Saturday, July 23, 2011

[HONG KONG] Ocean Park

If you want adventure and only have time for one theme park, then go to Ocean Park. Go to Disneyland if you want to reminisce your childhood. That shouldn’t be so hard because almost everyone has his or her own Disney story to relate to. Ocean Park has many facilities and attractions to offer not just for the thrill seeker but for the nature lover as well. A Giant Panda Park. The Grand Aquarium. A den of sea lions. A dancing fountain (laser light show ever 8 PM called Symbio). Cable cars. And thrill rides such as roller coasters and drops.

Just go to the nearest MTR station and exit at Admiralty. Every station tells you where the appropriate exit for a certain attraction is. As for Ocean Park, you are led outside to a bus parking area where you can buy tickets not just for the bus but also for the park itself. That saves you time since you no longer have to line up at the ticket booth at the park anymore. The bus ride takes around ten minutes. Get your cameras ready because you'll be passing by some popular tourist spots along the way. The vantage point from the overpass cannot be repeated on foot. The Happy Valley Race Course, in particular, is just awesome when viewed this way.

The park is grand and the natural attractions are mostly clustered by the entrance. You ride either the cable car or the Ocean Express train to get to the hills where the thrill rides are. There are two roller coasters: Dragon and Mine Train. Dragon is the one with loops. Mine Train is the one with drops and spectacular views of the surrounding islands. There are two “drops” within the same area: the Eagle, which brings you high while spinning; and the Abyss, which drops you from dizzying heights twice or thrice. There's also a Ferris Wheel and a swinging ship ride. After the exhaustion from all the thrill, you can buy overpriced snacks at one of the food stalls or just settle for McDonalds.

There are two water rides at Ocean Park. One is the Raging River which is pretty much similar to Enchanted Kingdom’s Log Jam. Someone sells raincoats by the entrance for HK$ 25, pretty steep for a sheet of plastic shaped like a dress but very handy if you don’t want an impromptu shower. The other one is similar to Rio Grande in that it uses circular inflatable rafts. This one is just by the cable car exit right next to a roller coaster under construction. If you want to view the park from a high vantage point without being abruptly dropped or swung, try the Tower ride. It's an air-conditioned “tower”. The observation deck goes up and down to pick up and drop off passengers. The ride is a bit quick but gives you enough time to snap photos.

If you want to see the animals, you can  start with them because they are just near the entrance. I suggest that you see the Giant Panda Adventure while the sun is still up. They are housed in an air-conditioned tent, the roof of which depends on the sun for lighting. In the evening the interior is lighted with dim red lights which make it hard to take photos and videos. I was so preoccupied with the thrill rides that I placed this Panda attraction last on my itinerary. Bad move. All I saw was red light and a couple of red pandas. The giant ones were already asleep. There is some sort of goldfish exhibit by the exit where you can see various types of goldfish. This one is also indoor but with very good lighting.

The Grand Aquarium is well lit all day long so there really is no issue as to what part of the day you allocate for it. I think it closes at 9 PM. Maybe you can put it last on your itinerary since it's already near the park entrance just by the dancing fountain. There are many fish inside and other interesting marine creatures. This is perfect for kids and nature lovers alike. There are a lot of info walls there that contain a plethora of facts that will make you go wow.

Oops, I almost forgot the Pacific Pier! The sea lions are there and I enjoyed watching them just swim around. They are such exhibitionists. They usually swim on their backs and amuse you with a fast glide. Perfect photo-op! There are around three kinds of them inside the facility but there are many of them in there so there won’t be any shortage in terms of sightings.

I arrived at Ocean Park at two in the afternoon. To maximize the attractions and rides, I suggest you devote an entire day for it. If not, then maybe just the morning (they open at 9:30) until late afternoon, so you can spend the last part of the day exploring Hong Kong Island, like going to The Peak, for example. That is where Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum is. They say that it is at The Peak where one could see marvelous views of Hong Kong. I went to the Peak Tram station the next day but all I saw was a long queue of tourists so I just backed out. It was already 6 PM by then. So I just settled for Hong Kong Park which is on the other side of the street. It is a lovely park with a pond full of carps and turtles. There are petting humans too.

I thought Hong Kong Island would be different but it also abounds with shopping malls. There are various parks on the island like the Hong Kong Park and the Victoria Park, both very huge. I wasn’t able to see Victoria Park, though. The buildings that “perform” in the Symphony of Lights are also here. The famous ones are the HSBC building and the China Bank Tower. If you are an aspiring student of the performing arts, you might want to check out the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts as well. It is near the HKCEC, a convention center which was the venue of the Hong Kong Book Fair while I was there. All these are located in an area facing the Victoria Harbor so you get to see the Kowloon side which is also astonishing in its own right. Take a souvenir photo at the Golden Bauhinia, stroll by the harbor, and you are good to go. You can take a ferry back to Kowloon if you like.

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

melvin said...

too bad di mo nakita ang panda ( although i have yet to read your beijing posts,i'm not sure kung pumunta ka sa bejing zoo dahil may panda din dun).ako hindi ko lang sila nakita,dumumi pa sa harap ko!

ihcahieh said...

Yeah, saw them at Beijing Zoo pero tatamad ever! Natutulog lang, HAHAHA. Pero satisfied na rin ako somehow. They are so cute.

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