Palau Lang Tengah had been a real tropical dream. Located off the east coast of Malaysia, it lies on the gorgeous South China Sea and is a part of the Redang, Gem and Perhentian islands cluster. The nearest mainland Malaysian town is the intrepid Kuala Terengannu and it is an ideal getaway for those seeking solitude. Pulau Lang Tengah is fairly small and with only four hotels catering to its guests, the tropical island guarantees peace of mind like no other. My visit to Lang Tengah island had been an impromptu one and it had been one bored evening at my shoddy beach homestay that I had decided to leave Kuala Terengannu or KT for somewhere else. While the city had been attractive enough with a lovely Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque, gorgeous Chinatown and kampong style old fashioned Malay houses, its food had been the real star.
From the blue tinted Nasi Kerabu (rice eaten with dried fish and other condiments), an amazing array of most sumptuous seafood dishes to drool worthy fried crabs, I had eaten till I could have burst at Malaysia’s lovely eastern city. However, with time even the most delicious dish had started to feel familiar and after more than a week long stay at KT, I had hunted for options to break the monotony. The lovely Redang, Perhentian and Gem islands had immediately popped up on the search list but the rush of tourists there had put me off. After being in a Malay city for more than a week, I had eagerly looked forward to some solitude and throngs of alcohol happy beach bums preferring the large islands had not exactly promised that. It had been a bit disappointing since Malaysia had some of the finest beaches in Asia and just when I had been ready to give up, the tiny Palau Lang Tengah had featured on the map like a minuscule dot. Located in between Palau Redang and Palau Perhentian, Lang Tengah had boasted of excellent reef, rich marine life, rainforest and pristine beaches. Moreover, only four resorts had catered to the travelers visiting Lang Tengah and that had tempted me enough to head for it the next morning.
Now obscurity and serendipity come at a price and the access to Palau Lang Tengah had proved just that. Connected with the Malaysian mainland by ferries from the nearby Merang Jetty, a 45 minutes ride through the usually choppy South China Sea had taken me to the island. Even the jetty had been difficult to locate and on that early Sunday morning an expensive taxi from KT had lazily driven me past swaying palms and mangrove swamps to the sleepy fishing hamlet of Tanjung Merang. The boat jetty had been a few minutes outside the village and I had trudged between tangle of squid baskets, drying shrimps and wet fishing nets to bargain for a ride. Speedboats and fishing trawlers hurled all over the shingled littered patch of sand had offered transfers for various prices and fishermen had smoked insolently among purple beach petunias. I had opted for a speedboat keeping the unruly South China Sea in mind and it had turned out to be an excellent idea. The sea had been one of the roughest I had experienced and after a hellish hour bumpy ride, I had finally crawled on the boat pier of the idyllic Lang Tengah island.
Palau Lang Tengah in Bahasa Malaysia had meant an “Eagle resting on the middle island” and the first sight had revealed a patch of dense emerald rising out from a deep blue sea. Circlets of white sand and purple boulders had ringed the crystal clear water and it had been a sight worth braving the choppy sea transfer. My hotel, the D’Coconut Lagoon Resort had stood on one side of the small island and I had fallen in love with it as I had walked over the barnacle encrusted wooden pier to check in. The rooms at the D’Coconut Lagoon Resort however had been nothing special, but it had come cheap and had an infinity pool overlooking the sea. Isolation had been its real highlight and the resort had neither phone nor wifi connectivity. It had been pure bliss and being slightly late in the high season, I had shared the solitude with just two other guests. Thus had begun my charming Palau Lang Tengah days with late breakfasts, long walks in the rainforest, reading books and counting stars. The island had the blessing of a delicious silence and apart from the rustling of waves, nothing had ever marred its gentle cocoon.
With the weather god being kind to me during my stay, I had spent my Lang Tengah days swimming in the warm water, chasing Nemo and keeping a lookout for turtles coming out to nest. Being a part of the turtle conservation project and a marine park, the sea around Lang Tengah had been unusually clear and fluffy tropical flowers had dropped silently upon the silky stretch of sand. Many a times, I had been lucky enough to have the beach to myself and had shared the sun with shy monitor lizards. It had been closest to a tropical paradise of my dreams and every evening, as I had watched small red crabs scurry over the wave dashed rocks, I had let the winds carry my prayers of gratitude. Someone wise had superbly quoted that the impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life and my brief solo break at Palau Lang Tengah had nothing short of a rejuvenating yoga for the mind.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE