How the Island of Langkawi and a Few Magic Mushrooms Changed My Life
Langkawi is an island in Malaysia where its tax-duty free, filled with beautiful beaches and fun activities to do, and where the locals welcome you in with open arms. When I first arrived to Langkawi, I checked in at this hostel called the Bunk Inn Shaka. It was a small hostel that had a unique and homey atmosphere. Upon arrival, I met a sweet German girl, Anne, and she invited me to hang with her on her last day. We bonded really well as she showed me around town and talked about our traveling adventures. Then we headed towards the Sky Bridge, one of the popular attractions on the island, and rode a cable car up in the mountains and hiked uphill to witness an incredible view of the whole island from above. We saw monkeys jumping around the bridge, but the locals warned us about how clever the monkeys are by using their cuteness to steal from tourists. Afterwards, we headed to Pantai Cenang beach, the most popular beach of Langkawi. We had $1 Tiger beer and watch people parasailing in the sky. I asked Anne if she would go parasailing with me but she hesitated because she was scared of heights. However I convinced her to go with me since this was her last day and it was only $20 for a ride! We screamed of excitement as we flew into the sky watching the sunset above. Both of us felt that adrenaline rush and couldn’t be happier flying over Langkawi. We arrived back at the hostel and I met some of Anne’s friends. A German guy named Lucas, a Polish named Jakub, and a German girl named Jill. We end up playing drinking games and went out dancing and singing to our hearts content. I had one last talk with Anne before we said our goodbyes. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me for making her last day one to remember. She told me she never wanted to leave this island and it was a special place she could call home. I was sad to see her go but curious to see what she saw in this island that was so special. The next few days I tried to communicate with Anne’s friends to see what they were up to but none of them wanted to go out because they had already done everything on Langkawi. Lucas had stayed on the island over 3 months and Jakub and Jill worked at the hostel for 2 months already. I asked them why they stayed here for so long and they told me this island was like their home and they didn’t know when to leave. My curiosity triggered more and I was ready to take on this adventure. I decided to learn how to ride a scooter for the first time. I asked the local owner of the hostel, Reena, if she could rent one out and show me how to ride it. She found a small scooter that only cost me $5 a day to rent and gas was only 50 cents per tank to fill. She told me to take my time, be confident, and go with the flow as I practiced driving around the parking lot. I felt so accomplished learning how to ride a scooter that I spent 5 hours cruising through Langkawi on my own. I discovered numerous beautiful places including a pebble rock beach, 3 different waterfall places, and end up circling the entire island. Luckily it was safe and easy to drive since there was no heavy traffic on the roads. After a long day of exploring, I came back and Jill invited me to watch the sunset with her at Pasir Tengkorak Beach, a small beach that was only 5 minutes away from our hostel.
When we arrived, she showed me this place called “The Box” that was filled with hammocks, local décor, and a bonfire area that the locals built for people to hangout and relax. Only a few were special enough to know about this place. We lounged at the Box and watch the sunset where the sky was filled with purple and blue tint and fluffy clouds surrounded by colorful parasails from the Pantai Cenang Beach. Jakub and Lucas joined us later to start a bonfire, and the locals threw a barbeque and invited us all to join in. I realized most of the locals were Muslims and their culture was built on making everyone feel welcome, to not judge anyone for their actions, and to be respectful to every life form on that island. I appreciated learning their culture and bonding with them because they said most tourists judged them based on their religion and how people assumed that they would bomb or steal from them because of what the media portrays of Muslims. They pointed out that tourists came to party and drink on their island, but because their culture doesn’t allow intoxication, Muslims believe that people can have good time without drinking. It inspired me to embrace this lesson because as an American I’m used to partying and drinking to have fun but after being with the locals, they showed me that I can have fun without being intoxicated. The next day, Jakub and Lucas invited me to go explore Langkawi. We cruised through the mountains and went swimming at one of the small waterfalls. During this time, they picked on me so much for being an American and claimed how loud and obnoxious we are. It didn’t help that I talked loudly and bragged about our food and culture all the time. It was difficult to get along with them since our personalities clashed. Lucas is into heavy metal and had a short temper when it came to politics and religion, subjects that I always try to avoid. Jakub is a skinny, sarcastic guy who picked on me the most. He said to me:
“why such a beautiful girl, is so loud and complain so much? Americans worry too much and do not know how to enjoy life since they glued to their phones and work so much.”
It was obvious why he felt this way by watching me play on my phone the whole day and complaining about being homesick and working too much. I understood where they were coming from but in all honesty, I became frustrated of what they thought about me just because I was American. I did not understand why I couldn’t connect to these guys as easily as I did with Anne. I didn’t mind spending time with them and was grateful they took me out but at the end of the day I felt alone and insecure.
The next day Jakub invited me to pick up magic mushrooms from the fetus of cows since there would be a bounty of them after the rain passed.
To my surprise, I couldn’t believe I agreed to pick up magic shrooms from cow poop in a deserted field of Langkawi.
We gather all the shrooms and blended it with grape Fanta to make shroom shakes. Everyone at the hostel drank the shakes, and within the first 10 mins I was tripping out. I enjoyed the beginning of the trip as I frolic through the imaginary moving floors with Lucas and we just laughed for nothing. We head over to the Box, but as we are walking I felt fear creeping up on me and everything went downhill. My trip started to fill with evil images and anxiety kicked in making me feel uneasy. The island turned into a scary place for me unlike the others who were enjoying the beauty of nature on their trip. Lucas tried to calm me down by telling me to take it easy and to stop worrying.
I tried but my anxiety kept forcing itself to come through and the demonic face of my fear monster showed up laughing at me.
It started storming and everyone huddle into the Box for shelter. They seem to enjoy the storm but my trip became unbearable and I felt like everyone distant themselves from me and my bad energy. I thought maybe my bad trip was rubbing off and no one liked me around so I walked back on my own because I was afraid of ruining everyone’s trip. I felt so scared that at one point I thought I was dying and went into darkness. I prayed to my family and friends to say that I’m sorry and I love them. As I was praying, Buddha appeared in front of me and said not to fear but to embrace this feeling and everything will work out. I couldn’t believe my eyes because I know I was tripping, but it felt so real. I made myself throw up to get rid of the magic mushrooms and Reena came to see how I was doing. I told her how badly my trip had went. She asked if I had any doubts or worries on my mind and I poured my feelings of how lonely I felt since I got here and how I missed my friends and family. She advise me to not take the mushrooms if my mind wasn’t clear because those feelings would affect my trip. She said Langkawi’s mushrooms are very different from the shrooms people are used to taking. These are not ones to have fun on because these shrooms are medicines for the soul. She mention every bad trip is a learning experience and it will make one more aware of oneself afterwards. As I listen to her wisdom, I realized my issues of being alone and caring about what other people think of me has really affected my life. Reena said she’s been through bad trips before in order to understand herself more and now she accepts everything and embrace the person she is now. She comfort me and I felt so relieved to know that I was not alone. I was supposed to leave for Penang the next day, but my intuition told me to stay one more day.
I canceled my flight and booked one more night at the hostel. I needed to figure out what more I could gain from this island to discover myself and find happiness again.
The next morning, I met a bubbly, gay local named Isma who visits the hostel sometimes and one of Reena’s good friend. He welcomes me with open arms and invited me to join him, Jakub, and Lucas to visit Temergan waterfalls. They all heard about my bad trip and wanted me to join them to do shrooms again but this time would be a different experience. Isma reassured me by promising he would take good care of me and that we would have a wonderful time together. When we arrived at the waterfall, Isma noticed the other locals and introduce himself and me to everyone. He was very friendly and kind to everyone that the atmosphere was filled with happiness, security, and love. I felt safe with him as we talked about our lives and found a lot that we had in common. It was very pleasant to be with someone so carefree, happy, and loving. He handed me the shake and told me take sips so it’ll be easier to enjoy this trip. I trusted Isma and went along for the ride as we sipped on the shake and sat across the large waterfall.
In that moment I felt something I never experienced before.
For the first time, I felt true bliss and joy within myself.
As I watch the waterfall and listen to the water splash against the rocks, my senses were amplified and I can feel the beauty and energy of Langkawi. My mind felt clarity and I enjoyed that precious, beautiful moment with everyone. Isma felt the exact same way as I did and we walked over to Pebble beach to enjoy the amazing view of the sky filled with gradients of colors from the light reflections of the oceans. We sat for hours listening to the acoustic music I played and I start to sing while rocking back and forth. In that moment, Isma looked at me said
“Jennifer, you are a beautiful soul and I am so happy to have met you my darling”.
I teared up from the joy of hearing those words from someone who seem to understand me more than myself. Even Lucas and Jakub told me how nice it was to see me calm, collected and happy for once. We went back to the Box one last time to watch the sunset. On my last night, the sky cleared up and the stars came out to tell me how happy they are to see me. I sang and danced the whole night just being happy with life and myself. The shrooms wore off but my feelings stayed happy and endearing. I enjoyed every last moment with everyone embracing the inner beauty in me. Jakub told me he never seen a transformation like this before and was waiting to see the beautiful girl that stand before him. Lucas gave me a huge hug and said how happy he was to see a genuine smile on my face. I finally felt that connection with them as we all laugh and cried about our last time together. I wasn’t that loud, obnoxious American girl to them anymore but a beautiful friend they were happy to have met. Both of them told me I need to show this side to other people more because it brings so much joy and happiness to see me smile. Isma agreed with them and told me how he read me when he first met me. He could feel that negative energy I had brought when I felt sorry for myself for stressing over my issues. He told me that I tried too hard to impress other people and warn me that not everyone will like me at first, but that I needed to learn how to adjust to different personalities. I was shocked how accurate his judgment of me was and felt sorry for being like that but he told me
“do not be sorry but to accept and embrace the person I am.”
He said our purpose in life is to learn the truth, embrace all experiences, and to help others for the greater good. He told me I can only trust those who are willing to be honest and accept me for who I am. I loved him even more because those were the words I needed to hear in order to receive the closure I needed within myself. Isma was my soulmate and I am forever grateful to have that kind of moment with him. I finally felt like I could leave Langkawi as a whole new person. I understood why people said this island was special and why they couldn’t leave. Langkawi offered more than just a vacation to me. It gave me new everlasting friendships, a different perspective of culture and life, and my own happiness.