“They said this place is not as good as the others. But they forgot, people make the place. I happened to be surrounded by the best people here”
I first heard about Langkawi years ago in high school. A girl in my class asked me if I wanted to go to Langkawi with her. My heart wanted but my wallet wouldn’t let me. As time went by I just kind of forgot about this little island right of the west coast to the Malaysian-Thai border.
Enjoying the trip while uncertainty kicks in
February was when the uncertainty started to kick in. I was in Kuala Lumpur, anxiously trying to keep up with the news every hour. It was business as usual in KL, no one seemed to be taking extra measures yet.
Given the circumstances, I decided to fly to Langkawi anyways. What was meant to be a longer trip was cut short as I eventually decided home was where I needed to be.
Nonetheless, Langkawi gave me the last bit of heaven before things went down. Chill Box was the hotel we stayed at. Located in the middle of the mountain, we were lucky to be engulfed by the sound of nature every night. To be fair, we picked the hotel for its free parking, but it came with a lot more. The hotel was attached to residential blocks. Every night a lady would take three dogs out for a walk. We thought she owned all three dogs until we talked to her and she revealed that only one belonged to her. The other two were strays.
Renting a car or a motorbike is essential to get around the island. Driving up to the high point, Gunung Raya offered the best view point for the sunset.
People make the place
People certainly make the place. As much as we loved the view and the food, it was the people that made us want to stay. All those late nights chilling in the hotel, having a chat with the hotel staff and neighbours, sharing stories and discussing about life. We met a lovely British couple that sold their house to travel indefinitely after spending 3 hard decades dedicated to work and raising kids. Listening to others’ stories often make me rethink about myself and how I can make better plans.
We spent a few days with two friends, a Moroccan guy Dale and a Korean guy Shawn. The two of them met in a hostel and immediately became best buds, even planning to travel to the next country together (and they did). Looking at them made me smile. Several years ago I was wandering around Europe by myself for four months. I had a lot of insane and fun stories with people I met along the way. Mum would never understand how I can just make friends so easily and bond with people. But for me, knowing people is my way of knowing the world. People can teach you things you can never learn from any books.
Going back to them, they added the rainbow to our trip. Both humorous and carefree. One day Shawn had a motorbike accident and we ended up in the fire station looking for help. We eventually got the sanitising kit from a pharmacy and performed some first-aid street-style. At the end, I had a hard time remembering places we explored together. It was the laughters and the joy I remember.
The calm vacation before the pandemic hit
Langkawi was not eventful, but it was sweet and pleasant. Seeing how the world was quickly descending into chaos. I knew that was my cue to go home. I left at the end of February, before things got too ugly. A lot of people I met on the trip decided to continue their travels, most of them are now stuck in different parts of the world.
I’m glad to be home when this pandemic strikes. It’s our responsibility now as global citizens to stay home so this madness can be over soon. I hope everyone I met along the way is safe, wherever they might be. Going home may not be an option anymore. Safely isolate yourself at the current location is the best you can do to protect yourself and others. This trip gave me sweet memories to look back on when I’m home sipping my third cup of tea at 1pm.