A Symphony of Corny in Hong Kong

The promenade along Victoria Harbor, during non-showtime.

The promenade along Victoria Harbor, during non-showtime.

I finally got to see a big dumb Hollywood movie the other day, and once I realized that the awfulness of Pacific Rim was exactly why it was AWESOME, then I enjoyed the spectacle immensely.

An easier version of that forgiveness happened in Hong Kong, where the famous Victoria Harbor that separates Hong Kong and Kowloon is the setting for a “Symphony of Lights” display every night at 8:00.

I walked down Nathan Road to the harbor in a stream of tourists emerging from their hostels like ants with body odor. We all went down the steps to the subway together to cross under the busy Salisbury Road, then splintered off in various directions as we all tried to navigate the bizarre underground mall that opened before us like the Gates of Hades. It was kind of like The Amazing Race, as we all tried to solve mazes of handbags and blouses just to cross a street. (The team that stays above ground and just runs across the lanes would win by a good ten minutes.)

Strike a pose on the Avenue of Stars

Strike a pose on the Avenue of Stars

But finally I made it out, price tags stuck to my shoes like commercial shrapnel, and walked on to the “Avenue of Stars”, which is an awful lot like Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame.” I only knew a few of the names and hand prints in the concrete that form a path down the scenic promenade. It’s a swell place to walk, with lots of excited energy and cheesy posing next to the movie set statues, and at least one guy taking a mimicking pose in front of the Bruce Lee statue every second of the day.

Symphony of Lights 01Normally it’s crowded, but at 8:00 PM it’s packed. I found a spot along the rail where the crowd thinned to three rows deep, and watched as the music and lights show started.

It was…



There were an awful lot of ipad "selfies" going on

There were an awful lot of ipad “selfies” going on

It was the corniest thing I’ve seen since Universal Studios in 1989. The music had the sort of bouncy enthusiasm normally only seen at a cheerleader convention, and the lights across the way blinked in time to the tune with the brainless regularity and obedience to the beat that you get from computer programs. I was laughing out loud, loving every second. I couldn’t understand why everyone around me was so serious.

It was the same campy enjoyment that I got from the ladyboy cabaret show in Thailand, but that’s another story…

Kowloon, Hong Kong 23Hong Kong is a city built to reach the stars, and as a result has enough light pollution to make sure you never see them, but all around me blinked a cosmos of LCD screens held up to capture the show. Those in groups took pictures of each other, singles took “selfies,” and couples…ignored all that and just made out.

How do you say “tonsil hockey” in Cantonese?