Langkawi's Giants

Mountains: Mount Mat Chinchang
Mountains: Mount Raya
Mountains: Sawar Hill
Waterfalls: Temurun
Waterfalls: Telaga Tujuh
Waterfalls: Durian Perangin
Langkawi Index

The Legends Of The Giants

Langkawi is occasionally referred to as 'Malaysia's Legendary Island' due to the many legends that surround its sights. The legends that visitors to the island are most likely to encounter are Mahsuri's seven-generation curse and the fairies of Telaga Tujuh waterfall. There are far more, however, one of which is the legend of Langkawi's ancient geological formations.

Legend has it that the mountains of Langkawi used to be giants eons ago. Two of these giants, Mat Chinchang and Mat Raya, were good friends whose children were about to be married to one another. During the wedding reception, Mat Raya noticed the son of Mat Chinchang eyeing a completely different woman. This gave rise to a furious argument between the two. Chaos ensued and pots and pans were thrown around. Soon after, another (smaller) giant, Mat Sawar, intervened to try and break up the fight between the two. Unfortunately for all three, lightning then struck and turned all of them into stone.

The view from the peak of Mount Raya (elevation : 881 m). Sawar Hill and its ridge can be seen in the shadow of cloud cover behind the western slopes of Mount Raya. The craggy ridge of the Machinchang Formation and its highest peak, Mount Mat Chinchang (elevation : 701 m), can be seen behind Sawar Hill in the distance. The island on the right is Ko Tarutao (Thai: เกาะตะรุเตา) which is a part of Thailand

Mount Mat Chinchang now stands in the far west of the island, Mount Raya in the centre, and Sawar Hill between the two--forming an enduring barrier between the battling giants. The pots and pans that were thrown also gave rise to notable locations around Langkawi. The site where a pot filled with sauce landed is known as Kuah (English: Sauce), where one of the pots broke is known as Belanga Pecah (English: Broken crockery), and where a pot full of hot water landed is known as Ayer Hangat (English: Hot water).

Before we go on to the hikes, please jot down the numbers that are listed below. If you do see any suspicious behaviour when out hiking, encounter things like traps and snares, or even see protected animals or their parts that are sold as either collectibles, pets, or for (so-called) medicine, then please do not hesitate to contact the wildlife crime hotline. Be sure to try and document it as best you can with photos or video without putting yourself in danger, and take note of the details: descriptions of those who are involved, as well as when and where it took place.

"The Wildlife Crime Hotline, managed by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), provides YOU an avenue to report offences involving endangered wildlife in Malaysia. We protect the identity of all informants, only key info of the reports are forwarded to the authorities."

Wildlife Crime Hotline019 356 4194

Emergency Numbers
Wildlife Crime Hotline 019-356 4194

Wildlife Department 1800 885 151

Langkawi Forestry Department 04–9666 835

Langkawi Hospital 04-966 3333

Langkawi Bomba 04-969 3004

Langkawi Rescue Department 04-966 3434

Langkawi Police Station 04-9666 222

Geology of Langkawi

Langkawi has gone through several geological processes since the Early Cambrian period (541 to 509 million years ago); therefore, it comprises of the oldest rock formations in South-East Asia. These processes have left Langkawi blanketed in a wide range of unique structures that are made up of a range of sedimentary rocks. The first process began with sandstone deposits in an environment that is thought to have once been a part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. These sandstone deposits are what make up the Machinchang Formation. There were numerous other deposits after that, including calcium carbonate-rich sediments that went on to form limestone, as well as signs of glaciation.

Eventually the mass broke away from Gondwanaland and began to drift rapidly towards warmer waters until it eventually collided with Indochina. This collision began in the Upper Permian to Lower Triassic periods (as late as 247 million years ago) and created numerous faults and folds in the area. Magma also slowly solidified underground and gave rise to the Mount Raya granite that is spread out across the central spine of the island. Eventually tectonic uplift carried Langkawi upwards until the three giants broke the surface of the water and emerged from the ocean.

The Geological map above is from the 'Geopark as an answer to Geoheritage Conservation in Malaysia' research paper (colours have been inverted). The map not only indicates the distribution of rock formations around Langkawi, but also marks out significant geosites within and around the Langkawi Geoparks, four of which are geological monuments (LI/TDI, SKI, TI, UI). The key to the Geopark abbreviations can be found below. The boundaries of the three Langkawi Geoparks have also been marked out: Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park in the north-west corner; Kilim Karst Geoforest Park in the north-east corner; and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park in the south.

Term Definition Term Definition
ADI Anak Datai Island RRP Raya Roof Pendant
BRI Burau Residual Island SKI Singa Kecil Island
DBL Dayang Bunting Lake TDS Tepur Dropstone
JFB Jemuruk Fossil Bed TGB Tuba Granite Boudine
KBP Kubang Badak Pinnacle TGS Tuba Granite Sill
KTB Kisap Thrust Breccia TI Tikus Island
LI/TDI Langgun Island / Tg. Dendang Island UI Ular Island

Sawar Hill

Sawar Hill lies between Mount Mat Chinchang and Mount Raya (the interactive location map can be seen here). There is a trail that runs along the spine of the hill, but it is rarely used. The trailhead is located at the side of the road and the trail is quite wide and flat, at least for the first 500 metres or so. After that, the trail swings sharply to the left and begins its ascent. The trail also becomes overgrown fairly quickly. For hiking, I would recommend the other two mountains over Sawar Hill as they are less overgrown and have much better views due to the higher altitudes.

The beginning of the Sawar Hill trail

Next : Langkawi (Part 2): Mount Mat Chinchang

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