Waking up to the cool air of the Genting Highlands, I was looking forward to the day ahead with a drive to visit the Batu Caves, followed by a drive North to Ipoh for two more theme parks, Lost World of Tambun and Movie Animation Park Studios. Well, unfortunately the day would be thrown in disarray due to “The Misadventures of Malaysia’s Tolling System.” It’s a bit of a long story, but here’s what happened.
For the sake of full disclosure, the fact that I had any issue today started because of me. Somewhere between arriving to the hotel the previous day and this morning as I'm about to get onto the main highway, I lost the Touch ‘n Go card that I rented from the car rental agency. Yeah, it sucked that it had about 35 Rigget (about $7.50) left, and I'm going to be charged 60 (about $15) for losing it, but hey, it happens. It was, however, everything that occurred afterwards that had me nearly seething at one point, which isn't a state usually get to, but considering the day before in dealing with the tolling card.....
Due to the crazy road to get down from the mountain where the resort is to the main highway, I was already 30 minutes into an hour drive over to the Batu Caves when I thought about the card and then realized it was missing in action. So I pulled over to look for it, but didn’t find it. So my thought then is that it must be in the room. Well since the ONLY way you can pay for tolls is the card, I decided to keep on the road until I could turn around....which wasn't until the tolling location about 20 km away. So I had to find one that had a staff member to explain my situation and ask what to do. She had me turn around and go through an emergency turnaround that was before the booths.
So then I drive ALL the way back to the hotel. By the time I get back up the mountain it's about 9 am, which was about the time I wanted to be done with my visit to the Batu Caves and on the way up to Ipoh. As I head upstairs to my room, I look all over and can't find it the card. I searched through my bags, to also find nothing, so I went back to double check my car, found nothing. At this point I've accepted that the card is gone, and now I have to find somewhere to get a new one so I can get around since all the main highways are toll roads in Malaysia. This is where the biggest part of my frustration over the day would kick in.
After determining that I need a new card, I go to the information desk in the lobby to ask if there is any place where I can buy a new card on the resort. The desk agent says no, so then I ask if he knows where the nearest gas station is so I can hopefully buy one there. He says there isn't one nearby, essentially saying I'm screwed. At this point, now it's about 10 or 10:30 and I decided to try one more time searching the room while charging my phone a bit more, emptying out my bags to see if they may have gotten mixed up in there, but nothing. At this point I’m completely baffled by the idea that this GIANT resort that has all of these things doesn't sell an item that residents of the country the resort is located in would need to be able to travel there.
I then remember that there is a 7-Eleven in the resort, so I thought maybe they would have one. As I get down to the lobby, I haven't eaten yet, and a Coke sounded FANTASTIC after the way the morning was going so far. I went over to the little pharmacy store near the elevated to grab one, then while walking over I saw the Touch 'n Go symbol on their window. So I ask the clerk of they sell them, and what do you know, they did.....This shop is less than a one minute walk from the information desk. HOW DO THEY NOT KNOW WHAT THIS STAND SELLS TOUCH 'N GO CARDS!!!!!!
So I buy the card and load it, and when all was said and done, it was around 11 am when I was finally ready to go, leaving a mere four hours after I originally left to start my day. At this point, I was ready to just get on the road and try to make something of the day even though I was in a really foul mood. Luckily, skipping the Batu Caves for now wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as they were on the way to Kuala Lumpur, so I could stop there the next morning.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the day that was the theme parks of Ipoh!
The drive to Ipoh was really incredible as there were TONS of these awesome limestone mountains to see on the way North. While the morning started off pretty rough, getting to see these mountains on the way to Ipoh certainly helped to lift my spirits.
After a couple hours, I arrived to the Lost World of Tambun, a park owned by the Sunway company that offered a variety of experiences from rides to animals to adventure courses to the waterpark. Something that really stuck out about this place was its amazing setting along the limestone mountains. My initial plan was that I was going to get the coaster credit at this park, then change and spend some time in the waterpark before heading to the other park in Ipoh. After I got the credit, I ended up just walking around the park and taking in the stunning views that came with the limestone mountains. It was interesting with how many things they had at this park that took advantage of them, such as a tea house that was built inside of a sort of cave.
There was a coaster called Lupe’s Adventure, although some may not count it because of the powered aspect of it. For those planning to come to this park to ride it will want to know that it has a set schedule which it operates, as there are periods where they close it periodically in the day.
Some of the other sections of the park include the Lost World Tin Valley, where they talk about the tin mining industry of this area in the past, and an area with an adventure climbing course up the side of the mountain.
One of the big highlights of this park was the area with a wide variety of animals to see, including those that are native to this region, and others from around the world. In one part of this section in the park, there is a large rock wall formed from one of the mountains with tons of vines and plants that had a large number of wild monkeys climbing up and down the side of it. This wouldn’t be the only time in this trip though that wild monkeys would be seen.
The other prominent feature of this park is that of the water park attractions. Because of the timing of my day with plans to visit another park, and getting caught up with seeing the animals and enjoying the incredible views, I didn’t get a chance to experience the water park, but there did seem to be a good variety of attractions to enjoy. What really stood out about it was the number of smaller pools that were present for people to enjoy as they seemed to be a great spot for relaxing and just sitting while enjoying the cool water.
Before departing, I also saw a part of the park that seemed to be their primary food court called Ipoh Street, an area with a lot of eateries offering a variety of locally made foods. I wasn’t quite hungry at that time, so I didn’t get to try anything out, but there were some great smells walking through here.
After getting back into the car, it was only about a 15-minute drive to get to the second park of the day, which was Movie Animation Park Studios. The entrance to the park was interesting in that you would park on one side of a lake, go through the gate and then walk a bridge over to the park itself.
This place is an interesting one. On one hand, I thought that the themeing was well done, and it had a really fun feel to it, but I couldn’t help notice that the crowd was fairly light, and that they had just recently changed the operation of the park from one that charged an admission to one where you got into the park free then paid per ride. I wasn’t sure if this was a case of the park trying to get more people in as they had attendance issues, or if there was another motivation for it.
I also noticed a few of the rides were closed, which could just have easily been for general maintenance, but a part of me wondered if the park was having some financial difficulties.
The good news though was that both of the park’s coasters were open! The first one I rode was Boboiboy Cattus Coaster. This ride was based off of a Malaysian cartoon, and not a whole lot was known about it on Roller Coaster Database. It seemed like it might be a run-of-the-mill wild mouse coaster as it had a similar car and the start of it felt like it was, but with a lot of themeing. As the ride went through the first couple of switchbacks though, there came a point where it rode more like a traditional coaster with curved drops and wider turns. What was also interesting to see was their use of projector screens to show scenes that seemed to be from the Boboiboy show.
The other coaster wasn’t quite as unique, in fact it was yet another SBF Visa spinner, a staple of the shameless credits one can achieve. The employee running Zugo’s Crystal Quest did seem to find it odd that a strange foreign visitor was so giddy to see their ride, but I did get a good laugh from them when I told her about us crazy coaster enthusiasts who travel around the world to ride as many of them as we can, both big and small.
One thing that I had seen about this park on RCDB was that the supposedly had an Intamin roller coaster that was originally built for Hopi Hari in São Paulo, Brazil, but never opened due to issues at that park. At the time, there weren’t any pictures that confirmed such a coaster was here, but then as I was walked around the area of Zugo’s Crystal Quest, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be some brown track and yellow supports. It seemed to be that this was the mystery Intamin that was shown on RCDB!
I spoke with an employee to see what I could find out about it, and he confirmed that this coaster was in fact from Brazil. He also said that it was planned to be part of a large five-ride expansion, but that he wasn’t aware of a timeline that they had set for it. So hopefully they will get it built in the future as it is one with the same layout at Colossus at Thorpe Park in the United Kingdom, feature 10 inversions!
And that would be the day of the Ipoh theme parks. While the beginning of the day was a real drag, getting into it would provide some nice surprises as Lost World of Tambun offered some incredible views thanks to the nearby limestone mountains that lined the back of the park, and Movie Animation Park Studios was a very nicely themed place, and I really hope that it isn’t having the trouble that I suspected it might, especially if it means being able to get the Intamin coaster opened in the future. With that though, I would make my way back to the hotel in Genting, and the next day would be about one of my most anticipated culture stops of the visit to Malaysia, and a visit to one of Malaysia's largest water parks!