Malaysia Tales: Legoland and Ingenious Engineering

Legoland 1


Did you know there’s a Legoland in Malaysia? We didn’t before we got here, but it’s hard to escape the knowledge once you get within about 300 miles of the place. There’s ads, and little “free admission if you buy this other thing” deals all over.

Gabe, being a four year old boy, loves Legos at a level most adults simply can’t comprehend. He would be a Lego if he could figure out how. DJ, despite being 14 and exteriorly lukewarm about most things, likes Legos. Also, we had to go to the city Legoland is in to get our visas taken care of. Also….Legos!!!!!

So we got up at O-Dark-Thirty and drove down to Legoland. Theme parks are a lot like cities — they’re themselves first, and the region they sit in second. New York City feels very little like Upstate. Chicago feels nothing like Illinois, and Portland is more different from Sandy than it is from Vancouver, British Columbia. Legoland felt like a theme park first, and part of Malaysia second…until we got to the central exhibit.

The centerpiece of Legolands is a big collection of Lego models of landmarks. At Legoland Malaysia, they’re of landmarks from Kuala Lumpur, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, Indonesia, Brunei. No Statue of Liberty here. It’s the Petronas Towers.

Legoland 2

No Big Ben and Parliament. It’s the KL Airport and Angkor Wat.

Legoland 3

I’ve mentioned before how much I love grocery shopping when I’m abroad because it underscores the adventure by placing something exotic in an everyday context. It fe

Gabriel was so excited he literally ran in circles trying to figure out what to see and do first. DJ was cooler, but kept motioning me over to show me something he found neat. We spent the first hours there before we even got around to the rides (more on that in another post). It was fun because of the whole dad-watching-kids-be-happy thing, and because the park is well-designed with excellent customer service. We ended up buying annual passes.

By 8PM (the very sensible closing time for a park aimed at school-aged children), we headed out tired and generally happy. DJ and Bev went northish to find restrooms while Gabe and I went westish to the parking lot with the plan for us to pick them up at a different exit. Gabe rode on my shoulders and pointed out the characters and sights he recognized from the various promotional posters. I found the car,  put Gabe in his carseat, took off my soaking wet (from rain and rides) shoes, sat in the driver’s seat and turned the key.

Nothing happened. I tried again.

Nothing. Not even the sound of an engine trying to turn over. Not even the clickclickclick of an engine with a mostly dead battery trying to turn over. I noticed then that the dash lights weren’t on, and the radio made no sound. This battery wasn’t mostly dead. It was ready to have its pockets gone through to look for loose change.

Somebody had forgotten to turn the headlights off once the sun rose.

I won’t say who.

Legoland 4

So there I was: wife out of contact waiting elsewhere and I carrying both phones in her purse, MiniMe eldest son (who is good under fire) with her, and an exhausted toddler in my nonfunctioning car.

I say to Gabe. “I need to get some help fixing the car. You watch me while I go make friends.” I locked the door and kept a tight orbit on the car while I tried to communicate the concept of jumper cables to random passersby. Then something strange happened.

A man from (I shit you not) Corvallis, Oregon came up with somewhere between 10 and 200 of his in-laws, who had come to the park as a family gathering. They had heard my plight and had jumper cables at the ready.

But that’s not the strange part.

While I divided my time between talking Oregon with my new good buddy and waving at Gabe (who was busily making friends with everybody from his spot in the back seat), a small horde of men hooked up jumper cables and tried to resurrect my car. To no avail, as the battery was simply too far gone to charge in a reasonable amount of time.

Now…here’s where the strange part happened. My local area saviors then got out a tool box. They…

  1. Removed my battery
  2. Replaced it with my battery
  3. Started my car
  4. Reswapped the batteries with my engine still running

How cool is that? An simple and obvious solution, which never would have occurred to me in a million years. When I told some of my Malaysian friends about it, they all nodded their heads and indicated that’s how it’s done in these parts.

I sometimes complain about this place being a “K-Mart Country.” Everybody’s broke, so everything is low-quality cheap. Shit breaks constantly. This is generally a bad thing, but it does breed resourcefulness. I got out of there without having to call a tow truck, and I got an awesome story out of it.

But then trouble always makes for the best stories. What are some of yours?

One thought on “Malaysia Tales: Legoland and Ingenious Engineering

  1. I’d say my most recent ‘trouble’ story would be taking a toddler (who knows his own name, but no other words you say, except ‘no’ and then only when he wants to) to the Post Office when you also have to mail a package that’s twice the size of the toddler. Now, a normal day with my son is a small diaper/purse bag on one arm, and him in the other, unless the weather is nice and I have the inclination to wait f-o-r-e-v-e-r for him to maybe walk in the direction I’m going. Well, not an option with the package. So… I strap my kid into the stroller, extend the rain shield on it, and pile the box on top. Then it was a feat of mommy-nuity to get the stroller pushed one-handed while holding the box steady. Alas, no hands to open the door. Thankfully, chivalry comes flying back when you are a mom with a child, and two – yes, two – different men opened the doors for us to get into the post office. No real chance for conversation, but it still made for a good story, and the picture is hilarious.

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