I’ve spent the better part of two decades shuttling to and from Hong Kong’s southside. I live there, I went to school there, I even worked there. The asphalt extending from this end of the Aberdeen Tunnel is a stretch of highway I know by heart. Eyes closed, like the back of my hand. And, like clockwork or muscle memory or the very worst of bad habits, my gaze, here, always turns to the patch of manicured hedges in the shape of the Ocean Park seahorse, embellished with tendrils of wires and cable cars. Then, the car turns onto the Ap Lei Chau Bridge. There, the dome-like anatomy of The Mine Train jutting out into sea — past the million-dollar yachts; past Jumbo Restaurant; past my old high school — holds my attention. Like dual North Stars; landmarks mapping out the place I call mine, the place I’ve called home for twenty-some years.
To say I love Ocean Park is, frankly, an understatement.
I’ve spent birthdays there (free tickets!); held annual passes there; swam with dolphins there; overcame fears both logical (i.e., being bound to very fast metallic tubes that could possibly kill me) and illogical (i.e., dark aquariums) there.
The Mine Train was my first-ever roller coaster, tethered to memories I hold very close to heart, of being a nervous child, terror-stricken by default alongside a much braver older sister. The Raging River, having been in operation since 1984 — well before I was born; well before my sister was born; well before my parents were even married — took much less convincing.
The Abyss, though. That was pure peer pressure, bewilderingly agreed to on an Ocean Park trip with no parents; just a rag-tag group of middle-schoolers. I went on once, terrified. I remember those five seconds of pause at the crest, legs-a-swinging, silently thinking “Once, but never again.” Then, the fall. That day, I went on the Abyss at least five more times, the final ride prompting nose bleeds from a friend that ended the day. Still, there’s nothing quite like that split second where you’re free-falling; flying. It’s still my favourite ride.
I guess you know where I’d be this weekend — come rain, come shine, come very strong winds.