Towering Tour of US & Canada 2012

From our first experience of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in our student’s days, we have added in our life’s journey a list of other world famous towers . In Taipei is the 101 Tower, Pudong TV Tower in Shanghai, Pernas Twin Towers of Malaysia and in Auckland Sky Tower where we first experienced the glass platform beneath our feet in viewing down below.

In our recent Summer holidays (July/August 2012 of US & Canada, we have collectively been to the Empire State Building in New York, CN Tower Toronto, Montreal Olympic Tower, The Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls and Strastosphere Casino Hotel Tower in Las Vegas, unrivaled for its top amenities & expansive views, where we stayed for a couple of nights with free access to its tower.

Strastosphere Casino & Hotel Tower, Las Vegas

Las Vegas is full of hotels & casinos with the most exotic & amazing architectural feats. With modern technology, it may seem unbelievable to have extraordinary thrills & spills of rollercoaster, fun rides or simulated gravitational rides – all to fire your wildest imagination.

Niagara Falls Skylon Tower, Canada

The Skylon Tower, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is an observation tower that overlooks both the American Falls, New York and the larger Horseshoe Falls, Ontario from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. There the world-famous Revolving Dining Restaurant affords you a 360 degree view of the Niagara Falls once each hour in all its splendour. At the height of dining excellence award-winning continental cuisine is presented at 775 feet above the Falls. For lunch or dinner the menu is rivalled only by the spectacular view. Whether you come for a romantic Niagara dinner for two, a special celebration or just a family vacation this Niagara Falls restaurant promises the ultimate relaxation in Fallsview dining.

The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (381 meters), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454ft (443.2 m) high.[6] Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for 40 years.

CN Tower, Toronto

The CN Tower is a communications and observation tower in DowntownToronto, Ontario, Canada. Standing 553.33 metres (1,815.4ft) tall, it was completed in 1976, becoming the world’s tallest free-standing structure and world’s tallest tower at the time. It held both records for 34 years until the completion of Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower in 2010 and Tokyo Skytree in 2012. It remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, a signature icon of Toronto’s skyline, and a symbol of Canada, attracting more than two million international visitors annually.

Montreal Olympic Tower

Montreal Olympic Tower is unique & worth a mention. The Montreal Tower is the highest inclined tower in the world at 165 metres high and has a 45 degree angle. In comparison, the tower of Pisa is only five degrees! Getting to the top is also a unique adventure, as up to 76 passengers can board the 2 level glass encased funicular. It is also the only one in the world that works on a curbed structure; a hydraulic system that allows the cabin to remain horizontal during the two minute rise to the top.

The Chinese have a saying that there’s always a higher mountain to climb. You just can’t climb them all. There are nations, not to be undone for national pride & prestige, coming up with even greater challenges. Take Burj Khalifa in Dubai for example . . . it’s possibly about the tallest structure in the world that’s freely standing at the present. It’s even got provisions to go higher should there be any future contender.

We would have loved to be right on top of the Statue of Liberty, but because of time constraint, have to content ourselves with the Hudson River cruise and view it from afar. 

Sands SkyPark Singapore

By P Chong                                                                Monday 22 August 2011

Gone are the days when only junk boats plied the waters of Singapore. Today Marina Bay boasts of a spectacular ship in the sky – a ship that Sands finds it hard to sail in the arid landscape of Les Vegas. SkyPark sits on top of the US$5.7 billion ($A6.8 billion) Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino Integrated Resort.

In Singapore, June 24, 2011 dawned the opening of a new wonder of the world. “Sky Park” Marina Bay Sands. It’s located on the 200-meter height on the three skyscrapers, as if on three pillars. Here is the most expensive & spectacular Integrated Resort in the world of casinos, bars, restaurants, the largest outdoor swimming pool, 150 meters long and even the Museum of Modern Art.

Stretching longer than the Eiffel tower laid down or four and a half A380 Jumbo Jets, with an impressive 12,400 square meters of space, the Sands SkyPark can host up to 3900 people. The gravity-defying cantilever is one of the largest of its kind in the world. From this privileged observation deck, hundreds of visitors at a time can feast their eyes on the unforgettable panorama view of Singapore.

The resort employs 10,000 people directly and generate up to £48m each year. Entrance to the casino alone is nearly £50 a day – but an average of 25,000 people have visited the casino daily since its initial phased opening two months ago.

Thomas Arasi, president and chief executive officer of the resort, said he expects to attract an astonishing 70,000 visitors a day once it is fully open. It was due to open in 2009, but was delayed thanks to labour and material shortages, and funding problems due to the global financial crisis.

                Just take a look at these wonderful photographs of Singapore pride:

Swimming on top of the world


The Marina Bay Sands Experience

Huaxi – China’s Richest Village Community

Huaxi's New Skyscraper - World's 15th Tallest

Westerners have always been seeking for Shangri-La, the utopian lifestyle. Search no more. There is in reality a place such as this in China. Talk no more of Hangzhou or Suzhou. It’s a miracle wonder of a place!

Huaxi Golden Pagoda

 It’s called Huaxi, a booming market town of 36,000, first set up in 1961 in the affluent eastern province of Jiangsu. Everyone here has all the luxury that life can offer such as a huge house, a car (Benzs, BMW etc.), even free cooking oil, clothes, healthcare, education etc. Huaxi has fixed assets of 3 billion Yuan (US$362 million). All they have to do is work 7 days a week for the village industrial operations, milling steel or some such industry. Only one condition is that you can never leave. If you do, you lose everything. But just to make it easier to stay, the city has built replicas of the Eiffel Tour, the Sydney Opera House, and the Arc de Triumf to bring the world to its doorstep.

People are not leaving. In fact, it’s attracting lots of migrant workers who hope to be accepted for work permit & in time enjoy such privileges like the permanent residents of Huaxi where each household has been assigned a car & a single-family home of 400 square metres, earn around US$6,000 per head per year. Compared with migrant workers who toil for an average monthly wage of 500 yean (US$60), the prosperity enjoyed by Huaxi villagers is an undeniable miracle

Like the song Hotel California – “You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave”.


But why would you want to leave when you’re already living in the best place of the world, as one resident said. Leaving is not the option but “living it up” and seeking other higher aspirations is the objective.

And all this started with the dream, hope & aspiration of one man, Wu Renbao (now in his eighties) who combine market economy, socialism with Chinese characteristics.


When Chinese Daily writer Raymond Zhou wrote of Wen Renbao’s retirement, the announcement created aftershocks in the country media similar to what Bill Gates’s retirement about speculation in the software industry. Now Huaxi is headed by Wu Xie’en his fourth son, as elected 100% by the community.

This  amazing video will help clear your curiosity.

Info Update:

Millau Viaduct – An Amazing Engineering Feat

By P Chong                            Sat. 10 April 2010

Le Viaduc Millau

I’ve just got to share this as a “cyberspace traveller” & wish to have the opportunity to travel over this fantastic stretch of vehicular-bridge in the not too distant future, though I have been to Paris & Barcelona before. Read the description & see the pictures & you’ll understand why.

Official Name: Le Viaduc de Millau

This is an enormous cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France.

Driving Above The Clouds

There’s something just not right about driving above the clouds . . . no doubt a little nervous too!

Designed by the structural engineer Michel Virlogeux

and British architect Norman Foster

The Millau Viaduct is part of the new E11 Expressway connecting Paris and Barcelona and features the highest bridge piers ever constructed. The tallest is 240 metres (787 feet) high and the overall height is an impressive 336 metres (1102 feet), making this the highest vehicular bridge in the world . . . taller than Eiffel Tower & only 37m (121ft) shorter than the Empire State Building.

Interestingly, the Millau Viaduct is not straight as can be seen from above picture. Why?

It’s because a straight road could induce a floating sensation as you drive across it. So, a slight curve remedies that feeling. The curve is 20km in range.

Moreover, the road has a light incline of 3% to improve the visibility and reassure the driver.

Millau Auto Route Map
Toll Plaza

Construction cost was around €400 million. It was formally dedicated on 14 December 2004, inaugurated the day after and opened to traffic two days later.

The bridge won the 2006 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award.

Truly an amazing engineering feat!

Visitors’ Centre & Farm