As our plane took off from Tokyo Narita towards Hong Kong somebody muttered darkly that this was the end of civilisation. It was only five seconds later that I realised that it had been me; my mouth had spoken of its own accord without any recourse to my brain. It felt rotten to be leaving Japan, a country where everybody is polite, the rail system works, and where one can walk around with the equivalent of more than €1000 in a pocket without being worried about theft. There is no doubt in my mind; I'll definitely be visiting again.
We were about ten minutes into the flight when the captain came over the PA system to advise all those on the right hand side of the plane to look out the window. Sure enough, poking through the clouds was the majestic sight of Mount Fuji. I had gotten up early enough to see most of the mountain from ground level yesterday morning, though it had clouded over so quickly that I never saw the whole thing. I've just checked the height of Mount Fuji, and it is some 12,388 ft tall. The computer system on the plane said we were at 28,000 ft as this picture was taken, so I am quite surprised that the shot came out as well as it did.
16th September 2005
We arrived at Ocean Park about two hours before closing, hardly ideal for a new park but the best we could do thanks to a certain amount of confusion escaping from Hong Kong International Airport. The setting for the park is little short of breathtaking; the journey from the entrance to the ride area involves a twenty minute cable car across the top of a mountain, with amazing sights of natural beauty all around.
With limited time to play with there was little option but to go straight to the coasters. Wild West Mine Train (#666), proved to be a nice ride with some good drops. There wasn't a lot of leg room, but we managed to fit in without too much trouble. Dragon (#667) was also a surprisingly good ride, especially when you consider that we were assigned to the back car, something that can often be suicidal on older Arrow coasters. The only other ride we had time for was the Ferris Wheel. After three weeks in Japan it was refreshing to find a completely open wheel, of the sort you might find in a travelling fair, with some excellent photo opportunities, not to mention a reasonably good suicide opportunity for anyone who felt like leaning a little too far over the edge.
The cable car ride back to the front of the park was quite an experience. We had to share our car with a mother carrying a small child, who was singing Old MacDonald throughout in an enchanting manner albeit with little respect for pitch and tuning. We couldn't help but be reminded of the Ferris wheel at Harmonyland; there was no way to disable the sounds which were gradually driving us mad!