Eagles and Bats in Langkawi, Malaysia

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Today, we arrived at Langkawi in Malaysia, and what a beautiful sight it was. Little round-topped islands popped up out of the ocean with mist-veiled mountains behind. The only thing that slightly marred the experience was the rain, but as the morning wore on, that seemed to clear, despite a slightly dismal forcast to the contrary.

One minor little issue we’ve found with visiting these places with high humidity is that our cameras are nothing short of useless for about the first 15 minutes or so. As soon as we emerge from the ship and turn the camera on, everything steams up. It isn’t just the outer lens, either; it’s internally; a patch of condensation appears somewhere beneath the lens that just takes ages to clear, and makes taking photos impossible until it has.

We were on tour today, with only one of us escorting (I was the escort; Tracey got to be a passenger). This was an excursion that Tracey has been looking forward to since we arrived in Sri Lanka almost two weeks ago; ‘Mangrove Safari and Bat Cave’.

A 45-minute coach journey brought us to an ‘eco centre’ located right in the middle of the forest, where we decanted into small 8-10 seater speed boats for a two-hour mangrove experience.

Our first stop was a location known for eagles. Sure enough; when we got there, there were dozens of them whirling around overhead, diving occasionally to nab a fish from the river and generally doing eagle-like things. Our guide explained that the location used to be an area where the eagles were regularly fed. Although they aren’t fed there these days, the eagles still congregate and breed there. I tried to film them with my video camera, with little success, but Tracey managed to bag a couple of decent still shots.

Our next stop was a floating fish farm, tucked away in one of the little tributaries of the river, where a young man showed us around. Manta Rays came up to be stroked and Horseshoe crabs waddled around for our delight. The young guide placed one on his head, encouraging it to act like a living comb, and then invited other members of the party to have their head massaged in a similar manner. It was an interesting and entertaining half-hour, but some of the pens looked a little small for the larger fish, making one or two of us wonder how long they’d been in there.

There were quite a large number of monkeys around and about; this is one that I photographed while at the fish farm…

Our final stop on the speedboat leg of the tour was to a bat cave.

As we all lined up to enter the cave system, we were all encouraged to use flashlights to illuminate them, but asked not to use flash with our cameras. There were also many signs about asking people to remain quiet; some people, it seems, simply can’t read.

It was interesting, but also slightly disappointing at the same time. It would have been nice to have had longer in there, to try and capture some good photos, but it wasn’t to be. There must have been thousands of bats all hanging upside in the cave, flapping about occasionally and making the odd sound, but it was all over too quickly, and the video and photos that we took were a little underwhelming to say the least.

The final stage of our tour, once we’d left the small boats behind and climbed back onto the coach, was to a large craft centre, where we were given an hour to wander at will (and spend money should we wish). I had no interest in spending money and wasn’t that bothered with the the crafts, although it was an impressively large building; it did have free wi-fi, though, which kept me happy for a while.

Described as an ‘Extended Half-Day Tour’, we didn’t get back to the ship until gone 7pm, soo it was a quick change and upstairs for lunch. The Mayalsian leg of our voyage continues tomorrow, when we are due to arrive in Penang.

Peter Woolley

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