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We went to Hong Kong in January 2009. We were on our Honeymoon and spent a few days here before flying off to Malaysia. We tried to fit in as much as we could whilst there and one of the things we did was take a visit to Ocean Park.
So how did we get there?
Ocean Park operates its own bus service from the central bus terminal loacted next to a central metro station. It is really easy to get around on the metro, so no problem at all getting to the bus.
At the bus teminal we had the option to pay for a return bus journey and entry into the park. We chose this option for ease and because it was relatively inexpensive. We had no idea what the entry fee would be when we got to the park. I believe we paid about a tenner each - not bad for for transport both ways and the entry fee.
Arrival at the park
We took the bus in the January sun and after taking lots of twists and turns and seemingly going into the middle of nowhere we saw the Ocean Park sign. The bus stopped and we got out to see the most fantastic view of the ocean. Turning around we could see the welcoming sign of the park. As we had out tickets, there was no need to queue - a good choice after all! We entered the park through a turnstyle and found some maps of the place - we were relieved to find that we could get one in English!
Navigating the park
This was simply the most confusing thing ever and nearly caused myself and my new husband to come to blows - only days in to our marriage. To explain a bit, the park is situated over a massive hill, or was it a mountain? To get to anything you must ride the biggest of esculators I have ever seen in my entire life! So strange travelling an esculator up the side of a mountain. There is very little flattened areas and everything is up and down and round and round - you would have to see it to believe it. Once we were right at the top you could take a cable car ride to another area - a children's area really - the flattest place in the whole park! Hateing heights but feeling brave we decided to take the cable car. I will explain more about this later.
What was on offer
The park has a number of attractions including rides, animals, funfair games, animal shows. I will explain these to you in further detail.
The dolphin and sea lion show
Seated in an arena we watched dolphons and sea lions perfrom tricks, swim and jump through hoops, pretend rescue the staff working with them, travel down slides. It was lovely actually, we sat back in the sunshine and watched what these animals love to do - show off! We heard an announcement about having the opportunity to swim with the dolphins which got us really excited as we were willing to pay anything to do this. We ran off at the end of the show trying to find the designated place, do you think we could find it? Could we heck, up and down we went, round and round, about two hours later we found out it was too late - rubbish!
If you want to swim with the dolphins
If you're heading off to Ocean Park in Hong Kong and would like this opportunity then go to the park early when it opens and the moment you walk in ask at the reception area. They do two swimming with dolphin sessions a day and it's on a first come firstserve basis. Good luck!
The log ride
We went on a log ride, similiar I guess to what you would find at Chessington World of Adventures - but smaller. It was quite good I guess, but the ride was quite short and we got a bit wet. We didn't have to wait long at all, so cannot complain really.
No I didn't go on any of these - they looked like death traps. Large rusty metal contraptions set right on the edge of the mountain. I like a good rollercoaster but was not willing to take a chance on these and as I have already mentioned I do not like heights so the fact that they were so close to the mountain edge was not appealing at all! Lots of people did go on and live to tell the tale, so maybe they weren't as bad as they seemed, but no I was not willing to take the chance. Hubby was gonna go on without me, but I think my nervous energy may have rubbed off on him as he quickly changed his mind!
The jellyfish aquarium
Not particuarly exciting but did get to see loads of jellyfish from really tiny ones to huge massive scary ones that look like they would swallow you hole. You also get your photo taken by a jellyfish background as you walk in - very exciting I can hear you say! I may have more of a negative opinion on the jellyfish aquarium as I got stung by one of the little buggers about 10 days later whilst snorkling in the sea - I have never experienced a pain quite like it and still bear the scar three months later!
The sea lion show
This was really fun. Based in an outdoor but shaded arena we watched two massive sea lions perform loads of tricks on command. The staff did a little show about how they trained the sea lions from the basics to the more advanced - it was really intetresting. I have a massive respect for these animals - they are so clever!
At the park they have Pandas - I don't think I have ever seen these in real life before - so it was real treat - they are absolutely beautiful! The park were very strict on people not using the flashes on their cameras and not being too loud. However, I couldn't help feeling sorry for the pandas who had nowhere to hide as hundreds of keen tourists snapped them through the glass. I know the animals are probably safer there than in the wild - they are endangered after all, but I just wonder what quality of life they have and what respite they get living in park like this which is open seven days a week.
This was my favourite part of the entire trip. The dolphon university is about 5 massive pools where the dolphins reside when they are not old enough to perform in the shows or when mothers have just had they young or when they are not so well. Here we watched for ages the dolphins interact with eachother, show off to see which could do the highest jumps in the water, Mum's showing the babies what to do. We also spent a lot of time talking to a member of staff who was happy to share information about the care of the dolphins and theirtraining. He explained that their training is very much taylored to their personality and is very different for each dolphin - interesting stuff!
The cable car
Having been on a cable car earlier on our trip I felt brave enough to go on this. It was simply one of the worst experiences of my life and lasted about half hour. Never have I been so scared!!! The car itself was small, round and rusty with small holes in the bottom and you could see where it had been welded before - I only noticed these things once there was no way back and I wasstaring at the floor in sheer horror! The rail itself went on for ages and it creaked, banged and shook and stopped every few minutes. To make it worse it hung right over the side of the mountain. In the UK this would not be allowed I am certain! To make things worse, after we got to the bottom, the only way back up was not by the esculators I mentioned earlier, but by cable car. There was no way I was going back in that thing again so we spent some time in the area and got our characture done.
This was really funny. An artist who could not speak any English at all guestered for us to pick our bodies. We opted for traditional Chinese dress, he then took to drawing us one at a time. We thought it was quite good and our friends have since said that it's good but I look a bit like Paris Hilton and that hubby looks like Ant from Ant & Dec - but people say he looks like him anyway so maybe it is a good likeness.
The end of our trip
Given that I wasn't willing to brave the cable car again, it was time for us to depart the park. We had done everything we had wanted to do there so it was no real shame. There were lots of amazing bits to the park and we saw and got close to some really amazing animals. It was almost impossible to navigate the park despite having the map which proved to be totally inaccurate. If you stumbled across something you wanted to see then you were lucky as if you tried to find it you probably never would.
Would I recommend the park?
Well yes I would actually, but I would also say be prepared to do a lot of walking backwards and forwards so wear comfortable shoes. If you want to swim with dolphins get there and enquire early and if you ride the rollercoasters or cable car then do so at your own risk.
I have some really lovely photos of the park and would love to add some in, but it tells me the files are too large. If anyone knows how I can reduce the size I would be happy to add them in.
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