Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix

Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
Trip End Sep 22, 2003

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Where I stayed
Attapsana Guesthouse

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Sunday, March 23, 2003

23rd March - We had to be up very early in order to get a good spot in the hillstands so we grabbed a taxi just after 7am! The circuit is near the airport which normally costs 35RM to get to each way but there was a special offer of 35RM return which included the shuttle to Sepang. This therefore cost us more than our flights! It was all very well organised and we arrived at Sepang to collect our tickets. We had been told by the ticket hotline that they had sold out so we went to an agent to buy them but couldn't collect them until the day so until we had them in our sweaty paws we were concerned that we had been stitched up. With our tickets firmly in our grasp we jumped on the circuit shuttle to be taken to our hillstand area. In C2 we had good views over a large part of the circuit and good views of about 3 turns as well as being in front of a big screen so we could see all the best bits. Sepang is fairly new and purpose built and therefore is the only track allowed to use F1 in the title as it is the best F1 circuit in the world. We settled down for a long wait as the race didn't start till 3pm but it went really quickly as they had various things going on before hand. We saw 3 other races including a really good one with Porsches and the F1 drivers did a parade in vintage cars,including my favourite Austin Healey. I cameout of the shade to take a photo and in those brief moments I got sunburned! They also had a fly past from the Malaysian Air Force which unlike the formation displays of the Red Arrows,just involved flying VERY fast and VERY low so that you could feel it in your chest when they were coming over. The highlight for me was the demo circuit of the FP1 superbike which is a lime green 900cc sex-on-wheels machine designed by Petronas and Carl Foggerty (i.e. Foggy Petronas 1) for their new team. King Carl did the lap himself and I was more excited about seeing him than many of the F1 drivers!

We decided to treat ourselves to an ice-cream which, trust me, really was a treat because of the prices there. The food and beverages (like the merchandise) wasVERY expensive and VERY limited and they actually ran out before we could get anything so we ended up with water. We were really annoyed about this as they had stipulated no outside food and drink and they had been actively searching people's bags throughout the previous days. However on this day (when there was 100,000 people there) they did not and they even let in people openly carrying cool boxesand picnic hampers! There was also a rule saying no umbrellas which was crazy (and ignored) because of the sun. Sepang is billed as the hottest F1 race and it was 34 degrees in the shade and the sun was beating down. Luckily we had secured a spot in the shade but this moved during the afternoon and we also ended up in the sun for a while. We felt very sorry for the people who had bought tickets in the uncovered stands!

The race itself was amazing and we cheered and clapped in the great atmosphere surrounded by people of all nationalities, many wearing Peace badges, and it was good to forget about the war for a few hours. Of course, 100,000 people also have to get out of the circuit and this was a bit of a bun fight as there were only so many shuttles and everyone was hot and tired. Many people were also dehydrated, sun burned or had heat exhaustion or sunstroke, partly due to the lack and expense of shade and fluids etc. We eventually managed to get back to the Attapsanna guest house at about 9pm and Farida and Rhobi (bless them) came to our room to say goodbye and give us a kiss. They enjoyed having us there as we spoke to them about their culture and food etc, and we kept coming back! I thought Farida was going to cry when we said they were like our Malaysian Mums! Rhobi even did our washing when she wouldn't do anyone elses and Farida helped us out when I left the key in the room. She dangled her nephew over the top of our cubicle with a samurai sword to try and reach them but he ended up having to slide over and throw the keys over the top! They still gave us another discount even though they could have charged double for the room during the GrandPrix.

Definitely a good way to spend our last day in Malaysia!
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