Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/11/15

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Subject: Re: [Leica] was:R8 MIA returns. Now photo tour.
From: "Ken Iisaka" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 09:19:38 -0800

Ted Grant wrote:
> The location MC has referred to, Langkawi,  is the most pictorial tropic
> island I have ever seen. This place is a photographer's dream come true,
> has everything you can imagine, ancient buildings, modern buildings,
> fishermen, all kinds of "people activities" and colour!  Colour...colour,
> out of your mind colour!
> And folks that's as far as it got. I still think it's a good idea simply
> from the photographic potential of incredible white sand beaches,
> blue water and skies, colourful fishing boats, you name it and it's all in
> a friendly country.

I fully concur with Ted's lovely description of the island.  My wife, son
and I were there for almost 10 days over the last New Year.  It was a
spur-of-the-moment trip and we were so lucky to be able to arrange the
flight and accommodation with less than a week's notice.

We stayed a week in Pantai Cenang, a west-facing beach resort town where
every type of accommodation from camping ground to a full-service resort
line up along an expansive white beach, without the rowdiness that often
accompanies such an area.  We spent these days reading, walking, taking
photographs of the magnificent sunset, and exploring the wonderful culinary

We also splurged and stayed three nights over two visits (the first two
nights and the last night on the island) at The Datai, an exclusive
first-class resort in an isolated part of the island in a rain forest.
While the stay and meals cost as much as an M6 body, it was a delightful
escape from the stress of Tokyo where we lived at the time.  The relaxation
and isolation from our daily lives allowed me to make a firm decision to
move back to North America, which we did three months later.  The areas
around The Datai would be a Doug Herr paradise, with all sorts of birds and
animals surrounding the cottages which dot the rainforest.

Our visit coincided with Ramadan, so relatively few locals were out during
the day.  Taxi drivers and merchants of Chinese origin were pretty much the
only locals seen during the day in the touristy parts of the island.  I wish
I then had a Noctilux to capture the lively scene after the sunset.  Without
a fast film and lens, recording any recognisable images was out of question.

A fascinating sight on beachs was the little crabs which digs little holes
into the beach, and places sand balls no bigger than the red dot on the lens
around the hole in such intricate patterns.  I spent much time photographing
them with a DR Summicron.

The weather pattern was rather unusually wet for the time of the year, and
we were unable to enjoy the water as much, except for the wonderful seafood
that came out of it.  My Nikonos was left pretty much unused, except for a
couple of rolls off Datai, and there was not a single shot which I felt had
any merit.

One scare we had was that our son suddenly became ill, with high fevers.  We
immediately took him to a state-run clinic, where a physician saw him and
gave antibiotics, for free.  When we insisted that we must pay, the friendly
answer was to tip the taxi driver, which we did.  The fever receded
immediately, and he was fine within 48 hours.  Such is a legacy of the Prime
Minister Mahathir, who spent considerable time as a physician on this
island.  He spent much effort promoting Langkawi as a tourist destination,
and the government has spent millions building an international airport
(AFAIK, there is even a direct flight from Europe)  There are concerns about
overdevelopment, but the recent economic troubles in the region has already
halted several mega-projects on the island.  Time will tell whether Langkawi
will become the next Penang.

Langkawi would certainly be among the top of the list of many places to
revisit for me.