Visiting an exotic place – like an uninhabited island or dense mountain forests, sounds absolutely thrilling. While I’ve traveled quite a bit across India and been to some some wonderful places which fit this definition of “exotic” (for instance, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh), I was enamored by the raw beauty of Pulau Payar. Pulau Payar is an island in Malaysia and is situated in the northern part of the Straits of Malacca, near Kuala Kedah. It is mid-way between Langkwai, a marine park and a very popular tourist destination and Penang, a major industrial town situated in southern Malaysia. Following is an aerial view of the place:
Getting there is an easy 1-hour or so ride on comfortable speedboats or luxury cruises which leave from the coast of Penang. (I was lucky to have 2 Japanese girls for company but I had a tough time communicating with them using isolated words and facial expressions.. Managed to sharpen my Sign Language capabilities in the bargain! 😉) .. Anyway, coming back to Pulau Payar, the one thing I particularly appreciated about the local administration is that they have refrained from allowing any sort of construction on the island of Pulau Payar. In any case it’s a little small to be a self-sustaining island, but there is virtually no concrete except for the a bit of shade and changing area around the beach – which goes a long way in preserving the beauty of the place. I appreciate the fact they have avoided “commercializing” it at the cost of taking away some of its charm!
The moment I reached the place, I was reminded of “Cast Away” (Tom Hanks, 2000) — vast stretches of white sand, punctuated by rocks towards the shores, crystal clear water and a hilly (and very green!) zone just off the cost! This picture I took perfectly represents the memories I have of the place-
Basically there are just 3 colors you can see –
- The BLUE of the ocean (& the sky!)
- The WHITE of the sand
- The GREEN of the hills behind you!
Pulau Payar is basically for snorkeling, and shark-feeding. Due to the government’s tireless efforts to preserve marine life around the place, the fish in and around Pulau Payar seem to be totally at ease with tourists. I was surprised to see small sharks actually swimming all around as we stood in knee-deep water! Pulau Payar is not a very popular place — It definitely does not attract as much publicity as Langkawi but that’s probably because it doesn’t have as many things set up there to attract tourists — No jing-bang, no attendants to serve you, no sources of jazzy food & alcohol (although I made sure I carried at least a can of Budwieser with me! :D)
If you’re looking for a quite retreat in the middle of nowhere where you could just “be” — Your search pretty much ends here!
I wanted to blog while I was on my tour, but I somehow didn’t get too much time. Shall keep blogging about the places I went to in bits and pieces.