For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.


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My Memories with SRJC

To learn that my school was merging, was surprisingly, difficult for me. Don’t get me wrong, I had beautiful times with it, and some of my best friends have graduated from the very same school with me. It’s just that as I have graduated from it, I have never once looked back. I have never gone back to see my teachers, whom I owe so much to. I have simply moved on. For I was never one with great empathy, I surmise.

And perhaps, I have just assumed it will always be around, I had simply taken it for granted. Now that I reflect on it, I realised that so many of my best and happiest moments are with SRJC. It was where I have affirmed and expanded my love for English and Literature, and met many like-minded souls with whom I’m still connected to now. We have had many fun times coming up with literature plays and performances, and I feel blessed for so many cherished memories. Our literature teachers are passionate about their art, and have passed on their love and enthusiasm to most, if not all of us. Ms Rosalind Gurupatham Jeyamone, definitely, was one of them, a teacher so dedicated to her art and teaching despite her pain and suffering, she still endeavoured each day to teach us the appreciation of literature, and inspired other teachers to do the same.

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The only group photo I have left of my Literature class. Can you find me??

And one very precious memory for me was the opportunity to have an educational tour with our literature teachers who brought us to England, a land of authors and poets, an inspirational and beautiful country which I have always loved, for I fancied myself in anglophile. To be in the country of my dreams, and to learn more of its literary history, from the birthplace of Shakespeare to the home of Charles Dickens, I felt pretty much like an ardent fan who got the chance to meet their favourite celebrity. It was a dream come true. And of course, this magical land made my mind work and my pen ink flow. Now I understand how it came to be the land of writers, for it truly is a place of inspiration, with it beautiful landscape and rich history. And all this, I owe to the teachers of SRJC, who gave us the chance to see the world and enrich our horizons.

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At the castle. I still remember the castle walls felt cool despite the summer heat. In case anyone was wondering, I hadn’t had braces yet in JC, so I had a bit of a buck teeth then. =B

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Whitby Abbey, the haunting inspiration for Bram Stoker’s gothic tale of ‘Dracula’.

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Looks like a peek into a secret garden.

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I could sit on the bench all day.

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Angels movingly captured on stained glass.

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There is just something so beautifully poignant about this picture. 

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I had fancied myself as a mermaid during this shot! XD

I wish I had more photos of my time with SRJC, but I know, even without them, the memories will always be with me. These memories will be a part of my identity, and while my JC will no longer be around, I know the spirit of it still lives on in all us SRJCians. SRJC all for you, your call is ours too.

And I guess, it would be best soon, for me to visit it a last time, to bid this wonderful place a final farewell.


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Japan Travels: Nara’s beauty in Fall

Nara is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. I can’t believe I was totally disinterested in exploring Nara in the past. But perhaps, this time autumn really lent a great helping hand in its beauty. The fiery red and yellow leaves, interspersed with lush green, looked like intricate brocade from afar. Below is my very first jaw-dropping view of Nara. Isuien Garden (依水園) in its autumn grandeur.

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I dropped by Isuien Garden for lunch, and had an interesting traditional meal of mugi tororo (plain rice with thickened grated yam mixed with soy sauce, seaweed and barley). I must say though, the view was worth more than the meal.

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This is the ground yam.

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Pretty assortment of side dishes.

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So you pour the yam over the rice and you will get a sticky consistency almost like porridge but not quite. Doesn’t look very filling but I guess because it is a mixture of yam and rice I was actually full after my meal.

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This kind of scenery is something I always attempted to paint but failed because of my shoddy skills.

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This random hut area is gorgeous with the little rapids.

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This picture just makes me feel so poetic indeed. The green of the water is a reflection of the still green trees above, which brings out the ruby red of the fallen leaves.

After leaving Isuien Garden reluctantly, I moved on to Tōdaiji Temple (東大寺), which was sadly under construction. So I ended up exploring the park filled with deers. Curious, greedy deers who are not at all shy of strangers. They have even learned to bow for treats, and push their wet noses towards anything one holds, believing it to be food. The smell was rather off-putting, given that so many deer are gathered in an area, but they were so adorable I let it slide.

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Cute deer! Reminds me of Bambi =)

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This is how close a deer can get to you, my camera couldn’t even capture its nose! Too close-up!

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Deers drinking at a river flanked by fall leaves is a sight to behold indeed.

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Deers resting on blanket of gold.

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Curious deer sniffing at my camera.

And I finally ended my Nara trip with a really delicious crepe! Nope, the smell didn’t affect my appetite. I always do love a good dessert after a long walk. I ordered baked apples wrapped in a soft warm crepe covered with cinnamon sauce (if I don’t remember wrongly), at this random teahouse along the streets of Nara, so I didn’t think I would chance upon anything this fantastic. I remembered thinking all the other flavours were a little too outlandish for me to try, so I stuck with a relatively safe choice.

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I was sad to leave Nara at the end of the day, because it was just so picturesque. I’m sure, of course, Kyoto would be equally magnificent without all that crowd, as I have been to Kyoto before, but unfortunately, the crowd spoilt it for me. Also, the deers reminded me of my times back in university exchange, when I was at Miyajima, a beautiful island off Hiroshima. I was glad to be able to see Japan during autumn, for the fall foliage is simply breathtaking, especially with the ancient temples and shrines amongst them. Too bad I was one day too early for snow. But filming calls. Never mind. I will definitely see snow someday. And cherry blossoms. ❤

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Goodbye Nara, I will keep your fall glory in my heart. 

On a separate, funny note, I’m sure everyone knows about Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人). But have you heard of Omoshiroi Koibito (面白い恋人)? Shiroi Koibito means white lovers, while Omoshiroi Koibito means funny lover! It is a perfect representation of Osaka people. Just like them to come up with the idea of this souvenir as a parody of Shiroi Koibito. In case you don’t know, Osaka people are known for their comedic side. Many famous comedians come from Osaka. I love Osaka for its people, its culture, its slang, its food. ❤ But well, I didn’t buy it, so I don’t really know how it tastes like, but I heard the cream tastes rather like mitarashi dango, which is pretty good.

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Maybe I will try it someday! 


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Real life vs Reel life – Pokemon Go

Their popularity may be slipping, but there are still pockets of people loitering around catching the cute little monsters, particularly in MBS, where I suppose all the rare monsters frolic about. Let me just set this straight. No I do not play Pokemon Go, nor am I interested in starting. The only things I have now connected to Pokemon was my manicure (which I really didn’t intend it to be that way – It was just meant to be a beautiful combo of sunny yellow and shiny chrome purple) and my lone Pokemon card. I do wish I could capitalise on the craze and actually have a collection to sell though. But anyway, back to Pokemon Go. I found it quite amusing to watch the anti-Pokemon Go people and Pokemon Go fans fight it out online. On one hand, the anti-fans insisted that Pokemon Go players cause accidents, and label them as nincompoop, revelling on the demise of ‘idiots’ who self-destruct on every turn they make on the street. On the other, fans concluded that Pokemon Go are what saved them from their previously sad, pathetic lives, allowing them to bond with their friends and family and even strangers, and that Pokemon Go actually helps uncover crimes as unsuspecting players stumble upon dead bodies led to them by their cutesy pocket monsters.

Pokemon Go is just a game. It doesn’t have the power to kill or the power to bond. All these incidents happen due to the users of the game, who are humans and hence have the ability to create positivity or cause chaos, because we are living, breathing creatures. So really, anti-fans and fans should stop hating on each other. True enough, as a non-player, I can’t comprehend the craze, and was inclined to mock at the players initially. Till I realised that people close to me have started playing, and I asked them what exactly drives them to play. For most, it is to be closer to their loved ones, who play the game as well. With a reason like this, how can I continue to scoff at the players? Even without such reason, it is just a game anyway, I used to be an avid gamer myself, so I should very well understand how it feels like to indulge in gaming.

I wish though, there could be a game that is more engaging than just catching Pokemons. I get it, they are kind of cute, I guess. But I have always been more into games with beautiful graphics like Final Fantasy, that’s why games like Pokemon Go will never grab my fancy, even if they are based in the real world. If my kind of game could be based in the real world, well I think there will definitely be chaos, since it’s hack and slash. But if, actually I think it’s more of a when, when players can venture into virtual reality (something like Matrix) rather than just augmented reality I would totally jump on board. There is this particular manga (or should I say, manhwa, as it’s a Chinese comic) called ‘1/2 Prince’, which explores this concept of virtual reality playing in the future, where humans can transform into any cool character they want to be, and perform amazing stunts like casting spells and executing suave moves with a sword.

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My old sketch of 1/2Prince ❤

Okay, I digress. Again, as per usual. Back to Pokemon Go. While I have no issues with the game, Pokemon Go players can be a mild annoyance and occasional source of amusement, depending on my mood. Once walking down Orchard, I marvelled at the fact that I had to walk in a zigzag line down the very straight street along Wisma, due to the sheer amount of people merely standing together in groups staring down at their phones. Whether they cause accidents or not, really depends on individuals who are aware of their surroundings or are just simply too absorbed in their phones. We don’t need Pokemon Go to have people who injure themselves while using their phones, as evident from cases of unfortunate selfie-inflicted accidents. I have almost fell down a flight of stairs myself just by focusing really hard on my phone. So it is up to yourself whether you want to protect yourself from pain and danger even as you indulge in your game or just plain net-surfing. So have fun, but don’t forget to be vigilant!

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It’s a… Ponyta! I kept it because it is just so pretty. I do have a collection of Sailormoon cards though. Can someone make a Sailormoon app game turn into a worldwide phenomenon please?

 

 


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Dreamworld – Big 9 Thrill Rides (SBTS)

Final episode of Science Behind the Scream took me to Australia, Gold Coast, again. This time it is at the biggest theme park in Gold Coast, Dreamworld. I have heard from so many people about the exciting, heart-stopping rides in Dreamworld such as the Tower of Terror II, so I was beyond thrilled to have the chance to finally experience the rides firsthand.

In the final episode, I had to challenge the famed Big 9 Thrill Rides, and challenged them I did. I have listed the rides in order of their thrill factor, from least thrilling to most. Just to make it clear, this list is my own personal preference of course.

Tail Spin, is a fun ride where you strap yourself into one of the mini-aeroplanes and then get rotated on an inclined circle circumscribing 1.0m off the ground to 22m high, at highest speed of 33km/h. You can choose to glide along or be like me, spun 360 degrees by controlling the carriage wings. But one thing to note, the carriage wings do require some skills to control before you can achieve the dizzying 360 spinning effect. It took some practice for me and a few takes before I could start the plane spinning. I ended up with pretty sore arms in the end, but I felt totally accomplished.

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Hot Wheels SideWinder, is one of the tallest, high-speed (90km/h) gravity rollercoasters in the Southern Hemisphere. The fun part is the music that pumps through the carriage throughout the ride, amplifying the adrenaline pumping in my blood.

The Claw,  propels its riders nine storeys high (approx. 27.1m high) and swings them back and forth like a giant pendulum up to a speed of 75km/h while twisting 360 degree full circles. It swung really high indeed, and I could see most of the park when I was high in the sky, but because of its relative low speed, the thrill factor was moderate at best.

Pandamonium, apparently has 2 lines, the ‘not-so crazy’ line and the ‘seriously crazy’ line. I only took the ‘seriously crazy’ line of course, whereby I was sent soaring 8 meters high round and round, side to side and upside down at up to 3.8 G-forces. It was a pretty fun ride, especially since the safety harness keeps the riders firmly in place, unlike the similar ride in Taiwan Lihpao, Energy Storm, where the harness was made up of a thin metal rod that couldn’t prevent me from sliding perilously to the edge of my seat during the 360 spins. Now I could scream and laugh without fearing for my life.

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Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster, has a track with varying elevation and sharp turn-corners, reaching just over 72 km/h. The tracks almost seem to emulate an off-road rugged course a motorbike racer would take. The highlight of the ride are the life-size replicas of 500cc racing bikes. It is the first time I get to ride a rollercoaster with my legs astride and hands on the handles of a bike. I definitely felt like a hot biker chick.

WipeOut was again, another ride similar to one that I took in Taiwan Lihpao, Galactuc Spin. But the ride’s thrill factor definitely was more than severals notches higher. Its two independent rotating arms lash out in erratic 360 degree twists and turns that reach 14.5m high. And just when I thought the ride is beginning to end, and I finally can get a breather, a second tidal wave surged and the arms break into spasmodic whirls again.

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WipeOut on the left and The Claw on the right behind me.

Giant Drop, was officially declared the ‘tallest, vertical free-fall ride in the world’ by the Guinness Book of World Records in their 1999 edition. I was sent up the tower rather slowly, till I reached about 39 storeys (119m high). There the carriage just halted, suspended in mid-air. I was nervous, and babbled whatever little I could think of to the camera, because truthfully my mind was a blank. I didn’t know when the carriage would drop, and the wait felt like eternity. When the imminent drop came, the speed went up to a whopping 135 km/h, and my body lifted from my seat during the sharp descent.

BuzzSaw is the highest inversion ride experience in the Southern Hemisphere. It began with a slow and suspenseful 46m vertical ascent until I was dangled upside-down 15 storeys in the air before the carriage free-falls through a 360 degree heart roll, plummeting down a final vertical drop at speeds of up to 105km/h.

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Tower of Terror II, was the first ride in the world to break the 100 km/h barrier. The carriage blasts backwards rocketing out of a 206m tunnel at rapid speed hitting up to 161 km/h in just 7 seconds. I tried my hardest to keep my head to the headrest but the G-force was too strong. At its peak at 100m high, I was able to admire the entire park’s scenery for several seconds before plummeting back to the ground…face first screaming in exhilaration into the tunnel.

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The spine-chilling, blood-curdling entrance to Tower of Terror II

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At the back side of Tower of Terror II you can see a tiny carriage at the top. That’s the Giant Drop. Yes they are at the same tower.

With all this ranking you might think Tower of Terror II was my favourite ride, but strangely no. It was… (drumrollllllWipeOut! Why? Tower of Terror II, whilst being the most thrilling, was the shortest ride as well. BuzzSaw too, had a relatively short ride time despite its high thrill factor. But WipeOut lasted pretty long, and the crazy rotating arms really sent us passengers literally spinning over the edge. I am all for the length of the ride, because that to me, would justify the waiting time. Well, though I didn’t have to wait for the rides in Dreamworld because of awesome filming privileges. But still, as a normal ticketing customer, one definitely looks for value for the price they paid, and the time they waited. With an average waiting time of 2 hours for each ride during peak days, wouldn’t you want the thrill to last longer as well?

Now, just wanna throw in a few shots of my free time in Gold Coast. For you can’t really say you have been to Gold Coast without visiting its famous beach. It was fortunate we managed to end early on the last day so we could make a quick visit to the beach before the sun set. Now just soak in the beauty of nature. Wild, dangerous, gorgeous waves crashing into soft sand. And when the waves retreated, you could see the reflection of the sky above.

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Everland – A Lovebirds’ Eden (SBTS)

Before I get into my experience in Everland, I need to make a quick statement on why my face seemed swollen on certain shots, if anyone has noticed. After a few nights of wondering what was causing my face and neck to itch terribly and break out into rashes that I could luckily cover up on the first day, but however turned into a swelling that no amount of cosmetics could hide, we finally figured out the cause. And it was the bedsheets!!! After requesting for a change, even when the hotel receptionist insisted that they change it every day, the next day (which was the final day in Korea and filming has already ended!), the swell finally subsided and my face and neck no longer itched. I had wanted to look like a Korean beauty in my Everland filming, alas, a pig head is forever recorded on film!  Oh well, such is life. On a bright note, I saw cherry blossoms! They still weren’t in full bloom, but I managed to capture a photo of one up close. So lovely and fragile.

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Now, moving on to Everland. Everland is based in Yongin, a city in Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea. It is South Korea’s biggest theme park, and the ride that everyone stresses is a must-ride is the T-express. It is the steepest wooden rollercoaster in the world, with a drop angle of 77 degrees and maximum speed of 104 km/h, it is the second best ride I have ever rode in the series and in my whole life. What’s the first? Arkham Asylum. Want to know why? Check out the Movie World post to see why Arkham Asylum tops my list!

But back to T-express. I have always wanted to ride on a wooden rollercoaster ever since I was about seven, and finally got my wish fulfilled. It didn’t disappoint me one bit. Despite its lack of inversions, the thrills it provided more than made up for it. The first drop was really high, and the speed made me feel like I was plummeting to my screaming doom. I loved it!! Also, because it is made of wood, the ride is particularly bumpy, and I loved this very organic, nostalgic feel to it. As modern coasters are all made of steel, the rides do feel a little too smooth in comparison.

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The crew with our Korean fixer and the most adorable, lovable little contestant in this series. We felt so bad for him when he had to challenge me on T-Express for this ride can be a little daunting even for adults, not to mention a little boy barely 11. He was a brave little soul to have conquered the odds!

Other than this iconic ride, Everland is a great place for all wildlife lovers with its Lost Valley dotted with animals that you would only see on National Geographic or in Africa. You get to travel in this convertible amphibian vehicle which turns from a bus to a boat the moment it gets into the waters, and get really up close with this particular giraffe which has absolutely zero guards around humans as long as it can get its food. This giraffe will stick its head into the window just to grab pieces of lettuce from the park keepers. All my life, having just seen giraffes on the screen, it was quite amazing to see one just inches from my face… I was quite terrified to realise just how big a giraffe really is. Other than this fascinating experience, I got to see a few exotic animals that I haven’t seen before and was quite taken by them. Everland is indeed is a huge theme park, to be able to ride in rollercoasters and experience wildlife rides all in one place is pretty much impossible in Singapore, where even finding adequate space for housing is a problem for our tiny nation.

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Fennec Fox: found in North Africa and Asia, it is the smallest and cutest fox in the world. They’re the size of a chihuahua! I really wanted one as a pet. 

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Black-Tailed Prairie Dog: Cute little rodents native to the grasslands of North America

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I was mostly attracted to the interesting bit of information that states that white-handed gibbons are the only apes that stick to their mates and further adds, “These happily married couples sing of their love in a duet.” This park is definitely marketed to couples.

Aside from the caption above, you will soon see why I proclaim it as a lovebirds’ paradise. Besides being inundated by a rainbow of tulips because it was tulip season, Everland also has rose gardens with four romantic themes. The rose gardens with its various themes: Victorian Garden, Maze Garden, Venus Garden, and Cupid Garden, were all not in bloom yet, as it was still early spring. But with the installation of artificial white roses that light up at night, along with romantic Cupid statues and photo-taking booths specifically for couples, love songs filling the air, many young couples can be seen posing for their selfie sticks.

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At this beautiful moment we had actually been wishing that the LED lights were warmer as we were freezing to death. 

 


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LegoLand Malaysia – Art of Building (SBTS)

LegoLand Malaysia is a kid’s paradise. Most adults would probably not enjoy this amusement park  much, since it seems primarily targeted towards children. Unless of course, you are an avid fan of Lego. Still, there are some pretty spectacular sights to see, such as the famous MiniLand, and the Star Wars MiniLand. Star Wars MiniLand will be fun for any Star Wars fanatic, especially since the exhibits are coupled with lights and sound effects to recreate the different Star Wars worlds. But I was definitely more enraptured by the landmarks of Asia, as they are real places that I can actually visit one day. After seeing the lego-sized versions of these beauties, I was compelled to see them in their true resplendent forms. Hopefully, someday…

…Meanwhile let’s admire what the nimble hands of creative individuals can recreate using merely Lego bricks.

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The pristine white of Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

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The magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat (Angkor, Cambodia)

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This is home, truly. 

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The Forbidden City with The Great Wall of China as its backdrop! (Beijing, China)

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Floating Karaweik Hall glided in gold (Yangon, Myanmar)

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The beautiful scenic temple Tanah Lot (Bali,Indonesia)

 

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Topping of with, a cool Jedi and her light sabre! 

 

 

 


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ChimeLong Paradise – Welcome to Paradise (SBTS)

ChimeLong Paradise is a theme park enthusiast’s paradise. It is located in Panyu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, and is the largest amusement park in China with over 60 attractions. It is really well maintained; I didn’t catch a single sight of any trash anywhere, much less spit. It really defied my imagination, because I must admit, my imagination was a bit, well, truthfully, very much inclined towards the negative side. I had thought the worst, since it was China, and all the horror stories about China’s lifts and escalators occurred just before I went there. And if normal facilities like lifts and escalators could malfunction so terribly, what about rollercoasters with all its twists and loops??? I was pretty much afraid that it would be my last amusement park ever, but once I reached there, it dawned on me that my fears were unfounded.

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My fears abated, my enthusiasm skyrocketing, I started to ease into my first ride, which turned out to be the most stimulating ride in ChimeLong. It was the Dive Coaster. It peaks at 60 metres and its speed is highest at 110km/h! I was required to raise my hands in the air while peering down into my ere long 60-metre high descent and say my lines just before the vertical plummet. My first try was a fail, because I said the lines too fast before the rollercoaster dived down, but how could I really estimate well on my first try right? But I got it right on my second try!

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Behold the scream-inducing machine behind me. Dive Coaster in its tall glory.

The 10-inversion rollercoaster was a little drier in comparison, surprisingly, because it does look really quite intimidating, but once the coaster started to move, the ride seemed rather slow, and it really felt quite slow when I was in it. I found out that its maximum speed is only 72km/h, so despite the many inversions, the relatively sluggish rate at which the coaster moves dampens much of the fun.

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More of my big face than the 10-inversions rollercoaster, oops.

Actually, one ride left an unprecedented deep impression on me, and that is the Bumper Car ride. I hadn’t played bumper cars ever since I was a child, so it was a really fun drive down the memory lane.

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I guess Christmas made the theme park even more inviting and further allayed my fears.