Mr. M & I didn’t have the typical, chillax-by-the-Caribbean-Sea kind of honeymoon. This is for the best, as those Sandals commercials with handsome couples wearing all white and running hand in hand down the beach make me snicker. Who are these folk?
Even at 15, Mr. M & I were never so desperately in love that we had to skip about it.
Our crazy-fantastic-adventuresome trip to South Africa was much more… “us,” but our recent wedding anniversary (5 years this past Friday!) had me thinking: of the places Mr. M & I have traveled since, where would I recommend for an-ever-so-slightly more mainstream honeymoon?
Day#10,671: Pulau Langkawi, a tiny jungley island off the western coast of Malaysia, is one of the most naturally beautiful places that I’ve ever been and possibly the closest to what I imagine a “real” honeymoon would feel like.
Minus the obligatory couples massage.
After touching down in the island’s tiny airport, Mr. M hailed a cab, which was pretty much just some guy’s car that had a hand-painted T-a-X-i scrawled on the window (as much as my computer refuses to condone it, the “a” in TaXi was backwards) and seatbelts that had gone AWOL long ago. Our hotel was located pretty far outside the main town of Kuah, so we got a winding driving tour of the island punctuated by a striking number of stops to let errant chicken flocks or the wandering water buffalo cross the highway.
Although Kuah is fairly developed- and sadly touristy- the rest of the island feels rural, overgrown, untouched.
We wound our way deeper into the island’s core before turning down a steep cliffside road to our home for the next two nights, The Andaman Hotel.
The lobby is open to the air and views of the Andaman Sea. I’d never seen anything quite like it.
While we waited to check in, Mr. M and I were given glasses of chilled starfruit juice.
I was feeling pretty darn happy about deciding to spend our frequent hotel Starwood points staying here. Especially when we were taken to our room and discovered a bowl of freshly-dewed fruit.
Those hairy-looking alien fruits ended up being one of Mr. M’s favorite foods of the trip. They’re sweet, lychee-like creatures, and since first seeing them in Malaysia, I now see them ubiquitously for sale on fruit stands all through Chinatown.
Before leaving us, the hotel employee showing us to our room also mentioned that Mr. M & I should take special care to keep the balcony door shut when we weren’t in the room.
True to the stories I hear about what honeymoons are “supposed” to be, we did a lot of lounging by the clear, turquoise Andaman Sea.
While we did walk down the beach, I promise there was no running whilst splashing water on each other or laughing maniacally.
After the sun melted into the thick air (thicker than usual due to a fire on one of the nearby Thai islands), the Mr. & I snagged an outdoor table at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.
While being stationed far outside Kuah turned out to be a very good thing, it did make it much more difficult to eat anywhere other than the hotel. Not a problem, as the hotel food was surprisingly bomb.
We feasted on a tableful of typical Malaysian dishes: nasi lemak (coconut rice topped with a fried egg, dried shrimp, peanuts, cucumber, & spicy sambal sauce), sayur lodeh (veggie curry stew)… mmmm….
Even on a faux honeymoon, I can’t sit around for too long. The next morning we woke up early to join a nature walk into the lush Langkawi interior. Halfway through our jaunt, the permeating island mist transformed into sprinkle, which quickly morphed into a tropical and torrential downpour. I scooped my beloved camera under my raincoat, and we sprinted for cover through the lush green, splashing up mud.
Nothing makes you feel quite so alive as an impromptu rainstorm.
The rain stopped as suddenly as it began, and this second day in Langkawi was earmarked for other adventures.
Even Vacation Dictator Me- with my clipboard timetables and drill whistle- has to admit that every once in a while, it’s liberating to spend a day or two with your loved one, burrowing your toes in the sand.
Even when it’s not technically your honeymoon.
To explore my next day’s adventure FREAKING out on a Malaysian sky bridge, click here!
Details of the Day: Pulau Langkawi is a great easygoing- and relatively cheap!- alternative to the more popular Thai islands (think Phi Phi and Phuket) that lie less than a few hundred miles north. Since returning from our trip, Mr. M & I have been spouting the wonders of Malaysia to anyone who’ll listen- we’re not sure why it’s not more of a travel destination!
Andaman Hotel: Mr. M travels quite frequently for work, and we were able to stay at the Andaman using his Starwood points- a reeeally good deal, if you have any extra points that need spendin’. Again, its wonderful isolation was the one possible downside; it’s cumbersome to go anywhere else for your meals. But… on the upside… the Andaman is still in our top 5 hotels we’ve ever stayed anywhere in the world (along with places in Zermatt, Switzerland, Bali, and off the coast of Rio de Janeiro). It’s that magical.
Transportation: Langkawi is a quick one-hour flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Taxis – or TaXis, as it were- are very easy to come by… no need to rent a car while you’re on the island.
Malaysian Food: I know I’ve pimped out Malaysian food before, but it’s just so darn delicious- and relatively unexplored, even amongst otherwise adventuresome eaters! Much to Mr. M’s delight, we happen to live just around the corner from a scrumptious Malaysian restaurant called Nyonya (199 Grand St, NYC)- he regularly forces our out-of-town visitors to broaden their culinary horizons and make Nyonya’s acquaintance.
If you happen to be in Manhattan, stop by Nyonya and try some roti canai (thin crepe in curry sauce) and- Mr. M’s Favorite Dessert on the Planet- cendol: a shave ice concoction with condensed milk, red beans, grass jelly, and palm syrup that’s sold by street vendors all over Southeast Asia.