Langkawi is less than 800 miles from the Equator and blessed with year-round warm temperatures, warm waters and lots of rain. We experienced all of that in our short time there. Langkawi has 99 islands at high tide and 104 at low tide.
Centuries ago, mainland storytellers made a living from spinning wondrous, spectacular tales of folklore, history, and myths. At that time, Langkawi was inaccessible to most people so tales of these mysterious islands developed into legends.
Best known is the story of Princess Mahsuri who lived in Langkawi in the 14th century. Mahsuri placed a curse on the islands upon the wrongful accusation that she had committed adultery while betrothed to the Sultan of Kedah. When a soldier pierced a dagger into her, and white fluid flowed instead of blood, it was viewed as a sign of her innocence. A white mist that suddenly enveloped the spot of her execution was believed to be an illustration of mourning over her undeserved punishment. Before she was killed, Mahsuri cursed Langkawi for the act of injustice. She condemned the island to seven generations of hardship, and it remained just that – a land of isolation and misfortune. The
Langkawi has 238 species of birds and 354 recorded species of butterflies. Reptiles, including the monitor lizard, and birds on the island can grow up to 20% larger than on the mainland. Three whale species visit the island, whale sharks, four species of dolphins, and sea otters can also be spotted. The unusual flying lemur calls Langkawi home and the island is also the habitat of squirrels, the dusky-leaf monkey and the long-tailed macaque.
An interesting phenomenon that has occurred over thousands of years is that the plants have developed a communication with each other, scheduling non-conflicting flowering periods so that they all have the opportunity to be fertilized and propagated by the birds, bees and the wind.