04 Dec 2015: Langkawi Style

Langkawi is multi-faceted; it is more than just a picture-perfect nature haven visitors come to explore. Does Langkawi have a style? Maybe…maybe not. What she has is a way of life, a mosaic of cultures and graceful architecture-all beautifully captured in this unique book. It is a tribute to a disappearing world, and an emerging one.
Malaysia is made up of several ‘touristy’ spots that, on a superficial level, resemble each otherwhat truly sets one place apart from others? Many would say that it’s the people, their culture and environment which defines a place and gives it a unique identity. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the forte ofLangkawi Style focuses on people and communities—artists; craftspeople young and old; nature guides; café owners; residents; foreigners; architects; contractors; designers; hoteliers and restaurants and galleries—captured in over 100 sublime photographs.This is not a book about culture and history, says its authors. Nor is it a book about architecture and design. This is not a travel guidebook. It is an invitation to take a second look, to revisit a place too often (and maybe wrongly) viewed as well-known. It is a gift to the people of Langkawi, a tribute to a disappearing world and an emerging one.In compiling this book, the author and photographer met with well over a hundred people, including retired people and young entrepreneurs. All, with a few exceptions, live in Langkawi today or spend most of their time on these islands, always leaving with a twinge of sadness and returning with a smile. Their project, although admirably articulate, does not pretend to be exhaustive or scientific.

langkawi style-3“As we travelled around the archipelago, open arms greeted us, and naturally, as word spread, we met more people. Most of them were happy to share not only their knowledge about Langkawi, but also their personal experiences of the place and their insights on how she might evolve. It is interesting to note that the changes happening around Langkawi today are perceived differently among locally born residents and new residents. The former usually welcome the development as new opportunities for the younger generation to make a living, while the latter tend to bemoan Langkawi’s inexorable loss of identity, that of a natural haven which they had in mind when moving to these shores.”—Howard Tan & Jérôme Bouchaud

For Langkawi to retain her culture and lay claim to a certain “style”, sustainability has to be the force connecting all the dots. Until recently, the local way of life had always been sustainable. Will reason and foresight prevail over the call of quick profits?About the authors of Langkawi Style : Jérôme Bouchaud is a literature-lover, traveller, author, translator and editor. He also founded the Lettres de Malaisie website and Éditions Jentayu, whose aim is to highlight Asian literary forms. Penang-born and former software engineer Howard Tan is today regarded as a leading artistic photographer and entrepreneur. He runsShop Howard and Studio Howard at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town.