February 17, 2016
 

A stroll through the pristine beaches of Langkawi Island, the rustic beauty of Kedah and the amazing graffiti of Penang make a heady cocktail of unique experiences.

Tourism Malaysia organized a mega familiarization programme for 152 international media and travel agents from 17 countries highlighting destinations like Kedah, Langkawi and Penang from 9th Nov to 15th Nov 2015. Malaysia offers you an array of attractions in terms of culture, history, gastronomy and water sports. One needs to take a longer vacation of a month for island hopping, experiencing life in homestays and loads of shopping for all.

Our trip started with us boarding over the next flight on the Malindo Air from KLIA Airport to Alor Setar Airport which was an hour journey. On our drive to Bujang Village,Merbok we noticed the number of trees. We started our tour to Semeling Jetty complex wearing our lifejackets for a lovely boat cruise across the Merbok River that gave us the spectacular view of the long stretch of magnificent mangrove trees and motor boats. As we entered the village we were astonished to see the ladies wearing the paddy hat made of straw or bamboo planting in the field. The ladies generally sit back in the hut around the paddy field to husk the paddy. The homestays in this village offers well furnished rooms and facilities. The huge traditional wooden drum or Gendang Raya placed on a long wooden stand at the entrance of a house is generally used to call people for prayers, meetings, festivals or alert of a danger, also houses an exhibition of traditional baskets for various purposes. People were friendly and eager to spend time which was a once in a lifetime experience for all of us.
We were excited to explore the village on bikes to the honey harvesting area Trigona Stingless Bee Honey &Propolis-Madu Lebah Kelulut, although we could see bees in the box we still got to sample fresh honey with a straw from the small holes. Homestays are a natural way of experiencing life in a village and encourages every tourist to be part of activities like paddy planting, honey harvesting and boat cruise, we stayed over at the Grand Alora Hotel.

The next day we decided to explore Alor Setar, as you step into the town you can see the stunning view of Zahir Mosque. We begin our tour to Sungai Petani as we passed by a white building the Galeri Sultan Abdul Halim, the Menara Alor Setar or Alor Setar Tower has an observation deck offering you amazing scenic views and a wonderful garden, the Royal Palace Museum,the Balai Nobat a three tiered tower with an onion shaped dome that houses antiques. The Zahir Mosque a beautiful mosque with its grey domes, white building, the lovely white arch , the white interiors are very artistically done and the beautiful chandeliers. We also got a different view of the bustling town after a drizzle.The Sungai Petani is an attractive town with the amazing views of the Masjid Zahir amidst the street and the well-designed lamp posts.

After that we headed to the Sungai Batu Civilization Complex that highlighted the excavations of artifacts like beads, iron objects and the fallen brick structures. We were thrilled as we entered the Tree Top Walk in Sungai Sedim, for a breathtaking canopy walk where you could see the lush green forest and the streams gushing over the forest. The narrow lane towards the tree top is an interesting stroll. You can take two routes for the walk which is about 5 to 6 hours or an hour the shortest route in a group of 8 to 9 or alone on the steel canopy. You can get a spectacular view of the Sedim River and indulge in activities like whitewater rafting, jungle trekking, flying fox and abseiling. For a great experience you can stay over in chalets and dormitories. Some of the delicacies of Kedah are Luksa Kusla Kedah a dish with rice noodles and aromatic fish gravy, Nasi Kandar a dish of rice with mixed curry. Kedah is a state known for its royal heritage, history, natural beauty and paddy fields.

Our voyage turns out to be interesting as we entered Penang, we were enthralled to step into George Town, with our first stop over at the St. George Church, the oldest church that has four pillars and a black clock on the white building in the center of the town a fabulous sight. We walked further to Kuan Yin Teng or the Goddess of Mercy Temple, the oldest Chinese temple is artistically designed and the entrance had a lot of lotus candles burning and joss sticks burned by devotees. The very sight of all the pigeons feeding and flying in front of the temple is a wonderful sight. We passed through Sri Mahamariamman Temple , the Tokong Han Jiang an ancestral temple and Masjid Kapitan Keling the famous mosque. After that we came across the Black Kettle Café right opposite to the red and white windowed building the old central fire station in the Beach Street looks very classy and nice.

As we entered the street of art and painting in Penang, we noticed the fruit hawkers, people on bicycles and trishaws. We first halted over the most famous mural Little Children on the Bicycle Mural by Ernest Zacharevic. During our visit we met a bride and bridegroom clicking pictures in front of this mural. There are a number of other graffiti over the street like food delivery on bicycle an interesting mural, a little boy screaming in violet painting teaching you to speak Hokkien a picturesque spot for all along with the hand pulled rickshaw art on the side is another spot for a great picture by pulling the rickshaw and the little boy trying to climb the wall in yellow tee shirt and black jeans trying to peep or pick a glass of water. The graffiti in George Town are amazing and interesting. We passed through Batik Painting Museum Penang and the Armenian an suite Restaurant. On our stroll further we tasted ice cream lollipops and also got to taste the yummy ice creams like the Dragon Ice Ball, the Penang Heritage Ice Kachang, Fresh Orange cup ice cream at the Dragon Ice Ball Shop and met Mollie Yeap the Dragon Ice Ball Creator who had an inspiring story on the Dragon Ice Ball Shop. We clicked a lot of pictures of the street art, ate loads of ice creams and then passed by the American Café that had a grass van parked with a link www.somewhereovertheworld.com.The George Town is known for the heritage trails that can be explored on foot or on trishaws. We stayed over at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang in Batu Ferringhi Beach area and had a great time attending the show of Project X Band playing various tracks at the Hard Rock Café. We got some lovely photographs of sunset in the beach. The night life in Penang is something one should not miss especially with music and the array of delicacies you get to experience in this town. Penang the gastronomy of Malaysia serves some of the local delicacies like Char Kway Teow the fried flat noodles and prawn noodles and famous Cendol the local drink or dessert.

Our expedition to Langkawi was very inspiring as we stepped out to notice small boats in brown and blue at the quay. We first got into the Express Bahagia Ferry from Kuala Kedah to Langkawi which was a journey of an hour and half and reached the Jetty Point in Kuah, the complex also has a duty free shopping center. Some of the other ferries are Coral Island 1, Coral Island 3 and Langkawi Express.

Our trip started with the Langkawi SkyCab, has 35 Cars of 700 passengers which is about 15minutes to drive to the top and 15 minutes to drive back. Each Gondola can accommodate 6 people and the VIP Gondola offers cushioned seats with food. The Cable car stops over at the top station, middle station and base station. The Gondola Ride takes you to the top of the Mt. Gunung Mat Cincang and gives you exciting views of Langkawi Island .During the drive we met a flute artist playing Malay tunes . This place has so much to offer with a lot of activities like SkyCab, SkyBridge, SkyBistro, SkyDome, Sky Trail, Sky Adventure Park, SkyBoutique,6D Cinemotion and SkyPos. We passed through the Anjung Spa for fish therapy, kids playing in water balloons over the blue waters close to the yellow buildings, the Muzumi the Japanese restaurant.

The journey gets exciting as we got into a ferry and then into a small boat to explore the Pulau Payar Island, as we reached the island we all wore lifejackets and the snorkeling equipment to enter the blue lagoons. The tranquility of this place is simply impeccable with fishes all around you while floating over and into the turquoise waters. We admired this marvelous sight and enjoyed every minute in the pristine waters of this island. Snorkeling for first timers might be difficult at the first stage once you get the fear out of your mind you are going to enjoy snorkeling in this island. The long brown bridge along the trees across the turquoise waters is a fabulous sight and the pathway of the bridge offers you picturesque options across the island. You can also get an excellent view of the white boats over the blue lagoons and the islands in green. The huts, the greenery and the turquoise waters are all perfectly placed in this island.The Pulau Payar an ideal place for water sports, it is a great feeling to float over the blue lagoons with the fishes around you. The crystal clear turquoise water along with the boat of divers and the small hut shaped shades is an inspiring sight for most of us.

The tour added some more excitement with our visit to the eagle square that has the red bricked entrance, the statue of an eagle and a huge garden. We had an interesting walk through the Underwater World Langkawi with the Flamingoes, Rock Hopper Penguin, Blue and Gold Macaw and fresh water fishes of Malaysia.
Our voyage turned out to be fabulous as we visited the Langkawi Craft Complex, exhibiting wedding costumes, wall paintings, newspaper handicrafts, batik paintings in flowers, unique magnets with fragrances, traditional baskets and different Congkak in wood the traditional marble game in Malaysia. We then entered the Faizy Crystal Glass Blowing making exquisite crystal items by the local artisans which are amazingly beautiful. We got to see the process of crystal making and molding of an eagle trophy in green and red, the flower vases and bunch of blue and red tulips. The entrance of this place is decorated with glass arts and various colourful hangings. Lastly we got into the Kota Mahsuri highlighted the history of Kota Mahsuri and the entrance has a painting of people playing various instruments and the Rumah Mahsuri or the Mahsuri house. You must not miss the opportunity to shop the shell hangings from the night market, the chocolates, liquor chocolates and liquor for family and friends from the duty free shop. For an overnight we stayed over at Holiday Villa beach Resort & Spa Langkawi.

The greenery of Kedah, graffiti of Penang and the Langkawi Island amazes you with its serene vibes. So get ready to soak yourself in murals, Emerald waters and white beach sands.

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