Saturday, September 08, 2007

Malaysia Part 3 - Genting


Sunday 3rd September. I had spent 2 days of my 3-day weekend doing nothing worthwhile. So I decided to go to Genting on Sunday. Genting is a sort of hill station about 50 kms from Kuala Lumpur. In local parlance, hill stations are called “Highlands”. It was confusing in the beginning – I always used to think people are referring to Genting Islands, whereas is fact it is Highlands! So things are now clear – Genting, Cameron are Highlands; and Langkawi, Penang are Islands.

The Journey:

I had booked both my onward and return journeys the previous day. The fare for the bus ride is 3.50 RM and the skyway costs 5 RM one-way. I boarded the 1 pm bus from KL Sentral. The buses for even such short journeys are really comfortable. This particular bus even had seat belts for passengers! Needless to say, it was an A/C bus (the term aircon is used here for A/C).

The first half hour of the journey was along the “plains”. I recognized the route as the one we had taken to Batu caves. This suspicion was confirmed when we actually passed right in front of Batu caves :). After some time, the climb started. I realized just how hilly this area was. The roads were good – divided 4/6 lane throughout. Because of some real steep climbs, some proper hairpin curves, and the omnipresent rain; by the time we reached the base station (Gohtong Jaya), it was an hour.

The Skyway:

The bus dropped us at the bus station at Gohtong Jaya. You have to take the lift to the top of the same building to catch the skyway. The skyway was a one-of-a-kind experience.

Each cable car (called a Gondola), can seat a maximum of 8 persons. The skyway takes you from a height of 900 odd metres to 1700 odd metres. The total length is 3.5 kms and takes like 12 minutes. The skyway “flies” you over the lush tropical rainforests of Malaysia. I almost felt like I was in a helicopter shooting for NGC or Discovery :D. However, the rain and mist were taking a toll on the visibility. At first, I was disappointed that there was nothing that was “photographable” – thanks to the wall-like mist and the rain. But then I thought – to hell with photographs – I’l capture this particular experience in my memories :D. After all, I dint want to spoil the ethereal experience just because I couldnt capture it in pics.

The skyway system is computerized and there is no “driver” at all. During our ascent, the Gondolas all stopped when we were about 2 minutes from the destination. The voice announcement told us not to panic; and that this was perfectly normal. The computers apparently “pause” the Gondolas in order to make adjustments because of changes in weather and other external conditions.

Genting – the city of Entertainment:

From the moment you alight from the Gondola at Genting, you realize this place is entertainment unlimited. There’s all kinds of shopping, restaurants etc. But nothing had prepared me for the next once-in-a-lifetime experience – the Casino. This place has a special gaming license. Gambling is legal here. Genting is sometimes referred to as the Las Vegas of Malaysia!

Cameras are not allowed inside the casino; and I had to deposit mine in a locker outside – which is a good thing because had this not been the case, I fear I would have spent the rest of the day just clicking away at the casino

When I entered the huge casino, it was like entering another planet. I have never felt so hopelessly lost before. There were thousands of people gambling here. But I could hardly make sense of even one of the hundreds of games here. I did see the wheel of fortune; but again couldn’t quite figure out how people place bets or whatever for this game as well.

Anyways, since I had come here; I made up my mind to try my mind at gambling. I mentally set aside a budget of 35-50 RM for the same. After all, gambling is all about luck, I told myself. As long as I gamble responsibly (now that’s an oxymoron isn’t it?); and know when to quit, I would be OK, I convinced myself. This self-persuasion however lasted only so long. Reason?

Try as I might, I couldn’t make head-or-tail of even one of the hundreds of games here. Shame on me. Disappointment turned into desperation – but none of it was any help. After spending more than 2 hours at the casino, I still had absolutely no idea about any of the games.

Dejected, I left the casino by around 4:30. But not before I had made a curious observation – the number of ladies almost equalled that of gentlemen here at the casino (of course I am not talking about the pretty assistants – but the real gamblers ;). Lots of Chinese ladies were trying their luck at the slot machines.

Other observations included the ads showing the winners of the jackpots. And jackpots they were I tell you! People won everything from cars to millions of Ringgit. There was also a kind of stage show going on where a really cute Chinese woman was singing (seemingly) popular songs. And she was singing really well I must say (or was it just me??; ;)

Anyways, as I mentioned, I moved ahead in search of greener pastures (Ok that was a bad joke)

Theme parks:

There’s more to Genting than the casino. It provides a complete “family day out” experience too. There are 2 theme parks – an outdoor theme park and an indoor one. The outdoor park has some scary rides like the roller-coaster and “parachute ride” and as such caters to adults. The indoor theme park is for children primarily. There are all kinds of water and train rides here. This indoor park is also integrated into a mall; where you can do all kinds of shopping. I dint take any of the rides; but just soaked in all the sights and the crowds. That was entertaining in itself.


When I arrived at Genting at about 2:30 pm, I happened to step outside the comfy environs of the main hotel complex. And the mist hit me like anything. The wind and mist made the weather really chilly. This was in striking contrast to the sweltering heat in KL – just an hour away. Who would have thought you could face temperatures of sub 10 degrees Celcius at 2:30 pm at a place which is right next door to (if not right on) the equator!

Return journey:

I had booked my return bus journey from Gohtong jaya at 8:30 pm. This is because I wanted to experience the skyway at night. Unfortunately for me, it was raining when I got into the Gondola at around 7:30 pm. That dint dampen my spirits though. The sights at twilight are just too good to be true. The forest below are so dense, the huge powerful floodlights which illuminate the way for the skyway could hardly scratch the surface. I am told that even the sun cannot penetrate this forest canopy!

Anyways, I reached the base station and took the bus back to KL Sentral.

I ended this trip with almost no photos; but tons of memories. Who would have imagined that a one-day (no – a half-day) trip would provide two unforgettable experiences!!!


Apun Ka Desh said...

Well written travelogue!

I almost feel that i have seen this place now :).

How about some people and cultural experiences?

Kiran said...

Hi apun ka desh,

I have tonnes of observations and experiences regarding people and culture - will definitely put together a post on that soon. Currently am very caught up here in KL :(

Subhanjan said...

Thank you Kiran for dropping by my blog. And I must say that you really enjoy travelling and that is pretty apparent from your blog. Such detailed account is rarely to be found. That too in blogger. I myself love travelling a lot but I can't as my father and mother are too home sick. I wish to travel much and do lot of photography once I finish my post graduation, get a job, and settle for a new life. I wish someday I qualify as a reasonably good photographer, dedicated employee, lovable husband and respected father.

PN Subramanian said...

Hi Kiran,
It was a wonderful experience for me too although it was a so called reciprocal visit.I also had a misconception about the "highlands" which I considered to be a plateu. I need to go through all your previous posts leasurely. Wishing you and your family a wonderful, prosperous New Year.

Venkatesh said...

I liked your blog.

Shanu said...

V well written!

Am plannin to go to Malaysia for my frnds Bachelorette party