Goodbye Alamanda Villas Langkawi, Malaysia

by | Sep 20, 2017 | Travel Stories


After three months at Alamanda Villas Langkawi volunteering through the Workaway platform it was time to go home. At least for a while. We learned, shared, made friends and fell in love with the place and the people.

We left Langkawi knowing we would be back soon.

3 Months at Alamanda Villas Langkawi

The day has come to say goodbye to the peaceful and charming Alamanda Villas on the Malaysian island of Langkawi, where stayed for three months doing “volunteer work” through Workaway. Now it’s time to move on and regroup at our lovely home in Sintra, Portugal,
We did not embrace this experience as true volunteer work, but more of a quid pro quo situation that serves the purposes of the people involved. True volunteer work would have been to offer our skills to contribute to a higher purpose. Having that very clear in our minds, working at Alamanda Villas Langkawi has been a wonderful experience, during which we achieved our objectives and fell love with the island and its people.
We came here to test our willingness to set up and run something similar to Alamanda Villas, somewhere in the world. We wanted to find out the intricacies and requirements of having such a business and how that would affect our lives. That mission was quickly accomplished, leaving us time to realise many things and draw up new plans and objectives.
Our routine was very simple though very time demanding, but we did it with love and dedication and, most importantly, made good friends, amongst guests, neighbours and locals.

Alamanda Villas Langkawi Team

We will miss the people we worked with. Zai (photo above – second from the left), the lady who keep the villas sparkling clean, pampered us throughout our say, by proudly offering, here and there, local delicacies and bananas. Our communication was not easy, but was enough for us to understand each other and share information, through signs and photos, about our families and ourselves.
Pak Han (Photo above – first from the left), the naughty gardener, always with a big smile, who taught us how to say selemat pagi, good morning in Malay, will also be missed. After disappearing for days and being told off by James, in a very didactic way, he would redeem himself by offering us coconuts from the garden, with a very shy smile, like a boy who has misbehaved and is seeking for forgiveness.

Making Good Friends

Last, but certainly not least, there is Zu (photo above – Zu and two daughters), the hard working lady who owns and runs the laundry that serves Alamanda Villas. Weeks ago, it melted our hearts when Zu confessed with a shy smile and her usual docile expression “when you go, I miss you”. Yesterday when we stopped by to say good bye, both her and Luciana had tears running down their faces, like lifetime friends who need to part.

We even made good friends in the neighbourhood, with Ria and André, a lovely likeminded Dutch couple who have been living in Langkawi for eleven years, and over long nights of very interesting conversations and laughter, taught us about life in the island and gave us insight about living in Malaysia. We are so grateful for their warm welcome and lovely sunsets at their verandas overlooking the stunning green rice fields of Ulu Melaka.

Our last acquired friend was Zaly, the adorable owner of the plant nursery, always with a contagiously kind smile, who carefully prepared a number of cuttings of local plants and trees for us to try to grow at home. As we left, he offered Luciana a candleholder hand made by his wife with old newspapers and we promised to send him pictures of all the planted shoots that he prepared for us.
People from Langkawi are kind, helpful and always carry a smile, maybe because we also always carried a smile for them. We believe that what goes around, comes around, so if we are good we receive good in return and that’s all we received from this lovely island with such contrasting realities. On one hand the extremely luxurious resorts, that are so private and secluded that the common traveller or even the locals cannot see. On the other hand the rural islanders who hustle for a living or just live the slow and idle island rhythm, but most often than not live in extremely basic conditions.

Waking up at 5:00 to start working on the blog before the heat caught up with her computer was the highlight of Luciana’s days, as these were the moments when she could hear the numerous and often, unidentifiable sounds of birds, frogs, all kinds of lizards, monkeys and other animals. It took her a long time to actually be able to sleep with so much going on in the neighbouring jungle, but after a while she adjusted and took on a routine of waking up around 4:30 - 5:00 a.m. with what she called “the melody of the prayers from the neighbourhood mosque”. That was the best time she found to write and work, before the heat and the routine took over our days.
In the beginning, finding food for a vegan was an adventure, but we soon solved that situation by sticking to a selection of restaurants where after a first visit they understood what a vegan eats and doesn’t eat: “No fish sauce. No oysters sauce, No egg. No chicken. Just soy sauce, garlic and onion”. Some of them would even say, always with the traditional big smile, the minute we started to order, “I know. I know”, followed by Luciana’s list of No’s. How lovely is that!
All in all, it was a lovely and enriching experience that will bring us back to the island of eagles.
It will be wonderful to be go back to Portugal soon, to our home that we love and miss very much, (especially the comfort!) but we wonder what our reaction will be to go back to what we, westerners, call civilization, after three and a half months living among the simplest and nicest people we have ever encountered.
We leave with a strong sense that there is space here for us to do true volunteer work and give back to a community that gave us so much. We want to truly help the local community and have found a breach in the area of education and implementation about recycling.
Yes, with this we are saying that we will be back soon. We are just going home to touch base, see family and friends, organise and prepare for our next long trip and return to Langkawi at the end of the year.
We will be renting from our friends Ria and André a cosy studio at Sunset Hill from where we intend to do a lot of planning to start implementing our new projects. The stunning beauty of the surrounding forest at The Crystal Room, as the studio is called, will be the base for our Southeast Asia eco-travels, but also a place of inspirations for preparing for our new projects in the island of Langkawi.
May the universe guide us through the right paths.

May the bliss be with you.

Happy travels!
Luciana and James

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