A travel journal
Langkawi, March 2023.
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About a month ago, we took a short family trip to Langkawi. Thought I’d have a change of pace and share my travel journal for the trip in this post. Its different from my usual writing so do let me know what you think and if you would like to read more things in this style (or less!).
Langkawi, 24-27 March 2023
Our holiday starts with a 5am alarm in our Yishun home. Alcina and I get up first to get ready, pack the last things, and close up the house, before the kids wake up. We're running on adrenaline and barely 3 hours of sleep. The day before was a mad rush trying to clear work and get packed, while we spent most of the night trying to keep the children asleep.
About an hour later, Joy has jumped out of bed and is happily getting ready. On a normal school day, it would have been a battle to wake her. She's now old enough to understand the concept of a holiday. Somehow, within the next half hour, and a whirlwind of activity, we make it out the door and to the airport.
A short plane and car ride later, we arrive at our destination: The Datai Langkawi, nestled in the northwestern corner of the island, with its own private beach. We booked this trip on a whim, to spend some time before what we expect is a busy second quarter of rhe year. Our plan was to keep it slow, with a nice hotel that we can stay in for 4 whole days.
Upon entering, we are greeted by the lobby's iconic frog pond, a real treat for Joy, who just a few weeks earlier visited a frog farm and held a frog. Each time we walk past it, we get a little better at spotting the frogs resting on lilypads, tadpoles swimming in the water, and water snails going about.
We're eventually brought to our villa. Built on stilts over the rainforest, with trees right outside every window, beautiful wooden furnishing, and accents with a theme of writing and history, we feel like colonial explorers visiting the exotic South East Asian jungle. Its just a feeling though, as the real explorers would never have has it so comfortable. We're absolutely charmed by the seamless blend of nature and luxury.
A short buggy ride brings us to the Datai Bay, the private beach which the resort is named after. As we learn on a morning guided walk, “Datai” means freedom and possibility, coined due to the island off the bay being an ancient prison.
The beach lives up to its accolade as one of the top beaches of the world. Its clean and spacious, with gentle waves and warm waters making it so easy to enjoy. The hotel adds to the seamless experience, providing anything you might need, sand toys for the children, snorkels and paddleboards for the adults.
The beach is also home to the resort's signature creature, sand bubbler crabs. Come low tide, the whole beach is covered in little balls of sand, laid out in intricate patterns. Approach closer, and the sand in front of me explodes with activity, of tiny crabs retreating into their holes. I feel a tad apologetic, knowing howfrustrating it is to be doing something important, and having to put it aside because of a distraction every few seconds.
These crabs hold a little lesson to me about timing. There's a time to eat, and a time to hide. As much as they would like to, they can't force either activity into the wrong bucket.
Nature is at the forefront of the experience in this hotel. Besides the crabs, we saw hornbills, macaques, and even a colugo sleeping in between a tree trunk. The invertebrate world didn't disappoint either. We ran into a nature guide who pointed out baby pythons sleeping in trees, saw a pair of moulting cicadas, and watched hermit crabs scurrying about in an intertidal stream. The biggest highlight was a family of dusky langurs deciding to gather outside our villa balcony, including a baby langur, still latched onto its mother, its golden fur popping out among her dark shade. My only regret is that despite all the beautiful butterflies around, I didn't see any exciting caterpillars.
The nature experience comes alongside amazing hospitality. If you truly want to make someone happy, you need don't care for them, but to care for the ones they love. The hotel always seemed a step ahead of us in making sure our kids could have the best time.
For the first time ever, we received a “baby menu” with a selection of foods that can be customised for babies at any stage of their solid food journey. There is a nature center staffed with naturalists organising activities for the kids. By the last day, it felt like all the staff knew Joy, having spoken to her at some point or another.
3 nights later, our holiday is at an end. As we fly back home, and struggle with herding 2 children through the airport process and surviving the flight (for those who have done longer flights with more kids, you have my respect), I think about how travelling is never the same again now that we move as a family. Then I realise its more than that. Comparing this trip with our earlier one 2 months ago, it was as if we had a different set of children, and different challenges. They are growing and changing so fast, that every trip is so much of a unique experience. It makes it worth the effort to go through the struggle of flying and travelling, to have these experiences for my memory.
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