GOTHENBURG: WELCOME TO THE SOUTHERN ARCHIPELAGO

Closed to the city of ,Gothenburg reachable with a normal public transport ticket, there is a group of small but really beautiful, nice and quiet islands where you can pass a relaxing day, going from one to the another small piece of land.

There you will find a very scenic environment, where pass a memorable day outing for a picnic, swim (if you can!) and go for amazing walks.

These islands are unique and on them 4.500 residents pass their quite life in the middle of the nature. During the summer of course you will find more people on them but they are not crowded and if you are lucky you will enjoy also local events.

Everything is at a walk distance, a human scale so it is very easy to enjoy the surroundings and converse when walking the tranquil country lanes.

The major island are Vargo, Galtero and Vrango all natural reserves. Here remember that special regulations for the protection of plants and animals are applied.

Unfortunately camping is prohibited throughout the entire archipelago.

HISTORY OF THE ISLANDS

The islands were mentioned early in the Viking era. The ships waited in the shelter of the islands before starting out in their long voyages. Viking markets around the sheltered sound are also referred to. During the Nordic wars throughout the middle Ages these islands changed sovereignty.  During the 18th century, the islands became involved in organized piracy. After they changed their focus and became a base for fishing fleets, salting and processing fish oil.

In the 19th century the islands changed and started to be richer, so they became land of holidays for the population.

I was on Branno (with Galtero), Vrango and Styrso.

BRANNO

Preserved Village Street with a local history museum. Here there is a network of Nature trails leading west towards Galtero.

VRANGO

This is a fishing village surrounded by large areas of untouchable nature. There are large harbors and plenty of places to bathe.

STYRSO

It is more a mixture of island and city culture: the community is also compose by farmers and half by fishermen. Here there is also a guesthouse if you would like to pass the night on  the island.

Read my articles on Europe!

KARMOY ISLAND: BEAUTIFUL BEACHES IN NORWAY

Someone said about Karmoy:

“Great and rich your verdant pastures,
Stout against the sea you face,
Karmoy praise your hardy coastline!” (cit: Nils AAroy)

Norway is not only fjords but also beautiful beaches and I was in some of them. With rocks and skerries protecting Norway from the raging sea in the West, Karmoy was historically important for Vikings but also during the Second World War.
What I found there were long, silky-smooth, sandy beaches in bays and inlets and with eternal swells pounding the coast.
Karmoy is also maritime culture, ocean, silvery fresh fish and a vibrant heritage. You can walk in the footsteps of Harald Fairhair who first united Norway in a single kingdom.

An important note to leave you is the origin of Norway: why this Country has this name? Norway was the Way to the North starting from the Vikings considered fundamental for the fishing, commerce and other activities of this places: an historic landscape with views across the narrow strait that brought you to the north…

The Karmoy countryside is both inviting and diverse offering a range of pursuits in the great outdoors, communion with nature and relax. You can just prepare your pic nic stuff and go to discover the island!

AVALDSNES – the first Royal Throne of Norway
Harals Fairhair chose this as the site of his Royal manors. Here you can feel the revival of the ancient facts about the legendary first Norway king that appears often in sagas and songs. The chieftains and kings who controlled the vital “Northern Way” left till today a church that is a history centre and in the East, a reconstruction of a Viking Farm.
Just as info, the Viking era ranged from AD 750 to AD 1100 when people from Norway, Sweden and Denmark made their mark to Europe. The Vikings are mostly known as pirates and warriors, but they were also traders, craftsmen, farmers, fishermen, poets and discoverers. The nation of Scandinavia were established in those times.

VISNES – momentous industrial heritage
This location was a mining community in the 1800s and here lived the most modern and known copper workers of Northern Europe. The Statue of Liberty in New York is made from a copper produced here!

AKRASANDEN BEACH
It was voted as the Norway’s finest sandy beach! I have to say this place surprised me a lot. You can find them discovering the coast between Akrehamn and Ferkingstad. During the year it is possible also to do surf here.. .and if you look for historic things…. You can find some small holes and bunker of the Second War War, just ask them to local people and they will teach you!

SKUDENESHAVN – A charming town
It is located on the outermost southerly tip of Karmoy. It is a place where you can wander about in peace and quiet surrounded by beautiful architecture, taste freshly-made waffles in cozy cafès, shop for antiques and other treasures, or discover great hiking areas and sandy beaches.

OSLO NEIGHBORHOOD: THE FJORD ARCHIPELAGO

If you are looking for a relaxed way of experiencing Oslo and the the fjord, you can take the ferry and go island hopping. You just need to go to Rådhusbrygge 4 and from there you can catch the ferry to idyllic Høvedoya and Lindøya, with approximately 300 charming Norwegian summer cottages. This is not the only small island you can visit; the others are Rambergøya, Gressholmen and Heggholmen. All of them are fantastic places for lazy days in the sun, and Heggholmen houses one of the oldest lighthouses in the fjord.

Rambergøya and parts of Gressholmen are nature reserves, and that sea birds are nesting between the two islands. Updated ferry routes are always available at Ruter, where you will also find information about tickets.

If you were ever in doubt, the Norwegian capital, like the rest of the country, boasts beautiful nature experiences, and the Oslo Fjord is definitely worth paddling!

When I decided to visit the islands in front of Oslo I was to the port to see which options I had… the best one for me is buying the daily ticket for 10 Euros (105 NOK) and you can pass all the day from an island to another, walking one it and discover the nature you will find there.

If you would like to stop on Høvedoya, where there are some nice beaches where you can have a pic nic…. Or just go for a walk on the island boarders! It was the first one for me; the ferry took just 15 minutes to go there from the port.

After Høvedoya I was on Gressholmen, where you can find also a café  or restaurant closed to the point the ferry will let you on the island. This island has also a small church at the end of it, from where you can take some nice pictures and enjoy the view!

After 2 hours exploring this island, I landed for Lindøya, where I passed a nice afternoon taking the sun in a pier!

PLAYA BLANCA: THE CARIBBEAN CORNER OF CARTAGENA

Playa Blanca is the closest beach on which to spend some days far from the noise of the normal life. It is on in Baru, closed to Cartagena. It was originally a peninsula, but it was separated from the city during the construction of the Canal del Dique, and is now an island.

The life in Baru is easy, about 20,000 native people live there who make their living from fishing, tourism, and the sale of handicrafts on the beach. In recent years, the growth of hotels, eco hotels, and hostels has continued to increase, as has the demand from visitors in search of one of the best beaches near Cartagena.

Baru has many beautiful beaches, but only a few of them are open to the public, including Playa Blanca (the most popular. Other playas are Playa Bobo, Punta Iguana, Puerto Naito). The others, sadly, are either private beaches, or they belong to hotel complexes. Playa Blanca is perfect if you want a simple experience. For what I saw, no big hotel buildings till now, just small huts and a lot of hammocks … For me a paradise!

HOW TO GET TO PLAYA BLANCA BY LAND

You can arrive to playa Blanca easily, There are many ways to reach this land. You can go on your own by taking a bus that leaves from the statue of the India Catalina in the centre of Cartagena and goes to the town of Pasacaballos. From here, you can take a motorcycle taxi that will take you directly to Playa Blanca for about COP$10.000 (3 Euros). If you are only planning to stay at Playa Blanca for the day, you can coordinate your return trip back to Cartagena with the drivers that brought you in.

Another option can be to go by a shuttle bus. You can book it and it will picks you up in your accommodation in Cartagena and takes you to Playa Blanca.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT PLAYA BLANCA

Before Playa Blanca was connected by a bridge to the Pasacaballos small town it was an undiscovered place of pristine, untouched beaches (5 years ago). Now, the area has turned into a very popular destination in Cartagena with a wide variety of accommodation with prices that start at just 4 Euros a night. The place is still really nice and not full of huge hotel buildings.

One of the negative aspects of Playa Blanca are the beach vendors. They will continue to address tourists trying to sell stuff. But it depends on how much effort you will put in find the right place for you. I walked over all the beach to find a good hut without a lot of people, at a good price and with free beach in front of it, so no lots of people that wanted to sell things!

The truth is that those people are only looking to make money for their families and they see visitors as an opportunity to bring food into their homes by doing honest work. I’m not justifying their behaviour, as in some cases they really are annoying, but I believe that saying a simple and convincing “No Thank-you” is enough to keep them away. Or sometimes you can just speak bit with them and they will appreciate it even if you will not buy anything.

A very practical advice is to ignore the oyster vendors. The vendors will come over to you saying that the first one is free, however, this is a lie. Nothing is free, and if you actually want to eat them, you should establish a price for how many you want to eat first. If not, you’re likely to return to Cartagena with empty pockets.

The local women are usually responsible for giving massages on the beach, and they will also try to persuade you and charge you excessive prices. Some treatment as for the oysters. They tell you that they will give you a “free trial” of their work. Again, this is a way to trick you.

In Playa Blanca you could buy lots of Tours, to reach the others iland, to go snorkeling or other activities you preferred. The prices are not high and you can also bargain, so all on you!!

Playa Blanca was perfect for me. The white sand and warm, sky blue sea provide the perfect Caribbean image that that I had the previous year in Cuba.

TRINIDAD DE CUBA: THE COLONIAL TREASURY

You know the famous pastel colored buildings that Cuba is known for? Yeah, that’s Trinidad! Trinidad has a cute array of colored housing and here the casas particulares are unreal! Many of these homes are beautiful colonial jewels with stunning gardens. You can walk cobblestoned streets, listen to live music in the plaza, cool off with fresh sugar cane juice, hop into a horse-drawn carriage, chat with locals, or visit fascinating colonial museums spread about town. You will not loose your time in Trinidad. Trinidad is a place where new mixes with old to create a jumble of sights, sounds, and smells.

It’s certainly a tourist town though — but even with other travelers around, Trinidad doesn’t lose its charm.

 

 

 

A BIT OF HISTORY

Trinidad, is also began an UNESCO World Heritage site in the center of the island in the province of Sancti Spíritus. Trinidad is Cuba’s best preserved colonial city, a unique mix of 1850’s architecture & 1950’s cars that feels frozen in time.

Trinidad was one of the first Cuban towns founded by the Spanish, and it quickly grew wealthy from the production of sugar cane, cattle, and tobacco due to the importation of African slaves.

The town’s wealth funded extravagant palaces, large plazas, and colorful colonial homes for rich plantation owners.

WHAT TO DO

Plaza Mayor is the true heart of Trinidad, a large plaza comprised of raised gardens, walkways. Historic buildings from the 18th & 19th centuries still surround the plaza. Many of them are painted in pastel colors, topped with red terracotta roofs. The plaza was built when the region was rich and you’ll still find the same churches and mansions previously owned by sugar barons — restored and transformed.

Life is simple, grab a seat on one of the cast-iron benches, and enjoy the gardens and the buildings nearby. You can order your drink and the waitress will bring it to you. But taking a long walk down some of Trinidad’s side streets until you get completely lost is one of my favorite things to do. You’ll get a glimpse of what life in Trinidad truly looks like. You may see games of dominoes, deep conversations, bird cages hanging from porches. Don’t be afraid to ask some questions too. Most people will be happy to chat!

If you want to dance,  in Cuba you can stay sitting down or don’t move any of your mussels as you will have always music around you, every evening at Casa de la Música there is an outside show which travelers can enjoy. Here expect to pay 3 CUC  / $3 / £1.96 for a cocktail.

One good place is the Canchánchara where you can have good cocktail of rum, honey, lemon, and water, it’s the simple things in life in Cuba that matter. Don’t be alarmed when live music explodes! It is Cuba mood..

SURROUNDING

The nearby Playa Ancon deserves a shout out too because it is a postcard perfect beach. This beach is perfection, it’s exactly what you would expect of Cuba with its blue waters, white sand and palm trees.

In attempt to miss the strong sun, I hired a bike in Trinidad at 9 a.m. (5 CUC / $5 / £3.27 each). With the bike I rode till the beach and passed all the day chilling there.

To know more about Cuba, see the other articles on this amazing country!

HAVANA: AN EXPLOSION OF LIFE STORIES OF JOY AND FEELING

Cuba, when you arrive to the airport, the hot weather embrace you in the row till the passport control. You are already exited to see how it is in the reality, if all the stories people tell you to about the magic of this place are true or not. It is magic or it is only a decadent place stopped in the ’60?

You looked many pictures at home trying to imagine how it is the legendary place you want to visit from all your life. When you are there, it seems all strange at the beginning. No advertising, no malls, long row out of the shops to buy food and alcohol, nothing that remember you the west world from where you came. For the time I passed on the island I forgave every truth or certainty, I had at home. Leave every prejudice you have and start to think and live different as it is always the last happy moment of your life!

It is poetry, happiness, passion. It is the fire that moves you around the island and the capital, one of the most beautiful places I was. Difficult to express through words, easy emotions to live when you are there.

After a while, you understand that it is not the time that stops but is the life itself. Locals have different opinion about that, “it is a good thing, we won’t change!” or “we want the progress”.

Cuba is salsa, is pina colada on a beach. Cuba is a child without his toys, is a smile that invites you to dance. Cuba  is a broken bus , a train that never stops, the smell of cigars, the taste of rum,  the rhythm of a vibrant music.

I decided to write now this article, aware that things are changing and I don’t know where Cuba will be in 5 years from now. It will be the island still a paradise? A place where you can live easily? Where the passion moves everything and not the consumption? I have many questions inside me on Cuba, and nothing more the time will give me answers.

The people are unique and you need to speak with them to understand their story and what they passed to become what they are, the convictions and the dreams they have, the way they live their life and more….

Each part of the island is a world, a different one, but dancing, smiling with a passion that comes from inside their hearts is part of each Cuban I met.

The best way to start discover this world is walking around, talking with people and drinking with them good Rum, maybe dancing gin small tiny place with live music that bring you in the dream of Cuba.

Remember that at that time the currency where two…… one for tourist and one for local. You had to be sly to know it!

So let’s talk about Havana, the capital city…

One of the first thing I did and the most romantic in Havana is going to see the Malecón at Sunset.

The Malecón is a long, historical road that separates the city of Havana from the blue ocean. For decades, Cubans have been there searching for a beautiful girl to fall in love with! I have to say not only couples but also families and group of friends go to the Malecón to talk and drink!

Many locals go there during the night to drink and socialize because it’s cheap and of course it is not an expensive club.  At the sunset it is a majestic sight to go. The colors are incredible, yellow turn in red and pink before the sun disappears under the buildings, a truly spectacular show!

Close to the Malecon you can also walk through the Cuban Missile Crisis Tunnels. Standing at the edge of Hotel Nacional — you see people starting to line up and the Cuban Missile Crisis tunnels are under their feet!

After you’re done enjoying your mojito in the garden of Hotel Nacional, take a little stroll to the far right corner and look for the signs, and tunnels where the Cuban Missile Crisis missiles were once set up and aimed directly at the U.S. It’s crazy to think that an island in the Carribean almost went up against the U.S. in what would have been a World War III!

Please if you can, ride a 1950’s Convertible car! One of the biggest trademarks of Cuba is its amazing collection of antique cars from the 1950’s. Many people still use them for everyday use, but most of them are used as taxis or private cars that you can ride. They will try to overcharge you at the airport and all around the city, so please bargain all the time you want to take one! It will be cheaper (around 10 CUC) and they will likely be willing to wait for you places, and will come get you whenever you call them!

You need to walk around Havana Vieja, the most touristic part of the city. The old Havana is today a renovated areas. It’s a “touristy area” with a lot of new hotels, restaurants, landmarks, etc. You can see the famous capitol building, walk around the cobblestone streets, and check out one of the many restaurants or little souvenir shops that are on every block. Close to here there is also a nice fresh fruit market. You’ll see tons of little fruit markets around the city, so if you want a fresh piece of mango or watermelon, be sure to stop in these open market not in a touristic bar. At the time I visited Cuba, they accepted only Cuban pesos, not the Cuban Convertibles (CUCs) a tourist was used to using — 25 pesos = 1 CUC. So I had to search a change money and I enjoyed it!

If you continue walking, you find also the craft markets with all of the little souvenirs you see in the tourist shops, but all in one place. Here you can also bargain for a deal.

Deeper into the city there is Centro Havana, an area that is most densely populated with locals. Like most things in Cuba, the buildings are the originals from the 1950’s and earlier, however, there was no money to keep them maintained or restored. Currently they started to renew also this part of the city. But still, the buildings are crumbling and decrepit looking, as I loved. This is part of Havana charm.

Another nice neighborhood is Vedado. It is full of “casa particular”, so you can see mansion after mansion along the street. There your mind can start to dream about who lived there before the revolution.

People told me it was where mafia and mob leaders from the U.S., plantation owners, and even the Bacardi family lived there when Batista was in power and Havana was the “Las Vegas of the Carribean”. Now, multiple families live in these old mansions. No one pays rent. The government decides to assign the families to homes depending on the family size and where they are originally from.

Another must in Havana is Dancing, Dancing and still dancing! Cubans love to dance not only during the night but also during all the day. Therefore, there is always a live band and everyone dancing salsa!

If you want real, authentic Cuban nightlife, head over to Casa de la Musica in Miramar — just west of Vedado and close by the Tropicana. The young locals go to dance here live salsa or reggae music, but it is also the place where the tourists go to dance so it is a bit expensive if oyu want to drink.

Live another Havana

If you want to see also the normal Havana you can start discovering the Young Artists’ Movement at Fabrica de Arte. The place is awesome. Fabrica de Arte is essentially an art gallery  that is built inside of an old olive oil factory.

It has two floors plus an additional back area made from cargo containers. On the first floor there is a bar, artwork and a live band playing, and upstairs is more art. Out back is a patio where most people lounge and hang out, then back downstairs out back is a little “food truck” type thing made from one of the cargo containers with modern Cuban cuisine.

Another good thing to do to discover Havana is to practice Spanish & English with locals. Many Cubans want to learn English. Spanish in Cuba is important to talk with people, hardly anyone speaks English. A few people, especially younger ones can speak a little. We talk fast for them to be able to understand!

To live the history of the city , you need to visit the Four Plazas of the Revolucion. The giant Che tribute is one of the first Revolucion memorials you’ll see when you arrive in Havana. There are four different plazas with statues dedicated to memorials of the Revolucion leaders, but they’re spread out all over Havana, so you either have to take a taxi to go to each one.

Out of the city!

If you are tired of walking, the day after you can pass a perfect day at Santa Maria beach to relax! You can go there with a simple bus as Cubans do, paying 1 CUC. When you arrive in front of you there is a beautiful white-sandy beach and clear-blue waters about 20 minutes from Havana Vieja. I spent a day there exploring and lounging in the sun! There you can also have an Authentic Cuban Meal (you won’t have a choice). I hope you like Cuban food because otherwise you might starve in Cuba. Your typical Cuban meal will consist of a meat (usually chicken, beef, fish, or shrimp) with a heaping side of rice and beans, plantains, and a salad of cucumbers and cabbage. If you stay in a casa particular, you’ll likely have the option to pay the people who own it a little extra to cook for you as well. Try also food from the local vendors and food stands like empanadas and croquettas!

GEORGE TOWN: HERITAGE OF THE ASIAN STREET FOOD

Penang: its street food is legendary and the capital George Town is one of the hottest destinations in Asia, especially for the nightlife.

The island is an exotic tropical piece of earth, located off the north-west Malaysia. It is one of the world capitals of street food, with a melting pot of cuisines from the island’s Chinese, Malay and Indian communities: Hokkien black noodles, succulent giant prawns steamed in rice wine and spicy assam laksa, roti canai dunked in a rich lamb curry and much more.

The island can offer much more to do. The best thing is to hire a car or organize a day trip in the nature to discover the other side of this verdant island, with lush jungle, traditional fishing villages and rural Malay kampongs.

Where to eat in George Town

Street food is everywhere around the island: with stalls cooking 24 hours a day, from breakfast to after-midnight breaks. Seafood is a Penang specialty. There is no other place in the world where such a mix of cultures has contributed their culinary influences one into each other. Chinatown, Little India, hawker stalls and food courts - the multitude of choices for eating in Georgetown is delightfully overwhelming.

The best place to eat for me are the food courts where you can find lots of different food to taste in the same location.

You sit down, take a drink to guarantee you the table and after that, you can go all around and decide what you want to eat taking your time. It can be also convenient to have all the options under one roof.

Just to mentioned the main ones around the city, below a short description of them:

  • New World Park: This failed amusement park was given a new life as Georgetown's best food court. Each food counter is clearly labeled with what local dish can be purchased. It is located in the northwest of the city.
  • Red Garden: The Red Garden is a little grungier and more hectic but the location is perfect! Here you can find a perfect mix of carts and counters that serve up excellent fare for prices cheaper than those found in restaurants. The Red Garden is an excellent place to find classics food as well as Thai, sushi, and even Filipino food. The Red Garden opens only for dinner at 5:30 pm till 2 am.

  • Sri Weld Food Court: This concrete-floored food court is cheap and simple, but the food is excellent. Sri Weld is located on the eastern tip of Georgetown between Lebuh Pantai and Pengkalan Weld
  • Cebil Market Food Court: This classic food court is located in the southeast of the city center. The food court is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Street Art

I love going around and searching street art when I travel. I like this art because it is the expression of the city soul and young folk; it is something clandestine and wild that become an integral part of the urban landscape.

In Georgetown, the artists integrated elements of the urban environment and other objects in their works in a very playful and funny manner.

Telling something more, in 2010 the state of Penang launched an initiative: they asked to the island artists to create sculptures in wrought iron in the form of cartoons which illustrate the multiculturalism of the region and of the local scenes and life.

Then in 2012 another step was done, in the framework of the Georgetown festival, the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic asked to create very imaginative murals combining the painting and common objects such as bicycle or telephone booths. This style of street art, light and fun, become the artistic signature of Penang and different artists joined the movement. I passed the day around the city discovering the places where the murals were taking pictures with a guy I met there.

Walking around

If you want to visit the city from an historical point of you, you can start from the Fort of Cornwallis, which was built in 1800 by Captain Sir Francis Light. He came on the island during a navigation, falling in love with the place. Not far away there is the clock tower built in honor of 60 years of reign of Queen Victoria. Advancing toward the south you can arrive to the characteristic district of Little India. You really feel to be in India, the food, the music, the color, the perfumes; the shops are like the traditional ones and let you to immerse yourself in the Indian atmosphere. In the afternoon, you can visit the Hindu temple of Mahamariamman, the Teochew temple and the mosque of Kapitan Keling, built in 1801. After that, a visit to the old part of the city is necessary. A metal arc is the door to this area that was founded by the first Chinese emigrants: Chinatown.

If you go closer to the sea there are also the old clans headquarters There are different ones for each clan that populated the city. The shops are now abandoned, the houses one after another are of faded pastel color but you can lose hours and hours to run up and down, to discover new untouched corner all around.

The only critical point is the sun that burn so keep with you water and sun-cream for your skin!

After Penang I turn to Kuala Lumpur again, my time in Malysia was finished!

KOH LIPE: EARTH TREASURE OF WHITE BEACH

When you arrive on the island, the first impression you have is “Am I dead or alive?” You see a row of small boats in the water that has an intensive blue color compared to the white of the sand, a long beach tongue in front of you . The effect is a sharp light that come to your eyes, and you say “Wow!!” If the paradise really exist, hoping it will be similar to this.

Fisherman

If you arrive from Langkawi, in Malaysia (as I did), you need to clear immigration first. The staff on the speedboat or ferry will guide you through the immigration process. After the registration at the immigration office on the Southern end of Pattaya Beach, next to Bundhaya Resort, you are free to go.

The island is  very small, so you can go by foot everywhere, but if you are too lazy, Motorbike taxi drivers are around to take you where you need to go.

History

The first community to settle in Koh Lipe were a group of nomads of the sea called Urak Lawoy belonging to Chao Ley Group. They travelled from one island to another in search of areas rich of fish. Still today, many Urak Lawoy earn to live from fishing. The advent of tourism brought changes, still things are changing, and some have opened their restaurant where they cook fresh fish, while others have become taxisti or organize excursions on the islands.

The Chao Ley Koh Lipe are Animists, with a strong bond with the spirits of the sea and their ancestral spirits. Sometimes positioning of the totem on beaches as a point of contact between the spirits and the shaman. The Chao Ley also boast a rich musical heritage and the Urak Lawoy in particular are very good at playing the violin and percussion.

During cultural events as the Full Moon of Koh Lanta, the Urak Lawoy celebrate traditional dance and music with the hope of achieving economic prosperity and happiness in the family.

Koh lipe treasuries

The three main beaches in Koh Lipe are: The Sunset Beach (Hat Pramong), the Pattaya Beach and the Sunrise Beach (Hat Chao Ley) and a handful of small beaches for the most private and islets to explore.

Pattaya Beach: it is the most popular beach and the most beautiful of Koh Lipe with soft white sand and crystal blue sea. Here in addition to the hotels, you will also find dozens of bars and restaurants located directly on the beach or around the corner of the Walking Street.

Sunrise Beach (Hat Chao Ley): this beach extends along the entire eastern section of Koh Lipe. On clear days you can see in the distance the island of Koh Taruta and Langkawi Island in Malaysia. On the northern tip of the Sunrise Beach, in front of Koh Adang, there is a beautiful portion of white sand that change the shape according to the season and to the winds.

Sunset Beach (Hat Pramong): it is a small bay overlooking the west Coast, and as its name suggests is the best spot to watch the sunsets. It is a beach with the atmosphere very calm and relaxed where you can still find the characteristic bars and restaurants built with pieces of wood carried by sea.

If your skin is burn, this beach is also good in the morning because the sun will arrive in the afternoon, so you can enjoy the sea without pain!

However, you need to do a boat tour to enjoy at all the beauty of the island: the tour of the islands by boat also will give you the possibility of snorkeling in the most beautiful spots of the marine park. Koh Lipe is probably one of the last Thailand pieces remained uncontaminated. With 30 islets nearby and a hundred reef well preserved and easily accessible, is an ideal destination for diving lovers.

The strong points of the dives are the soft corals and the macro; there are several pinnacles of granite covered with coral frequented by neutral colorful tropical fish. The best sites for coral are Stonehenge and Koh Taru where you will be amazed to see the expanses of soft corals purple and white and the variety of marine species.

LANGWAKI ISLAND: THE BORDERS OF MALYSIA

As in Italy is winter and I wanted to have rest on a white beach in front of a blue sea I decided to go to Langkawi Island after Pangkor island on Malysia west coast.

I just looked some pictures of the place and after that I tell myself: “ok, you have to go there!”

So I took a bus from Lumut to Kuala Perlis (6 hours) for 38RM (around 7,5 Euros). After the bus, I have to catch a ferry (1, 5 hours) for 18 RM.

At the end I arrived on the island. Off the coast of Kedah, Langwaki is not a single island. It is a cluster of 99 small islands offering different worlds: beautiful beaches, mangroves rich in flora and fauna, ultra-cheap duty-free shopping and fascinating legends.

 

  • ISLAND LEGENDS

If you go around asking to local people the history of the name they will tell you the tragic story of a beautiful young lady named Mahsuri. It is a tale of love, jealousy and a curse that was placed upon the island by her for seven generations.

Today, people still believe that the prosperity and blessings is not a simple coincidence. The mysticism of this legend can be felt in many parts of this island, especially at Makam Mahsuri (Mahsuri's Mausoleum), where Mahsuri is said to be buried.

Her parents, Pandak Mayah and Mak Andak, originally migrated from a small Muslim village called Prabang, near Phuket, Thailand. Mahsuri was born and raised in Langkawi, in the early 1800s, and later married a local warrior named Wan Darus. Her husband soon left to join the fight against the invading Siamese.

While he was away, Mahsuri innocently befriended a young man who just happened to be traveling through the area (and obviously not a warrior). The village chief’s wife, who was jealous of Mahsuri’s beauty, then spread rumors of Mahsuri being unfaithful to her husband and the rest is history (or legend if you will). She was falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death. Mahsuri was executed by knife in 1819.

The Legend recorded in the island history tell that the Siamese invaded Langkawi not long after Mahsuri’s death and razed the island to the ground with a scorched earth policy. And coincidentally, Langkawi did not become a major tourist hotspot until the birth of Wan Aishah bt Wan Nawawi, the seventh generation descendant of Mahsuri.

  • ISLAND TREASURIES

Tourism is one of the most important activities but many of the islanders are still farmers and fishermen. For this the food you will eat is really good and fresh!

 

One of the beauty of this island is the countryside and peaceful landscape of paddy fields you will enjoy by renting a moto bike and taking a leisurely drive around the island. Some of Langkawi's most rustic and memorable views are along the road that circles the island far from the most touristic places.

You'll experience small villages with wooden houses framed by palm trees, and children pedaling their old bicycles on errands.

But if you like to hike you can also do that in the island small mountains. They are for free, so you need only the willing to start and go to the top!

If you are too lazy there is another possibility: there is a new cable car that can bring you to the summit of Mount Mat Cincang - Langkawi's second highest mountain - for an unrivalled view of the entire main island and beyond.

Other popular destinations are the Field of Burnt Rice, Hot Springs, Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) and the Beach of Black Sand.

You can also enjoy a Boat tour to Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories) and Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave) if you will have the time!

What I wrote is not exhaustive; it is possible to do much more in this beatiful island.

So going back to my trip, I passed 2 lovely days in the island before going to Koh Lipe in Thailand.

I stayed in a hostel in Cenang, a good location to start your day and decided where to go!

The first day I was walking all around the main beaches enjoying the sun and the music. There was a blues festival on the island in those days so in the afternoon I passed my time listen good live music and drinking some beers.

The second day in change I took a moto bike and I was all around the island pausing to visit the waterfalls and the 7 wells. From there you can start to hike to the top of the Mount Mat Cincang. It takes around 2 hours to arrive to the top. Before leaving th island the 3rd day I decided to go before the time of departure to Kuah to walk a bit around the village and enjoy the Legend Park and the view from the eagle square.

See you in Koh Lipe!!