Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hong Kong Part 6: Ocean Park

Yes! After a few months of procrastination, I finally had some drive (not very much actually considering I have been tired out from the day's chores and kids' schedules) to do something about the last instalment of our Hong Kong trip in June.

We had a lot of fun and sun since the start of the trip and by the time we headed out to Ocean Park, my energy was running an all time low and I was depending on my 'reserve battery' to survive. The kids, however, were still so full of energy. That was probably the biggest puzzle for the trip, in fact, it still amazes me everyday. I suppose age is the key here? Still, we decided to make good use of the day available. We took a cab to Ocean Park (yes, we were that tired) and that was my first time seeing the skyline of Hong Kong city. I felt like I was whizzing through one of the many famous Hong Kong movies and dramas, minus the charming actors and pretty actresses of course.

We reached Ocean Park at around 10 in the morning and the crowd was already overwhelming. Coach buses arrived in batches, filled with excited tourists. And to think we thought we could escape the crowd on a weekday.

Looks like going to Ocean Park would be a breeze once the new MTR station opens

Water play area just at the entrance of Ocean Park

The crowd was too massive to be captured in one shot.

General admission tickets are priced at HK$320 for adults (aged 12 and above) and HK$160 for children aged 3-11. Of course, if you visit Ocean Park often enough, it warrants the purchase of SmartFun Annual pass, which ranges from HK$660-840 for adults and HK$330-420 for children.

Ocean park is really huge, much larger in scale compared to Disneyland. To maximize our time there, we had to strategize. We decided to start from The Summit, which our dear friends term it as 'the second floor' and it houses majority of the exciting rides.

Weekday crowd. Can't imagine the crowd on weekends.
Lots of experiences await

Small eateries near the entrance
Aqua City Lagoon near the entrance. Apparently they have water shows at night.
Don't think we would stay for that as the kids would be bushed before that.

Taking a train up to The Summit

and it comes in the form of a submarine!

With dim lights in the submarine and sea-blue lights coming in through the glass panels, it sure gave the illusion that we were in a real submarine.
The scene on the panels on top of cabin changes, making it looked as if we were really in the sea
One of the many scenes on the panels.

Upon arriving on the summit, the scorching heat ushered us to the nearest air-conditioned venue - the Ocean Park Tower. It oscillates as it ascends so it provides a good panoramic view of the whole Ocean Park.

Ascending soon...

View of The Summit

View of the Pacific Pier where the seals are

What a view!

The popular 'The Abyss' and 'The Dragon'

 Next up, Pacific Pier which was just beside the Ocean Park Tower.

We did not make it for the feeding but were blessed enough to see the caretaker feed the seals.
An endearing sight.

Comprehensive information panels along the enclosure

Like it that they have elevated spots for young children

Can you spot the seals? The weather that day was burning hot that I think I spent more time imagining myself swimming in the cool water than looking at the seals.

A huge information book explaining more about the seals

Information panels along the air-conditioned walkway to the viewing gallery

We could spend the whole day the cool.
Kids chased the seals as  they swam by, many times...a clear sign of pure enjoyment.

There were some shows happening in 30 more minutes in The Ocean Theatre but we were pushed on by the sun. Next destination - The Rainforest. It is a sheltered dome featuring tropical plants and insects and because it was air-conditioned, we gravitated towards it like ants to honey.

The sheltered walkway into the Rainforest is located just beside The Rapids. From the walkway, one can use of the water-guns and aim at passengers on the rafts. As if as they were not wet enough already.

The kids trying their hands at the water-guns.
Some of the animals we saw at The Rainforest - an Iguana

An electric eel


Next we headed to The South and North Poles sections. On our way there, we passed by many rides, all of which are too scary for the kids. And for me too. My older daughter was trying to coax me to get onto one of those rides just so that she could see me in one since she didn't meet the height requirement. This little girl has been on more roller coaster rides than me. Yes, I admit it. I am a coward and I am proud to be one. Getting on those rides is just not for me. Needless to say, I refused her requests at all costs. I did spend a large part of my time staring at those brave souls, in amazement. (and the long queue for each of those rides, with a minimum waiting time of 2 hours!!)

All ready to be thrown around...

Definitely not for me - all those feet dangling stunts...

Roller coaster overhead. Lots of screams accompanying it.

Trampoline. A more sane option among the thrill rides. A pity the kids did not make the height limit.
We finally reached our destination after the many distractions along the way - The Polar Adventure. The area is divided into the North and South Pole Spectacular. The South houses the penguins while the North houses only the seals. Quite an irony as a huge polar bear statue was standing outside the North Pole Spectacular, greeting its guests yet we see none of its kind inside the enclosure. A pity though. It would have been very nice to see a real polar bear. That would certainly make the experience more complete.

The one and only polar bear in the North Pole Spectacular

Crowd moved very quickly even though it was massive
Massive crowd...all eager to catch a glimpse of the few seals there

Underground viewing gallery

Love how this seal chose to snuggle in the tight gap in the overhead glass gallery

Interesting informative panels along the path
By the time we were done with the Polar Adventure, everyone was hungry. We took the cable car down to The Waterfront. Most of the visitors would choose to take the cable car ride up from The Waterfront to The Summit but the crowd for the ride down was a lot lesser so it was just perfect for a group of hungry and tired children (and adults).

When we 'touched down', we were greeted by traditional stores deco - which brought us back to the good old rustic Hong Kong.

Children trying to sell their plastic vegetables.

The display of colourful posters adds charm to the alley

Old Hong Kong tram

Some of the stalls are games stalls. Try it!

Rickshaw anyone?
We had to squeeze in one last attraction before we leave - Panda Village of course. The animals are housed in an air-conditioned shelter where they can play, eat and sleep in comfort. The kids were of course fascinated with the cute animals. It didn't help that the pandas were lounging on their backs and chewing away at their beloved bamboo. All the more reason to fall in love with them.

The gentle giant

One word - Adorable

Fascinated by the hands on learning

The 'sounds' of communication

Panda Skull

Just had to go near to the 'Happy Shark' cafe while on the way out. 

Yummy pastries await

Just too cute to be eaten

5pm. All were tired but never too tired for some appetizing snacks. The next time we go, we would be sure to cover more areas. Preferably not in the scorching heat again.

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