WRIT LARGE: Ch 11, Part 1
The Art of Giving First
We sit by the rooftop pool sipping ice cold drinks through gold metal straws. Tuah tells us the drink is called Milo Ais; it is made with a chocolate powder product called Milo, which is combined with sugar and condensed milk: heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. I tell him it tastes much sweeter than Australian Milo.
“Do not judge us,” says Tuah. “We Malaysians love our sweet food and drinks. As a little boy it was a special treat when the Milo truck visited school and all the children were given a tiny cup of Milo Ais.”
“We’re not judging,” says Olivia. She is looking relaxed and summery in a floaty floral dress and a straw hat which must have been impossible to pack into a suitcase. “No woman can resist a healthy dose of chocolate.”
The boys climb from the pool creating puddles on the penthouse terrace. They stay long enough to down their drinks before heading straight back to the water. I would join them, but I sense our hosts have other plans for the evening, and I fear that if I test the water, I am unlikely to want to leave.
I ask Tuah if he is willing to reveal an itinerary for our trip.
He smiles at me. “Do not worry, we will not monopolise all your time, however there is someone we would like you to meet shortly. We have arranged a banquet this evening, and then tomorrow, sore heads permitting, we would be happy for you all to experience our magnificent resort at your leisure.”
Leann sips her drink and nods her approval. She appears equally at home drinking cold chocolate by a penthouse pool, as she did while enjoying afternoon tea in the courtyard of Raffles and sipping brightly coloured cocktails in Oriental Elixir. She is a chameleon adapting to her surroundings and company.
Cathie is sitting in the shade, her laptop open. I can remember a time, before my first book was published, when I would work a twelve-hour shift as a journalist before sitting at my desk at home with a mug of coffee and adding words to an incomplete manuscript. I never think of it as time wasted – without those long hours and sleepless nights when my brain refused to switch off, I would not be sitting where I am now. But it is a downfall of western civilisation that we live to work because there is always the peer pressure to achieve, to succeed, to have. Now that I am older, I prefer the outlook that you work to have enough and not to always have more.
Tuah checks the time on his phone. “Ladies,” he says, “please excuse us, but Putera and I are taking Lucas to greet our CEO. Dinner will be served on the rooftop of the Grand Ion Delemen Hotel at six thirty.”
“We’re eating on the rooftop?” asks Olivia.
Putera grins at her and extends a hand to take in the view from our own rooftop. “Why waste the clouds when you can enjoy them.” Olivia raises her glass to toast the premise. “The refrigerator is stocked with champagne,” he adds before we leave.
I hear Olivia murmur to Leann as we walk away, “Probably best I steer clear of the bubbles if we’re dining on the roof.”
Tuah, Putera, and I, make our way to the helipad of Resorts World, Genting. I have done a little research on Lim Kok Thay and am eager to meet him. I have also considered Ann’s prediction that this trip would lead me along a different path and am content to go with the flow in whichever direction I am beckoned. It is an unexpected adventure filled with interesting companions, and one which I am enjoying immensely.
Putera hands me a pair of ear defenders which I place over my ears. Ann and I were lucky enough to experience a helicopter trip over the Great Barrier Reef one year, and I recall the deafening noise as we were climbing aboard.
It isn’t long before the helicopter drops below the clouds and hovers above the helipad. It lands smoothly, the blades slowing gradually and then finally coming to a halt. Lim Kok Thay is the first to alight from the craft, followed by a woman I do not recognise, and Bernard Arnault. I remove my ear defenders and wait to be introduced.
Bernard greets me with his strong familiar handshake.
Lim Kok Thay speaks first with Tuah and Putera before turning to me with a wide smile. “Welcome to Resorts World, Genting. I trust your journey was pleasurable.”
I respond that the flight was smooth and comfortable and that I am extremely grateful for his generous hospitality.
He nods. “You are most welcome. There would be little reason to build a resort if it were not to be shared and enjoyed by others.”
“This is Beth Moses. Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic,” says Bernard.
Beth steps forward and shakes my hand. “I’ve heard so much about you,” she says. “I hear you’re writing Bernard’s biography. I hope this means I can grab a signed copy when it launches.”
I tell her that I would be honoured to supply her with an autographed copy provided she describes in detail how it felt to be the world’s first commercial space passenger. She tips her head back and laughs out loud.
“Deal. Will you include it in a future novel maybe?”
Maybe, I tell her.
We make our way inside, Lim Kok Thay leading the way to his executive suite of offices, where trays of tea and iced water are set out for us. When we are seated, he asks me, “What do you think of our resort?”
I tell him that it feels quite surreal living amongst the clouds the way we are here, and that coming from a country where there are such vast areas of unpopulated land, it is a strange concept to think of building upwards rather than outwards.
He ponders that while Tuah pours tea into tiny china cups. “It is the same as any other project,” he says. “You take your resources and the seed of an idea and you work hard to make it grow. It is the same as writing a book, no?”
I like Lim Kok Thay. Despite our surroundings, there is something genuine and down-to-earth about the man, and I realise that I would like to get to know him better. I agree with his statement and suggest that hard work is the foundation upon which all successes are based.
“I am playing golf at eight am tomorrow morning,” says Lim Kok Thay. “Would you care to join me? It will be the perfect opportunity to discuss my thoughts on my biography.”
I accept the invitation on the proviso that he brings an additional supply of golf balls as I haven’t played in a while, and I hear they are prone to being swallowed up by the rainforest.
The conversation lingers a while over the current and proposed attractions for the resort and then Tuah suggests that the rest of us head back to the apartments while he and Putera discuss business with their CEO. They will call for us shortly before six thirty.
“I look forward to introducing you to our Malaysian cuisine,” says Lim Kok Thay.