19th March, 2006, Sunday
The second day morning, I got up early but I was not in time for sunrise, I went out for a walk alone anyway, and got to see a lazy Kuala Lumpur waking up.
I strolled for about half an hour and went quite a distance, but I was able to come back to the hotel easily because the roads are in a neat grid and you know when you’re making a square and coming back to the starting point.
Today was the day of the Sepang 2006 race. The plan was to leave in the morning itself so that we avoid traffic jams later on. We had to wait a long time for the other members to come out of their rooms. This is one of the main disadvantages of package tours, a single person can inconvenience a bus-ful of people. On the other hand, the advantage is that transportation costs works out way cheaper…
We soon hit the smooth highway, and another 45 min ride to the Sepang circuit, which was right next door from the KLIA. I was having fun conversations with the new people I met. Two of these new people were in the IT field, but one an engineer and the other in HR. The third guy was an ad agency bigwig. I didn’t get a chance to talk much with the fourth and fifth guys, but they looked like the techie type, and it turned out true, heh.
When we reached the Sepang circuit, I was amazed at the vastness of the space. Reaching our gate from the main entrance was a 10 minute bus ride!
The crowd started to build up even though there was 3-4 hours before the race started. In the meanwhile, we decided to go back to the welcome area and explore there.
The welcome area was pretty much an F1 festival with fans thronging the booths and the F1 merchandise stalls.
I bought a red Ferrari backpack while my cousin bought the huge Ferrari flag. We discovered that a Ferrari umbrella costing 150 RM(Ringitt Malaysian, 1 RM == approximately 13 Indian rupees) in one shop was priced 250 RM in another. I still regret that I forgot to buy an Alonso cap (or T-shirt).
Next, we got back to our gate and into C2, the Hill Covered stand, means we sit on the grass. We had an amazing view from this side of the circuit. The best part was that there was a whole bend right in front of us which means we get to see the cars more clearly since they have to slow down, rather than see them just zoom by.
We saw the starting lap drive-by where all the drivers take a test drive for a round around the circuit. This was followed by all the drivers coming in their own chauffeur-driven 80s car while they waved to the crowds.
Then, the race started. Oh boy, was I getting an adrenaline rush! These cars are super-fast, and the sound they make is something to be just experienced. When a driver applies a brake, it makes so much noise that the ground shivered.
Fisichella was leading from the beginning and it didn’t look like anybody could get ahead of him. Schumacher always seemed to be not fast enough. I saw Nico Rosberg’s breakdown, and a crane come and pick up the car as if it was a toy car. Too bad, the 20-year old shows a lot of promise.
I saw quite a few overtakes which was amazing to see, they literally squeezed through and there was very little room for mistakes. It reminded me of the the “How to become a grand prix driver” show on Discovery that explained how much physical and mental stamina it requires to be a grand prix driver. There are many facets to it, like for example an F1 driver has to pay special attention to strengthen his neck because all the driving stresses the neck a lot.
I went to the corner of the C2 stand that was next to the C3 stand, and I got to see another great view of the circuit and the race.
There was some developments happening in the other parts of the circuit, like David Coulthard retired, and I wanted to keep track of that, so I got myself an expensive (100 RM) headphone set to listen to the FM commentary.
I think my biggest regret was not being able to see the pitstop and the chequered flag at the end of the race. But the tickets for those would be 10 times costlier (1650+ RM) than my ticket (150 RM). Perhaps next time ;-).
Watching a Formula 1 Grand Prix with my cousins, and cars zooming by at 240+ kmph in Malaysia where I can see nearly 70% of the track, and drinking Fosters’. I thought to myself – This is the life.
In the end, the results was Fisichella, the winner, followed by Alonso, Button, Montoya, Massa and M Schumacher in 6th position.
The race was such a rush. The video below (NOT taken by me, but taken by syakerr) gives you an idea of what being at the race was like :
After the race was over, I could see many many Ferrari fans disappointed, especially my cousin and friends. I was happy that Alonso came second, and the guys were calling me traitors, heh.
More of my F1 photos are marked with the ‘sepang’ tag in my Flickr photos .
On our way back, it rained. We were fortunate to be naturally cooled down after being broiled in the hot sun, but we were lucky that it didn’t rain while the race was on.
We got back to our hotel Casanova. We cousins nicknamed it “kasa”nova (“kasa” as in Kannada). We had the rest of the evening free to explore on our own.
We went into the “Only Mee” restaurant to see if we can find some Malaysian food, but ended up with just noodles which tasted like raw flour. However, the watermelon juice was amazing. Natural fruits are really delicious here.
I joked that if anybody asked any employee here about what kind of people come to the restaurant, he/she’ll reply “Only Mee”. Yeah, I know… a bad pun.
Next, we wanted to go to the China market to see if we can do some shopping. The taxi driver said that only max 4 people are allowed in a taxi at a time, so 2 of us got into one taxi and 3 in another. While we were on the way, the driver got a phone call on his mobile, and he started shouting. I was psyched for a second because I couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying but all I could figure out was that he was angry.
We reached China town soon enough, and I was waiting for my cousins to come before I paid the cash to the driver, but he got impatient and (in his broken English) he said he got a phone call from the other driver and they’re at the other end of the street. I finally gave him the 15 RM and we went to the other side of the street. Our cousins were not there!
We two looked around for half an hour and did some shopping as well. I had the best roasted corn I have ever had. My mouth still waters at just the recollection of it… We decided to get back to the hotel thinking the other 3 will do the same.
Finally, after an hour after we came back, the other 3 came, and we had a huge discussion on what happened. It seems if one of our cousins had actually looked for us instead of being distracted by shopping for F1 T-shirts, we might have actually found each other :lol:.
We were all lazing on the bed and the chairs and having a good laugh. Then, we finally called it a night and hit the bed.
The next day was going to be a trip to Genting Highlands.