Langkawi, a cursed island


On our first night in Langkawi, we had a close encounter with a large troop of monkeys when they literally crossed our path. At the time, I had no idea what type of monkeys they were. They simply walked on by and disappeared into the forest….as monkeys do!

I noted the Einstein hair, orange babies, and eyes that looked…oh… so round, bright and staring, what with that white ring around them and all!

So began an obsessive, week-long search to find them again.

The dusky leaf monkeys are fascinating. I was told that the babies remain orange for the first five months of their life, and that they resemble ripe fruits when in the treetops, which is where these monkeys sleep. Apparently this deters predators, eagles and kites mainly, what a neat trick!.

They also feed on over-ripe fruit which renders them drunk most of the day. Sister monkeys and older siblings share maternal duties, allowing mum a little time to feed.

While searching for the dusty leaf monkeys, I spotted lots of lemurs. Goodness, how they glide. They were like ghosts floating from tree to tree, many with babies on board.

At the time, we were unaware of the dangers of being out at night, we were only informed as we were leaving that spiders, scorpions and snakes were a serious issue!

I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have been bitten by a spider, but hey ho, I’m still here to tell the tale.

I gave up looking for the dusty leaf monkeys in the end, but on our last day they walked right past us, once again……what joy! They have to be the most fascinating monkeys I’ve ever come across.

Hornbills were everywhere….

along with red Kites,

and sea eagles, such majestic creatures.

I really fell in love with the grey herons, I came to think of them as the dancing birds, all legs and wings.

So elegant. Magical beasts!

Balinese fishermen in the mangroves.

Along with swimming dogs, guarding fish…yes, indeedy!

We were advised not to go roaming around any of the unpopulated islands as they are said to be teeming with lethal snakes, we took that advice to heart!!!

Langkawi itself is known as the Island of snakes, yet strangely enough we didn’t see a single one.

There were many islands that you dare not tread a foot on…good for the wildlife though!

An alpha male macaque outside our hut window asking to come in, a big no from both of us!

And Finally….

Why cursed? Well, apart from corrupt politicians who are hell bent on destroying the island, there was a curse placed on Langkawi….here’s the tale.

Mahsuri, a beautiful young woman lived on the island between 1762 and 1800. She was married to Wan Darus, a warrior. While he was away, Mahsuri became friendly with a young man called Deraman and was accused of committing adultery.

Despite pleading her innocence she was tied to a tree and stabbed to death, the punishment for adultery at the time.

With her dying breath, Mahsuri cursed Langkawi. She said, “For this act of injustice, Langkawi shall not prosper for seven generations to come.”

Within a few years of her death, Langkawi was devastated by the Siamese and all the rice fields were burnt. Her husband and his family were also all killed.

The curse apparently only ended seven generations later at the tail-end of the 20th century when Langkawi began to prosper once more, this time as a tourist attraction.


  30 comments for “Langkawi, a cursed island

  1. Jo
    May 8, 2017 at 7:54 am

    You have to wonder about these curses, don’t you? A coincidence or is there some truth in it? It looks such a beautiful island with fabulous wildlife and those monkeys are so cute.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      It was rather odd about that curse! It is a heavenly island, sadly corrupt politicians are allowing tourist building everywhere, even in those ancient

  2. May 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    It would have been good to have the warning about the snakes and spiders much earlier wouldn’t it? The monkeys look fascinating.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      It certainly would have been a little safer knowing about the more dangerous creatures. Those monkeys have to be the best I’ve ever

  3. May 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    A fascinating post and wonderful pictures. xx

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:18 pm


  4. May 8, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Did Deraman get tied to a tree and stabbed to death too? Probably not. I wonder if the baby monkeys intoxication is some sort of adaptive tool too, making them stay closer to home or easier to care for? Fascinating in any case. I am not a fan of lethal snakes so probably would have arrayed myself in leather chaps or high boots the whole time I was there. Ugh. It must be a challenge to bird watch there, with always having to be on the lookout for snakes. But those lovely herons might have made me forget the snake. Gorgeous creatures.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      Deraman got off scott free, as you anticipated….not on is it? The adult monkeys are the ones who eat the over- ripe fruit, and I think the youngsters do too, once weaned. I wished more than once that I had a pair of knee high boots with me, they will certainly be packed next time, great snake and scorpion deterants for sure, good for leeches too! The herons were so fascinating, I watched them for hours. xxx

  5. Kitty
    May 8, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Oh, the monkeys are so captivating, Dina, and I agree that the birds are glorious, too. I’m not a big spider fan and certainly fear scorpions. Snakes don’t bother me, but poisonous snakes need a very wide berth, so I’m glad you’ve shared all the photos and stories, because I probably wouldn’t put Langkawi on my travel bucket list.

    What tales you have to tell, though, brave soul that you are. Thank you!

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      I was so happy getting a second sighting of those monkeys. Langkawi is teeming with wildlife, such a shame that there is so much building going on, all sea worlds and the like, approved by corrupt politicians sadly. I’m not a fan of poisonous snakes either, so was happy not to bump into any. I think hubs and I may have avoided going out in the dark if we had known what was lurking in the forest!!! Thanks Kitty, hope you and your are

  6. May 8, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Hubs saw a soft toy yesterday, similar to the monkeys. It was much like the pictures of your little ones. He kept picking it up and caressing it. When we passed by a basket in which were a few more topsy turvey ones, I swear he looked longingly at them. I do wonder what would have happened if we had been amongst the real ones.

    Fascinating travelogue and super pictures too. xxx

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      I’m laughing re your hubs, he would have fallen in love with this troop for sure!!! Thanks

  7. May 8, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    A fabulous post, wonderful wildlife and a story, I do like a story. I bet you would have liked to have brought one of those monkeys home with you in your suitcase. And aren’ t you brave wandering about in the dark. I would have been terrified, I have a horror of snakes.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Chloris. Hubs and I were wandering around in blissful ignorance, lady luck certainly shone on us! If you dislike snakes you’d best avoid Langkawi!!!xxx

  8. veggiemummy
    May 8, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    What a glorious holiday and beautiful photos. I love the little, orange, drunk babies! The tale of the curse is both fascinating and a little bit spooky! xx

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      I was really taken with those orange babies too, unbelievably cute! That curse really did last, it does get you thinking doesn’t it? Thanks

  9. May 9, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Really interesting post, I have never seen dusky leaf monkeys, I love the Einstein hair and the orange babies……amazing. The big alpha male macaque reminds me of the many baboons at Vic Falls in Zimbabwe….not to be messed with..
    Interesting about the curse on the island…we were there briefly and it was certainly very beautiful and so would attract many tourists, so I hope they can take care of the wildlife in the mix.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks Gerrie, it was fantastic spotting these monkeys, so unusual and unique! I kept an eye on that macaque, as you say, not to be messed with, have your arm off they would! Sadly, corrupt politicians are allowing all sorts of buildings to fly up, even in the mangroves, I wonder what Langkawi will look like ten years from now, maybe those monkeys habitat will be destroyed. Such a

  10. May 9, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Another fascinating post….and OMG you and Hubs do get around 🙂 I love reading about your travels…Janet xxx

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Janet…my bucket list just keeps getting longer!!!xxx

  11. May 9, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    You are intrepid travellers … so nice to see your photo’s and read about your adventures.
    It looks such a beautiful island with some fantastic wildlife and those monkeys are just so cute, I am pleased that you saw them again.

    I must say it kind of makes you wonder about the curse tales … a coincidence or maybe there is some truth in it !!

    All the best Jan

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks Jan. Langkawi is a beautiful island, I fear for it’s future though as buildings are flying up everywhere for

  12. May 10, 2017 at 2:14 am

    What a remarkable adventure you had! Those monkeys sound like they lead a pretty good life. The grey herons are remarkable.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Those monkeys certainly lead a good life! I must say, those herons kept me captivated for hours. xxx

  13. May 10, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Of course, there are some who might contend that the arrival of the tourists was an extension of the curse. (Present company excluded, of course — you’re travelers, not tourists in the less-than-happy sense!)

    The thought of orange baby monkeys that resemble fruit for protection is just — well, marvelous. Who knows how these things develop? or why? I love following your reports of your travels because you always include such intriguing little details. As for the snakes — yeh, I’d stay away, too. I haven’t encountered many snakes in my life, but in the past month I’ve come across three: one curled up for a nap, and two suddenly slithering through the grass at high speed. I’ve taken to wearing knee-high boots for just that reason: well, and as protection against thorns, fire ants, and chiggers, too. 🙂

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      I agree re tourists being a curse in Langkawi, corrupt politicians are taking back-handers and allowing all sorts of construction to fly up for tourists. The island will be changed beyond recognition in ten years, and the wildlife will be decimated.
      Goodness, that’s a lot of snakes to run into….good job you have those boots!!! Thanks

  14. May 11, 2017 at 6:24 am

    I’m wary of the snakes, scorpions and hornets we find around the Italian house, but in a way I’m glad there are snakes on those uninhabited islands that deter visitors and as a consequence wild life and plants are protected. On the other hand, thank you for sharing fascinating blog posts about your time in out-of-the way places where you did go. You’re an intrepid traveller. The dusky leaf monkeys are cute yet have such wise expressions. I’m not surprised you wanted to see more of them. Loved seeing the sea eagles, red kites, herons, hornbill, macaque, lemur and the way people live. Your header photo with the green lights shining on the water is beautiful and makes the place seem mysterious. An interesting story about the curse.

    • Snow Bird
      May 15, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      It must be rather scary living with snakes and scorpions in Italy, you sound like you are used to them though, I suppose you get to know where they are and how they behave.
      Those green light were shrimp boats, the light they threw off was quite eerie. Langkawi certainly has some stunning wildlife, I loved the place!xxx

  15. May 12, 2017 at 2:53 am

    Hmmm…..maybe there was some truth to that curse! Sounds like a fascinating adventure! Lucky you!

  16. Snow Bird
    May 15, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    It is odd re that curse, it lasted for exactly seven generations. Certainly makes you think. Thanks

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