In the first thirty years of my life, I think I can count on one hand the number of cable cars/ski lifts I’ve ridden on. There was the one time at Lagoon, legs dangling and bumping along from one end of the amusement park to the other, after which I decided I’d rather just make a mad dash from the Colossus roller coaster, through the alley of carnival games, past the Shooting Star coaster, weaving through the dizzy-ride arena (Scrambler! Tilt-o-Whirl! So much fun!), to reach the other end of the death-defying lift before my friends disembarked. The trek was worth the few extra months of beating my heart saved by opting out. Then there was the time in middle school where I thought for just a moment that I would become a skier, so signed up for the annual school-sponsored ski trip. (What was I thinking? Not having ski-appropriate clothing, I ended up miserable on the bus ride home in my soaking wet and freezing jeans, fully convinced that snow sports were not for me. Ever.) And don’t forget the rickety lift to the top of the Great Wall outside of Beijing, that while short, was probably the most mechanically unsound of them all. That may be a fully comprehensive list of cable car experiences for the first three decades of my existence.
And since then?
A ridiculous amount!
Just in the last year I’ve been on the one at Bamboo Sea in western China, the one in Hong Kong to see the giant golden Buddha , the one at Park City in Utah to ride the luges down the mountain and now, just this last weekend, the one on Langkawi Island. I had a nice average of one every ten years, now I’m at one each fiscal quarter!
With three days of freedom (okay, freedom for Thad, as my days are pretty open at this point), we decided it was time to check out the much talked-up Langkawi, an island off Malaysia’s west coast. With round trip tickets for right around $100 each and the flight just an hour long, it was a perfect way to get out of town for Labor Day weekend, which also happened to be Merdeka, Malaysia Day.
After wandering Oriental Village, at the base of the cable system, we loaded up for the harrowing ride to the top. Each car seats six, but we were lucky enough to be at the end of one timed ticket groupings, which got us a private car. Now I could let my freakiness out as we ascended the exceedingly steep mountainside (at times, the cable car is being pulled up the hill at a 42 degree angle), since I didn’t have to try and mask the fear of imminent death. While Thad stood and wandered from side to side in the car, messing with the window slats, taking pictures of the waterfalls and generally making the car jiggle more than necessary, I sat perched on the edge of my bench, holding on to the railing for dear life (I’m not exactly sure what I think the railing is going to do if the car comes unattached from the cable, but either way, I white-knuckled it to the top!) and looking up to catch a glimpse of the ocean here or a glance at the forest there.
While it just takes about fourteen minutes from the base station to the top station, we decided to hop out at the mid-way station to get a better view of the island and ocean, but then did continue on up to the peak of Gunung Machinchang. Not wanting to pass up the chance for a mountaintop hotdog, we sat and enjoyed the spectacular view as Thad opted for some processed meat before re-embarking on a ride in a car that dangles from a cable.
Glad to be back on solid ground and not looking to increase our altitude in the least, we opted for a day of snorkeling with the fishes on Sunday. We saw baby sharks (which begs the question, “Where were the adults?!”), puffer fish, parrotfish, angel fish and a million others I can’t identify, but happily followed around for hours.
Langkawi was a great weekend getaway and definitely somewhere we’ll be hauling guests who want to see a bit more of the country, other than the capital city itself. But, I do think I’ve hit my cable car quota for 2014, so will have to send visitors up the hill by themselves, while I sit at the bottom, drinking an icy cold glass of pineapple juice and enjoying the views from exactly zero feet above sea level!