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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Holiday @ Genting.
Day One - Looking around.

After I checked into my room, I went to the First World Plaza to have a late lunch at Marrybrown's, which serves good chicken burgers. The first thing I noticed was that there were a lot of Middle East and mainland Chinese tourists. There were tour guides leading dozens of eager tourists who were dragging their luggage around.

Wasn't this the "low" season? Maybe only for Singaporean tourists.

When I was done refueling it's time to walk around. This is a panorama of Genting's Outdoor Theme Park, chock full of amusement rides. A place where kids get all excited and scream a lot.

I was more interested in this. A place where adults get all excited and scream a lot. I literally heard one group of punters scream when they were on a winning roll. Most people there were rather quiet though.

There are two main casinos in Genting, a huge one centred on Genting Hotel and a smaller one within the First World Plaza. Each entrance is guarded by two security guys and equipped with a metal detector gate.

No cameras or camera-phones are permitted inside the casinos, sorry guys, no pictures there.

Here's another casino entrance with signs to remind people of the rules and regulations. Dress code is smart casual, but they're really lax about it nowadays. When my parents came here years ago, people were required to wear batik shirts or long-sleeved shirts to enter a casino.

Oh did I mention the sheer number of uncles and aunties inside? It was really packed. Most of the casino customers were middle-aged folks, playing card games and electronic roulette on the tables. A good number were on the slot machines too. The only young people I could see were the casino staff.

How did all these uncles and aunties get so rich? To fritter away their money for hours like that?

Seems like when you're a grad student, everyone is richer than you.

Genting may call itself a City of Entertainment, but it is obvious that gambling is the major part of it. Regular casino-goers apply for a membership card called the Worldcard, which provides incentives and exclusive perks on a cumulative point basis.

The Worldcard can be used for discounts while shopping here, and there is a Genting Rewards shop where members can exchange points for gifts. The goodies don't just end there. In fact the entire Highlands Hotel is members-only. You can see by the ornate entrance of this hotel what a privilege it must feel like to stay there. There is even a VIP reception (up the escalators in the photo) for high-rollers.

I immediately imagined the God of Gamblers played by Chow Yun-Fat (周润发) strolling suavely into the VIP reception with his bowtie and slicked-back hair.

In slow motion.

I watch too many movies.

I think that the casino high-rollers are the most valued guests at Genting. Let me demonstrate that by showing you a comparison between the statues found in the Highlands Hotel and First World Hotel. You don't need to guess which is which. The contrast in quality is striking.

There are a few huge banners advertising the casinos throughout Genting. When I looked at this model I found that she looked somewhat familiar.

Then I saw this wall advert and suddenly realized that - she looks like Anita Yuen (袁咏仪)! Oh my, did Anita become a casino model?

Nope. It's definitely not her, but still quite a resemblance. Maybe she's an evil clone?

I like evil clones.

In addition, these adverts have a strong "Hong Kong" flavour to it, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Despite the large number of Middle East and mainland Chinese tourists passing through, I get a feeling that Genting values Hong Kongers a lot. Sort of like Macau.

So to make Hong Kongers feel right at home, Genting has restaurants with familiar sounding names.

Like "Causeway Bay".

Or a claypot restaurant with distinctly a Cantonese name. Translates literally to "Prosperity Come Claypot Little/Boy."

Here's another - "Good Taste", an eatery with Cantonese romanization.

Well who could blame them, everyone knows that Hong Kongers are made of money.

Especially the God of Gamblers, but good luck getting a cent out of that guy.