Our cab breezed through a sparse evergreen forest to reach this remote nook in the island of Langkawi. The view on the way was refreshing, to say the least. There was a small, almost stagnant lake on one side of the road, on the banks of which some campers pitched tents. Coming from the Kilim Geoforest Park, where the gloomy weather started to pour rivers, I was dead anxious that the rainmakers would suck all the joy out of this trip. Fortunately, it was not raining at the beach when we arrived, but clouds, the friendlier, non-buzzkill type, remained looming overhead, swallowing the blue skies.
The place is called Tanjong Rhu (or Tanjung Rhu). Tanjong in Malay means Cape, and Rhu refers to the species of willowy evergreen tree also known as Casuarina Tree or, more popularly, Sea Pine Tree. It is these casuarinas, standing along the beach and in many parts of the island, that the cape is named after.
An old metal green sign marks the way into the bay. The hour and minute arms were about to rendezvous at the top of the clock when we got there and our tummies also signaled that it was time for lunch. Luckily, there was a small, cheap restaurant by the bay, serving Malaysian and Thai dishes. Even before I hopped out of the cab, there was already an incessant grumbling of my stomach, desperately begging for something to digest. While waiting for the food to be served, we took the opportunity to walk by the beach to save time.
The small karst islets that rose from the calm water caught my attention immediately. My bet is that they help tame the already shy waves that not sweep but gently roll along the channel that separates Langkawi from the rest of West Malaysia. Tanjong Rhu lies in the northeastern tip of the main island of Langkawi. It faces not the open Andaman Sea but mainland Southeast Asia. In fact, from Tanjung Rhu, we could see the faint silhouette of the mountain ridges that run, like the spine of a sleeping giant, from Malaysia to Thailand. Yes, Thailand is visible from here. Vividly, had it not been for the clouds.
The bay is littered with milky white sand. When we arrived, it looked like it had been combed with a giant brush as the sand had linear patterns snaking on it. It is a small cove, even shorter than Anawangin in Zambales. But like Anawangin, evergreen trees grow proudly on the edge of the cove, with their narrow, hairlike leaves swaying gently with the wind. There were also just a few tourists when we were there, definitely a plus. We shared the small beach with five other small groups, many of whom were on an island hopping tour, as they came on private boats. Some just stayed to take photos while the others chose to bathe in the water and the sun.
When we returned to the restaurant, our food was already waiting for us. It was not difficult to understand why the price here was low; the size of the serving was sad. The good news is, they tasted good.
One fresh coconut later, we walked back to the beach to take pictures and found one thing that never fails to make me feel lighter. Oh blue skies, how I missed you! The grayness finally paved way for the bright blue skies, leaving only thin sheets of cirrus clouds that floated like they too wanted to get lost in the blues.
While the other side of the island, where Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah lie, remains the most popular white sand strip in Langkawi, it is undeniable that Tanjong Rhu Beach fosters a more relaxing, more charming atmosphere than the rest — clouds or no clouds.
How to get there: From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia you may fly to Langkawi and take a cab to Kilim Geopark. You might also want to consider taking the overnight sleeper train from KL Sentral to Arau (10-hour travel time, RM 54). At Arau Station, take a cab to Kuala Perlis (RM 25), then board the ferry to Kuah Port in Langkawi (RM 18). Take a cab to Tanjung Rhu.