by Anne Dimon, It’s just after sunrise when the Crystal Symphony docks at Langwaki, Malaysia, a collection of 104 islands about 30 km off the mainland and an easy overnight cruise from Kuala Lumpur.
One of Langwaki’s main attractions is the pristine Kali EcoForest Park about a 45-minute drive from port. The park is home to a mangrove forest, a natural bat cave and the signature reddish-brown eagle. Langwaki is the Malay word for “island of the reddish brown eagle”. Nature is such a big part of wellness travel – I decided to make the park today’s destination.
The Crystal team offers a guided big bus tour to the region, but I like the adventure of doing my own thing so I hired one of the government-sanctioned taxi drivers lined up at the bottom of the gangplank to take me there and back. Cost is 200 Malasian Ringgit. One Ringgit equals about .28 U.S., so for about $60 U.S. we have a guide and driver for the day.
My taxi driver – Norzee, a Muslim Malaysian – tells me with pride that she is one of a very small number of female taxi drivers on Langkawi. And, she says she may be the only woman to be allowed to pick up passengers right at the ship’s door. The single mother of three has been a driver for the last three years. As she drives she tells me a bit about her home:
– About 90,000 people live on Langkawi.
– Tourism is the island’s main industry.
– June to September is the rainy season with August and September raining “non stop.”
– The Malay word for “hello” is simply “hi” and the word for thank you is “tereemakasee.”
On the way to Kali, she stops in Kuah Town, Langkawi’s largest, so we can gaze upon the giant eagle that is the Langkavi emblem.
Leaving Kuah Town we head to Kali EcoForest Park which costs us another 250 Malaysian Ringget for an hour’s boat ride that includes the bat cave, a fish farm and multiple sightings of the signature eagles.
A simply photo does not do this experience justice. There are dozens of these reddish-brown eagles, dipping and swooping majestically overs the waters, around the boats and across the sky – and they are here everyday, we’re told.
A beautiful up-close with nature. Good for the soul!
For this writer even a few hours out in the wilds of nature increases the sense of well-being, but if a day of “retail therapy” is more your thing. Crystal Cruises offers a complimentary shuttle service to the nearby De Zone Duty Free Shops.