Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Langkawi : Of Nature and History

We were determined that this time, our visit will be of nature and history. Mr D said that we will not be climbing the cable car and will not be crossing the hanging bridge this time. So after breakfast on the 2nd day, we head direct to Laman Padi located near Pantai Cenang. Laman Padi is practically a rice museum. It is the combination of the actual scene of rice planting through the paddy field surrounding the museum, and the exhibition of artifacts and development our country went through from the traditional paddy planting to the current modern technology. The museum is informative enough. I understand the visitors can also take part in the paddy planting activity if they want to - what a good experience huh? They also have spa within the compound for those interested.

I told Mr D the day before we went to Langkawi that I have not been visiting 'Beras Terbakar' or burnt rice for 27 years. I told him about my father doubting the authenticity of the burnt rice coming out from the soil as it was commercialized then. I remember it was sold in small packets when we went there in 1985, and how the visitors were allowed to dig it out from the soil. So we decided to take a look at how it looks like nowadays.

The history of beras terbakar started when Datuk Kerma Jaya instructed the rice reserves in Langkawi to be burnt during the Siamese attack not long after Mahsuri was sentenced to death in 1819. The event took place at Padang Mat Sirat, at the compound of what now a private property of a local villager. Was very glad to see that area where the burnt rice is is now fenced. It used to be opened and free for visitors to dig. For preservation, I think it is better the way it is now, fenced. Am just not comfortable with the fact that there are many coins thrown into that area. What's that for?

Thumbs up to the owner of the house where the burnt rice is. I understand that it is his own effort to maintain the compound, and I thought the house itself is a tourist attraction. Nicely built, full of traditional value and definitely full of touristy sentiment. Very attractive. But it is just an eye sore to see stalls built outside the compound selling various items from gamat to fabrics. It is too many and too crowded. Should have lessen it a bit, let the burnt rice area be the focus.

We actually wanted to do Island Hopping that day, so our next destination was Pantai Cenang to book for one. The trip was scheduled either at 9am or 2:30pm. It was still early then, so after we booked the package at RM30 per pax for the afternoon trip, we decided to visit MARDI Agro Technology Park first. This park, apart from having a huge fruit plantation farm, also the place where recreational activities like camping and flying fox can be done. There are 3 types of tour packages offered, we just opted for farm tour to look around the farm which took about 30 minutes using the 'tram'. The entrance fee is RM5 with MyKad. The tour include an 'eat all you can' session where they serve us local fruits to be eaten. For us local, it probably is quite a common trip, I mean the fruits are what we can see day in day out. But for us, it is the technology that we wanted to look at (especially now that I am determined to be a successful farmer with my edible garden hahahaha).

By 2:30pm, we were already at Pantai Cenang waiting for the boat to be ready for island hopping. There were 8 of us in the boat, me, Mr D, a mat salleh couple and 2 Indian couples. There will be 3 locations, that is Pulau Dayang Bunting, Eagle feeding and Pulau Beras Basah.

The first location, Pulau Dayang Bunting is the biggest island apart from the main Langkawi island itself. The island got its name through its shape, which looks like a sleeping pregnant lady. There's a fresh water lake in this island, with the myth that those who want to be pregnant can try taking their bath in this lake. I was not interested to dive into the lake, so I decided to have a chat with a woman who stayed in the island itself. Though Dayang Bunting is the biggest island, nobody lives in there except a family of 5 who works to maintain the island.

The whole journey to the 3 different locations took about 3 hours in total. I guess for those foreigners, Pulau Beras Basah is what they enjoy the most, with the sea and direct sunlight. There's not much things on the island, but I think reading a novel there will be comforting. By 5:30pm, we were already in Pantai Cenang to end our island hopping.

For me and Mr D, it was such a tiring day. We were out from our hotel room at about 8am, and was still outside at about 6pm. We didn't had our lunch either, as we had quite a heavy breakfast that morning. So right after the trip, we went to find for food. Mr D saw a Minang restaurant on the way from airport to the hotel the night before, and insisted to have our dinner there.

The name of the restaurant is Minang Pelangi, which is a new restaurant serving Minang food. I think this restaurant used to be Lobster Village. We ordered sup buntut (sup ekor lah tu), ikan goreng lado mudo, gulai nangka and my favorite sambal ijo and sambal merah. The food was OK, though Sari Ratu's probably much better. Pricing wise, it is slightly overpriced I think. All the servings are small, especially ikan goreng because it is only a small piece of fish, but they charged us RM8 for that small piece of fish.

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