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