GEORGE TOWN: For those scared of heights, taking the first step out on the Rainbow Skywalk can be a daunting experience.
Situated at the top of Komtar, Penang’s tallest building, the semi-circle glass walkway gives thrill-seeking visitors the chance to feel as though they are walking on air. And at 68 floors up and almost 250m from the ground, looking down to the roofs and roads below through the glass floor can be slightly nerve-wracking.
The Rainbow Skywalk officially opened its doors to the public on Sunday (Dec 18), as part of a rejuvenation plan for the building by Malaysia-listed company Only World Group (OWG).
I’ve seen people with their knees knocking, and some of them have to be led out by their friends,” said OWG’s chief operating officer Jean Koh. “They won’t even dare open their eyes.
“But once they go out, the view is amazing. Some of them even lie down on the glass floor and take selfies,” she added.
OWG's CEO Richard Koh and his wife Jean take a selfie on the Rainbow Skywalk in Penang. (Photo: Lianne Chia)
Komtar was completed in 1986 and is Malaysia’s sixth-tallest building. In 2012, OWG won a 45-year lease to revitalise the building.
“A lot of people have been talking about the tower being rundown, the tower has been neglected, so we thought it would be something that we can do to make it great again,” said OWG’s chief executive officer Richard Koh. “We want to enhance the whole tower and bring more family attractions in.”
Speaking on Sunday at the opening, Penang's Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the refurbished Komtar as a symbol of the "incredible journey Penang has taken over the last eight years to pick itself up after falling into decline".
"We have seen a revival of both the tourism and manufacturing industry to be a dynamic Penang, and now (the) new Komtar is reborn as a symbol of success from the wreckage of failure."
The view of Penang from the Rainbow Skywalk. (Photo: Lianne Chia)
Three more floors have been added to the building, bringing it to 68. An observatory deck at level 65, the original top level of the building, features floor-to-ceiling glass windows that allow visitors to enjoy panoramic views of Penang.
A host of family attractions was also developed at level five to cater to both locals and tourists. The Jurassic Research Center is an interactive walk-through attraction featuring animated dinosaurs and educational exhibitions, while a 7D Discovery Motion Theatre features virtual reality and simulators.
An exhibit in the Jurassic Research Center. (Photo: Lianne Chia)
But for Mr Koh, the main highlight remains the top. And he has more grand plans for the place. “There is a lot of potential for doing unique things here and to polish it up … we’re going to put up a full-scale orchestra here for weddings, make it a romantic place, and maybe we could even see a wedding proposal up here,” he said.
It costs RM118 (S$38) for an adult ticket to the observatory deck and Rainbow Skywalk, while a child ticket costs RM88.