In-Flight Entertainment

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This blog entry about the events of Monday, February 14, 2005 was originally posted on February 17, 2005.

DAY 485:  “When you go to Los Angeles, you go to Universal Studios or Disneyland,” Geow the CalPoly-grad told me in the truck as we drove in the pre-dawn darkness of 6:30 a.m.  “When you go to K.L., you go to Genting Highlands.”

The Genting Highlands was not in my Let’s Go guidebook, nor was it on the standard tourist trail for Western budget backpackers in southeast Asia.  Reason being, it’s a rather pricey place, a huge tourist mecca targeted for Malaysians, as well as other midde- to upper-class Asian tourists in the region.  Not only was it a getaway from the hustle and bustle of mundane modern life, but an escape from the hot tropical temperatures; at up to 6000 ft. ASL, the temperature was about ten degrees cooler than at sea level.

Encompassing 11,000 acres of land, the Genting Highlands is a self-proclaimed “City of Entertainment,” a self-sufficient commercial complex akin to Disney World or Universal Studios, with six resort hotels, theme parks, restaurants, exhibition and concert space, casinos — even its own police force and fire department.  Geow was one of the head horticulturalists there, where he had served with a green thumb for twenty years.

With that said, I had a sort of unique inside look at the Genting Highlands resort scene, which started at Geow’s company-given apartment that he still kept even though he and his family now lived in a house in the K.L. suburbs.  It was there that his daughter (and my faithful Blogreader) Vivian was born and raised, attended early school, and learned to ride horses at the resorts’ horse ranch.  We stopped in at the apartment for a quick coffee and Milo before heading out to one of the local restaurants that catered to the estimated 7,000 employees that lived and worked on the grounds.

“They were asking me where you were from,” Geow told me.  The regulars recognized Vivian as Geow’s daughter but were wondering about the new guy.  He told them I was from the States.

“You should have told them Malay,” Vivian said, knowing quite well that I blended in with her fellow people.  Malaysian was just another nationality of mistaken identity for my list; in fact more cases were to come that day, none of the Filipino.


“IF YOU FALL, DON’T WORRY,” Geow told us.  “It’s all rainforest.  You don’t have to worry about food, a tiger will come for you… if you’re lucky,” he joked when he dropped Vivian and me off at the lower station of the Genting SkyWay, which brought people from the golf courses of the mid-highlands to the upper-highlands at 6,000 ft. ASL.  Using complimentary employee guest tickets, we took the “fastest and longest mono cable car in southeast Asia” for free, over the huge expanse of tropical forest, half of which was under Geow’s jurisdiction.  As we soared in our first of many “flight simulations” that day, Vivian pointed out things below of the inner workings of the resort complex, like the maintenance trails and the pumping station, until we arrived at the City of Entertainment in the clouds.

The Genting Highlands Resort complex was like Las Vegas in some respects, not just for its casinos, but its huge family entertainment and dining pavilions — think New York, New York meets The Venetian.  It was still pretty early when Vivian and I wandered around; nothing was open yet and the staff was still just getting to their daily posts.  We wandered the hotel lobby and then killed time at the video arcade and strip of carnival games.

After redeeming our 80 collective points for a key chain and bookmark, we got what we were waiting for:  employee passes for complimentary wristbands that let us into the outdoor Genting Theme Park where our day of flight simulation really began.  Vivian, like myself, was a thrill-seeker and roller coaster enthusiast, and Genting Theme Park was our perfect playground.

“Let’s start off easy,” she suggested.  There was no line for the small Cyclone coaster and since I was taller than the minimum height requirement, we climbed aboard.  The short minute-long ride primed us for arguably the most terrifying ride of the whole park, the Space Shot, which took people strapped in chairs up to the highest point of the highlands and dropped them in freefall before catching them at the last second.  It was a heart-pounding scream machine as seen in this video (4 MB Quicktime).


IT WAS A FULL ACTION-PACKED DAY of flying through the sky, from the three-loops-in-a-row Corkscrew, to the new Flying Coaster that twisted us upside-down while lying down, to the runaway Rolling Thunder mine train coaster.  It was a weekday so there weren’t many lines at all; in fact we did the Space Shot and Corkscrew twice — although the second Corkscrew ride went faulty and that was enough of that.

It wasn’t all flying coasters all day; it was a theme park with many attractions after all, from Dinosaur Land, to the dress-up characters, to the indoor Chinese New Year concerts, to the Super Toboggan Slide, to the Spinner, to motion simulator rides — all staffed by people assuming I was Malaysian.  “He was talking to you in Malay,” Vivian pointed out at one point.  “Add that to your list of nationalities.”

There was also a “Pirate Train” fun house, which turned out to be really lame with all its lame props.  (That’s not to say pirates are lame; pirates rule!  Yaaaarrr!)  Rounding out the fun was the biggest Coca-Cola can in Malaysia.  “We have to take a picture with this!” I said, falling into the hype. 

Okay.”


AFTER THE COMPLIMENTARY LUNCH of Pizza a’la Malaysian Chicken Curry (thanks to Geow’s employee food debit card), it was time for a real flight simulator, so “real” that a warning sign was posted outside explaining that it was

not

a ride but an adventure sport.  It was the Genting Sky Venture, a sky diving training simulator where you literally flew above a big fan blowing up winds of up to 193 km/hr.  There was a special going on — just 38 ringgit (about $10 USD) instead of the usual 50 — and since it wasn’t included on our wristband package, Vivian wooed me by paying the tab for me to brag that it was her that paid for my skydiving simulation.  I was excited about it all, mostly because I wanted to end my Global Trip in New Zealand and do a real sky-dive there, but due to money and time constraints (mostly money), New Zealand had to be cut out of the itinerary.  I signed up for the 1:30 session, while Vivian waited outside behind the glass.

With me in the session were the only two Caucasian guys we saw that day, Pascal and Michael from Switzerland, who thought they were going with a local Malaysian until they heard me say something.

“I heard your American English,” Michael said.  “We’ve been with many English people and their English is…”  He mumbled something incomprehensible.

“Really, the English always tell me that British English is the real English.”

“Bah!  American English is much better.”

Our Malaysian instructor, who also spoke English, was Mokhtar, and he gave us each a jumpsuit and helmet and led us not to the wind chamber but to a briefing room to learn about sky diving; on the board was a list of rules and a chart of hand signals.  Great, I thought.  Another adventure sport with another set of rules and signals I have to learn.  Apparently there was more to freefall than knowing that one square yard of drag is enough to slow a falling body by twenty percent.  Mokhtar had each of us learn to balance on this weird-looking massage table, and I learned that keeping balance in freefall was much more work than I thought.  It is an abdominal muscle workout where you must remain on your abs and keep the rest of your body arched like a “U.”

“I can’t hear anything!” I said.

“What?!” Pascal said.  We had just put in our earplugs, goggles and helmets and were all set to enter the wind chamber.  The motor from beneath began to whirr and the airlock door opened for us to enter.

Mokhtar entered the chamber and was immediately in flight as the powerful winds blew him up into a state of zero gravity.  He demonstrated how we should push off the wall with our hands and feet if we bumped into them and reminded us not to grab the grate on the floor if we hit the bottom.  He showed us how to maneuver with simple tweaks of our appendages — for example, looking up made you descend because more wind passed through at a steeper angle.

Michael had his two minutes, then Pascal, and then it was my turn.  “Just go in?” I asked, but Mokhtar couldn’t hear me with the motor on and earplugs in.  I fell in forward and was immediately caught by the winds. 

Woohoo!  I’m flying!  Peter Pan can kiss my ass!  No pixie dust here; you just need an industrial wind turbine machine!

The good feelings only lasted so long because I was soon bouncing up and down, left and right like a lottery ball.  Okay, concentrate.  Looking up goes down.  Looking down goes up.  Up is down and down is up.  Got it.  I managed to stabilize my elevation, but my lateral motion wasn’t so great.  Soon I was spinning out of control like I was in the eye of a tornado.  Luckily during the whole two minutes, Mokhtar would jump in and grab me for readjustments.


THE SWISS-GERMANS AND I SAT and watched as Mokhtar went into the chamber again solo to demonstrate to each of us what we were doing wrong.  He was quite the expert at it as he could do head-spins and stunts that made him look like he was in The Matrix.  For me, I had to learn to use my palms more to turn, and when it was time for my two minutes again, I really started to get the hang of it (picture above).  With my arms extended and palms down like Superman flying, the slight tilting of my palms would turn me left or right.  So this is how Superman maneuvers left and right!  Amazing.

Outside the window I saw Vivian cheering me on with a handful of other spectators.  Two Chinese people were pointing at me curiously; later Vivian told me that with my cheeks pushed into my face, they mistook me for some famous Taiwanese actor.  (Add Taiwanese to my list of mistaken identities.)


“FILIPINO?  I WOULDN’T HAVE GUESSED FILIPINO,” Geow’s other visiting friends from America said.  “I thought you were some sort of interracial mix.”

Back at the flat in the mid-highlands, Vivian and I rejoined her father, who was entertaining three other guests from the States, from Portland, OR and San Jose, CA.  They were jokingly waiting for me to come back to share the wealth of big winnings from the casino — however, I couldn’t get into them without a collared shirt.

The seven of us hopped into either Geow’s pick-up or a hired taxi for the two-hour ride back to their home in Subang Jaya, a K.L. suburb with new housing developments.  Their house was a big one, with a living room, dining room, many pets, a younger 14-year-old brother named Villy, and a housekeeper who thought I was Indian.  (She was looking for a dot on my forehead.)

It was at the house in Subang Jaya that I spent my final night in K.L. having dinner family style with my new K.L. friends, before using their broadband-enabled computer to check my e-mail and the latest from the Blog comments.  My URL was already in the history of the browser. 

“Look here,” Vivian said.  In the favorites, the URL was there as well.

For Vivian it was her one last time on “The Trinidad Show,” and The Global Trip Groupie thanked me by doing the teenage, but very thoughtful thing of burning me a CD of music that she plays to remind her of me.  The playlist was of a bit suggestive in nature — “Lean Back,” “Let’s Get Married” — and retorting in nature — “It’s Tricky,” “No Woman, No Cry.”  I thanked her for the CD before we hopped back in the truck for her father to bring me back to my hostel in Chinatown.

“When you come again you can bunk at our house,” Geow invited.  I reciprocated the invite to the metro New York area.

Vivian and I hugged goodbye before I got out of the truck and walked back to my single room.  Vivian’s appearance on “The Trinidad Show” was over, but perhaps she’d be back in one day in the future if I came back to K.L.  — when she was finally of legal drinking age — not only for beers, but for more “in-flight entertainment” with a faithful fan of my work.  Some fans blow you up into zero gravity, but some fans are just plain fun.

SAVE THE DATE; DAY 503 IS COMING.  MARCH 5, 2005, NYC.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TRAILER. 
PLEASE R.S.V.P. WITH YOUR HEADCOUNT BY POSTING A COMMENT HERE.






Next entry: Where It All Began

Previous entry: V Day in K.L.




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Comments for “In-Flight Entertainment”

  • GREETINGS FROM SINGAPORE!  I just arrived this afternoon after a long ordeal—my bus abandoned me at the border!  Details to come in an upcoming entry..

    I’m two days behind but hope to be caught up soon, since I pretty much have an internet-enabled “apartment” all to myself here.

    MORE TO COME as the countdown to DAY 503 continues…  Keep the RSVPs coming!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  08:05 AM


  • wooha first one.

    looks you really had fun there.

    so erik what about the blog when you will be home, will everything end or will you write some entries from time to time? wink
    any ideas?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  08:48 AM


  • Yah, you and your height issues - no can do… I like the Tower of Terror, though…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  10:53 AM


  • awe ...  Love at first Flight ...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  12:32 PM


  • now i wanna go to the arcade….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  12:58 PM


  • sure do like flying!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  01:16 PM


  • I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try that wind tunnel thing!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  01:18 PM


  • I would never jump out of an airplane but THAT I would try! It looks awesome!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  01:26 PM


  • man, now i want to go to great adventure.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  01:48 PM


  • I don’t know if Rza told you, but I’ve skydived!  They have a place about 30mins from AC, you should check it out when you get back.  I don’t think I’ll ever do it again though, but that wind tunnel thing looks like so much fun!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  01:54 PM


  • Erik I seem to have added “stupid o’ clock” to my own vocabulary.  It’s such a great way to describe waking up before dawn…

    Vivian and her dad seem so nice! 

    The roller coaster getting stuck or going faulty though - one of my biggest fears.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  03:13 PM


  • I did the Space Shot once here in Japan (only it was called Blue Streak). It’s awesome!  Scared me half to death smile  Love roller coasters, so I’m jealous!

    Posted by Liz  on  02/17  at  03:59 PM


  • I really enjoyed the “indoor Chinese New Year concerts” pic!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  04:18 PM


  • I’m slowly catching up with you. I’ve been reading for the past three months, but I felt an unexplainable need to start at the begining, so I’m not quite up to date yet.  I’ve been one of those SBR you’re always talking about. I’ll unfortunaley be missing your ‘return’- though I live in Jersey City- I’ll be out of town. But I thought you’d get a smile out of knowing that I print out BLOG entires at work and read them on the PATH.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  05:17 PM


  • On 08/26/04 a friend who was planning his RTW trip sent me link to your blog.  It was the Russian mafia types on the TSR.  After I read that I went to the beginning, and started reading every entry… looking at every pic.  It took many hours of many days, but, today, I have finally caught up.  The great part is I have read 99% while at work.  That means on a bunch of days, I read your blog more than I worked.  THANKS!!!  It’s too bad I have finally caught up when it is all ending, but if you’re ever in the Bay Area, send me an email…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/17  at  09:31 PM


  • Ah, so I see that you finally went Airborne…all you need now is some jumpwings!

    Word Life.

    MOMAN!!

    Posted by Cheif Boot Knocka Moman  on  02/17  at  09:55 PM


  • DENNIS:  As of right now, I want to end the Blog on a high note; meaning I won’t continue Blogging about my day-to-day life back home… I mean I’ll write a couple entries about “re-entry syndrome” back in NYC, but then retire—at least from this specific Blog.  Seriously, have you read some of the other travel Blogs that continue after their return?  The content just goes downhill…

    There’s a lot more to Blogging than meets the eye; I’ll be relieved when I don’t have it hanging over my head everyday, nagging me.  Plus, Blogging from one stationery location could potentially lead to stalkers—and who knows WHO is reading?  (I’ve heard horror stories.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  12:24 AM


  • tomd: ye the same happened to me, erik was a major part of my civil service time in the hospital, had good and bad times with him heh.

    erik: ye i know it is quite difficult, and i was just wondering. you probably know what i mean. the blog been a part of your life as well as the life of a few others and then suddenly comes to an end.
    no blog posting anymore and no chit chat with other blog readers and so on. just might become weird.

    just make sure someone takes a lot of pics in new yrok on the last day and that everyone who cant attend is able to feel with all the folks wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  12:40 AM


  • until now i am so upset about the fact that i started to read this blog so late and that i read it from the beginning.

    missed my chance to meet you in germany while you were here, even in stuttgart which is half an hour away :/

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  12:43 AM


  • DENNIS:  Don’t worry, “This is simply the beginning.” 
    -Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, “Die Hard”

    Wow, I helped you recuperate in the hospital?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  12:48 AM


  • RACHELJC:  Aw, that’s too bad; but I’ll be in the neighborhood, another time then.  Get this:  last night (here in Singapore), I met someone who used to live in Hoboken, on 12th and Washington.  Small world, huh?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  12:52 AM


  • TOMD:  Always glad to hear that the Blog has kept people from doing actual work.  Really, that’s the ultimate flattery.  We’re tearing down Corporate America one Blog entry at a time!

    Thanks for the invite; one day I’ll be out there again.  Keep in touch.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  12:55 AM


  • Erik, You are the One…look out Neo Erik is coming to take your job! Awesome pics, I’m jealous

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  02:59 AM


  • Yay! You’re in singapore, my old home town! If you have time, try the beef ball noodles in the basement foodcourt in Scotts (shopping center just off of Orchard Road).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  03:14 AM


  • Tell Budi and Shwita I said hi! smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  05:32 AM


  • How long will this Blog be up after you’re done?  My wife and I enjoy it, but she will be off working abroad for a bit with a crappy computer and connection.  I want her to see the 503 trailer, but I can’t save it - so you have to leave it till the end of June!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  06:50 AM


  • DARCY:  The Blog will be up forever, as long as BootsnAll is still in business…  It just won’t be live anymore…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  08:45 AM


  • erik: you didnt help recuperate wink
    i work at the hospital for my civilian service (due to conscription). well it isnt too much of a civilian service job since i do the pr/media work with my boss, deisgn flyers and posters and so on, we got the only computers there with unlimited internet access which gives me the possibility to read your blog. and i discovered your blog aroun d the time i started at the hospital last autumn, and ever since then i was reading your blog at work, well reading from the beginning, reading when i was bored, reading in the morning, reading while i should have worked and so on.

    so you helped me to get through my whole civilan service time so far. killed the boredom, thanks for that. wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  02:27 PM


  • DENNIS:  Damn, and I thought The Blog might actually have some medicinal purposes…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  02:37 PM


  • hehe

    it might have a cured a cold of mine during christmas and new year though wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  03:33 PM


  • Hey Eric, thanks for the invite, wish I could come up there to NY, but I’m trying to save for my trip and Day 503 is on my birthday! March 5th! Yay!

    Posted by Kailani  on  02/18  at  08:02 PM


  • Not only is TGT2004 in my favorites, it’s also the home page on my ie browser for easy access.

    Posted by Alyson  on  02/18  at  08:15 PM


  • Greetings from the Chingay Festival 2005; the one weekend of the year the Singaporeans actually go wild and dance out on the streets (and get away with littering without paying a fine)! 

    It’s February 20th here right now… I’ve officially made it to the SIXTEEN MONTH ANNIVERSARY!

    The homestretch begins…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/18  at  09:22 PM


  • HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
    That seems odd to say when it’s mostly abt a date, not a person… oh well. smile Have fun!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  12:40 AM


  • Proud to have this as my homepage for nearly 16 months. Guess I’ll have to find another Home soon. I have to say, JANICE I’m with you—I’d never jump from a plane or any other high place… way too scary. BUT THIS! This looks awesome!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/24  at  07:37 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Where It All Began

Previous entry:
V Day in K.L.




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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