The islands of Langkawi had been cursed by a young lady named Mahsuri, who was accused of adultery some 180 years ago.
She was a beautiful girl and the Sultan of Kedah was won over by her charm, much to the chagrin of his wife, who, out of jealousy, condemned her and employed henchmen to pierce her with a sword. White blood oozed out of her body.
In her last moments Mahsuri swore that the land would be doomed, and would regain its glory only after seven generations. The legend might be true or not, but only a decade ago Langkawi rose in prominence. The idyllic islands still possess uncrowded beaches, thickly forested hillsides, and unpolluted mangroves where monkeys, otters, kingfishers, and hornbills abound.
Langkawi is a cluster of islands in the Andaman Sea. It is a part of the Kedah State of Malaysia. A one-and-a-half-hour steamer ride takes you to there from Kualah Kedah, a fishing village about nine kilometers from Alorsetar, the Kedah state capital.
Kualah Kedah is a tiny hamlet smelling of fish at every corner. We parked our car in a school which is making lot of money providing parking spaces in a covered car park charging 10 RM/day. Just opposite is the jetty terminal. Crossing the road at about 12 noon with the sun right overhead we entered the crowded port. There are steamers going up and down every hour charging 23 RM/head.
We booked tickets for the 1.30 p.m. ferry and waited in the lounge for an hour. The upkeep of the port is very poor, with cigarette stubs everywhere, and the shore looks dirty with dirtier boats and even dirtier sand gleaming black with soot and rubbish, while the smell of fish pervades throughout.
At half past one in the afternoon we got into the steamer. We had to be careful when getting into it as the bridge temporarily assigned is rickety. The interior of the steamer was not very much to our liking but the ride was pleasant. Getting into the sea we found the waters clean and the sky downcast with dark clouds roaming here and there.