Saturday, 1 January 2011

More thoughts on Langkawi

We're in resort territory now.

Hundreds of hotels, from plush waterfront 4stars to smaller bungalow complexes. Restaurants offering every international food you could desire (artichoke and mushroom pizza, anyone? Or would you prefer the Turkish meze platter?). Duty free shopping and alcohol. Beachfront bars with £2 iced coffees. This ain't Asia anymore....

And yet....

Despite the heavy westernisation of the main strip along Pantai Cenang, and despite the prices for food and drink that are creeping seriously close to western prices, Asia is still here if you look for it.

There's something very Asian to my mind about an aquarium that ends, not in the Western-standard giftshop, but in a fish restaurant.

Visit the rice garden, and the friendly guides will teach you traditional Malay games, feed you rice cookies and coconut water.

Finally, get on a bicycle or take a taxi out from the developed areas. You'll find herds of water buffalo contentedly grazing along the roadside, calves trotting alongside their mothers.

Sit still on a deserted stretch of sand for five minutes, and you'll start to notice the dragonflies. Giant, jewel-toned beasties: first a few will flit past you, then a few more. Soon you'll see great clouds of them, hundreds of them, darting past your outstretched arms like schools of tropical fish, emerald green, lapus lazuli and crimson.

Three minutes up the road you'll pass another newly-built luxury resort.

I can understand why people like Langkawi. I like Langkawi.

I just hope we're not liking it to death.

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