Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Travel: HK Day #4 - An Afternoon at Ocean Park 香港海洋公園, Hong Kong!

It's been nearly 4 months since our trip to Macau & HK, but we're still only up to day 4 in our posts! #fail! I shall therefore endeavor to complete as many posts about the trip as possible before it becomes too stale... =P

After the awesome breakfast Zhen Han bought us at Ocean Empire Food Shop, we made our way to the destination of the day - Ocean Park!

At first we were worrying about how to get there because it looked so far away on the map and we didn't see any train lines running there. But as it turns out there's no need to worry about transport to Ocean Park - just take the MTR to Admiralty and exit at Exit B. Outside the station there's a bus stop for the express bus #629 that goes directly to Ocean Park! There's even a ticket booth there where you can get your entrance tickets to Ocean Park as well, which we did. Entry tickets to the park costs HKD 280.

Prices for the bus fare are HKD 10.60, well worth the dollars spent for a 20 minute long bus ride to the main entrance of Ocean Park. The buses are also quite frequent, so it services the needs of tourists well.

It's also a double decker bus, so sitting on the top deck gives a better view of surroundings! Double decker buses aren't that common in KL, so getting to ride on one is a rare treat per se.. =D

Since we made sure we left the house bright and early, we were part of the first groups arriving at the park that day. It's most definitely important to reach Ocean Park before it opens to avoid long queues! We were also fortunate because the day before had been a public holiday in HK (thanks to Mid Autumn Festival) so I think less people went the next day? 

When I was younger, my parents took me to quite a few theme parks around the world. If there's one lesson they've learnt and shared, it's this - start from the back of the park, and work your way down! Think about it for awhile and you'll find it makes perfect sense, because while everyone starts crowding the first ride they see, you scout the map and identify the important rides to sit first. Trust us when we say this tactic will save you literally hours in time wasted in queues!

For Ocean Park, starting from the back meant hitching a ride on either the cable car or the "Underwater Adventure" train to get to the back of the theme park. Even though it was only 10+ the sun was bearing down hard on us, so there was no debate about taking the air-conditioned train!

We didn't really have a plan once we reached the back part of the theme park, but since the weather was so darn hot we decided to purposely get ourselves drenched on this boat ride, The Rapids! It was the most genius thing we could have thought of; the splash of cold water on a hot sunny day is a great feeling! Zhen Han actually bought himself a mini raincoat, but that didn't even last half the ride before it tore.. =D

The first time we sat on the ride, there was no queue at all! By the 2nd and 3rd times, we waited for at least 15-30 minutes. So that's truly a testament of the benefits in being early to the rides you want. =)

p/s: There are also suspension bridges hanging over the rapids where water guns are positioned! If you particularly enjoy attacking poor unsuspecting tourists with water gun attacks, this is for you. :p

Ocean Park doesn't just have rides; it's also home to a few species of wildlife. =)
The joy of being soaked to the bone on a hot summer's day quickly wore off however as we dried off much quicker than we had hoped. I can't remember the exact sequence of the rides we went on afterwards, so not everything is in proper order.

Being a so-called "ocean park", anyone would expect to see some kind of water show. No disappointments there, since Ocean Park really does put on a marine show three times a day at the Ocean Theatre! The amphitheatre is large enough to fit more than 200 people, so it's not that hard to find a seat. On the other hand, not all the sections are covered, so on a hot day like the one we had, obviously everyone tries to cram into the shady spots, leaving the sides without shade totally empty.. =D

Truth be told, I kind of expected a bit more from the show. For the length of time it took to perform the show, I expected a couple more tricks and variety from the dolphins and sea lion. Also, although there is commentary and a little bit of story-telling in English, it helps a lot if you can understand Cantonese because that's the main language everything is spoken in. 

But let it not be said that Ocean Park only has a dolphin show! At the SkyFair Celebrations theatre show, Chinese acrobats and aviators also provide a different show of entertainment for nearby visitors four times in a day. They weren't the best acrobats I've seen, and some of the theatrics they had to do were just downright lame, but overall they put on quite a good show, especially in those segments when they were soaring through the air. 

...A good show that went by largely unappreciated, as the crowd seemed to hardly be able to muster the strength for some applause! I don't know if mainland Chinese tourists are too used to seeing better acrobat shows in China, or if it's some unwritten rule that appreciation should not be shown to performers. Either way, it was hard not to feel bad for the performers who tried hard yet could hardly garner any applause from the unappreciative crowd.

For rides, there are other tame rides like the revolving Ocean Park Tower observation deck that probably gives a good view of the park and beyond, being 200 metres above sea level. I say probably, because this wasn't a high priority for us in the beginning, and by the time we thought of giving it a go the queue was so long with senior citizens we immediately called it a day and gave 

What is NOT tame though, is The Abyss Turbo DropZhen Han had already been going on and on about The Abyss even before the trip began, telling us all about how it went up so high and was so scary etc etc. Since I have the biggest fear of heights, naturally his goal was to make sure I sat on it! Knowing I was never going to get out of this, I thought I might as well get it over and done with, so that's exactly what we did!  I'm glad we did it early, because we didn't have to queue long for our turn. By the time we finished, a long queue was forming, and I can't imagine the feeling of having to wait for something like this... =D

The Abyss is itself a simple ride, similar to the Solero Shot we have in Genting Highlands; passengers are simply raised in the air and brought down again. But being raised 20 storeys above ground level and being dropped back down at speeds of up to 65km/h makes it a whole different ball game! I can still remember when the chair lift is raised all the way to the top, it actually stops for 1-2 seconds to let the suspense build / let passengers look out across the ocean which is an absolutely breathtaking view if you're aren't busy freaking out like I was. 

Then, suddenly everything is falling except your stomach which is threatening to push right out of your throat as you hurtle down to the ground. Definitely a thrilling ride, one that should be given a chance if you're in Ocean Park. I definitely earned some respect after that.. =D

But one adrenaline pumping ride wasn't the end; we had to put ourselves up for more punishment at the Crazy Galleon next to The Abyss, for no better reason other than because there was no queue! Some say this actually felt scarier than The Abyss. I would agree if the ship actually turned 360 degrees. Thankfully the one at Ocean Park doesn't, so I still had enough stomach left in me to take it on...hehe.

Of course, there are also other tamer rides for families with younger children, like this Ferris Wheel. We reckon you'd see beautiful views over the South China Sea on this one.

For lunch there wasn't much choice except over-priced McDonald's. Shaded seats aren't very widely available so try to grab one if you can. McDonald's Hong Kong serves a Double Chocolate Sundae (HKD 17.60) which is perfect for fighting the crazy afternoon heat with. Imagine, double the vanilla soft-serve ice cream, and double the chocolate fudge! Yummm.

After lunch none of us had any heart for anymore pee-in-your-pants scary rides, so we took the Ocean Park Escalator down to the lower level to explore further. The second longest outdoor escalator in the world is actually very high and steep; if there weren't make people in front of me, I would get a bad case of vertigo too, if I look down.

A picture-esque moment with the Hong Kong harbour in the background, and the tracks of the Mine Train just behind me. We would have sat on that, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance. It certainly looked like a scary setup, since it's built on the edge to give an illusion of the ride falling off into the ocean! Scary-ness maximum.. =P

And if racing around the edge of the ocean on the Mine Train wouldn't be enough, thrill-seekers can also catch the nauseating looking Space Wheel, which puts you in a gondola and spins and whirls and tilts you at all sorts of gravity defying angles, at high speeds. We stood around and watched it for awhile, but  even watching it made our lunch seem like it would not stay put in our stomachs... not a good idea.

We decided to go for some milder, in what we thought was another splashing-wet ride at the Raging River. Sadly it turned out to be just a simple log ride, without much moisture targeted at us at all. After all the other rides, it was boring to say the least. 

All in all, we spent nearly the whole day in Ocean Park, not leaving until about 4-5pm. The heat remained unbearable throughout the day, sapping our strength and causing us to catch an earlier-than-expected ride home. The souvenir shop is full of interesting soft toys, but at tourist prices of course so Wendy took some pictures as memories instead. =)

Just outside Ocean Park we hopped on a bus that would take us all the way back to Admiralty again. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, which gave the opportunity for a fantastic shot of the Hong Kong race course at Happy Valley.

After so many years, I'm glad to have finally made the trip to Ocean Park. It's even better when done with close friends! A truly memorable experience that will be the subject of catch-up sessions for years to come I'm sure. Let's make our way to Disneyland next guys! =D

Ocean Park 香港海洋公園 | Site
Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3923 2323
Fax: (852) 2873 5584
Opening Hours: Mon, 10am-6pm; Tue-Sun, 10am-10pm 

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