Back again for more fun at Legoland!

From afar, I heard the buzz of loud chatter from the people already gathered at the main entrance of LEGOLAND Malaysia and SEA LIFE Malaysia because these family-friendly theme-parks are opened again to welcome eager Lego fans.

Visitors enjoying a fun ride at Legoland Malaysia
in the New Normal
Families and visitors could once again immerse themselves in the awesome world of LEGO at the Legoland Theme Park and Legoland Hotel from June 25.

While the Legoland Water Park was, however, still temporarily closed, my friends and I were back again to explore and experience the theme-parks in the New Normal.

As the theme-parks sprang back to life after months of temporary closure, I observed that health and safety were their top priorities.

The strict and consistent adherence to health and safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) started from the entry point where every visitor was invited to sanitise their hands and step in front of a large screen for temperature screening.

Visitors waiting in line - at marked spots - for opening time
The excitement was palpable as groups of friends and families, all comfortably wearing masks, waited patiently in line for opening time and stood at marked spots for physical distancing as a safety measure among the New Normal practices here.

The team at Legoland was upbeat about the re-opening and among familiar team members, I saw some Safety Compliance Officers with specially assigned duties.

These friendly team members dressed in Blue T-shirts, have their feelers out to spot anyone who – while having so much fun – may have forgotten about the new health and safety measures, and needed to be gently reminded.

Safety Compliance Officers at Legoland Malaysia
It was good that the theme-parks have developed custom plans to apply physical distancing around the park and on the rides to minimise contact between different parties.

The day kicked off with an energetic Theme-park Opening Dance while visitors gathered in front of the stage, rocked along at proper physical distances marked by stickers on the ground.

It felt uplifting and rather emotional when I saw the way enthusiastic visitors who shared the same excitement, confidence and peace of mind, getting all hyped up to enjoy the theme-park again.

Team member sanitizing handles after each ride
At the close of the dance performance, we were warmly welcomed back in a brief speech by Divisional Director at Legoland Malaysia Resort, C.S. Lim.

Then it was time to explore the theme-park again.

And it did not take long for visitors to find their way around to their favourite ride and attraction in the park.

Regulars were clearly familiar with the park and most were well acquainted with the SOPs in place, readily cooperating with sanitizing hands and temperature screening before they entered the theatre for the LEGO Friends Live Show.

Physically distanced riders having fun on
The Great Lego Race
The entrance at every ride was marked by stickers on the ground as a guide for physical distancing and upon entering and leaving each ride, visitors had their hands sanitized.

With the capacity limitation to 30% of normal operations, there were no large crowds, no long queues to wait and we were welcomed into each ride quite smoothly.

I also observed the enhanced cleaning regimes where team members would quickly clean and sanitize after we had left to prepare for the next group of visitors.

In the souvenir shops, there were signs that reminded visitors not to touch items unnecessarily for hygiene reasons and to ensure that their children were always supervised.

At the exit of every ride, visitors’ hands were spritzed with sanitizer, either by a team member and at the Ninjago ride, a sanitizer dispenser was available for visitors to help themselves to sanitise their hands.

Sanitizing hands after the Ninjago ride
Next to the dispenser, a sign reminded us to: Keep your hands SUPER AWESOMELY clean – Use Hand Sanitizer.

Before entering the restaurants, these SOPs also applied.

Restaurants have capacity limits for the number of diners, with clear signs to direct diners to enter and leave by specific doors.

Each table was labelled to remind diners to maintain physical distance of one meter apart or for family members only.

At the order counter and pay-points, diners placed their orders comfortably behind plexiglass-shields and contactless payment is encouraged.

The musical fountain, among my favourite spots in Legoland
Happy smiles – evident from smiling eyes and euphoric screams through masks – was proof that even with the SOPs in place, the Legoland experience in the New Normal was still a familiar and enjoyable one.

As the nation gradually reopens, Legoland Malaysia aims to help restore the appeal for domestic tourism in the spirit of #CutiCutiMalaysia.

The range of attractive and flexible offers for families to book ahead and plan for their next holidays in Johor are certainly encouraging visitors to visit again.

So happy to be back again at Legoland!
The promotions come with an extended validity period, relatively longer than the usual packages, and is part of Legoland’s effort to support the government’s efforts to reinvigorate the tourism industry.

Some of the offers include:

·         3-month extension for all Annual Pass – Valid for passes that have expired or are expiring between February – December 2020
·         Limited Time Annual Pass Renewal – Annual Pass renewed from now onwards will be valid until December 2021
·         Limited Time Free Hotel Stay – Book 1 night and get the 2nd night for free
·         Limited Time Free Theme Park Access – Buy 1 Day ticket and get the 2nd ticket for free

For more information on the offer packages, safety measures and SOPs applied throughout the resort, visit the official website, or via social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Ready to stay and play again at Legoland!

Thursday, June 25. This is when Legoland Malaysia will reopen again to welcome families and visitors to experience and enjoy the only international theme-park in Malaysia.

Legoland Malaysia and Legoland Hotel are ready
to welcome families and visitors again!
With strict and consistent adherence to health and safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) at the highest level, Legoland’s parent company, the Merlin Entertainments Group has had many successful re-openings around the world.

These theme-parks include LEGOLAND Japan Resort, LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort, LEGOLAND Billund Denmark, LEGOLAND Florida, and SEA LIFE Shenyang.

With new health, hygiene, and safety protocols in place, families and visitors can once again immerse themselves in the awesome world of LEGO at the Legoland Theme Park and Legoland Hotel, from June 25.

The Legoland Water Park will, however, remain temporarily closed.

Facade of the uniquely Lego-themed Legoland Hotel
“During the temporary closure, our team has been working tirelessly to refresh our properties and train our employees, in addition to implementing the health and safety protocols.

We have also been sharing and applying many learnings and best practices among our sister attractions in a collaborative effort to align with the highest level of compliance.

We are ready to play and make LEGOLAND a safe and memorable place for families again,” said Divisional Director at Legoland Malaysia Resort, C.S. Lim.

In line with the guidelines required by the Malaysian Ministry of Health, Legoland Malaysia is all set to welcome visitors back with the same strict SOPs applied in the group’s family-friendly theme-parks.

“Visitors can expect to see new protocols and operational changes at the resort.

Our hope is for everyone to feel reassured of safety and hygiene throughout their vacation, but nothing short of a fun, entertaining and adventurous experience with their loved ones,” Lim added.

The Lego experience continues in
the themed rooms in Legoland Hotel
With safety and hygiene as top priorities, visitors will enjoy the unique Legoland experience with peace of mind, aware that everyone are in the resort’s good hands.

To provide this assurance, Legoland has installed new facilities, processes, and manpower in line with the safety protocols and procedures.

These measures include social distancing and crowd control, limitation of capacity to 30% of normal operations, temperature screening and guest registration, hygiene and disinfection protocols, and enhanced cleaning regimes.

Legoland also announced a variety of attractive and flexible offers where families can book ahead and plan for their next holidays in Johor.

The promotions come with an extended validity period that is relatively longer than the usual packages.

This is part of Legoland’s effort to further support the government’s efforts to reinvigorate the tourism industry.

Some of the offers include:
·         3-month extension for all Annual Pass – Valid for passes that have expired or are expiring between February – December 2020
·         Limited Time Annual Pass Renewal – Annual Pass renewed from now onwards will be valid until December 2021
·         Limited Time Free Hotel Stay – Book 1 night and get the 2nd night for free
·         Limited Time Free Theme Park Access – Buy 1 Day ticket and get the 2nd ticket for free

Enjoying a fun ride in the Legoland Theme Park
“Legoland Malaysia upholds a long-term commitment in driving more visitors to experience Johor as a family-friendly holiday destination.

We hope Malaysians will take full advantage of our flexible offerings,” said Lim.

As the economy in the nation gradually reopens, Legoland Malaysia aims to help restore the appeal for domestic tourism in the spirit of #CutiCutiMalaysia.

For more information on the offer packages, safety measures and SOPs applied throughout the resort, visit the official website, or via social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Roland Ng - A Tribute

When he passed peacefully on June 10 at age 89, Uncle Roland, the eldest of 11 siblings, had lived a long and eventful life.

Uncle Roland [Left] and his brother, Uncle Robert, receiving
their trophies as a successful doubles pair in a tournament.
On June 16 when my post …and another, makes four funerals was published, I received comments and feedback from various family members and some readers.

I can imagine the stress and sorrow that Uncle’s youngest son, Jesse, experienced because he was unable to come back to Johor Baru to attend his mother’s funeral in May and his father’s send-off in June, all due to the movement control and lack of flight tickets from Sarawak.

In fact, his text message to thank me for the recollections about his father – that inevitably made him feel sadder – included five emoticons for tears and crying…

Meanwhile, Uncle Arthur who lives across the causeway in Woodlands, Singapore, was also heartbroken because he was literally, So near and yet so far away!

Grandfather [2nd from Left] with his six sons, [L to R] Boon, Robert, Roland, Arthur, Victor and Billy 
With the borders between our two nations still closed during the Recovery Movement Control Order, he was deeply saddened because he could not come to JB to give his eldest brother a personal send-off.

A Catalina blossom blooming in
Aunty Polly's garden from a plant given
her by eldest brother, Uncle Roland.
Cousin Malcolm dug through his old albums and discovered a precious photo of his late father, Uncle Robert, who partnered Uncle Roland as a triumphant doubles pair, receiving their trophies in a prize presentation ceremony.

He captioned the photo: “Reforming a successful pairing!”

Thanks to his late mother who was an avid photographer, he has a vast collection of old photos including this very rare shot of grandfather with his six sons (in order of seniority) our uncles, the Ng brothers Roland, Robert, Billy, Arthur, Victor and Boon.

Then a reader Lorong Rambai wrote via Facebook, “I remember him well. He used to play badminton at the Tampoi soft drink warehouse with others. RIP.”

When I shared this feedback with our extended family, it triggered off a lively chat about this badminton court at the Fraser & Neave (F&N) bottling plant at Jalan Tampoi where the Ng brothers including Uncle Roland, used to train and play.

Cousin Dennis – who was then about 10 years old – recalled going to the badminton court with his father, Uncle Billy.

Uncle Roland carrying baby Bernice
Young Dennis’ keen eyes observed that some of the players smoked and they used the empty soft-drink bottles as ashtrays!

He also remembered that the friendly F&N staff would sometimes present the players with an entire crate of soft-drinks, with their best compliments.

We quickly digressed to a discussion about the colloquial name for bottled soft-drinks in Teochew/Hokkien dialect, pok-chui.

Soft-drinks in bottles or cans are carbonated drinks, often called fizzy drinks or soda pop probably due to its fizz and pop, so it is no wonder that the colloquial name for soft-drinks ended up as pok-chui!

Dennis, who is conversant in Teochew, was quick to explain that the traditional name for bottled soft-drinks was derived from the “pop” sound when the bottle cap was opened.

Our knowledge on soft-drinks and its various names widened when Dennis shared his experience in China where some vendors called canned soft-drinks, shou-la-guan, a phrase in Mandarin derived from the act of opening the canned drink by pulling the ring on top of the can with a finger!

A we-fie: Bernice with Uncle Roland
Speaking of fingers, Dennis shared his own memories of Uncle Roland who was then based at the Health clinic at the Lumba Kuda Flats also known as the 15-Storey Flats in JB.

It was a school day back in 1978 when Dennis – then a Standard Two kid – accidentally got his pinky finger slammed by a door at St Joseph’s School.

His father rushed Dennis to the nearest clinic helmed by Uncle Roland at the Flats where his entire fingernail had to be removed and the wound carefully stitched up.

Dennis insisted and I quote, that it was, “The best stitch ever, with an invisible scar!”

He even showed proof by sending a photo of his pinky with the stitched spot marked by double “x” to indicate that the scar was in fact, not visible!

Then Aunty Polly brought us back on track with her comment, “Hey, I too played on that court!” And went on to describe that the court in the factory warehouse was surrounded by empty crates.

From Dennis: Proof of invisible stitches on his pinky!
Sayang no photos to show to players who only play in air-conditioned halls!” she lamented.

I knew she was referring to the new generation of pampered players who could only play the game in particular conditions, unlike those days when badminton players still performed well whether in indoor non-air-conditioned halls or at outdoor courts.

Aunty also reminisced on the passing of Uncle, “My big brother is gone. Really will miss his idioms, badminton scores and wild boar stories.”

Meanwhile her daughter, cousin Bernice who lives in the UK, shared her fond memories of visiting Uncle whenever she was back home, with a lovely we-fie shot.

It was such a precious photo particularly as we could compare it against an old photo of Uncle Roland carrying baby Bernice, shot in the garden of No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng.

Wilfred J. Lakus is between Uncle Roland [Left]
and Aunty Elizabeth [Right]
Then I received another feedback message from a reader, Wilfred J. Lakus, who asked if I remembered him?

I must admit that I found his question difficult to answer because I had no recollection about when our paths may have crossed.

A glance at his Facebook profile told me that he is based in Sarawak and was a Navy Veteran. At first, I thought Uncle Arthur, also retired from the Navy, may be acquainted with him but I was wrong.

A search in Wilfred’s photo album revealed several photographs taken with Uncle Roland and Aunty Elizabeth in their home in Kota Tinggi, but I still could not recognise Wilfred from the photos.

CNY 2019:Aunty Elizabeth giving
ang pau to Wilfred's grand-daughter
Then cousin Jesse explained that Wilfred was a close friend of his eldest brother, Jeffery, that he lived in the same district in Sarawak and they also sometimes met in town.

By this time, Wilfred might have realized that I could not remember him because he sent another old photo that showed me posing in the same shot with him, cousin Jeffery and Aunty Sylvia!

One glance at this shot reminded me that Wilfred was with Jeffery, Uncle Roland and his family as guests, at our annual Christmas party one Christmas Day so long ago.

We too have a copy of this photo in our album but the Wilfred in this group shot looked quite unlike the Wilfred seen in the recent photos with Uncle and Aunty.

Wilfred declared that Uncle and Aunty were like his parents while he was with the Royal Malaysian Navy based in Woodlands, Singapore, and had treated him like one of their sons.

His last visit with Uncle and Aunty along with his family and grand-daughter, was during Chinese New Year 2019.

Thank you everyone, for sharing your comments and feedback. It is so precious to know that you treasure such fond memories of Uncle and Aunty. Thank you.

...and another, makes four funerals

On June 9, I published, A wedding, birthdays and three funerals to document some family happenings during the series of lockdown periods dubbed the Movement Control Order (MCO), the subsequent Conditional Movement Control Order and the Recovery Movement Control Order.

Newspaper cutting with the report on Uncle Roland when
he won the World Veteran Champion title in Taiwan
Among the many ups and downs, the most significant were the three funerals to celebrate the lives of Grand-uncle Leong and Grand-uncle Mak in Singapore, and Aunty Elizabeth.

While these send-offs were scaled down according to the limits set by MCO regulations, the sorrow and loss experienced among family members was no less.

This was compounded by the fact that interstate travel was prohibited, and the borders were still closed to those from abroad who wished to pay their last respects.

When his mother’s remains were interred in the memorial park, cousin Philip and his family were comforted that they had fulfilled her wishes for her interment.

1957: Roland Ng, Johore state badminton
champion for four years, just like his father!
It was early afternoon on June 10 when I received the sad news from cousin Philip that his father was very weak. An hour later, he called to inform that he had passed.

It was hardly a month since his wife’s passing in mid-May and now he too left us at age 89.

Uncle Roland was unwell since last November and was in and out of hospital for various ailments.

Last month, when I met him at the wake for his wife, Uncle was lucid enough to instantly recognize me even though I was wearing a mask.

It was simply heartbreaking to witness his grief at the loss of his life-partner of more than 60 years. Her passing must have dealt a heavy blow to his grieving heart and the romantic in me believes that he probably died of a broken heart.

I have always seen Uncle and his wife together as a couple whenever they came to visit us at grandfather’s house from Kota Tinggi, where they were based for work with the district hospital.

Roland Ng, looking rather dapper
Uncle was a Hospital Assistant while Aunty was a Nursing Sister. And because they enjoyed the lifestyle in Kota Tinggi, Uncle and Aunty decided to retire there.

Besides a passion for playing badminton, Uncle had a hobby in hunting wild boar and the nearby jungles provided him and his hunting friends, ample opportunities to pursue this hobby.

After his retirement, he surrendered his gun license and focused on his other hobby in cultivating orchids and planting fruit trees – including durian – in his garden.

Uncle was very proud of the quality of the durian and mangoes cultivated in his own garden and I remember once – when our grandmother was still with us – how Uncle brought us durian all the way from Kota Tinggi by riding on his motorcycle!

I know that Uncle was an avid follower of My Johor Stories when my “grandfather stories” on the family were published regularly in Johor Streets, a pull-out section of The New Straits Times. [This section ceased publication at end 2015.]

Mr & Mrs Roland Ng; 1955
He would collect these full-page publications and have them laminated for better storage. When he showed them to his visitors, these became talking points for interesting conversations.

When his cousin visiting from Singapore was shown this carefully preserved copies of my articles, she was keen to have her own copies, so Uncle graciously offered to prepare a set of these laminated pages for her.

Later I learnt from his wife that one afternoon in August 2010, while she was having her nap, Uncle rode his motorcycle to collect these laminated pages from the bookstore.

Aunty was not even aware that he had left the house to do this errand until she received a telephone call from a stranger who informed her that Uncle was involved in a collision and was admitted to hospital!

I just could not get over the fact that he met with this motor accident while he was out to collect copies of my articles laminated for his cousin!

Uncle Roland [Center] with his colleagues in JB GH
[Bear in mind that Uncle was unacquainted with social media or online versions of my published articles and was only comfortable with the old-school, hard-copy versions of these publications!]

As a sportsman, he continued to train badminton enthusiasts in the finer points of the game and Uncle earned himself the enviable title of Sifu among his trainees.

When I was researching about grandfather, Ng Ngoh Tee, and his badminton career, Uncle was my source of information on the family’s history in badminton.

In fact, Uncle was Johor state badminton champion for four years – 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958 – just like his father who was Johor champion for four years – 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1939.  

Uncle's handwritten notes for me!
Ask anyone who has met Uncle and they would attest to the fact that Uncle had an uncanny ability to remember names, dates and even scores in specific matches between who and who, when and held where.

He had a habit of repeating himself while he talked animatedly and would often write out the facts to make his point even clearer.

On one occasion, I kept the sheet of A4 paper that he wrote on and this is my own hand-written memento from Uncle.

In 2015, I received a request from a Kuala Lumpur production company that was producing a documentary dubbed The forgotten men of 1949, about the team who represented Malaya to participate in the inaugural Thomas Cup tournament.

Uncle pointing to the 1939 photo of the team who won
the Foong Seong Cup, later renamed the Khir Cup
They wanted to meet with someone related to Wong Peng Soon, one of the members of this team, and wondered if I could connect them to a family member.

Wong Peng Soon was grandmother’s cousin and the only member of the family who had interacted with him (still alive and lucid!) was Uncle Roland, who was then a teenager when grandfather was training the Wong brothers in the game.

So, I set up an appointment for the crew from this production company to meet with Uncle to record his comments from an interview.

Looking back, this time with Uncle was very precious because he was in his element and generously provided all the relevant information they required and more…

Using his valuable collection of newspaper cuttings, Uncle shared his memories and comments that were captured in hours of recordings.

Handwritten inside the book, Talk About History,
a message from Dato' Eddy Choong to Uncle
I knew Uncle could quote players’ names, dates and the match scores from his memory and observed how he impressed the crew with his thorough information.

I am also familiar with his friendship with Malaysian badminton legend, Dato’ Eddy Choong (1930 – 2013) and I remember Uncle showing off the cover letter that was enclosed with a book on Eddy’s badminton career, Talk About History.

On the inside cover of this book, I read the handwritten message Eddy wrote to Uncle that started like this, “To my very good friend Roland Ng…”

Uncle Roland’s last international title was singles World Veteran Champion held in Taiwan and he partnered Eddy Choong to win the doubles Veteran Champion title.

Uncle was four-time
Johore badminton champion!
I can recall Uncle sharing his experience about how he and Eddy worked hard to win this prestigious doubles’ title through sheer grit and smart strategy.

In fact, these two experienced doubles players did not meet for any training because Eddy was based in Penang while Uncle was in Johor. They trained separately and only met in Taiwan for the tournament – and won the title!

Even after their retirement, Uncle and his wife would often drop by at our house, usually after their regular appointments at the clinic in Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA), to visit with my parents.

My parents, Uncle and Aunty were retired from the health department and had postings to Kota Tinggi Hospital as well as HSA, then called JB General Hospital, so they had much in common to reminisce and chit-chat.

In their advancing in age, they also exchanged notes about their ailments, aches and pains and discussed remedies. I could not help overhearing their loud conversations because Uncle was hard-of-hearing, even while wearing a hearing aid!

Chinese New Year 2020 with
Uncle Roland and Aunty Elizabeth
Besides being posted to Kota Tinggi Hospital, Uncle was also posted to the Health Clinic at the Lumba Kuda Flats and the mortuary in JBGH’ forensic department.

I am sure friends and family members can fondly remember Uncle’s pleasure in regaling us with his well embellished stories that ranged from morbid mortuary tales, badminton experiences and hunting adventures to English idioms and riddles.

He did so enjoy having a captive audience…

After grandfather’s demise, Uncle’s home in Kota Tinggi was the meeting place for the extended family on the first day of Chinese New Year (lunch time).

And among the regular visitors were his friends from former hospital staff and his badminton disciples who called him, Sifu.

Chinese New Year 2020 was extra special because many members of the extended family gathered at Uncle home for lunch and a cake-cutting ceremony to celebrate Uncle’s birthday on January 26.

While this turned out to be the last birthday celebration for both Uncle and Aunty, we are glad for the privilege to have shared birthday joy with them, one final time.

After a two-day wake to celebrate his life, Uncle’s remains were interred alongside those of his beloved wife in the memorial park. Rest In Peace, Uncle and Aunty.