Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hong Kong: Ocean Park

Ocean Park, located in Aberdeen on the south of Hong Kong island, is a strange theme park / aquarium that's been around since the late 1970's. While it's no Six Flags or Disneyland, it does have a strange charm, and stunning views of the China sea. It's aquarium "atole" tank is one of (if not the) largest in the world, filled with GIANT rays, groupers, sharks, eels, tuna, and assorted sea life. The park even has mascots, though the character designs are a bit odd -- a sea lion and a... fairy?

Getting up to the park from the bus drop off consists of 5 slow-moving covered outdoor escalators with cool air and audio greetings in different languages. On the sides are news clips showing the park's historical milestones. Some of the rides are available at the earlier mountain levels, but most are all the way at the top, and others are reachable by the harrowing gondola Sky Ride that connects the two park sections. The only ride I tried (other than the Sky Ride) was the typical log-splash ride, very refreshing in the 100F heat.

Just when you think you might be in some less popular American park, you go to one of the refreshment stands -- reminding you immediately that you are in Asia -- duck legs, octopus balls, soba noodles, dried squid and unfamiliar tea drinks are on the menu along with Coke. Few American foods.

This is not a flat park, and it does require a lot of walking, which feels more difficult due to the heat (in June particularly). I saw a pair of plus-size women (American or British perhaps) who appeared to be having difficulty. Fortunately, my personal training sessions the month before really came in handy here and the rest of the trip. All the insides of the buildings (like most in Hong Kong I visited) have magnficent air conditioners.

Main entrance, before you go around to ascend the escalators:

The Sky Ride: Two cars going in two directions moving peacefully along the mountain, with views of the bay and China Sea.

It's a bit like riding a Christmas ornament, no?

The dolphin & sea lion show (more photos pending) was amusing. Wasn't certain if the marine mammals understood English, Chinese or both, given that England owned Hong Kong for so long and now it was back under Chinese rule. I was surprised to see the opening act, a Caribbean band consisting of one American and two guys who might have been South American (but definitely not Asian).

Sunset over Aberdeen:

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posted by Brian at 10:40 PM 0 comments links to this post