To be honest, it didn’t take us too long before we were able to draw the parallels between somewhere like Disneyland and the Genting Highlands; everything costs money, a whole heap of it in fact. The local ‘convenience store’ when you’re a few thousand feet up in the air doesn’t sell bottles of water for a Ringgit like my local Carrefour Express; it sells them for at least 5 Ringgit. Likewise, McDonalds (and all other fast food eateries) don’t come with ‘value meals’, they come with meal menu’s decorated at the bottom with the small print ‘Prices valid for Genting Highlands outlets only’, meaning to say ‘That’s what you’ll pay here unless you fancy a cable car and bus journey a few thousand feet back to Earth’. So, from there it was a toss-up as to what to do next; either go for some wind tunnel/flight experience that cost 38 Ringgit (for what we reasoned may be as little as 5 minutes), a 4D theatre, or the Ripley’s ‘believe it or not’ museum. We actually originally went for the 4D theatre, but the woman at the entrance was unfortunately unable to explain to us how exactly we could go inside – apparently, there was some ticket required, which had to be purchased some distance away at a location that to this day remains undisclosed. So, in short, she sent us packing and rather than try and find this ticket-distributing kiosk, we just left and went to the Ripley’s place instead.
I was in something like the Ripley’s ‘odditorium’ a few years back in Florida, which was incredibly cool and good fun – I can’t remember the name, but suffice to say I know it was on ‘International Drive’ because that’s where we stayed, and it was built like an old townhouse, only turned upside down, where you entered through the clock that should have been on top of the roof. Inside, the whole place detailed unusual occurrences, oddities of nature, and so on. The Ripley’s Believe it or Not attraction in Genting meanwhile, which set us back around 22 Ringgit, was actually one of few attractions I’ve been to (in the whole of Malaysia) that I can honestly say way worth every cent…or ‘sen’ as the case may be. Inside, the place began with a brief overview of Robert Ripley’s existence, along with a steady build-up of interactive exhibits which were fun, at times frustrating, and at other times downright bizarre. As we begun our tour, there was a fun video asking visitors to try rolling their tongue’s, hold in their noses, and make other unusual facial gestures – helped along by a conveniently-positioned mirror. Needless to say, neither myself nor Anna thought too much about it, and we gladly complied and tried pulling the required moves. Anyway, moving on 40 minutes or so, we came past Ripley’s ‘coin car’, a Mini completely covered in little coins, rounding a corner and coming face to face with what can only be described as ‘embarrassment central’.
As it turned out, the mirror we had earlier been posing so humorously into, was actually a one-way mirror, and visitors further into the attraction can actually see exactly what you’re doing – or rather, trying to do. I hoped that nobody had been passing that particular point of the attraction and carried on, full speed ahead. Outside, some Chinese artists were getting going and doing their thing – there’s a short video below to give you a taste, but it’s the kind of thing that always made me think as a kid that it had to be one of the easiest things to do, judging by how easy the people themselves make it look.
In actual fact, I’m quite sure it’s the opposite – I’m more than confident in mature reflection, that I couldn’t possibly have even the remotest hope of doing what they do, without firing the little object off into the crowd and knocking someone on the head with it, if not tripping myself up with the rope in the first place, which is also equally likely. Dinner time at Genting was something of an expected disappointment. Expected, because given the apparent throngs of people who had ascended up into ‘heaven’ for the weekend, I fully expected that come dinner time, every eatery from one side of the mountain peak to the other would become completely packed to the rafters. Disappointment, because in spite of my expectations, not only was everywhere packed, but when we finally secured two seats somewhere, the food was not only significantly more expensive than ‘on the ground’ back in KL, it was also significantly more inedible. It actually reminded me of a time some years ago in Disneyland Paris, when the food was so equally inedible, that the plastic cutlery did, on one occasion, give way completely and a piece of fork scattered clean off our table and under some French woman’s foot. Anyway, we weren’t in Genting for fine dining, nor did we expect that that’s what we’d get so overall, we were able to live with it – and besides, the fact that our hotel room sink proudly declared its water ‘fit for drinking’ gave sufficient rise for celebration regardless, given that it would save us at least 5 Ringgit for each bottle of water we would have otherwise bought from ‘7-7’.
So, knowing of my impending night of free water, we bought some junk food from the ‘7-7’ (a clear and I suppose deliberate take on the more well-known ‘7-11’) and headed for the hotel. Our hotel was undoubtedly one of the oldest, yet cheesiest places I’ve ever stayed in. It has been (honestly) ‘tastefully redecorated’ in the last year or two – but what they actually meant to say was, the rooms have been tastefully redecorated, everything else is still a land untouched by modernity. In other words, the reception is hard to find (in typical Genting style, it seems) past the maze of restaurants, shops and other things you can spend your hard-earned on. Then, the lift – all I can say is, I was fairly sure I had a missed call from the 1970’s, they want their elevator back. But in a whimsical sort of a way, it was more funny than anything. But if you actually plan, like ourselves, on getting some sort of sleep and not hitting the casino’s until dawn, you’re in for a spot of trouble. In short, Genting doesn’t sleep – not one part of it. Until about 4am, there was a constant and steady stream of traffic presumably delivering more and more guests to lose all their cash in the casino’s, then come 4am, that died down and was replaced by an equally steady stream of delivery trucks and vehicles supplying the highlands with everything a mountain peak needs to keep a couple of thousand people alive for a day. Then, once that finished somewhere around 9am, the theme park had opened and every minute or so I was greeted to the sounds of a bunch of people screaming their heads off on the adjacent rides so close I could almost lean out and tell each and every one to shut up.
Clearly, there was no point fighting it, so we decided to head into the theme park and begin our final day of the cool mountain air experience in the World’s tackiest place…