Ocean park

A fond farewell to the trio of old-school Ocean Park favorites

The Mine Train, Raging River and Abyss are scheduled to retire on August 31, following the grand opening of Ocean Park Water World. Or, grand reopening, if you, like me, are old enough to remember.

I spent the better part of two decades commuting to and from southern Hong Kong. I live there, I went to school there, I even worked there. The asphalt stretching from this end of the Aberdeen Tunnel is a stretch of motorway I know by heart. Eyes closed, like the back of my hand. And, like a clock or a muscle memory or the worst bad habit, my gaze here always turns to Ocean Park’s square of manicured, seahorse-shaped hedges, embellished with tendrils of wires and ropeways. Then the car turns onto the Ap Lei Chau Bridge. There, the domed anatomy of the mine train jutting out into the sea – past the million-dollar yachts; in front of the Jumbo restaurant; passed my old high school – holds my attention. Like two northern stars; landmarks mapping the place I call mine, the place I’ve called home for twenty years.

To say I love Ocean Park is, frankly, an understatement.

I spent birthdays there (free entry!); held annual passes there; swam with the dolphins there; I overcame both logical (i.e. being tied to very fast metal tubes that could possibly kill me) and illogical (i.e. dark aquariums) fears.

The mine train was my very first roller coaster, tied to memories I hold dear, of being a nervous child, terrorized by default alongside a much braver older sister. The Raging River, in operation since 1984 — long before I was born; long before my sister was born; long before my parents were even married — took much less conviction.

The abyss, however. It was pure peer pressure, confusingly agreed on a trip to Ocean Park with no parents; just a motley group of college kids. I continued once, terrified. I remember those five second pauses at the ridge, legs swinging, silently thinking “Once, but never again.” Then the fall. I rode the Abyss at least five more times that day, with the last ride causing a friend to have a nosebleed that ended the day. Yet, there is nothing quite like that split second when you are in freefall; flying. It’s still my favorite ride.

Guess you know where I’ll be this weekend – rain, shine, blow out.