Langkawi is considered a mystical place. Amongst its islands are white sandy beaches while in some places it is dark volcanic sand. It is one of very few places in the world that has mangroves growing over limestone. It has a mysterious field that keeps coming up with burnt rice from the ground and an enchanted lake which legend claims will cure infertility for those that bath in it. It has some of the oldest rock formations in South East Asia and on its western side, evidence of massive tectonic uplifting is visible. For these reasons and more, it was recently declared a UNESCO Geo Park.
It has 99 magical islands and in another mystery, the authorities decided it wasn’t enough and built two more for a small marina and for a small micro-light airport. This was done at some considerable degradation of the surrounding environment but at least we now have 101 islands!
Langkawi’s name is also interesting. The tourism office has created this romantic notion which it tells visitors that the name consists of Lang and Kawi. Lang is a version of the name of the sea eagles that are abundant in the islands and Kawi refers to limestone which is also a strong characteristic of parts of the island, hence Langkawi. I actually prefer a more scholarly explanation which to me is equally romantic. This explanation dates the name to about the 13th century when there were already trade boats plying between India and China. Langkawi is likely the landmark for sailors to set off sailing along the latitudinal line which will lead them directly to Sri Lanka. Therefore Langkawi means “the way to Sri Lanka”.
Anyway, here are photos of the beaches on my recent trip. All photos by LGS. Note the local attire worn by many local Muslim girls for the beach. Also the fishing catch has deteriorated due to destructive development in some places.