Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Go-karting - the need for speed

Day 3 (Tues, 4 June 2013)

June is winter in Australia but in the Gold Coast, the winter is very mild.  While we were there, the days were sunny and about 20-22 degrees celsius, lovely for walking outdoors.  Sunrise is about 6.30am and sunset about 5.30pm. By 6pm, it's pitch dark so many restaurants start serving dinner from 4.30pm. We found it quite unusual that even when we decided to have an early dinner at 5pm, there would already be diners halfway through their meals!

Spectacular sunrise from our apartment.


Today, we decided we go go-karting! Well, this was actually just for Andre's sake as the rest of us weren't really interested.  One of Andre's passions in life is driving, fueled by his addiction to the Top Gear series.  So off we went to Kingston Park Raceway which is about an hour's drive from Gold Coast.

Side note: Most of the tourist attractions are towards the north so staying at Main Beach (the top end of the beach) meant we saved quite a bit of time on driving. Even though Gold Coast Highway is named a highway, it has many traffic lights and that can slow you down considerably.

We chose Kingston Park Raceway even though there are other go-kart operators closer to where we stayed because it has a really nice outdoor track.  There are two tracks: Le Mans (for adults) and Monte Carlo (kids track) but the day we were there, they were only operating the Le Mans track for both kids and adults.  Maybe they do this on weekdays to save on manpower as there are fewer visitors.


There are four categories of race karts based on age and height. Do check out tourist brochures and their website for discount coupons. There's a one-time A$5.50 charge for registration and helmet rental.


Watching the safety video and waiting to suit up.


Getting into the assigned go-kart.


And off he went!


The track was really fantastic but the dampener was the waiting time.  Each session lasts 6 mins but because the different categories of racers can't be on the track at the same time for safety reasons, they have to rotate among the different groups of racers.  Since they were only operating the Le Mans track that day, it meant we had to wait for about 20 mins between sessions. Really boring for non-participants.

So even though we had initially planned on letting Andre go 6 times, we figured that would mean having to be there all day which wasn't our idea of fun. In the end, we let him go for two sessions.

Here's my observation: go-karting, like race driving, really is a boy thing. There was one other girl  and another boy racing with Andre in his sessions.  I've no idea how but even before she had left the pit, the girl managed to lose track of the boy in the pole position and drove straight into the wrong lane, causing the marshalls to yell and chase after her.  After she got on the right path, she drove like going on a scenic tour while the 2 boys tore around the track like speed demons.


There's also nothing like a race track to bring out the competitive spirit in boys.  The other boy Bailey already had a trial run session before Andre so he was confidently navigating the track at top speed as Andre tried to find his groove during his first session.  In his second session, knowing that this was to be his last, Andre went all out.  Bailey was in the pole position and tried to block Andre from overtaking on the straight stretches by staying in the middle of the track, so we thought Andre was going to come in second again.  Then at a curve, Andre took a chance and successfully overtook Bailey from the inside.  Bailey, clearly as competitive as Andre, tried to catch up but ended up crashing a little while later, putting him out of the race.

Speed racing and boys. Innate? I'm inclined to believe so!

Here's a short clip of Andre's second race. 

video


After all that excitement, we headed out to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre for lunch and a spot of shopping.  To me, this is the best shopping mall in Gold Coast. Lots of sales while we were there.

Lunch was at a little Japanese cafe Hanaichi. Good sized rice bowls at decent prices (A$11 or thereabouts).  The chef is supposed to be award winning.


Mandatory cup of coffee. I'm not crazy about Australian coffee in general.  It tends to be very weak and the only saving grace is that their milk is fantastic.  The only good coffee I had throughout the entire trip was at Star Coffee at Harbour Town mall that brewed Lavazza brand coffee.  However, coffee in Australia is more reasonably priced than in Singapore. You can usually get a regular cup for under A$4. 


Back at Xanadu in the afternoon, Kenneth and Andre decided to try out the tennis court.  You can hire their rackets and tennis balls for A$5, for as long as you want.


This has been Andre's day. He enjoyed it thoroughly.






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