Ocean Park – How I learnt to stop worrying and enjoy the schadenfreude

Right now I am glowing with the saintly radiance of Maternal Martyrdom due to the accomplishment of a colossal feat – one which is most uncharacteristic of me and against most of my principles of child-rearing (convenience, efficacy and calm). For today was the day that I took the two rascals to Ocean Park in Hong Kong.

Firstly, let me just say that theme parks are ghastly. Absolutely ghastly. All of then. Even Ocean Park, although it has the advantage of a spectacular mountaintop setting, a certain quaint retro charm and several sweetly pathetic mascots like Wai Wai Whiskers (a sealion), the terribly-named James Fin H2O (a shark), Later Gator (an alligator) and Mr. Squid (either a mascot or a fast food chain – I didn’t bother to do the research).

The only reason for the Ocean Park excursion was Finn Leahy’s completely irrational cable car obsession. Since we first drove by Ocean Park on the way to South Bay Beach, he has been bugging me NONSTOP about going on the cable car ride.

To make matters worse, we had a Sunday brunch at the HK Country Club, which was right NEXT to the frigging cable car station and all I remember about the brunch was this irritating mosquito whining in my ear “cablecarcablecaaarwhencanigoonthecablecar”. Oh wait, that wasn’t a mosquito, it was my first born. Whom I dearly wished to spray with 25% concentrated DEET.

Anyway, the weather was abysmally bad for the next few days with “squally thunderstorms” (in the HK Observatory’s language) predicted everyday. But finally, I decided that it was worse to brave the squalling at Ocean Park than suffer the squealing of The Mosquito That One Can Not Slap in a small HK hotel apartment.

So off we went to Ocean Park. Unfortunately, everyone seemed to have the same idea. We rounded the corner to the Cable Car Plaza and saw a 2 kilometre long serpentine of dejected tourists. Just then, it starting drizzling ominously. The atmosphere was so communist-grim that when the park attendant came up to me, I half expected him to order me to take off my watch and lie in the ditch facedown between the fat German and the PRC family with tubercolosis.

Instead, the brusque park attendant informed me that the wait for the cable car ride was at least ONE HOUR. “But we came here JUST for the cable car!!! Look at my firstborn’s sad face!!!!” I lamented in my best Hong Kong TVB actress impression and fluttered my eyelashes dramatically. The park attendant lowered his voice and murmured that if we hot footed it to the Express Train ride, we could take the train to the top of the mountain and catch the cable car back before the lunch crowd hit. I rallied the kids and made like a homing missile to the train.

Indeed it was true. Although the train was packed full of disgusting hacking disease vectors, we emerged at the top of the hill and found a blissfully uncrowded cable car station. Finn even got to choose the colour of his cable car, and he selected the PRC-Phlegm-Yellow one. Aww, look at their happy faces. It’s almost worth the grief sometimes….

Dylan clung on to Finn’s hand while Finn acted the cool dude. It was actually a stunning view from the cable cars across the bay. And eerily quiet too, a most incongrously serene experience.

That is, until we came to the last leg and saw the steep descent down to the park. Cue lots of screaming from myself and Nanny S, who chose that moment to divulge that she had vertigo and was trying not to hurl up her guts.

And of course, the cable cars had to choose that moment to stop moving and we sat there in mid-air swaying in the gusts of typhoon wind, with fingers and toes crossed that we would survive to blog about this tragic… I mean NON-TRAGIC excursion!

While we were waiting for the cable cars to get going again, Dylan decided to entertain us with an another impromptu pole dancing demonstration. She certainly won’t have any problems finding work, that child!

After 5 excruciatingly long minutes, the blasted cable cars started moving again and Nanny S stopped reciting scripture backwards. The kids were kind of disappointed that we weren’t going to be rescued by a SWAT team in helicopters above the South China Sea, but that’s life.

And when we got off, we sailed past the impossibly long line of tourists and recognised the same faces we saw on the way in – the same fat German, the same PRC family with TB, the same Indonesian family with the 6 year old in the stroller, and we experienced a greater thrill than the Abyss rollercoaster ride could ever elicit. It’s true, the most exhilarating joyride is Schadenfreude.

3 thoughts on “Ocean Park – How I learnt to stop worrying and enjoy the schadenfreude

  1. What can one really say about coincindences in life ? I had only googled the meaning of Schadenfreude an hour ago before reading this blog ! Was bugged by it the whole of last night when I was at a loss for words during a conversation at a dinner party.

    I had just come across this word 3 years ago in an article and was very impressed with it..so
    apt in describing a situation where you find joy in other people’s misery.

    The kids are so cute and the cable cars really look so much more impressive than the Singaporean ones. Do you think Finn will stop bugging me to take him on the Singapore ones now that he has had a better ride in the HK ones ?

    Hugs and Kisses,

  2. I just love more extremly cute stories and photos of Finn and Dylan. I wish i was there to see. I told mum (anne) about the evil skyscraper and she laughed her head off! Missing you all, I really look foward to seeing you.

    lots of love
    P xxx

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