Nat Geo explorer Albert Lin eyes Malaysia’s ancient site in Bujang Valley in list of places to explore

Lin at the ruins of the ancient city of Nan Madol in Micronesia. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic
Lin at the ruins of the ancient city of Nan Madol in Micronesia. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Armed with a bionic leg, award-winning scientist, technologist and adventurer Albert Yu-Min Lin spent over a year on a quest to unlock the mysteries of the past in some of the most extraordinary ancient sites in the world.

His mission took him to all corners of the globe from the city behind the legend of Colombia’s El Dorado to Micronesia’s Lost Kingdom of the Pacific as well as secret tunnels built by the Knights Templar in Israel.

It’s no wonder the University of California, San Diego research scientist is often referred to as the modern-day Indiana Jones.

In a new six-part National Geographic series, Lost Cities with Albert Lin, viewers are given a glimpse into his adventures.

Combining hi-tech archaeology to uncover and recreate unexcavated worlds with 3D scanning, the series promises to bring the past to life, guaranteed to impress even the toughest of sceptics.

The award-winning scientist stands in front of the iconic pink sandstone carvings of Petra in Jordan. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic
The award-winning scientist stands in front of the iconic pink sandstone carvings of Petra in Jordan. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic

In a phone interview with Malay Mail, Lin said Malaysia is on his list of places to explore.

The prospect of studying the ancient ruins of Bujang Valley — the country’s richest archaeological area situated in the northern state of Kedah that is said to be as old as 2,535 years old — is the sort of thing that Lin lives for.

“Well if I do come out there, you have to join me so we can tell the story to the world about what we’ve found,” said Lin who was at home in San Diego, California.

Two years ago, the intrepid explorer met with an off-road vehicle accident and his right leg was amputated from the knee down.

In what many would consider a tragedy that could have dashed his hopes and dreams of continuing more scientific expeditions, Lin did not let it stop him and a lot of good things have since emerged from the experience.

Lin with archaeologist Santiago Giraldo on the terraces of Cuida Perdida in Colombia. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic
Lin with archaeologist Santiago Giraldo on the terraces of Cuida Perdida in Colombia. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic

In just a couple of months after the accident, Lin was back in his element exploring Mayan ruins in the forests of Guatemala with a bionic leg that has now become part of his image.

“In the morning, before I put my hardware on, I’m immobile but the minute I put on this piece of technology I can do all the things I want to do,” Lin said.

“40 million people in the world have lost a limb and less than five per cent have access to prosthetics so there is a huge feeling of responsibility that I have when it comes to understanding the importance of access like this.”

Lin added that coming face to face with a moment of transformation has been a positive and spiritual experience.

“A large part has been knowing the importance of letting go to embrace the new and I take that with me through my journey of seeing all these other versions of us in all these lost cities.”

Lin’s right leg was amputated from the knee down after a car accident in 2017. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic
Lin’s right leg was amputated from the knee down after a car accident in 2017. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic

Whether it’s searching for the tomb of Genghis Khan in Mongolia or soaking in the impressive pink sandstone carvings of Petra in Jordan, Lin said each place he has explored was hard to forget.

For many who are obsessed with mysteries of the past, nothing is better than the total rush of the adventure of it all, he added.

Of course, the experience wouldn’t be complete without extreme conditions such as the harsh wilderness of Colombia where Lin and his crew stumbled upon seven scorpions and a deadly fer-de-lance snake.

But more than great memories and emotional stories to tell at global speaking tours, lost cities for him, informs us of the human condition.

“Each time we tried to put ourselves together in a different organised way as a society, those have been experiments in how we conduct ourselves.

With the help of a bionic leg, Lin said his transformation has been a positive and spiritual experience. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic
With the help of a bionic leg, Lin said his transformation has been a positive and spiritual experience. — Picture courtesy of National Geographic

“That is the ultimate existential search for who we are as humans,” said Lin who was at home in San Diego, California.

He said the past is a reflection of ourselves and as we learn how these once glorious societies rose and fell, they offer valuable lessons when it comes to designing our future.

“But one thing has been quite profoundly salient out of all of it has been the grand expansions of the human imagination,” said Lin.

Today, that narrative continues as we enter a new golden age of exploration.

“This series is a scientific exploration but it’s also just a joyful adventure which is part of our deepest desires as humans to be able to be in a world where you can find something new you didn’t realise was there before and shift your understanding of the world, your role in it, the world around it and our story,” he said.

Lost Cities with Albert Lin airs Fridays, 10pm on National Geographic Astro Ch 553 & Ch 573 (HD) and Unifi TV Ch 508.

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