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Staying in a concrete tube on Langkawi

sunny

When we found out that Langkawi Island was only 3 hours away from Penang by ferry we thought "why not?!"

We d sorted our tickets out the day before and were up with the sun to welcome in the day and the boats coming into the harbour.

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Our boat was a lot smaller than the large cruise ships we d seen and despite being a bit cramped inside and not really being able to see out the windows either it served its purpose. The journey wasn't without entertainment though as they showed a sequel I never knew existed "Step Up: The Revolution" (how many more of these movies can they make! Dan loved it though :)).

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Coming into the harbour we were greeted by a giant statue of an eagle which represents the islands name. Langkawi means Strong Eagle in old Malay (helang - eagle, kawi - strong). We d be seeing more of these majestic birds during our stay.

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We had found Tubotel online, which was to be the most random accommodation we had stayed in yet. Our room was literally a concrete tube, the type normally used for sewers, that had been fitted with aircon, kingsize bed, painted in pastel shades and placed with a sea view. When we saw it we knew we had to check it out... Also my inner hobbit really wanted to stay in a tube with a circle doorway!

It was about an hours drive from the harbour to the north end of Chenang Beach and I'm not going to lie we were a bit concerned as we pulled up as it seemed to be a bit of a building site but as we turned the corner and checked in we were more than pleasantly surprised...

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Not only were the rooms really random which we loved but the rest of the set up was done really well with a great lounging area with day beds, sea water pools to cool off in, quirky paintings and relaxed music being played... they even had a pirate boat!

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It was quite easy to spend the day relaxing here. The food cooked here was great too so there was really no need to leave...(must remember fried egg on chorizo hash when we get home, Yum!) other than to go to the beach or shops if you wanted too which was about 10 mins walk away.

As luck would have it the following day Alex (the owner) and his family and friends were taking the boat out for the day to a smaller island and invited us and some of the other guests to join them. This was a great bonus as it was a free day out and all we had to do in return was to each filled a bin bag full of rubbish to help keep the beach clean, which seemed fair enough.

We boarded the pirate boat and got a great view of the place from the water. They are in the process of adding more Tubes and you can see on the far right what they look like before they are decked out.

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We introduced ourselves to some of the other shipmates, two girls from England (Claire and Lisa) and one from Scotland (Gillian). It turns out that Claire and Lisa know Woking well and Claire used to work in WHSmiths when they used to have a DVD/music section downstairs, which was probably around the same time I worked in Young Fashion in Allders so we could have served each other back in the day! It was great to have an instant familiarity and set us up for a great day out.

None of us had any idea where we were going to so we just sat back and relaxed, enjoying taking it all in.

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We were in for a surprise treat as we pulled into one of the bays and were suddenly surrounded by at least 30 eagles flying overhead and circling around the boat. I think some of the tourist boats come here to feed them so they were keeping an eye out for any food we might have. It was amazing to see them fly so close and very impressive to see them dive down to the water with their huge wingspan and talons glinting in the sun. I wouldn't want to get in the way of those!

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We continued sailing around the small islands which were beautiful, although at one point the water got really shallow so we had to change direction.

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Evidence of the rubbish problem in Langkawai was sad to see and one of the byproducts of the islands success. We passed several large pieces of floating polystyrene which we managed to get on board the boat. Small beaches on the islands were covered in plastic bottles and take away containers that had been left on the shore by the tide, but if not cleared once the water level was up again all this junk would be out to sea. Once you had tuned into it you started to see the rubbish everywhere and by the time we stopped at the beach we were going to chill out on we were all keen to do our bit and start clearing the rubbish... To be fair there would be no part of the beach free to sit on until we did!

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Each armed with a bin bag we walked the beach picking up plastic bottles, shoes, plastic bags, wrappers, syringes and Dan even found the a dustpan which helped with clearing up. We had the beach cleared in no time and filled about 8 binbags which we would take back on the boat with us to dispose of. It highlighted how quick and simple it would be to help clear up the rubbish if the tourist boats asked their customers to do some beach cleaning as part of their trip to help preserve this area. However part of the problem is that some of these boats are just chucking rubbish over the side anyway instead of taking the rubbish back to shore so there is a wider need for education on litter and pollution etc and why its important to keep the area clean not only for them to maintain their income... Who wants to sail/swim through a junk yard... but also more importantly the environment.

Feeling pleased with our deed of the day we all enjoyed the warm water and had the second surprise of being provided with hot dogs for lunch! We weren't expecting food to be included as we had not paid for the trip and Alex and his family showed us great hospitality and it was great to hear the story of how Tubotel began, as with all great ideas after a few beers, and inspired by Daspark hotel in Austria. Having looked them up too online I think I prefer the colourful fun of Tubotel.

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In talking about our travels we found out that Lisa had been in Borneo about 9 months ago doing what sounded like an epic sporting challenge involving cycling, running and culminating in climbing Kinabalu. I can't imagine how hard that must have been to climb after doing other activities like that in a short period of time! Unfortunately on returning home she kept getting ill and exhausted and none of the docs knew what it was even at the specialist doctors for tropical diseases. She was just at the tail end of recovering 9 months later but had decided to get the docs here to check it out and they immediately put her on doxycycline and were baffled why she had not been given it sooner. As I d been ill on and off recently it was interesting story to hear and I'm glad I'm already taking doxy for malaria... Def something to keep an eye on (don't worry mum & dad I'm writing this 3 weeks later and not been ill again so alls ok :)).

We set sail to head back to Tubotel, not before one of the guys shimmied up the mast to detangle the pirate flag. The kids kept us entertained on the way back chasing each other around the boat with the ice left over in the cooler. It had been a great day.

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We met up with the girls again in the evening and they took us to a great seafood restaurant they had found.

Check out the size of these prawns!!

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It was more than we would normally spend on a meal (best part of our daily budget) but we we hadn't splashed out in a while and our days fun had been free so why not! We had some great laughs, including hearing the story of the ghost moving Claire's washing which I'm noting here so we don't forget rather than sharing as think you need to hear it how the girls tell it for it to be funny. As we left there was a huge thunder storm and we were all a bit bedraggled when we got in the taxi, mainly because I freaked out about getting hit by lightning so kept telling everyone to put their umbrellas down just in case!

It's Sod's law that just as one of us gets better the other one gets ill. I was now fine but Dan had somehow got a full blown cold despite us being in a climate as far removed from the cold season as you can get. As Dan seeked the coolness in our tube to get some rest, I was more than happy to chill out reading and baking on the day beds and plunging in the seawater pools, checking on Dan every so often too. We extended our stay in Langkawi for Dan to recover but there could def be worse places to recuperate.

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On our final day Dan felt up to walking to the beach for a change of scenery and chill out there for the day.

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Although it was boiling hot so not really chilling and we spent most of our time under a parasol, having 10 mins in the sun at a time before seeking the relief of the sea or the shade again, even though we ve been out in the sun now for months. I have no idea how some people can literally lie out all day in such fierce sun taking no shade at all! Definitely think this is the strongest sun we ve had all trip!

The beginning of our walk along the beach was absolutely stunning, see photo above, and you could see why it was a honeymoon destination.

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However for us it felt too resorty if that makes sense, and as we got further along the beach there were loads of jet skis and banana boats. Now Chenang is one of the busiest beaches so I'm sure there are others that are nicer but it did not have the charm of some of the smaller quieter beaches we have been on.

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I think our last few days in Langkawai was when I have had my worst travel flump yet, probably brought on by spending too much time thinking whilst Dan was sleeping, missing home and being still tired from when I was ill. A joking conversation one night about popping home for a couple of weeks for a 'break from travelling' and making the mistake of seeing that it could be a feasible due to a really cheap return flight being available, turned into a bit of an emotional mess when it gradually dawned on me throughout the following day that really I wasn't going home yet and it would be another 11 months till I would! Dan suddenly found himself sitting next to a girl weeping into her beer as the sun went down, which he coped with really well and as always had the right things to say and made me feel a lot better (also swapping the beer for Long Island iced tea helped too).

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What really shook me out of feeling sorry for myself though was overhearing a couple telling a lady at a nearby stall that they were on their honeymoon. I mean I'm in a gorgeous paradise that other people choose as their honeymoon destination...pull yourself together girl!! A few well timed Facebook chats with some of my girlies at home sorted me out too... everyone's been there with the travel blues and you know as soon as you get back you ll want to be travelling again so just enjoy it.... You re staying in an exotic hobbit hole!!

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Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 02:27 Archived in Malaysia

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