If there’s one thing that a Hong Kong summer calls for, it’s powerful air-conditioning. So where better to chill your boots during the recent blazing hot weather we’ve had than an ice-rink, where you’re guaranteed a refreshing arctic blast that’ll have you reaching for a cardigan quicker than a British granny at a picnic?
Young Master T-T and I recently found ourselves wilting in the heat with an afternoon to kill and, having exhausted our usual haunts of Discoveryland, Bounce Inc. and the Maritime Museum, were pondering where we could head to without melting into a pair of puddles. It was actually the Boy that accidentally hit upon the idea, suggesting we go to the North Pole to play. A little lateral thinking later and we were speeding down the Tung Chung, thick socks packed and ready to pirouette.
Tucked away on the ground floor of Kowloon’s Elements mall, The Rink’s HK$1 per minute pay-as-you-go concept makes for a cheap and cheerful visit and is a particularly good option if you’re not sure how well your little one will take to skating. No need to blow a fortune on tickets; simply doot in and out using your trusty Octopus and you’re good to glide.
The opening hours are another big tick in the box for parents who may be *ahem* occasionally less than organised. Apart from a couple of half-hour closures for resurfacing (because no-one wants to get stuck in slush), The Rink is open throughout the day to everyone. With no session times to worry about, you can just rock up whenever you’re ready, making this a good option for an ad-hoc afternoon activity.
Entering the reception area, you’ll pay a skate rental fee of HK$20 a pair, plus another $100 if you want to rent a lightweight push-along penguin or seal for balance (we definitely needed the extra help!). There’s lockers available to stash your stuff and plenty of benches to take the weight off your blades if you need a breather. Once you’re ready to head in
wobble drunkenly, stride elegantly up to the gates, beep your Octopus and away you go.
It’s fair to say that we didn’t immediately take to the ice with swan-like grace – both myself and Master T-T spent more time sitting on the ice that moving along it, until we clocked the other newbies bombing along with their animal assistants. HK$100 later and we were happily haring across the ice at speed, with the Boy sitting on a smiley seal while I pushed him around (he’s no fool, that kid). The ice is patrolled by plenty of supervisors who are on hand to make sure that everyone moves in the right direction and nobody takes out small children like skittles, which I found reassuring as I was far too focused on not steering us into a wall to maintain optimum spatial awareness.
As well as the main public rink, there’s a fenced off section exclusively for those taking lessons. Again, these are available on a walk-in basis, making them very accessible without having to commit to a regular programme. But that was for another day as we were all in after 45 minutes. It turns out that ice skating is surprisingly sweaty stuff, so we headed up to Grand Central for a bite to eat and to rest our wobbly legs.
Costs: Rink access is HK$1 per minute; look out for weekday term time specials where adults pay HK$60 and kids pay HK$40 for all-day access. Skate hire is HK$20 per pair; penguin or seal hire is HK$100.
The Rink, G/F, Elements, No. 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; 2196 8016.
We happily paid for our visit (by Octopus… doot!).