Given the kind of person and traveller I am, something like Genting Highlands would not be on my list today. But back then, it was something else.
I visited Malaysia for the first time several years ago with my family. At that point in time, I was barely an adult (even now, I sometimes doubt if I am one) and was at the mercy of my generous father when it came to travelling. There are pros and cons to travelling with family; the biggest pro is not worrying about the expenses. The con is that my parents like to go via group tours. Unlike me, exploring a city on their own doesn’t thrill them.
This meant that we covered all the things that tourists generally do. We posed in front of the Petronas Towers, visited a chocolate factory (that obviously had ties with the tour company), took a city tour with a lovely guide who explained the city’s history and stuff (which I promptly forgot), visited a local mall, yada yada. But the highlight of this trip for me back then was visiting Genting Highlands.
Firstly, I’m glad I wasn’t shelling out for this 😛
Secondly, I have to marvel at the concept.
What is Genting Highlands, you ask?
Genting Highlands is a resort, hotel, and theme park all rolled in one. Its highlight is that it’s constructed at an elevation of about 5,700ft within the Titiwangsa mountains. This region was heretofore pure unaccessed forest (not to worry, the rain-forests are still preserved despite this).
The private group that holds this property had the task of getting permission from two Malaysian states for the required land. They not only managed to convince them but also obtained a freehold lease for the entire area! I find this piece of trivia quite fascinating.
How do you get up to this lofty paradise?
Due to it being a forest region, a roadway was built solely for people to access Genting Highlands . Along with this, cable cars are available as an alternative means of transportation. Genting Skyway, which I rode on is the first cable car connection. At the time I visited it was the world’s fastest and South East Asia’s longest gondola ride. Awana Skyway is the second one, launched in 2016.
I remember my gondola ride quite fondly. As you ascend at a leisurely pace, you have the Malaysian rain-forests to behold in the valley below and the hills around you. The view was absolutely breathtaking, with misty clouds enveloping the hilltops at higher altitudes and lush forests with various hues of green all around.
What’s up there in the Highlands?
When I got off the cable car, I was greeted by a massive area catering to nothing but having a good time. Genting Highland has clubs, casinos, restaurants by the dozens, shows, cineplexes, shops, sideshows, and indoor and outdoor theme parks. It is brightly lit, alive with activity, and swarming with people. But it’s so huge that it accommodated everyone; there was no need to jostle for space. Half the thrill is in finding your way around this giant, interconnected maze.
My favourite experience at Genting Highlands
The best experience for me at the time was the outdoor theme park. Just looking around at what the place had to offer took a good deal of time. Most of the popular rides had huge queues which diminished some of the fun. I remember waiting for the longest time to get on the Drop Tower which was easily my favourite part of the park.
Not only is the ride thrilling in itself but imagine riding it on top of a mountain! As the ride slowly, almost teasingly ascends, you can take in the crisp, fresh, yet thinning air of the mountain top. You can see the entirety of Genting Highlands and the surrounding forests from your lofty position, feeling almost god-like. And then suddenly you plummet several stories below, feeling your stomach drop out from under you.
I enjoyed this feeling a few more times before the ride stopped. I came back to earth and the relative safety of the ground beneath my feet. There are few things in life that feel as exhilarating. If it weren’t for the long-ass queues and the fact that we were time-bound (one of the disadvantages of pre-arranged group tours) I would have had my fill by just going on this one ride over and over again.
Genting Highlands is highly commercial and plays host to millions of guests every year. It might be a bit much for budget travellers so do your cost research before going. But it might be worth a visit for some fun times. Go for the cable car ride, if nothing else!