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Days 333-334 Tuesday-Wednesday March 18-19, 2008 – Kuala Lumpur to Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Two days ago we posed with the world’s largest pewter beer mug, yesterday we walked across the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge and today we stayed in the world’s largest (and most colorful) hotel. Genting Highlands is known as the City of Entertainment and like a certain hotel in Las Vegas that shares the same slogan, it also houses a casino. Add to the fact that the First World Hotel in Genting Highlands stole the “largest hotel in the world” crown from that same hotel (MGM Grand) and these comparisons were unavoidable in my mind.
Genting Highlands itself is a massive resort. It contains two casinos, five hotels, a couple of golf courses, over 100 restaurants and eateries and a large shopping arcade among other things. It is safe to say that Genting Highlands is the preferred holiday destination for many Malaysians. With all of these things in one massive complex, I was excited to get up and see it for myself.
To get to Genting Highlands we took a taxi to the bus station where the resort’s buses whisked us away on the one hour journey. The road up to the resort was fairly well developed, but incredibly windy. Once we arrived, the bus dropped us off about halfway up the mountain where Southeast Asia’s longest and the world’s fastest cable car took over. The twenty minute cable car journey was absolutely stunning and with the entire journey including bus fare only costing 8RM, it was quite a deal. By the time we finally reached the top of the mountain it was around 4pm.
We opted to stay in the First World Hotel because of its status as the largest in the world. Of course in making the hotel so large, the owners had to make some sacrifices. The hotel is known for having bad service and most of the rooms are quite basic, with none of them having heating or air conditioning. Of course with its location in the mountains, the resort benefits from having cool weather much of the year so air conditioning is not needed. On the flip side the rooms can get quite chilly at night without the benefit of a heater.
Having over 6,000 rooms means that the hotel can get quite busy around check in time. From the cable car station it was a twenty minute walk through the massive complex to the hotel lobby where we immediately queued in a five minute line. Once at the desk, a nice woman looked up our reservation and then provided us with a printed number. It seems the five minute line was not to check in, but to get a number for the check in line. Our ticket said there were 76 other people in front of us.
The number system reminded me of the DMV back home and all we could do was watch the numbers go by one by one. It took an hour before our number was finally called and after a quick registration process, we were provided with our room key. When I made the reservation online, I was forced to book a deluxe room, but when we went upstairs and opened the door the room was very clearly standard. After dropping our bags, we went downstairs and asked several employees for help with this matter, but in the massive bureaucratic structure of the hotel, I was never able to get the room changed. (This lead to us referring to the hotel as the Third World Hotel for the rest of our stay. Of course, the color scheme didn’t help either!)
Ok, enough with the complaints! On Tuesday night after several rounds with the employees about the room issue and ultimately making the decision to give up and be happy, we headed for Snowworld. Snowworld is a large indoor playground that is pumped full of fake snow. In addition to a snow house and frozen bar, Snowworld has a very fun tube slide! For a reasonable fee we were given a forty minute window to enjoy the cool air. Throwing snow balls in Malaysia was quite the fun thing to do.
After Snowworld we ate some dinner and packed it in for the night. Wednesday the plan was to wake up early and hit the theme parks hard. What? I didn’t tell you about the theme parks. Since we don’t gamble, the only thing up in Genting Highlands of any major interest to us was the theme parks. They have two. The larger park is outside, but they also have a smaller park located indoors.
When we woke up on Wednesday morning it was clear that the weather was not nearly as nice as the day before. The entire mountain was covered in fog that lasted for most of the day. While I don’t want to bore you with details, we spent most of the day at the outdoor park until it started to rain. Apparently, even in the smallest drizzle, the outdoor park automatically closes all of its rides. This happened three or four times on this day, but we did manage to get in most of the things that we wanted to.
The entire Genting Highlands resort seems to be run on a whim and the theme park was one of the more poorly managed parks that I have seen. The employees all seem to be unhappy and the place is too big for its own good. With that said, it gives a peak into the life of some of the wealthier Malaysians. To be honest, with schools in Malaysia currently in session, the casino is filling up the resort and the theme parks seem to be an after thought.
We did somewhat enjoy Genting Highlands and actually being able to ride six coasters in one day was something that I hadn’t been able to do since the United States. Unfortunately, most of the coasters and rides were nothing special and we had to fight the weather all day. I am not really complaining though. How could I, when we were able to visit three theme parks in three days. Not to mention that we can always tell the story of when we stayed in a closet sized room at the largest hotel in the world!
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The Coomer Family
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