Cerebral Shangrila

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Walking the earth

I would love to do this someday. NYT writes about this man, who is on a "Walk"athon to understand the meaning of life. And now he has some company - a donkey.

If I start with zero dollar in my pocket and decide to do this, would the world support me ( with food and support on the way) ? May be in the answer to that question lies if we have progressed as a civilization .

Monday, February 18, 2008

Burj-Al-Arab Hotel

The pride of Dubai, it claims to be the only seven star hotel in the world. A view from the Jumeirah Beach.
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dubai - Al-ain Oasis

This photo was taken at the Al-Ain in UAE. Look at the sharp contrasts here, the lush meadowlands rub shoulders with arid mountains.
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Langkawi - Travel Diary (Travelogue)

Stunning beaches. Breath-taking waterfalls. Lush mangroove ecosystem.Duty-free shopping. Langkawi offers all this and more. One of the most popular tourist places in Malaysia, Langkawi group consists of 104 islands of which pulau langkawi is the largest. Langkawi translates to " Strong eagle" - according to folklore it was the resting place of Garuda , the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

GETTING HERE : Langkawi has an international airport and is connected to key Asian cities. Silk Air, Malaysian airlines, Airasia ( budget carrier) serve Langkawi. There is also a ferry service from Penang and Thailand.

VISA DETAILS : Its better to obtain a visa in advance although Indian citizens can obtain a visa on arrival ( I know it can be obtained in KL but am not sure about Langkawi).

WHEN TO GO : Tourists flock year-round in Langkawi. It rains most during Aug - October.

CURRENCY : The Currency of Malaysia is Ringgit . There are foreign exchange counters all over the island.

LANGUAGE : Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, English and Tamil are the most spoken languages in Malaysia. English is spoken widely though quite haltingly in rural areas. Most people of Indian origin are tamilians and hence Tamil is quite popular too.

LOCATION & AREA : Langkawi is an island located on the North-west region of Malaysia in the state of Kedah. It is quite close to Thailand. Pulau Langkawi is 480 sq.kms and is located 30 kms away from peninsular Malaysia.


Buses: There are rarely any buses in Langkawi and hence its not a preferred mode of transport.

Taxis : Taxis are cheap and available in plenty. The rates are fixed by the government and hence there is no haggling.

Ferries : There are ferry services / boats for travel between the various islands.

Bikes / Cycles : There are plenty of shops that offer Motorbikes / cycles for rentals. Bikes are available for as less as RM35 / day. But you need an international motorbike license ( Car license would not suffice).

TIMEZONE : Langkawi is GMT + 8 hours.

HOTELS : One can either choose to stay at Pentai cenang beach area ( like most do) or stay at the Kuah town ( Like I did since I got a very good package at the bayview hotel). If you are a beach person, stay near the Pentai Cenang area since most of the water-sports and nightlife are down there.

FOOD : Langkawi features fine restaurants with many international cuisines. Being a vegetarian is not a problem due to the numerous Indian restaurants that dot the island.

Pappadum is located close to the underwater world and is the best of the lot. The Soup there was awesome.

Little India is located opposite to Pappadum and is relatively cheap.

There is a Tomato Nasi Kendar restaurant is close to the Pantai Cenang beach and serves good Dosai, Uthappam.

Plus there are numerous Indian muslim restaurants throughout the island that serve good Dosais.If you decide to stay in Kuah town, then Tandoori restaurant is a good choice ( Located close to CIMB bank in Kuah).


Eagle Square :
Its the definitive landmark of Langkawi that features a huge eagle statue overlooking the harbor. The sea-view is beautiful and the nearby "Lagenda Langkawi" is worth a visit.

Langkawi Craft Cultural Complex : Is located near Telek Yu and is a great place to see the local handicrafts and other attractive items such as Basketry, ceramics, wood-work and jewelery. Do not miss the Glass blowing factory, that is located inside this complex , that makes some of the exquisite crystals.

Pentai Cenang : The most popular beach in Langkawi is quite huge and is famous for its water-sports and nightlife. Best time to be there - Sunset.

Pentai Kok : Right adjacent to Pentai Cenang , this beach is smaller but definitely more quieter.

Underwater world : Standing on the Pentai cenang beach, its one of the largest aquariums in south east Asia. View the Giant sea turtles, penguins, seals and the huge Anaconda here.

Laman Padi : Located on the Pentai Cenang beach road, this museum is dedicated to rice . Among the attractions here is a rice museum displaying artifacts and photographs showing the significance of padi cultivation to the country. Also view the lush rice fields and if lucky, you can try your hand at rice planting.

Bird Paradise : There is nothing spectacular about this bird park but its worth a visit if you are on the way to the Waterfalls.

Cable Car: Do not miss the spectacular ride on this. Its a 2km ride and is worth every minute of it. The view of the Sea is spectacular from the top although you need to be very lucky to be there on a clear day.

Tanjong Rhu Beach : The sand and the water color is amazing. Its easily one of the best beaches in langkawi and yet is rarely crowded . The view of the nearby islands adds up to the splendor.

Telega Tujuh ( Seven Wells) : The waterfall splits into seven cascades and hence the name. The surrounding forests add to the mystique but be prepared for a steep climb.

Durian Perangin Waterfall: Its a short trek through the forests to reach this fall but its worth the trek . The falls are quite steep and pristine. The Durian trees in the forest give it its name.

Island Hopping : The nearby islands are quite popular with the tourists and several operators do the " island hopping" tours. I skipped this due to lack of time.

FINAL WORD : We had a great time and the lushness and purity of this place is beckoning me yet again. Plan your trip well since it rains quite often here. The weather can be quite unpredictable and hence make sure you have umbrellas handy anytime.

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