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Langkawi Island Hopping in Search of Pristine Beaches

Malaysia and Brunei in a Week: Day 7
Renting a boat for Langkawi island hopping to find a large fresh water lake and white sandy beaches, then watching eagles feed and breaking down on the way back. Get ripped off by a taxi before checking out of the Sheraton before heading back to Kuala Lumpur. The fun never ends!

I was up early to try to catch a group island hopping tour, but the end result is that I missed the boat (literally). I didn’t mind though, because once it sunk in that I wasn’t catching the tour I relaxed and enjoyed my wonderful buffet breakfast on the restaurant balcony while being mesmerized by the motion of the ocean.

Tip: Book a group tour from one of the tour booking offices near the beach not from your resort (Sheraton in my case) that doubles or triples the price.

Knowing I missed the group tour, I wanted to check out if I could find a boat to take me privately. I packed up and arranged a late checkout before setting off by taxi to the beach area. The driver was very talkative and once he found out my plan, he was more than happy to take me to the departure area of the tours. He also seemed especially enthusiastic to take me to visit the cable car. More on this later…

The driver was persistent that I book at a particular office most likely due to favors or commissions and after discussion rates I decided to walk around the dock and get a better idea of pricing.

Wandering the docks in search of a driver

Wandering the docks in search of a driver.

Eventually I found a guy who arranged a private boat for MYR 250 for the tour.
The tour was a basic package except it was according to my schedule, which means no downtime.

Island Hopping Langkawi Tour

I boarded the wooden motorboat and we were off! It was nice to be back on the water.

Surroundings were very scenic with sailboats anchored near the port and islands jutting out in the distance.

Surroundings were very scenic with sailboats anchored near the port and islands jutting out in the distance.

The first stop was Pulau Dayang Bunting (Isle of the Pregnant Maiden). Can you guess why it’s named that?

The first stop was Pulau Dayang Bunting (Isle of the Pregnant Maiden). Can you guess why it’s named that?

Docking at Pulau Dayang Bunting

Docking at Pulau Dayang Bunting.

Plenty of aggressive monkeys on the walk to the lake.

Plenty of aggressive monkeys on the walk to the lake.

The lake was formed with a huge cavern caved in and started collecting rain water thousands of years ago.

The lake was formed when a huge cavern caved in and started collecting rain water thousands of years ago.

Dip your feet in for a complementary catfish pedicure!

Dip your feet in for a complementary catfish pedicure!

Falling into the lake… Not really LOL!

Falling into the lake… Not really LOL!

I did go for a swim in the lake, flipping and diving in off the platform, wowing my audience of four (including the guy renting boat rides). Only later did I see the warning that there may be diseases in the water and to swim at your own risk. I’m sure I drank a bit of the water and that’s when I remembered the legend of how drinking the magical water can make you pregnant! Fingers-crossed!

Next we went to at some random area which was basically a tourist trap where boats stop and watch Eagle Feeding. Not very impressive and I can’t imagine this has a positive effect on the natural bird life.

Each boat’s driver throws some chum overboard and the eagles swarm around the food like seagulls.

Each boat’s driver throws some chum overboard and the eagles swarm around the food like seagulls.

Then I asked my driver to stop at Pulau Singa Besar which is a private island surrounded by reef. After some careful maneuvering the driver beached his boat so I could explore.

The views from the beach were unreal.

The views from the beach were unreal.


I felt like I was photoshopped into a postcard.

I felt like I was photoshopped into a postcard.

Next we went across to Pulau Beras Basah (Wet Rice Island) where all the group tours stopped.

The beach was still nice but the crowds weren’t. Check out the tourist loading dock in the background.

The beach was still nice but the crowds weren’t. Check out the tourist loading dock in the background.

My driver was all smiles until we were lost at sea together...

My driver was all smiles until we were lost at sea together…

On the way back our engine seized and we were stranded… He said it was the battery and I asked him to call for someone to bring us in. He said they were coming, though he didn’t make any calls. He must be telepathic!

I contemplated swimming across to the port.

About 20 minutes passed and another tour boat came by and helped drag us back to the dock.

On arrival the tourist office lady stopped me to let me know the taxi driver was coming. Since there were no other taxis there at the time, I decided to wait and wait… and wait. I was about to leave when the driver finally showed up and escorted me to his car. He drove me to the cable car after we confirmed the set price at 28 ringgit. When drove right passed my hotel on the way and soon arrived at the cable car parking lot. “Oh no! It’s closed!” the driver said before we even pulled into the parking lot.

Cable car closed for maintenance the 48 hours. Just the right amount of time so I couldn't test it out!

Cable car closed for maintenance the 48 hours. Just the right amount of time so I couldn’t test it out!

A bit disappointed, I went to the sign to make sure it was actually closed and got back into the cab. The driver kept mentioning other places to take me to, but I just asked him to take me back to the hotel which wasn’t far away. We made one stop off the side of the coastal road to have a look at the beach while the driver had a smoke.

Local fishermen coming in with their nets. Checking out the catch of the day!

Local fishermen coming in with their nets. Checking out the catch of the day!

Then we arrived back at the hotel and this is when the driver requested 46 ringgit! Which is 26 ringgit to the cable car and another 18 ringgit to the hotel. Normally this would be a 2 ringgit difference distance-wise.

That’s when all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The driver had a plan all along.

The Scam
Here’s a quick outline of how this scam was constructed.
1. Know that the cable car was closed and that the area is deserted (no taxis available).
2. Find tourists that DON’T know the information in previous point and are looking to visit the cable car.
3. Organize to take them there.
4. Act surprised when arriving to find it closed.
5. Charge them a new fare for the trip to their next destination without mentioning it.
Result: Get two fares for the work of one!

What I hate most when traveling is when you get scammed or ripped off for simply being an ignorant tourist. In those cases I go to enormous lengths to make sure the scam artist DOESN’T get what he’s after. In this case it was about 16 ringgit. If he simply asked for that as a tip, I would probably have given it to him, but to try to scam it from me… he was going to have to pry it from my rigor mortis fingers.

At first I was explaining that I never left his cab, so he shouldn’t count it as two separate fares. But kept insisting that it was a new fare because we arrived. Then his argument was “I thought you were a nice guy…” and got the Sheraton’s doorman involved. And what really got under my skin was when the doorman took the taxi driver’s chart and started siding with the driver that I had to pay before even understanding the situation. Not what I expected from the 5-star Langkawi Sheraton Resort.

Eventually after about 5 minutes of arguing, I held out 30 ringgit and said “Here is your payment. Take it or leave it, because I’m going inside now.”

He took the money.

Lesson learned: When someone seems uncharacteristically friendly and enthusiastic, they are probably after something other than your friendship! (most likely money…)

What an unpleasant end to an otherwise excellent day! I packed up, checked out, and headed to the airport where I boarded my evening flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Yet another AirAsia flight that you walk onto. I can get use to this!

Yet another AirAsia flight that you walk onto. I can get use to this!

After a short flight, I took a bus downtown which was about an hour, then jumped in a cab to my hotel. It was quite sad to be back in a city after the paradise retreat I just had.

I was staying at the Grand Seasons Hotel. After a quick check-in I dropped my stuff off before heading to the hotel bar, Kasbah to redeem my welcome drink. The bar was empty besides a hysterical bar tender who shakily poured me a juice concoction upon receiving my ticket. I drank down the pineapple and red syrup combination and decided it was time to sleep.

I’ll post on this hotel tomorrow! Wow, I already miss Langkawi!

David De Clercq

About David De Clercq

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com. David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and recently surpassed 100 countries! As an adventurer, he craves new experiences while documenting them on multiple medias.

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