The biggest, the longest, the tallest, the widest — Malaysia is a country that likes a superlative, from the mighty Petronas Towers, once the highest in the world, to some of the planet’s most enormous shopping malls. And what’s true of the country in general is true of Langkawi, the archipelago of 99 beautiful islands off the coast of Kedah, which has a boast or two of its own — such as one of the steepest cable car rides on Earth, not to mention the world’s longest free-span, curved bridge. The cable car in question is better known as the Sky Cab, and as we ride it up to Mount Machinchang, Langkawi’s second highest peak, we’re rewarded with amazing views of the surrounding islands: an artist’s palette of green, with a smattering of waterfalls and birds —lots of squawking, colourful birds. It’s an experience akin to a ski lift in the summer, although it would be terrifying skiing from this height.
I’m here with the family, and, as is typical of most six-year-olds, my youngest is showing respect for the occasion by ambivalently falling into a deep, hot, sweaty slumberas we embark on the first stage of the steady climb. That is, until we reach the top station when he’s rudely awoken so we can cajole him into smiling fora family photo-op. Not only that, I was pretty certain he wouldn’t want to miss the chance to walk across the 82m-high bendy Skybridge. The bendiness of this 125m-long suspended walkway is apparently the reason you can see so much, as it swings out across the landscape with nothing to obstruct it. And yes, the views of the islands and their surrounds are impressive indeed; spectacular panoramas of lush tropical islands, the deep blue sea and the green smudge of rainforests.
The kids are suitably awed by — and I suspect just a little wary of — its sheer scale and the dizzying heights it manages to reach; their sticky hands are firmly planted into their parents’ palms for security. The Skybridge was no easy build. All its various elements had to be lifted to the top of the mountain by helicopter to be assembled. Yet, for all the challenges this would have certianly involved, the engineers still managed to set up food and beverage stalls and official picture points. A little while later, we find ourselves all heading back down towards the Oriental Village in Burau Bay, where our journey commenced. And it’s good to note that, on the descent at least, we all seem very wide awake.
MANGROVE SAFARI – Take a motorboat tour from the Kilim jetty to discover the maze of 550-million-year-old cliffs and tangled mangroves that constitute the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, home to an abundance of wildlife, from white-bellied sea eagles to macaque monkeys.
SUP YOGA – Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga might be tricky, but it’s good for your balance and core strength, re-setting your nervous system and restoring inner calm. How many times did I fall in? Twice. Was I calm and focused? Well, I was focused on not falling in.
THE BEACH – National Geographic has rated Datai Bay the ninth best beach in the world, with its largely coral sands — meaning you won’t suffer super-hot feet. Pasir Tengkorak is shaded and popular with both locals and travellers; the beaches between Pantai Tengah and Pantai Cenang are where most tourists bathe; and the Beach of Black Sand is found in one of Langkawi’s oldest fishing villages.
CLIFF HIKING – Climbing the karst limestone cliff faces through dense, thick forest isn’t particularly easy, but it’s well worth clambering up among wild orchids and thick-rooted trees as the views are absolutely spectacular.