Monday, 29 April 2013

Out & About: Langkawi Bird Paradise & Wildlife Park

Another tourist trap I tried out in Langkawi about 2 months ago. I went in totally not expecting much (the basis here is that if one is not expecting anything therefore one cannot be disappointed) in terms of experience and yet again I was pleasantly surprised.

It was of course situated fairly a distance away from the usual tourist haunts, along Air Hangat Road (one of the original trunk road in Langkawi) closer to Kuah town than the rest of the scenic spots here. Fairly easy to find with several road signs directing intrepid souls.

First off was the special entrance fee of only RM15 (dude, this is a steal!). Senior citizens were allowed the Child rate of a low RM 6 (Yeayy for Warga Mas!). Then there is a few small pens of Hedgehogs, Rabbits and Guinea Pigs positioned before the entrance, so visitors could get in some free Squees beforehand.

Hedgehogs in Langkawi!
Guinea Pigs, which is a weird misnomer really as they aren't related to pigs nor are they from Guinea.

Third would be the picture station directly in front of the entrance gate for photo opportunities with several super tame Macaws and Parrots, of you and your loved ones with them birdies. I have always appreciated birds from the Parrot and Macaw complex and at one time considered having one as a pet. The reality is however pretty alarming. Many of these birds live upwards of 20 years, therefore making keeping them a lifelong commitment. Knowing I may not have the ability to keep them healthy and well looked after certainly kept me off this path. 
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Peek A Boo! I See You!
Once in, you would notice how the large the actual place is (the collateral doesn't quite say how big it is but I would guesstimate approximately 4 to 5 acres). The fauna in here is largely Avian with the occasional mammal and reptile here and there.

Flamingos! I bought a pack of bird seeds and it was fun to watch them sift it out of the water with their bills. Looking at them up close makes me realise how ridiculous their design is. All legs and neck! :)

 Colourful pheasant with multi hued feathers
Ground brooding hen.

I love these furry fowls!
After a short maze of cage-based displays, the park opens up to an open air enclosure, designed to allow limited flight within the compounds.

Wall of Orchids greeting us before entering the center enclosure.
Common quail.
Mated pair of white doves

Greater African Crested Crane. These perform a very complex courtship dance during love season.


Man made waterfall
Arapaima gigas pond.

Then came the Cassowary & Ostrich enclosure. Got to feeding them seed and vegetable matter and it was fun. Who would have known they possessed such precision in aiming for the food bits. And long eyelashes too! Cute! Never once did any of them pecked the other while feeding.

Then there were some mammals.

Abu the Binturong. He smells of pandan and popcorn weird but he smelled really really pleasant. None of those off odours associated with caged animals. In fact, this dude is so placid he was positively cuddly (never mind the 1inch long claws he sports!)
About the size of a Labrador, Binturongs are opportunistic omnivores that supplement their diet with some animal protein (which explains those long canines!). In this place, guests are allowed to feed him only fruit matter as the keepers manage his vegetable and protein intake.
The balance of my animal feed went to these 2 jokers. These 2 were inseparable during my trip here. They shared a carrot, an apple and a few slices of orange.
What? Hahaha! These were pasted on many of the open air enclosures. I think in part to remind guests to not litter and to protect the denizens inside.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: Wan Thai Restaurant

My mum fairly recently arrived in Langkawi and so we went to Kuah town to grab some dinner. After milling around we decided upon Wan Thai restaurant.The restaurant is located in an area in Kuah, locally known as Pokok Asam/Padang Pasir and its touted as one of the more 'Authentic' Thai eatery on the Island.

It is a fairly large place comfortable seating about 150 pax, operating for Lunch and Dinner with a break-split in between. The menu is of course Thai, with some generic Thai stuff such a Tom Yam, Som Tam and interspersed with more um, less known stuff. My colleague had earlier suggested this place days earlier, and by the time we arrived there was already a sizable crowd engaged in various stages of dining.

Hunger driven, we both had skipped Lunch that day in part to make more room for this dinner, we perused the menu and sought help from the Thai-descent waiter for some ideas. A few moments later, we ordered and wasted no time in setting our mouths to business.

To Start, A leafy green appetizer called Miang Kam, which is fresh Kadok leaf, filled with toasted coconut slivers, peanuts, lime bits, rough sticks of ginger, sliced bird's eye chillies, chopped onions and drizzled with a bit of sweet palm sugar & sour plum sauce. This is to be rolled and eaten in one bite, relishing the fresh green flavour of the herb brightened with lime and contrasted by the crunchy additions.

A meh dish of Telur Bungkus. No stars for this, it wasn't bad, but then again it was not good either.

Thai 'Pandan' Chicken. A variant of the Nyonya Dish but equally moreish and sticky.
Green Mango Kerabu, piled high after a good sloshing of chillies, lime juice and fried anchovies. Note the liberal doses of cili padi.
Tom Yum Kung. A kick-in-the-face soup of 4 large prawns in rich tom yum broth spiked with coconut water and steamed in the coconut. This is another star dish of the place. Not exactly cheap at RM 20 per serving (4 large prawns inside) but this would quickly sate any Tom Yum addict.

Steamed Sea-bass "Paek Sak'. Beautiful dish of delicate sea-bass steamed with pickled
whole garlic & white galangal, sliced lemongrass and chillies,
and topped with spring onions & coriander.
A dish at once sweet & spicy, silky smooth with natural fish juices,
tangy from the pickles and lime juice and uniquely fragrant. 5 Stars!

We ordered a sharing portion of Thai Style Fried Rice with sweet beef stir fry,
matchsticked green apple, firecracker chilli rounds and red shallot slices.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Out & About: Underwater World Langkawi

Took the opportunity to see some fishies recently and I was pleasantly surprised. The sheer number of species on display in good old Langkawi definitely shocked this jaded KL Boy.

The place had no real off odours and was quite well maintained. I would argue that it certainly more than justified the Tourist entrance fee of RM35 (as a MyKad holder we will get a discount of course). Nice.

Main entrance welcome attraction. A huge tank filled with several Arapaima Gigas. These MFs are big I tell you.
Red Tail Catfish, a problem fish for some freshwater aquarists. Cute and sweet while small, but then has this ability to grow up into this large 1.2 meter-ish tadpole! (but still pretty of course).

Weird to find some non fish animals in a park called Underwater World Langkawi, but heck, the animals look well taken care of, so Kudos to the animal keepers!
Blue Tongued Skinks. These look particularly well taken care of, so, Yeayy!

Peek A Boo! I see you chubby-sleepy Leopard Gecko.
The park is built on a plot of land roughly 2 acres in size and the indoor bits are designed to maximise space usage, complete with twists and turns and multi-level displays (even including aquarium tunnels in several parts).

The freshwater fish was I think my favourite. Plenty of well stocked tanks filled with happy healthy fish. It was quite evident from these alone to make the correlation that the fish keepers are really cool people that really love their wards . Each tank was nicely aquascaped with suitable plants and appropriate tank mates - cleaner shrimp, algae eaters, algae snails.

 Then after more turns, we reached the larger part of the place. Ocean life displays.

Pretty Sea Cucumber.
Tube Worm
I love the stillness of this fellow. I stood there watching and he barely moved an inch. I guess its way of life is to take things easy and S-L-O-W.
No self respecting Aquarium would be caught without their own Nemo display yes?
Sea Squirt! (Cute name right?)

Some Medusae in a circular tank. Hard to accept that such graceful looking creatures are actually predators.
On to the larger display tanks then.

Giant Grouper. This one was HUGE!! Imagine your fattest and thickest bolster pillow, now imagine 3 of them tied in a bunch. o_O
Sleeping White Tipped Reef Sharks. Interesting to see these resting this way looking out. Left me wondering if they were dreaming of snacking on tourists!
GTs! Giant Trevally. Apparently these are favored game fish, famous for their speed and aggressive nature.
Giant Puffer Fish. This guy not would keep still enough for me to get a picture of his funny face.

You will forgive me for wondering if these would taste nice as Goreng 3 Rasa!
Cautious Spiny Lobster.
Damsel fish display
Blue eyes!
Then we reached the center of the complex with a Penguin tank. Penguins! Yeayyyy! Created to mimic its natural environment of rocky outcrops and gullies, these guys look happy going about their day. And all of them were fat and completely nonplussed by all the gawking spectators.
King Of The (ant)Hill!

Mini torpedoes in tuxes
This fella was the only individual who seemed intrigued by all the cameras and gawking people.
More surprises after that. There was an open air display nestled in the heart pf the building with loads of greenery, mock waterfalls and deep Koi pools. A nice change of scene really, moving from dark environs to a completely open air area. 

Pretty Japanese Carp. Hard to imagine they were first cultivated for the table. Now prized as display animals.

Cascade of White blooming Bougainvilleas!

Wonderful verdant greens!