The Coolest Fairground Worker Ever?

30 Jul

Illuminated fairground entrance with the legend UK Funfair, Bintulu, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Of all the places in which to find a “UK Funfair”, complete with British registration plates on the lorries, Bintulu, Sarawak, would come pretty low on my list. Thailand? Quite possibly. Peninsular Malaysia? Conceivably.



Now, the nine year old and I love funfairs. The neon. The colour. The adrenaline rush. The cheesy music. The ephemeral, carnival spirit. And when the UK fairground concept meets Borneo safety standards, the results are extra-, extra-special.

Whisper it. Yet Bintulu, for all its position on the Pan-Borneo Highway and its status as Sarawak’s fourth largest city, is not exactly what you’d call bright lights, big city.

It has a market. A zoo. A Chinese temple, with fighting cocks tethered outside. An extensive waterfront. A brand spanking new hospital and local government edifice. A wide selection of hotels, several snooker halls, a flourishing “foot massage” and “reflexology” scene, plus a lot of businesses largely concerned with removing and/or processing what remains of the local environment.

Oh yes. And a Pizza Hut.

Anywise. The UK Funfair boasts a flume with real water, a mini-rollercoaster, spinny-roundy things to please all ages, yer classic ferris wheel, some win-a-cuddly-toy stands, an inflatable slide and… one of the best fairground rides ever.

Pink circular fairground ride, Bintulu, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.

Now, at first glance, the pink wheel of death looks innocuous enough. From the absence of safety harnesses or restraining bars one would, with one’s soft, Western conditioning, assume that it’s some kind of rotor affair, where you end up sealed to the seats by rotational spin.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

It spins round, horizontally and at an angle. It goes suddenly into reverse! It jumps up and down!

But gravity is pulling you AWAY from your seat, not securing you to it.

So, while a cheesy techno beat incites you to “raise your hands in the air”, you lurch about, in that classic fairground hinterland between whooping and screaming. All the while this beautiful, fresh-faced, Malaysian B-boy in a backward baseball cap, Adidas jacket and boxfresh white cutdowns DANCES (yes, dances) in the middle.

There’s something so wholesome, so, well, Malaysian, about his enthusiasm, that makes him, quite possibly, the coolest fairground worker ever.

He is infinitely more cool than the long-haired, tattooed guys who could leap from dodgem to dodgem on Wimbledon Common, ride the curves of the Waltzer, delivering super-charged spins, when I was a teenager and he, err, had yet to be born.

And, I mean, those guys were cool. Well cool. Shake your wrist until your joints crack cool…

But this boy is cooler.

In fact, even when I am being thrown up and down, hanging onto the rail behind my head with one hand, restraining Z from getting up and dancing with the other, wishing for a third with which to retrieve my skirt from my waist, and hoping the fat guy who fell off won’t roll into me or Z, this boy is still…

… The Don…

Making this, IMHO, one of the best fairground rides ever. And, clearly, totally illegal anywhere in the European Union.

As, incidentally, would be the bouncy slides. Can YOU see what crucial element is missing from the kiddie equipment in this snapshot?

illuminated inflatable slide at funfair in Sarawak, with safety rail but no landing mat.

Yes! That’s right!

The missing link between the bottom of the inflatable slide and the tarmac is, of course, an inflatable mattress on which to land.

I mean, the metal safety barrier is a nice attempt. But, according to Z, it doesn’t really cut the mustard when it comes to shock absorption.

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10 Responses to “The Coolest Fairground Worker Ever?”

  1. LaboriousLiving July 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    Lesson learned from this post. Never wear a skirt on the Pink Wheel of Death. Man that sounds like one awesome ride. I was always a zipper fan myself. But his sound pukealicious.

  2. Gappy July 31, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    The wheel of death indeed! And the slide of hideous injury! Looks like it had a great atmosphere though – I love funfairs too.

    • MummyT July 31, 2010 at 4:06 am #

      It had a lovely atmosphere. Not the slightest hint of lairiness, or danger. Well, apart from the apparatus, anyway. But none of that beered-up laddiness you get at an English funfair.

      • Keith August 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

        Hello mummy T, I am Keith, owner the uk Fun fair in Borneo at the moment, sorry i never met you when you visited here. I remember the times you spoke about at uk funfairs when you were a teen. I was born into the fair Biz and toured the uk for many years, so i decided to take a uk fair where it as never been seen before Hence borneo, before here other counties in asia. The reward is on the peoples faces when they see the lights and the atmosphere. Hope you enjoy the rest of your tour.

      • MummyT August 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

        And thank you for a fantastic fair… Where are you off to next?

  3. Nancy August 2, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    Wow – just experienced similar in Guatemala – only the rides came from France – circa 1970 – although they really looked like they were from the 40s – with no restraints at all. Most baby rides were human-powered, while the larger rides were run by tractor engines. I also made the mistake of wearing a skirt on the ferris wheel – which somehow managed to go about 30 miles a hour despite the fact that the engine continually stalled every 30 seconds or so.

    So fun to see your blog – found you at Lonely Planet.

    • MummyT August 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

      Guatemalan safety standards are truly scary, aren’t they? I saw someone flip an inflatable and fly more than halfway out of a waterslide. About, ooh, 30 feet above concrete… This was tame in comparison.

      I don’t know what it is about skirts and travelling. But I always seem to wear mine for the most inappropriate/inopportune activities…

      • Keith August 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

        Going to tawau sabah, to open for Hari Raya.

  4. Denny August 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    Hi, my friend Mr. Keith…..

    Welcome back to Sabah….I like to take this opportunity to wish you and your team all the best and good luck..

    Denny Choon

    • Keith August 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

      Hello Denny, Thank you for your kind words, hope to see soon. Keith.

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