{Malaysia 2012} Bringing out the Lego Geek in me

I’ve always loved puzzles. There’s just something about putting loose pieces together using your hands to form a thing of beauty that is utterly satisfying. I once went through a phase wherein I bought boxes and boxes of 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles ranging from Disney-themed ones to Final Fantasy VII and I would finish each puzzle within a day. The hallway leading to my room is full of framed puzzles, and a couple are still in the storage closet, just waiting. This would have been the same scenario for me if I had easy access to Legos, which are virtually block counterparts of jigsaw puzzles that create something three-dimensional rather than just flat.

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As it turns out, there aren’t as many choices for Lego creations nowadays that are as challenging as the ones I remember from when I was a kid. I’m going to keep looking around, but suffice it to say I’ve got a special place in my heart for Legos, so from the moment I heard that Legoland was included in our trip itinerary, I’ve done nothing but look forward to it!

Before we headed into the theme park, we had lunch at the Legoland Mall, which is this plaza right before you get to the entrance of the amusement park itself. We dined in this place called El Migos. My favourites were most definitely the lassi (yoghurt-blended drinks) in mango, dragonfruit, and bubble gum flavours. My Mother ordered baked spaghetti, I ordered a chicken sausage pasta dish, and all the guys ordered the lamb chop pasta dish.

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The food was just all right, though my brother claims the lamb was pretty good. It was sufficient to give us that energy we need to take on Legoland, but something tells me this dish would have been more filling somehow:

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Mmmm… Lamp.

Everyone was extremely excited to get into Legoland. The food disappeared from the cast-iron plates in a flash, and the next moment we were walking toward the entrance to the world of Lego!

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Legoland is located in the city of Johor Baru, which is a few hours by bus from Kuala Lumpur. I’ve never been to a Lego-themed amusement park before, so just imagine my excitement! It didn’t even wane despite the sweltering heat.

Right off the bat there are Lego characters scattered all over the place. At one side of the entrance, there are two kids trying to climb over the fence to sneak into the park. By the bathroom is an old talking plumber carrying a toilet bowl. There was also a diver who looked quite lost above water. The little octopus tied around his leg occasionally squirts water.

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My favourite one is the painter lady, and it’s not only because I love to paint myself. I adore her expression. To me it’s like she can see all the wonder in whatever sight she beholds and she can translate it on canvass. Adding the little splotches of paint on her clothes completes the effect! The chef holding the ginormous pretzel is such a cutie, as well as Mr. Photographer Man. Both of them don’t even reach up to my hips, they’re so short!

Most of the other Lego people around the park are fairly life-sized, but among the small ones, there is this grandma near the shrubs that keeps going on about feeding the pigeons. Her voice is equal parts creepy-Hansel-and-Gretel-evil-old-witch and annoying. That’s probably why Lego grandpa opts to sleep on a bench. He snores every time someone gets close to him. They probably have built in sensors in them that make them “come alive” whenever a person approaches.

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Given that it was Christmastime when we visited, they had a gigantic Lego Christmas tree on display on the way to the sort-of main square of Legoland. I wonder how many green Lego blocks make up this tree? I really liked being surrounded by all these Legos. Even the shops and the restaurants had the cutest Lego signs!

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~~~


Initially, the plan was to ride the Legoland Express so that we could get a clear picture of all the attractions we should visit in Legoland. When we got to the station though, there was a ridiculous 45-minute line. I’ve never been patient with this sort of thing, so I suggested to everyone that we should just walk around and start discovering instead. There’s fun to be had and a limited amount of time! First thing that caught our attentions is the theatre right across the train station.

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The theatre was showing something called The Loudest Shout, which is mostly a show that teaches children about safety at home. The actors are dressed up as Lego characters in jumpers, living in a Lego house look-a-like. Throughout the show, they basically search for any hazardous object in the Lego house, and the audience shouts at them whenever they get near one. Definitely more for kids than anybody else, though still pretty enjoyable. I didn’t finish the show and decided to walk around a little bit and stumbled upon what I will tell you is my absolute favourite part of the park: Miniland.

Glorious works of Lego art. That is basically what Miniland is all about. The park commissioned a few Lego-building experts/serious enthusiasts in Southeast-Asia to create Lego miniatures of famous tourist spots in their respective countries.

Obviously, the Malaysian display covered the largest area.

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The Petronas Towers “miniature” is gigantic. Just look at the scale of it in the photo below. And it really looks like the real thing, doesn’t it? A close-up will let you see that it is indeed made out of Lego blocks. There is even a special piano Legoman in a suit! The rest of the symphony got knocked over the wind.

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They even made sculptures of the two architecturally gorgeous buildings we saw firsthand when we visited Putrajaya on this same trip: the Perdana Putra, and the Putra Mosque. Though not as impressive as the real thing, the resemblance is uncanny!

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Close by is also a relatively big Lego masterpiece depicting Singapore. The famous merlion statue actually squirts water at you when you press the button beside the location sign of this Lego city. A couple of kids got really wet!

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Most of the other miniatures in Miniland are incredibly impressive. This next one is the Tian An Men Square in Beijing, with the Great Wall of China behind it.

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I really appreciate how the creator of the Angkor Wat (below) mixed the colours of his Lego blocks to make it look like it’s made of uneven, rough stone. Look at the tiny orange-clad monks on the second level of the temple. The Lego community on the front steps to the temple move about and dance, similar to what the locals actually do,based on the stories my friend who visited the real Angkor Wat told me.

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Next, the Laos set of Vientiane with the Patuxai Gate even had this van going round and round. I really like the bustling feel of the townspeople moving to the fountain at the centre.

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They also had Brunei’s Istana Nurul Iman, complete with the boat. I have to admit, seeing this palace in pictures and seeing the Lego counterpart of it, I really noticed the differences. The real palace is incomparable based on the pictures I’ve seen so this one kind of falls short for me. Plus, I just found out the real palace in Brunei was designed by a Filipino architect and have to wonder why we don’t have any structure as incredible over here.

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And speaking of the Philippines, I was a tad disappointed by the Philippines display. Nothing against Bolinao and Pangasinan, but after seeing the eye-poppers from the other countries, I really wanted the Philippine display to catch the eye as much. Sadly, I couldn’t even guess what this was until I saw the sign. Well at least the jeepney (below, right) distinguishes this, but only if you know how to spot it.

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This next one is Tanan Lot in Bali, Indonesia, a place I am completely unfamiliar with. After a bit of research, I found out that first, this is a famous place for religious rituals because of the temple on the top of the rock formation, and secondly, it’s where all the surfers come out to play. The surfing Legos are the cutest things ever!

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Moving on, the Myanmar Karaweik Palace is in my top three favourites of all the Lego creations here in Miniland. Just imagine the amount of planning that went through to make this one. I mean just look at it. It is incredible. (I know I’ve used that word so many times in this post already, but Miniland really is!) I wonder how it would be like to actually look at the real thing. I might get goosebumps.

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My other two favourites are India’s Taj Mahal, and Thailand’s Temple of the Dawn.

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The Taj Mahal looks so smooth and life-like, but I especially liked the Thai temple because I have actually been there and let me just tell you one thing: It looks so so so much like the real thing! The colours of the tiles, the shape of the temple… Everything down to the temple guard statues and the pagodas where tourists can get their photos taken!

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The detailing for this particular piece is astounding, which makes it my number 1 favourite.

I didn’t want to leave Miniland, to be honest. I think I got it in my head that if I stared at these masterpieces long enough, I could figure out how to make something as magnificent. I would seriously like to duplicate at least one of these!

~~~

Seeing that I’m in danger of drooling all over Miniland, my cousins dragged me off to this tiny roller coaster called Project X. It was a fun and very short ride, and after I had my turn, I stood by near the drop to wait to photograph the “roller coaster faces” of my family.

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There was a ton of complete strangers who came down ahead of them, and it was simply hilarious looking at their faces! The ride’s camera is built near the bottom of this drop so a lot of people scream as they come down and then struggle to make their faces look good for a souvenir photo. I think maybe I got more of a knack out of that than the ride itself. And while the drop is pretty thrilling, it wasn’t thrilling enough! My cousins and I went in search of the bigger, badder roller coaster in the park.

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This ride makes the Project X roller coaster look like a baby.

The Dragon roller coaster is located in the Lego Kingdoms area, a medieval town mostly looking like castle grounds. The Dragon is actually the third roller coaster in Legoland Malaysia, the second one being a smaller, less intimidating version of this ride called The Dragon’s Apprentice. I didn’t snap a picture of it, but just imagine a roller coaster half the height and length of The Dragon. In the photo below, the long line of people inside the hut is actually for The Dragon’s Apprentice.

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The mood in this area is completely different to that of the other areas in the park. It is very old English, with the whole knights and horses thing. There is this adorable little kiddie ride, where the kids ride on slow-moving mechanical horses as though they are in a duel.

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The excellent attention even to the smallest detail like the bees above are what really satisfies the OCD side of me. Even the placement of the Lego objects and characters are well thought out. One of my favourites is this guard by the entrance to the castle I wouldn’t have noticed if not for his snoring.

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To ride the roller coaster, you need to cross a wooden bridge to the castle entrance. Beside the bridge is a “woods” area, where there are two of the cutest wolves I’ve ever seen. After seeing the direwolves in Game Of Thrones, I’ve been in love with wolves.

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The line wasn’t terribly long for The Dragon. I think we got to ride in about 10 minutes. It was a pretty solid ride, with high and fast drops (the camera is located in the highest drop of course), though I thought it ended too quickly. I still liked it anyway!

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My brother and cousins decided they wanted to take home a souvenir photo from this ride and they actually talked about what they would do on the drop where the camera would snap their photos. They went back a second time to perfect their troll poses and I waited for them where I could get a clear view of their shenanigans. I’m not entirely sure if my cousins in front were in fact pretending to sleep or maybe praying for the ride to stop, but my brother and my other cousin behind them had these huge smiles plastered on their faces!

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I’m not sure if maybe I was shaking from laughter when I saw them through my lens thus the blurry photo, but I can assure you the souvenir photo is epic! =))

~~~

After all the heart-pumping fun, we went for a leisurely stroll around the undiscovered parts of the theme park. Walking about, we stumbled upon the so-called Imagination area of the park.

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Check out that pulley ride (above). I got a kick out of watching the adults drag themselves up as fast as their arms would allow as long as they can beat the kids playing against them. Haha!

The focus of this area is mostly all things educational/mechanical, which is why a ton of kids kept running around. There were also a bunch of Lego animals, and kids on top of said Lego animals, making for the cutest sights!

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The ginormous giraffes are my favourite Lego animals here.

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I especially loved this one with the long lashes.

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A cool Lego sculpture of Albert Einstein is found by the entrance to the Lego Academy, where you can make your own Lego creations. Wouldn’t it be awesome to make something like the Lego sculpture on the left, but just a little less hostile?

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One of my cousins and I wandered into this place where all the kids are building these Lego cars and racing against each other. I can’t remember what it’s called or if it is in fact The Lego Academy. (Posting a trip you went to more than two months ago does that to you.)

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There are a bunch of diagonal planes set up in rows in the middle of the room and it was nice watching the kids and their interesting race-cars which all came in different shapes and sizes. Some of them looked more like aeroplanes than race-cars, even. Some of them looked like a bulldozer and would tumble over as it ran down to the finish line. There was this one bespectacled kid who ran from one race to another with his little car that looked like one of those pointy race-cars from cartoons (think Speed Racer), and he won pretty much all the time!

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To end our fine day here in Legoland, we stopped by The Brick Shop for a bit to see what interesting thing to bring home as a souvenir.

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We had fun mixing and matching the Lego heads against torsos, like an Indian head with a hippie torso and bikini bottom legs, but in the end we decided not to buy any of it. Why are the stuff in theme park souvenir shops always so expensive?

My cousin was smart and bought this Loki keychain. It was adorable! I still think it’s expensive for something so tiny, but I kind of regret not buying a souvenir Lego character of my own. I actually had my eye on the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Just a brief side-story: I am a Harry Potter fan and when I was in grade school I was the first person in my class to discover the wonders of this series. My classmates, because they were at that age, even made fun of me for getting addicted to the books so much, yet I couldn’t care less because I liked being the only person having a connection with something as special as the Harry Potter books. So when it became so big that everyone was reading it- despite my classmates conceding that they are indeed incredible– I felt kind of sad for no longer being the only one “in on the secret” (though of course happy for Ms Rowling at the same time).

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After writing that little anecdote above, I’m regretting not buying the Harry Potter Lego keychains a little more. What a horrible time to feel intensely frugal! Who knows when I’ll be back in Legoland? If I ever find myself in the other parts of the globe with a Legoland, you can be sure I’ll be visiting! Someone might need to drag me away from Miniland again though.

~~~

Other posts in this series:

2 Comments

  1. petit4chocolatier
    17 March, 2013

    Clarisse, I didn’t realize how big Legoland is. We have one near me in Orlando. I still love Lego’s even though my children are older now. This looks like so much fun!!

    Reply
    1. Clarisse Shaina
      17 March, 2013

      I wonder what the Miniland is like in the Florida Legoland. Looking forward to visiting it! 😀

      Reply

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