A Very Touristy Place

© Unknown Author

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Journal, 19 December 2011. Pulau Penang and Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia.


Kelley drops Bruno and I at the ferry ticket office early in the morning. No cash in my pocket – I go to the nearest ATM to withdraw some money and when I come back Bruno is nowhere to be seen.

Curious fellow, a bit of a wildcard… I head out for the ferry and sure enough, just before it leaves he shows up.

Cinema on board, the movie “Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time” is playing on the telly.

Can’t believe my favourite video game has been turned into a Disney family movie, bleh… At least Gemma Arterton is damn cute and easy to look at. It’s never all bad.

I meditate during most of the ferry ride. The two hours pass by quickly.


As soon as we arrive I approach some travellers and convince three of them to share a taxi with us to Cenang beach area. One of them is a Swiss called Gilles and we immediately click and start chatting away… Eh, what a funny coincidence, he’s also a CouchSurfer!

All the hostels and hotels in the area seem to be full, the rates are ridiculously expensive and the few rooms and dorms available are borderline gross… Crap. Loving this whole “high season” thing.

What a bizarre place. Where are the local food stands? All I see is an endless supply of chips, crisps and fizzy drinks wherever I look, and more Westerners than I’ve seen in weeks combined.

And what’s with these sewer vents in the side walk, “hell pits” puffing out poisonous air from the sewage below?… Smells so bad the merchants even put out cardboards on top of them so that customers don’t gag with the stench when nearing the shops!

Yup, Langkawi is definitely very touristy. But I had been warned…


Bruno takes the last free room on one of the nearby hostels and I leave my backpack at his place so I can more easily scout the area. We find Gilles at one of the guesthouses and invite him for lunch.

Awesome – Gilles invites me to share his accommodation if I don’t find anything free for tonight, as his room has two single beds. We pass by one last hostel before lunch, with only one dorm bed available… It’s a shithole unclean to say the least, so I decide to accept Gille’s generous offer.

The afternoon finds me in a much better mood, as we relax at a local restaurant and chat some fellow travellers.

Afterwards I get my stuff from Bruno’s place and head out to enjoy the beach. I ask Bruno if he would like to join us but he prefers to chillax in his room and watch a movie instead.

Ah! At least the beach is quite good, a wide patch of white sands and warm waters… Gilles and I exchange travel stories and CouchSurfing experiences while enjoying the lazy sea, and later join some locals for a few matches of volleyball.

Tomorrow, a cycle tour of the island… I have a feeling there’s much more to this place than first meets the eyes.


• Kelly, for having hosted me in Penang and driving us to the ferry this morning. Again.
• Meditation, for helping me stay present and in the flow.
• Gilles, for his joyful character and generous hospitality.
• An afternoon of sun, sea and sport.

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