Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ocean Park: A Silent Experience

When a theatre’s ornate chandeliers dim, the venerable elders throw wrinkled hands over their ears as the young rise in jubilant exhortation. A roar resounds from the lips of every quivering child as he throws up his hands in ignorant glee. The adrenaline of the moment is irrepressible. Then, after this brief explosion, a lengthy silence ensues as students realize that they have released their pent-up impatience several minutes too early. Such is the overzealous American throng.

In Hong Kong however, quite a different scene will present performers. Recently, my brother and I visited a bustling Cantonese amusement park known as Ocean Park. Here in the capacious amphitheatre, a lackluster crowd of tourists sat patiently for an hour, huddled in cramped seats in silent stupor, anticipating the coming performance. We observed that as the long-awaited marine show finally made it onto the stage, it was greeted by a smattering of applause and a sporadic yawn. Below us on the stands, a cluster of three teenagers whooped and yelled. But when greeted by an austere silence and angry stares, their bold cries died in their throats. If possible, Hong Kong's hordes, although boisterous in restaurants, seem to maintain a tranquil tradition within amusement parks.

It really was a huge contrast-walking into the clamor of the park’s ornately decorated dining hall, then clambering onto the eerily silent rollercoasters. Sometimes, it felt as if the food was the main draw to Ocean Park. As mobs of voracious locals swarm towards enticing dim sum stands, an impassive trickle of sightseers with the occasional enthusiastic Caucasian strolled slowly towards the thrill rides.

However, such an apathetic multitude can easily be explained by the scale of the rollercoasters. One of these, dubbed, "The Dragon" was hardly one fifth of the size of some Californian's, but was by far the most formidable in the park. This twist of steel cables has been widely lauded and revered as being one of the largest in the nation. Around this attraction can always be found a huddle of awed Indian ladies, swathed in blazing saris. At each critical moment in the ride, they released ejaculations such as, “Woah, that’s bad,” or, “Oh my heart!”

A nearby rollercoaster, known as "Raging River," plummets daring youth down a waterfall into a nearby lake. Here, crowds are so lethargic that the designer of the ride, anticipating a tranquil audience, utilized a technique that I call, "simulated screaming." As we entered a cavern right above the abyss, an ancient radio system above us crackled to life and blared a muffled cry, "Waaaaa!" Obviously, it was only a feeble attempt to frighten tourists. Previously observing the abyss from the bank, I beheld a cluster of serene faced tourists at the climax of the ride and beholding the plunge at their feet in utter silence. These then slid down agreeably and quietly. The only time that a vast volume of noise will burst forth from these tiny cars is when an eager American family leaps into their vehicle and hollers into the face of the fall.

At last, at the day's close, we stumbled into the line for the Crazy Galleon, a lulling boat ride. All around us were venerable matrons, jabbering of its prodigious terror. When the ride began and the ship had begun to sway gently, I turned around to behold rows of ladies, knuckles white, teeth clenched, eyes bulging, and scraggly hair flapping in the wind. Yet not a peep issued from their quivering lips.

Thus, the day wafted nonchalantly before my eyes like a silent film. Although our group of children and teens enjoyed ourselves immensley, it felt as if the rest of the visitors cared little about the park. Irrepressibly, during its entire duration, the roads were inundated with swarms of silent tourists, wending their way through dusty paths to the teeming dim sum stands. However, despite the languid atmosphere, Ocean Park was highly convenient-the queues for the attractions were so short that it rarely took more than twenty minutes of wait to ride. Such are the contrasts of Canton.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Calvin, This is amazing. You have an impressive vocabulary and a natural gift for writing that I know a lot of kids your age do not have. I'm always trying to get Isaiah to describe things in more detail like you have in this blog. Your words and metaphors are so perfectly descriptive. As I was reading this, I honestly felt like I was there watching, listening, hearing everything that you were! Please keep blogging when you feel the inspiration to write. - Stella

  3. Calvin,
    This is impressive. Keep it up Soon your dad will be trying to work our a deal for you to be the real writer of his books. Harry Lucenay

  4. Calvin

    The day I might take blogging, personal or otherwse... I'll hold myself to this standard!

    Good attention to detail and you have put that in a language that flows easily.

    Keep writing...
    Subeer, an IOL friend of your dad's

  5. Thank you all for writing these positive comments. I really do feel encouraged. Remember to read my little brother's blog!

  6. I like your style! You did a fantastic job contrasting American and Cantonese cultures!

  7. I can't imagine being silent on a ride. Most of the time I'm screaming, "I'm going to die! I'm going to die!". But that's just me. :)

  8. very nice! your vocabulary seems to be impeccable. keep it i'm starting to seem old... :P