There is something exhilarant waiting to be discovered in the midst of the tropical rainforest canopy at the foothills of the jagged mountains on the sunset side of the Langkawi main island.
I am told, it is near the base of the Langkawi Cable Car.
But adventure has to wait as we drag our sleepy bodies onto the tarmac upon touching down at the Langkawi International Airport.
It had been 20 years since I last set foot on the island.
The airport still resembles a local farmers’ market with tour operators clamouring for our attention from within the confines of their booths as we assemble in the arrival hall, much to the amusement of a blonde traveller who promptly records the boisterous scene on her mobile phone.
As the airport is undergoing an expansion where vehicles find it hard to manoeuvre, we have to lug our luggage along the road before boarding the tour bus that will take us to our resort—Resorts World Langkawi.
The resort sits solitarily on the edge of a peninsular that extends out towards the Strait of Malacca.
Dotted along the turquoise water are numerous isles that make up the 99-island archipelago.
Checking in is effortless. Thereafter I make my way to my room, passing through a hallway that evokes nostalgia.
But further away from the main building, the rest of the complex suddenly brightens up and transports me to the present, with a mix of light grey wooden flooring and geometric paintings hanging on the walls.
The room has been spruced up after a major renovation.
I have more beds than I need. There is also a round table for some keyboard pecking.
But I gravitate towards sliding the full-height wooden windows open, inviting some fresh albeit warm breeze in. Much to my delight, the air-conditioning continues to flow, cooling the room as the dilemma of having to choose between the two instantly evaporates.
Our first destination is a quintessential Langkawi experience—the country’s largest aquarium Underwater World Langkawi.
The marine exhibit houses a plethora of marine animals, a walk-in aviary and some elongated reptiles that strike fear into my heart.
A couple of seafloor-dwelling Japanese spider crabs further induce kabourophobia and arachnophobia synchronously, as visitors opt to marvel at adorable creatures such as rockhopper penguins.
It’s quickly apparent to me that these cuddly flightless sea birds actually evolved from flighted birds some 80 million years ago as they share similarly unsatisfactory lavatory manners.
Like a walk through the museum where time flies for those who are having fun, it’s almost time for my late afternoon decadent pampering session back at Resorts World Langkawi’s Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa.
I have booked a neck-and-shoulder massage to soothe those aching muscles brought upon by intense exercise in the gym.
After swapping for a pair of woven sandals that propagates the spa’s Javanese heritage, I proceed to the treatment room where the masseur has been awaiting my arrival.
His forceful touch is a godsend to the trapezius, relieving muscle tightness via a series of “good” pain. I can’t help but to grimace as I lie face down on the treatment table while my back is moistened with aroma oil.
By the time I bid adieu to the masseur, the sun is almost ready to retire for the day.
The wind has picked up, signalling to me to return to my room and get changed into swimwear.
The resort for the longest time was notable for its waterpark, but recently, it has added an infinity pool that juts out into the sea.
A couple of female companions have already striped into a two-piece and are ready for Instagram-worthy moments.
The next morning requires us to wake up before sunrise.
After a buffet breakfast consisting of watermelon, yoghurt and cold cuts, and a quick stroll on the promenade to soak up the sun, we are set for what comes next.
It’s a two-and-a-half-hour-long, 12-stop, three-suspension-bridge, zip-line adventure.
Umgawa’s Zipline Eco Canopy Tour, which takes its name from Tarzan and his famous utterance, shares the same locality as the Seven Wells Waterfall, where trees soar above the clouds and chilly water cascades down a rocky hillside.
A few rangers help us fit into our safety harnesses and helmets, give us a briefing on safety, before we embark on the first stop.
The first ride had me worried about smashing into the tree trunk.
But my fear proves unfounded as the ranger provides extra assurance by physically intervening just as my feet touch the tree trunk.
The ranger displays a cheeky side, playfully teasing one of my companions by shaking the ropes as she makes her way across a suspension bridge high above the forest floor.
She cries out in a mix of fright and ecstasy, realising that she is securely attached to the ropes.
Her petite frame proves to be a great source of entertainment for the entire journey.
As irony has it, her “lack-of” mass causes her to succumb to the laws of physics when she attempts to glide across the second-longest line, at 165m long and vertigo-inducing height, across the waterfall.
Unable to generate sufficient momentum to last through the course, she helplessly slides backwards towards the midpoint after having so nearly reaching the landing platform at the other end.
Much to her relief, the ranger swiftly jumps into action to rescue her from being stranded over the waterfall.
After we have been hoisted down from tree tops, we are eager for some refuelling at the resort’s Seagull Coffee House.
As raindrops begin to fall, the lamb shank arrives to satiate my hunger, along with a glass of refreshing watermelon margarita to quench my thirst.
The rest of the time is spent on hoping the rain will subside as we have a sunset cruise to catch later in the evening.
There is no sunshine until the rain is gone.
Thankfully, the rain clears soon after.
As the vessel leaves the pier, each of us kicks back and relaxes at the bow with drinks in our hands and Ed Sheeran on the airwaves.
When it finally comes to a standstill out in the open sea, and as the biggest test of my nerves since stealthily retrieving confiscated goods from the headmaster’s office, I make an impetuous decision to put on a life jacket and jump into the ocean despite not knowing how to swim.
To a chorus of cheers by the encouraging crowd, with my sight firmly set on the lush vegetation on the horizon, I take the leap.