BMW Escape The City 2018 - Great Adventure, Wonderful Experience

khim yap
10 Dec 2018
 

It was a sight to behold, to see all 39 BMW cars on the North-South highway; of the 39 cars, 26 were customers’ and 13 were support cars.  

I absolutely love road trips! It’s a combination of two of my favourite things — driving and travelling. So when Performance Motors Ltd (PML) invited my family and I to join them on their Escape The City 2018 drive to Ipoh, my answer was “When do we leave?!”

This road trip would take place over three days, from 24 to 26 November 2018 (Saturday to Monday). Heading up to Ipoh, I’ll be driving an X3 M40i, a car that I had heard great things about from our prolific reviewer Clifford. The X3 M40i has a 2998cc, turbocharged, inline six-cylinder engine that offers 360hp of power and 500Nm of torque. Certainly, a very tasty car to drive up North to Ipoh with.

Returning from Ipoh, another exciting prospect. I’ll be one of the first in Singapore to review the all-new 2018 BMW X4 xDrive20i xLine. And this, of course, would be no ordinary test drive. I’ll get to drive it nearly 600kms from Ipoh back to Singapore; through the small town roads in Ipoh and on the North-South highway. What a great way to test the car, and to really put it through its paces!       

DAY 1 - DESTINATION IPOH

On Saturday morning, our rendezvous point was at the open air carpark at the Jurong Bird Park, where we met up with everyone at 6am. The sky was still dark when we arrived, but all the support staff from PML were already there. They prepped our cars with our individual convoy stickers, and after a quick brief, we were headed to our next meet-up point at the R&R at Gelang Patah.     

On the Singapore side, traffic was smooth, but near the Malaysian checkpoint, we were caught in a jam that took us about an hour to clear. It’s a good thing that before we left the carpark at the Jurong Bird Park, the support team from PML very thoughtfully prepared for us a goodie bag filled with drinks and snacks in case we got caught in a traffic jam when crossing into Malaysia. 

Finally, we arrived at the Gelang Patah R&R, and there we picked up our walkie-talkies. Once everyone in our convoy arrived, we were on our way! It was a sight to behold, to see all 39 BMW cars on the North-South highway; of the 39 cars, 26 were customers’ and 13 were support cars.  

Driving in such a large group is a huge challenge. To ensure the safety of everyone, PML hired a professional and experienced drive agency to escort the convoy to Ipoh. We were divided into three groups so that each convoy would be of a more manageable size.  As some drivers were new to driving in a big convoy, it was good that our convoy leader gave very clear and specific directions throughout the drive. In each convoy, there was also a dedicated ‘sweeper’ to make sure that no one in the convoy got lost.   

We reached our first stop for breakfast at Yoyo Native Food Products in Yong Peng at about 9.30am about two hours from Gelang Patah. A delicious breakfast buffet of local Malaysian foods was prepared for the 102 hungry participants consisting of PML customers, their families and PML support personnel. Yoyo sells a wide array of local biscuits and snacks, and after breakfast, many participants headed to the snack tasting stations to sample and purchase the yummy goodies.    

We Singaporeans love our food, and PML ensured that our epicurean needs would be well-taken care of on this road trip. From breakfast, we were off to lunch at South Sea Seafood Restaurant in Shah Alam, Selangor. Our convoy arrived at around 12.30pm to a wonderful nine-course seafood lunch comprising of steamed fish, stir-fried scallops, salt & pepper tiger prawns and curry crab! What a feast! 

It was an fantastic lunch to say the least, and we were all stuffed. Following lunch, the convoy leaders kept us going at a good pace and gave us regular breaks in between to make sure everyone stayed fresh and alert. We arrived at The Haven Resort Hotel in Ipoh at about 5pm, nearly 11 hours from our early morning rendezvous point at the Jurong Bird Park.    

“Welcome to Paradise”… that was my thought when I arrived at the majestic beauty of The Haven Resort. To call this a scenic hotel would really be an understatement. The hotel is set amidst a breathtaking backdrop of limestone hills, lush greenery and a tranquil lake. PML had made arrangements to have a specially cordoned off area at the hotel for all the BMWs to be parked safely together.

Check-in was fast and smooth, and when we got to the room, we found a personalised card and a welcome gift of traditional snacks from Ipoh. The headline on the card read, “Your getaway has only just begun.” Nice touch.  

After freshening up, we were off to a buffet dinner (yes, our 2nd buffet of the day!) at the Rock Garden located within The Haven Resort. An air-conditioned marquee tent was set up to let participants enjoy the outdoors while enjoying the comforts of being indoors. During dinner, we had a lucky draw too, and many participants got to bring home some lovely prizes from sponsors of the event.   

DAY 2 - DISCOVER IPOH

The next day was designated as a Free and Easy day although PML also organised an optional tour to Gua Tempurung limestone caves, the largest caves in Peninsular Malaysia. We’ve been to visit caves in Western Australia before, and we’ve always found them fascinating, so we opted to join in on this tour.  We woke up early to enjoy our breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant and then we boarded the bus to the caves. 

The Gua Tempurung caves were magnificent and we were glad that we went for this optional tour. The spectacular stalactites and stalagmites that were formed over thousands of years were really an amazing sight. 

Following the tour, we headed back to the hotel for everyone to do their own Free and Easy activities. My family opted to spend some time cooling off at the gorgeous pool at the Haven Resort before we headed out to Ipoh town for lunch. PML had thoughtfully prepared a list of food and shopping destinations in Ipoh, and we went to one of the recommended restaurants for lunch. After lunch, the wife and kids wanted to have a relaxing foot massage and we found one near the restaurant. For dinner, we met up with some other BMW drivers to taste some of the fantastic local foods in Ipoh.  

DAY 3 - HOME SWEET HOME

Time really flies when you’re having fun, and we were now on the last day of the trip. On the last day, we needed to check out by 8.30am, and after a quick group photo, we left Ipoh with fond memories and newfound friendships. We got into the all-new X4 and left Ipoh at around 9am to arrive for lunch at Restoran Loon Sing in Negeri Sembilan at about 12 noon.

This was another amazing 8-course lunch, and we had ‘Buddha Jumps Over The Wall’ soup, steamed Patin fish as well as the restaurant’s famous ‘Tong Po Pork’ dish. Every dish was delicious, and just as with every meal we had on this trip, we were all stuffed at the end of it. 

After lunch, it was time to head home, and our next destination was the R&R at Gelang Patah to return the walkie-talkies and to say goodbye to everyone. We arrived at Gelang Patah at around 5pm, and I could see that everyone was very appreciative of the excellent work from the convoy leading drive team that safely brought us from Singapore to Ipoh and back. 

My family found Ipoh to be really scenic and we loved the food that the city offers. We throughly enjoyed every minute of this drive adventure to Ipoh that PML put together and we made a mental note to revisit Ipoh again . 

PML’s organisation was top-notch, to say the least. Before leaving Singapore, they made sure that all the cars went through a Pre-Event Vehicle Safety Check and that all drivers attend a briefing. This edition of Escape The City 2018 to Ipoh took four months of prep and planning to ensure participants would enjoy the best experience in terms of the drive, pit-stops, accommodation, activities, food arrangements and safety. On the trip, PML had two technicians and three Customer Service Advisors in the support team. And they brought along a comprehensive list of equipment that included batteries, fuses, coolants and repair kits. 

This was a well-planned, well-organised and well-executed road trip. Kudos to the organising team at PML, we look forward to the next edition of Escape The City!


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