Magical Malaysia

Laura Dean-Osgood | 4 Nov, 2019

Writer Laura Dean-Osgood and her new husband Graham discovered the sun-soaked shores and bustling best of this south-east Asian land on a honeymoon with a difference.

It’s our first night of honeymoon when my new husband, sunset cocktail in hand, says something quite out of character. “Let’s get up to watch the sun rise tomorrow morning!” he grins.

Coming from a man who has always avoided early mornings at all costs, this takes me quite by surprise. I think it’s taken him by surprise, too. We have been on the Malaysian island of Langkawi for less than a day, but the prospect of missing a single minute of tomorrow is too much to bear. As my night-owl husband happily sets his alarm for 6:30am, it’s clear that our magical surroundings have cast quite a spell.

Rainforest retreat

We’ve begun our trip at the Ritz Carlton Langkawi, which sits at the edge of the rainforest, on the south-west coast of the island. With stunning natural beauty and wildlife all around, luxury accommodation, restaurants and an overwater spa, it is the epitome of honeymoon perfection.

We haven’t even left the resort and we have seen monkeys (lots of them), tropical birds, eagles and monitor lizards. We have reclined in sun-soaked luxury, dined like royalty, taken a rainforest trek and paddled in the crystal-clear waters on the private beach. After a delicious dinner at the Horizon restaurant (the only place to watch the sun set), we’re happily exhausted, and retreat to our beautiful suite.

On cue, early the next morning, we sit up in bed and hit the ‘blinds up’ button on our bedside control panel. We watch, with a freshly brewed Nespresso in hand, as the sky slowly turns from black to brilliant blue, via several shades of pink. As we slide open our terrace door, we’re hit by the warmth of the day, and the unmistakable chirping, cheeping and chattering of the forest.

Each morning starts with a breakfast buffet like no other. We sit on the Langkawi Kitchen’s veranda, looking out for giant squirrels and docile dusky leaf monkeys, while we feast on Malay, Thai and Indian curries with beautiful fresh rotis. We help ourselves to colourful tropical fruit and freshly squeezed juices, and find room for indulgent breakfast desserts – we are on honeymoon, after all.

Island adventure

After two days of resort-based relaxation, including a 90-minute couple’s massage, swimming in the freshwater infinity pools and grazing at the Beach Grill, we hire a car to explore our surroundings. It only takes around 30 minutes to get from west to east by car, so we head out most mornings for a spot of thrill seeking, and get back in time for lazy afternoons and beach walks as the sun sets.

First on our adventure agenda is the island’s famous Sky Bridge, accessed by cable car. With a gondola to ourselves, we soar above the forest-covered mountains and up to the bridge, which is suspended in the hills, more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The panoramic views over Langkawi and the surrounding islands are just beautiful.

The next morning, we head to Kilim Geoforest Park, where ancient limestone formations meet the Kilim river and mangrove swamps. We’ve booked a boat trip with Jungle Walla, an environmentally-focussed tour company, who will be showing us this natural wonder. Our small vessel takes us up the narrow waterways that run between the dense mangrove bush, which goes on for miles and miles. It just feels so incredibly wild. We pass monkeys cooling off in the water with their young, and are even accompanied by a pod of dolphins as we head back via the sea.

On our final day, we step up the adrenaline levels with a jet ski tour of some of Langkawi’s 99 outlaying islands. I cling on to my husband as our expert guide leads the way and we speed across the open water, stopping off at tiny tropical islands. It’s scary at first, and then just so much fun, and is a truly perfect way to end the first leg of our trip.

City heat

Kuala Lumpur is only an hour’s flight from Langkawi, and before we know it, we’ve landed in Malaysia’s thronging capital city. Our air-conditioned taxi whizzes us to our next stop, the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur.

We arrive just in time for the hotel’s famed afternoon tea. The beautiful Art Deco interiors, huge central chandelier, and sophisticated styling make it the perfect setting to enjoy tea and scones. It is no surprise that it has become a mecca for Instagrammers in search of the perfect selfie.

The hotel is ideally located for exploring the city. The bright lights of the Golden Triangle district are mere metres away, with shops, bars, restaurants and markets to explore. And some of the city’s key sights, including the Petronas Towers, can be reached on foot – faster than taking a taxi on busy days. When we’re out walking, we’re sure to make frequent stops for iced coffees and fresh coconut ice cream served straight from the fruit itself – the temperature is pushing 36 degrees after all.

We spend the first evening of our short stay exploring the night markets and bars, and taking in the views from sky-high KL Tower. The next day, we take a taxi out of town to Batu Caves – a colourful collection of Hindu temples housed in ancient caves – and make a stop at Brickfields, or Little India, which is vibrant, noisy and lots of fun.

There’s such a wonderful mix of cultures in the city, with Malay, Chinese and Indian influences all around. This makes for some delicious and varied dining options. Having tried tasty Indian street food at lunch, we opt for dinner at the hotel’s award-winning Cantonese restaurant, Li Yen. After all that walking, we’ve certainly worked up an appetite and feast on an eight-course menu featuring the most delicious dim sum.

On our final night, we have dinner at The Library, where, surrounded by books, we are wowed by the perfect Asian-European food. In the romantic low lighting, we cheerily reminisce about our trip of a lifetime, while the hotel’s resident string quartet plays pretty renditions of our favourite songs.

Discover our selection of Malaysia holidays online, or contact us for your own bespoke quote.

This article originally appeared in our Autumn/Winter 2019 edition of Other Shores, which you can read online here.

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