What Would Grandma Mary Do?

Langkawi Pantai KokClick on the panorama above to enlarge

At times, Langkawi seems like one money making scheme after another. Although the island is 478 square kilometers and it’s filled to the brim with tourists, public transportation is conspicuously absent. Instead, visitors can use the over-priced taxis governed by one hell of a well-organized taxi mafia.

Pantai Cenang too overdeveloped? Want to get out and explore the island and you don’t feel like shelling out a ton of dough on taxis? Just join an expensive, cookie-cutter island hopping tour. Or how about a $60 snorkeling tour? (Are you people serious? Is this Monte Carlo?)

No, in the spirit of independent travel (and thriftiness) Thomas and I, armed with a map, decided to rent a motorbike and drive around the island on our own. First stop, the bay at the base of that stunning karst ridge that I showed in my last posting.

We wound our away along the well-paved streets past gas stations, hotels, a couple of attractive rice fields, the airport, a police academy, a mall, and some apartment buildings until we came to Pantai Kok, which seemed refreshingly green and impressively undeveloped. We parked our bike and wandered down to the beach for a swim.

Being the grandchild of the renowned world traveler and celebrated adventuress, Grandma Mary, I always have to see what lies around the next bend. I strolled along the beach past some bungalows to a series of boulders extending out into the ocean. Working my way up onto the the smooth boulders, I continued to work my way around the bend. (I should mention here that climbing boulders to get to an unknown destination is also a trait I share with my grandma, who injured herself climbing a waterfall in her sixties.)

And there it was. Certainly the most beautiful bay on Langkawi backed by a line of perfect palms, cut off from the outside world by another damn luxury resort. That day that I predicted in Why I Don’t Love Langkawi had come. How could this beautiful beach have ever been sold?

Now I should explain here that I detest the commercialization of the world’s most beautiful places. I can tolerate a national park entry fee in the name of preservation, but I don’t think stunning natural locations should be sold to the highest bidder. I don’t even really like the concept of private property. Perhaps, it’s that tiny strand of native American DNA in me. More likely, it’s my nervy grandma Mary who taught me that the exploration of nature’s treasures should not be impeded by trivial things such as “keep out” signs.

Summoning grandma Mary, who would have been 99 years old today, from the great beyond, I asked her what to do? The answer was immediate. My mission: get Thomas and surreptitiously work your way onto that perfect beach to brazenly swim in its perfect waters in the name of travelers everywhere.

And so, we did.

Happy 99th Birthday Grandma Mary 🙂

3 responses to “What Would Grandma Mary Do?”

  1. I hate dealing with taxi drivers and I despise tour groups even more. They just exist to gouge foreigners out of everything they can get out of them. They’the same everywhere. I always rent motorbikes wherever I go. It’s always better that way. Just get a map and go……

  2. avatar Freda says:

    Tony,
    What a great article and recollection of Grand Ma Mary.
    With her sweet baby blue eyes, she was able to make her way through many barricades and would find a way to resolve many challenges to arrive at her many travel destinations through the years.
    Even though she had a simple life she would beautifully prepare bowls of fresh fruits and joyfully sing, (We’re rich, We’re rich)
    Freda

  3. @Freda: I already love your grandma Mary. Who knew we shared the same song? Every time I bring fresh fruits and vegetables in from the garden, or I bring home a wild harvest of huckleberries, I sing, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”

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