X-Race Lai Yuen – So Much Fun!!

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The over-riding question on the bus heading out to AsiaWorld-Expo was: would 8 minutes of track time be worth $280. It sounds a lot, written in black and white like that. But, oh what fun it is and after that first run you’ll be smiling and grinning like a kid and like Oliver you’ll be asking “Can I have some more….”

The 650metre track and the max speed available will seem a touch conservative to some; but given the wide range of driving abilities in Hong Kong the balance of safety v fun isn’t bad, with one caveat which I’ll mention later. You can carry enough speed into the corners to get the rear to hang out and the straights are more like shallow curves where the restricted max speed doesn’t become to obvious.

The RIMO karts are electric powered from Germany and smooth and simple to drive. There’s a maximum of eleven carts on the track at any one time and plenty of overtaking spots exist so ‘back-markers’ will rarely hold you back.

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The track designed by Michael Kolbinger (Michael Schumacher’s racetrack designer), is one where you can drive and have fun (get too ‘dangerous’ and you’ll be black flagged) or drive looking to hit every apex for that smooth single lap qualifying time. After just a day of karting the ‘lap record’ for the current track and kart settings is 52 seconds. It’ll be interesting to how low it will go over the next few weeks.

You’ll race rain or shine, so bring a spare set of clothes if rain is forecast. Our first session was on a damp track after a short sharp shower and it showed that a damp/wet track will be lots of fun.

The elephant in the room, and it’s the main caveat to your enjoyment, is the driving skills of the other drivers in your session. The kart’s engine power output can be controlled via wifi and if a driver crashes a virtual safety (speed limiter) car is deployed and all you can do is trundle around the circuit until the other driver is moving. The second media session featured numerous ‘crashes’ and it must have been super frustrating for the other karters. 8 minutes isn’t a long session and to spend a big chunk of it at little more than walking pace isn’t fun.

So one bad driver, of which there are many locally, can ruin the session for all the other 10 drivers. There is no obvious or easy fix for this, apart from booking as a group of 11 and taking the whole session.

My second session I had the track to myself and it was great, but having got a couple of quick smooth laps in I was itching for someone to overtake.

Thoughts:
Take a big drink before starting, the track is hot in the beating sun.

Go on a weekday when the track will be perhaps be less busy and feature fewer poor drivers, and it’s easier to book a second session when you find how much you’ve enjoyed the first.

Book two sessions, 8 minutes really isn’t long enough. The track is only here until 7 August so take advantage of it. There’s also absolutely nothing else to do out out at the Airport unless you have kids who want to visit Lai Yuen. In which case still book two sessions and graciously let your other half enjoy the air-con with the kids.

You’re not allowed cameras in the karts, so if you want a photo of you in the kart you’ll need to bring a designated photographer who won’t be able to drive.

I hate emoticons in an article but X-Race Lai Yuen was great fun. Serious respect to those made it happen 🙂

X-Race Lai Yuen 2016
Date: 10am-8pm, 16 July – 7 August, 2016
Venue: AsiaWorld-Expo
Tickets: $280
More info:
Book tickets here
XRace experience: 1: Registration (10 mins), 2: Safety training (15 mins), 3: Safety gear-up and storage 4: XRace experience (8 mins).
Over 18 only
Special Airport Express $57 return tickets available.
An x-race ticket does not get you entry to Lai Yuen you need a separate $140 ticket for that.

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Lai Yuen Carnival 2016 @ AsiaWorld-Expo

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After last year’s carnival on the Central Harbourfront, Lai Yuen returns again this summer, this time indoors at AsiaWorld-Expo. Lai Yuen offers a throw back to the Hong Kong of a generation ago when entertainment choices were more limited and kids found ways to amuse themselves.

Last year’s carnival was a throw back to simpler times and the concept if not the execution had much to recommend it, even if today’s “instant gratification” generation probably didn’t find it as much fun as the European Carnival. Lai Yuen 2015 had lots of problems the weather among them. The Central Harbourfront becomes a pond with the slightest rain and a sauna when the sun beats down as there’s little shade. The move indoors to the air-con of AsiaWorld-Expo looks to remove that problem in the hope that parents and kids will stay longer and spend more in the cool environment…

Which leads to Lai Yuen’s main problem, and it’s worse this year, it has zero atmosphere and there’s just nothing to do for anyone over the age of about 10. It’s hard to understand if this problem is generational or just the way Lai Yuen thinks. As a theme park Lai Yuen had little competition for people’s money and they really milked that unique niche, but at least it was fun. Today though, people want more and Lai Yuen comes across as cheap, offering little fun, value or reward for your hard-earned dollar.

As an example, but it’s far from unique, take Tino the throw a banana in the elephant’s mouth game that returns again this year. Two bananas cost $10. One banana in the mouth wins a 1 inch toy, two consecutive bananas an unattractive 5″ poor quality stuffed elephant. 4 consecutive (!) bananas a foot sized poor quality elephant. As with all the plushies at the few games the toys look cheap, tired and really not worth winning. Such a contrast to those at the recent Great European Carnival which were bright fun and desirable.

Last year’s carnival at least had a convenient location and Victoria Harbour as a backdrop. This year there’s nothing and no attempt made to create a fun vibrant experience of a day at an amusement park. It uses the Lai Yuen name and peoples faded memories of the fun they had there to get them to visit the ‘new Lai Yuen’ and then fleece them blind on their one visit. Why, because all in all even for parents with kids – and there’s nothing here for anyone else – there’s no reason to return it’s just boring with potentially long queues.

It’s a shame because with a different approach and mindset there’s surely a profitable market for a summer carnival market that combines nostalgia with modern technology to create a unique Hong Kong carnival. Sadly that’s not Lai Yuen 2016.

Lai Yuen 2016
Date: 10am-8pm, 16 July – 7 August, 2016
Venue: AsiaWorld-Expo
Tickets: $180, $140
More info:
$57 daily return MTR tickets are available

Life in Colour “World’s Largest Paint Party” 2015 @ AsiaWorld Expo – 25 July, 2015 – CANCELLED

Updated 7 July: Life in Colour has been cancelled, the organisers appear to have been unable to persuade the government and the venue of the safety of the event.

Updated 29 June: After the tragic events in Taiwan, AsiaWorld Expo issued the following statement on the 29 June, 2015

“With increasing public concern over the safety measures of the event “The Color Run”, AsiaWorld-Expo as a venue provider, has taken an active role in liaising with the government authorities and event organiser for risk assessment.

In view of the public anxiety grows towards colour-powder themed events and a lengthy discussion required for all concerned parties to coordinate the arrangement in details, the venue application for the “The Colour Run” event to be held at AsiaWorld-Expo in December this year will not be processed until relevant licence and approval by government authorities is granted.”

So as of the 30 June, 2015 – it would appear the event is yet to be licensed and approved by the government and cannot take place until it is.

Life in Colour “World’s Largest Paint Party” 2015
Date: 5pm, 25 July, 2015
Venue: AsiaWorld Expo
Tickets: $780, $580 (Advance) from HKTicketing

One Direction “On the Road Again Tour 2015” @ AsiaWorld Expo – 18 March, 2015

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One Direction are Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan. The band came together at the boot camp stage of The X Factor 2010 and made it all the way to the final before finishing 3rd. For the last five years the band the been a marketing dream selling millions of banal bland records across the world and making their management company extremely rich. To call the show a concert when the ‘band’ only lip-syncs along to their studio produced tracks should amount to false advertising.

One Direction On the Road AgainTour 2015
When: 8pm, 18 March, 2015
Where: AsiaWorld Expo
Tickets: $3488, $2288, $1888, $1488, $988
More info: buy the DVD it’s alot cheaper