Thursday, 24 January 2013

2012-13 Hong Kong-Taiwan Trip: Hong Kong Ocean Park

During our short stay in Hong Kong, we managed to pop into Ocean Park to let the children have some fun. It is one of the must go places if you visit Hong Kong. As we've been there a few times already, we decided to take it easy and mainly visit their aquarium and their newly built Polar Adventure, skipping the Ocean Theatre (which is normally a 'must go') and other attractions. We did regretted a bit as Abby complained that she didn't see many sea life at the end of the day, so it's safe to say that we'll be back again next time!

Because of Hong Kong's landscape (mostly mountainous terrains), the park is split into 2 parts on either side of a mountain. In the past the only connection was the cable car, which could be quite thrilling as you'll be dangling above the sea at some parts. In the past few years they have managed to drill through the mountain and visitors can now safely go to the other side through their new Ocean Express, which is much faster as well.

Near the entrance in the middle of the park (before reaching the other side of the mountain) is their Aqua Lagoon, which has a musical fountain in the centre. At night there will be a water laser show, although we didn't stay there long enough to see.

Too deep for Abby to stick her arm in

The first thing we did was heading straight for The Grand Aquarium. The first section of it was a Touch and Explore area, which was quite disappointing. The walls were a bit too high, probably for safety reason, so it was hard for the children to reach the top of the tanks. Even when they can, there wasn't anything that is near the top of the tank for them to touch. There wasn't any sanitary hand gel nor soap to use for cleaning hands, but there is a sink with water and paper towels to rinse and dry them. I'm more impressed with the explore area at one of the UK's Sea Life Centre we've visited as you can really get close to the sea creatures. 

Xmas deco in the tanks (starfish tank)
I wonder what that is living with the King Crabs?

The Grand Aquarium is a massive fish tank, and around it were several smaller sections that shows sea life in smaller tanks so that you can focus on each of them instead (like a zoom in section?).  The thing with foodies is that, when you look at sea life, you think of food! King Crabs, Lobsters, Sea Urchins, Jelly Fish (oh these are delish, and Abby's favourite too!) and Tuna to name a few!

Is the hammer head in the middle bleeding, or did he just ate a fish?!

We then went through a tunnel which allowed us to peak inside the tank through port holes in the ceiling, to experience what it was like to see from below. The tunnel lead to a big window panel, and then further down at the end to a massive wall on the other side of the tank. It was very impressive! There is also a massive cylinder where they kept a big group of Milk Fish. It was feeding time and they swirled around the tank after the bait. 

To give everyone a peace of mind, they've placed a glass panel next to the exit, assuring everyone that the tank is secure as all glass panels around it are 68cm thick. Very thick indeed!

My favourite snack - Chicken Leg stewed in Soya Sauce

After lunch, we let the kids have a go on the Carousel, which stopped after a quick 4 rounds. I was amused with how soon it finished, I seriously doubt that they sat on it for longer than 3 minutes! The carousel was located near the entrance to Old Hong Kong, which is a propped up street showing Hong Kong in the past (I'm guessing around the 50s to 70s). We immediately regretted having lunch in the cafe as this was where they served all the street food we missed!

Next stop was the Panda Enclosure. If you are planning to visit Ocean Park and you have a wheelchair or pushchair with you, don't bother queuing up for this. The enclosure was not built to accommodate wheelchairs and pushchairs, but they didn't bother putting a sign up at the beginning of the queue. I was absolutely annoyed and refused to take the sleeping Clay out from the pushchair. I even refused to go in even after my family came out and told me to pop in. According to the staff, you can see pandas from another building too. He has obviously lost the plot.

After crossing the mountain through their new Ocean Express and a few minutes walk, we reached their new Polar Adventure. It's split into North Pole, South Pole and an Arctic Fox Den, all linked by the gift shop in the middle. Since I was too occupied with the gift shop, I only visited the penguins. It is one of the most impressive enclosure we've seen for penguins, and it is fairly big for them to live in, although you might or might not like the see through walkway. The staff would warn you prior to entering the enclosure that it's only 8 degrees Celsius inside, which is pretty cold for Asians. We were just laughing it off, although we did needed to zip up our coats at the end!

Overall we had a good time there and our feet were sore at the end of the day, even though we didn't visit the whole park! There were much more to see including a Rainforest area, Amazing Asian Animals and a massive plot assigned for theme park rides and arcade games, but we rather chill and relax than rush from one place to another.