It’s Always Sunny in Langkawi

Your guess is as good as mine. Welcome to Langkawi, Malaysia! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Your guess is as good as mine. Welcome to Langkawi, Malaysia! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Silversea ‘s Silver Shadow sailed into Langkawi, Malaysia this morning, pointing her bow into one of the most beautiful sunrises so far on this trip. It’s a sunrise I couldn’t capture on film: the amazing humidity soaked my camera in condensation the second I stepped out of the forward doors on Deck 10.

Our call today is a short one, lasting from 8am until 3pm. I’m not complaining: as our cruise draws to a close, I’m actually quite eager to spend as much time aboard the gracious Silver Shadow as possible. This voyage is 12 days in length, and yet, her on Day 11, I feel like I could use another 12.

After two days at sea, we disembarked Silver Shadow this morning for another exciting round of adventures ashore. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

After two days at sea, we disembarked Silver Shadow this morning for another exciting round of adventures ashore. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

We docked at the Star Cruises Jetty on the southwest side of the island, which itself was barely big enough to accommodate Silver Shadow’s 610-foot length. It also happens to be in the middle of absolutely nowhere, so booking an excursion here is a good idea. However, Silversea does offer a complimentary shuttle bus service from the ship to the Zon Duty Free Shop in Cenang Beach; just a five-minute walk away from Cenang Beach.

To make the most of my time ashore, I booked Silversea’s 5.5-hour Island Panorama & Tropical Safari tour for $169. Departing at 8am sharp, it is one of seven shore excursion options offered here in Langkawi on this voyage. The others are:

  • Silver Shore Expedition: Pulau Payar Marine Park by Speedboat ($269 pp)
  • Kelim River Safari ($79 pp)
  • Langkawi Island Discovery ($69 pp)
  • Tradition, Art and Views from Above ($79 pp)
  • Dayang Bunting Island & Beach Exploration ($69 pp)
  • Mangrove Kayaking ($139 pp)

Our tour started with a visit to the town of Kuah, to see the massive eagle sculpture at Eagle Square. I have no idea why it’s there. My guidebook glosses over it completely; clearly, the Eyewitness Travel folks don’t know either. It sure is impressive, though.

Welcome to Eagle Square. Which, as you might expect...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Welcome to Eagle Square. Which, as you might expect…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...is home to a rather large eagle sculpture. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…is home to a rather large eagle sculpture. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Afterwards, we circumnavigated the island in order to reach The Datai Resort. Situated on the northwest corner of the island at the end of about 10 kilometres of narrow, switchback roads, The Datai is one of Langkawi’s premier resorts. It’s also as close a substitute for Silversea on land as I’ve seen, with a beautiful open-air design, attentive staff, and sumptuous amenities.

We enjoyed tea and a light snack of sandwiches and scones here, under the thatched roof of the lounge that is within sight of the massive pool nestled within the jungle canopy. A tour of some of the rooms and the facilities was on offer, but I was so content with my tea that I elected to stay.

Afterwards, we enjoyed tea at the exclusive Datai Resort. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Afterwards, we enjoyed tea at the exclusive Datai Resort. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Golf carts took guests from the coach through the lush tropical forest to...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Golf carts took guests from the coach through the lush tropical forest to…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...the resort, with its Silversea-esque ambiance. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…the resort, with its Silversea-esque ambiance. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Finally, we went to the Skycab to experience the world’s steepest cable car. Travelling over the ancient forests of Gunung Machinchang, the SkyCab travels 680 metres (2,231 feet) vertically, and covers a distance over the ground of 706 metres, or 2,315 feet. If you’re at all afraid of heights, this isn’t the one for you. I don’t really like cable cars (I’m somewhat afraid of heights), but this one was okay. Still, you’re very cognisant of the fact that you are a long, long, long way up in the air.

The views, however, are absolutely worth it. On the downside: we only had 10 minutes to admire this view before catching the next car back down because of scheduling issues, and crossing the massive Skybridge was completely out of the question.

The Langkawi Cable Car - or SkyCab - is said to have one of the steepest grades in the world. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Langkawi Cable Car – or SkyCab – is said to have one of the steepest grades in the world. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I believe it! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I believe it! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The view from the top, however...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The view from the top, however…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...is totally worth it. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…is totally worth it. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The massive SkyBridge looks a bit nerve-wracking if you're afraid of heights. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The massive SkyBridge looks a bit nerve-wracking if you’re afraid of heights. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Compared with Myanmar, Langkawi looks like Las Vegas. I’d forgotten how much of our world revolves around logo brands as we zipped past stores like 7-11, Starbucks, Baskin & Robbins, Toyota dealerships, printing houses, and shopping malls of all shapes and sizes.

Regrettably, our guide was also focused pretty heavily on retail therapy. “Veryverycheap”, he repeated, over and over. Perfume? “Veryverycheap.” Cars? Also “Veryverycheap.” Dressed in a bright yellow sports shirt blaring the name of a team I’d never heard of, he barely came up for air as he extolled the virtues of Langkawi as a duty-free shopper’s paradise, noting how much cheaper it is to shop here than in nearby Kuala Lumpur, where we were last week.

My tour didn’t teach me much about the history of this picturesque place, as my guide was so focused on when the St. Regis hotel was going to open, or how much condos went for, or how to rent a car in Langkawi, complete with a step-by-step instruction that should surprise absolutely no one. “First, you rent the car. Veryverycheap to rent car here in Langkawi. But the gas is at your own expense. Also veryverycheap. But you mustn’t drive at night because foreigners hit things.”

Langkawi is a crazy place. It's like Vegas and Puerto Vallarta on steroids. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Langkawi is a crazy place. It’s like Vegas and Puerto Vallarta on steroids. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

All in all, it wasn’t a terribly Silversea-esque experience. The line normally vets its tours to ensure that guests aren’t given the hard-sell for things they don’t want, though occasionally the odd tour gets away. I remember being treated to the old “Moroccan Carpet Shop” trick several years ago on Silver Spirit’s visit to Casablanca, and the earful the tour operator got from our Shore Excursion manager for that little unlisted stop.

That’s one of the beauties of a Silversea shore excursion: someone from the ship’s staff accompanies each and every tour. They sit at the back of the coach and make notes on a clipboard about arrival times, departure times, and the contents of the excursion itself. I think that those participating in this tour in the future may have a decidedly improved experience.

Although I enjoyed my time in Langkawi, I wasn't disappointed to enjoy the luxurious world of the Silver Shadow again this afternoon. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Although I enjoyed my time in Langkawi, I wasn’t disappointed to enjoy the luxurious world of the Silver Shadow again this afternoon. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Racing back to the ship after 2:30pm, Silver Shadow dropped her lines less than 30 minutes later and made her way back out to sea, into the Strait of Malacca. The mercury hit 32°C, and humidity crept past 93 percent. It made for a pretty sweltering experience out at The Grill on the Pool Deck, which continued to serve burgers, fish, chicken and light fare to a packed audience of sunbathers, pool-goers and those who just wanted to enjoy a nice cold beer in the sun.

Relaxing on my balcony at sunset...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Relaxing on my balcony at sunset…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...before another exceptional dinner in The Restaurant. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…before another exceptional dinner in The Restaurant. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Tonight, in addition to another fabulous dinner in The Restaurant, the Captain’s Farewell Show was held. This is one of the most special occasions on any Silversea cruise: the time when all (or almost all) of the crewmembers onboard assemble in the main theatre to say thank you for having sailed with them.

Really, though, it is the guests who should be thanking the crew – and they did tonight, as they always do on Silversea, with a standing ovation. The crew of the Silver Shadow right now is second-to-none. I have very high expectations when I sail with Silversea, and the crew onboard the Silver Shadow have exceeded them in every way possible over the past week and a half.

The crew of the Silver Shadow arrive in the theatre for the Captain's Farewell. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The crew of the Silver Shadow arrive in the theatre for the Captain’s Farewell. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This, I think, is Silversea’s greatest asset. Anyone can roll out the Bulgari toiletries and the Pratesi linens on another ship and call it luxury. But real luxury is making you feel special, as if the entire experience was created just for you. It’s also about making you feel at home. Welcome. From dawn until dusk, day after day, voyage after voyage.

If you sail with Silversea once, you’ll like it. Make no mistake. But to truly experience what makes Silversea so special, sail with them twice. You’ll be welcomed back as an old friend.

That’s not just luxury. That’s kindness.

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Shadow continues tomorrow with our final port of call: Malacca, Malaysia! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
October 31, 2016SingaporeEmbark1800
November 1Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia08001900
November 2Penang, Georgetown, Malaysia08001800
November 3Phuket, Thailand08001400
November 4At Sea
November 5Yangon, Myanmar0600Overnight
November 6Yangon, MyanmarOvernightOvernight
November 7Yangon, MyanmarOvernight1900
November 8At Sea
November 9 At Sea

November 10Langkawi, Malaysia08001500
November 11Malacca, Malaysia13001900
November 12Singapore0700Onward Journey Home
 

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