Ocean Park then. Written in English, spoken in English and known to the world in English. Yet this famous theme park lies on the south side of Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong without a hint of Chinese writing in its title… It’s a theme park with an “ocean” feel to it plus that mix of Chinese and British culture intertwined. Commercialism meets (or destroys) communism. In other words mixing Pandas with Dolphins and chicken fried rice with plain old toasties. At any rate, this was the first day I spent with my family in almost 2 years, and my girlfriend’s birthday. So without further ado, we were off to Ocean Park! OK it’s not quite the backpacking in Hong Kong post I normally write but hey!
Panny helped us buy the tickets the day before in Mong Kok. There would be Mum, Dad, Cathy, Danny, Panny, Mark and myself. Ironic there was Mark coming, as he replaced my brother of the same name who was stateside at the time. As morning rose in Mong Kok East we all assembled at the hotel ready for a big day out. The Hotel was the Royal Plaza. Quite the poshest place I’ve stayed in, perhaps in my entire life.
On the MTR we all travelled to Admiralty Station on Hong Kong Island.
The massive bus queue at Admiralty for Ocean Park.
The bus from Admiralty MTR station goes directly to Ocean Park. On a busy hot Sunday the bus was rammed.
But we managed to get seven seats upstairs.
The drive to the south side of Hong Kong Island passed by another sports stadium. A new one on me.
And arrival at Ocean Park was signalled by this “grass seahorse” embedded into the hillside, amongst the greenery. “Hoy Ma” in Cantonese apparently is Seahorse.
The elaborate entrance to this theme park. I’m not normally a fan of these theme parks, but have actually been to a few in my time. Universal Studios and Disneyland in Florida, USA being two of them. This one is slightly “less commercial” if that’s in any way possible. And yes I was looking forward to it, especially the thought of seeing a Panda (Hong Kong has four Pandas).
The price was $250 Hong Kong Dollars to get in, dear enough but then again it’s a full day out at a theme park, and all the internal rides, shows and displays are included. It was Panny Yu’s birthday of course, so she got in for free. Ocean Park has a deal that all Hong Kong residents get in for free on their birthday. Panny is not totally keen on Theme Parks either but the fact that she got in for free made it more appealing of course.
The other side of your Ocean Park ticket.
The whole family by the entrance. I still find it ironic that we had a Mark with us for the day! Instead of my brother Marko!
Panny and I outside Ocean Park.
Inside Ocean Park. The ridiculous “umbrella culture” of Hong Kong is evident again. I believe I spent most of my time avoiding getting my eye poked out from umbrellas. In baking sunshine!
In 2007, 10 years after the handover back to the Chinese, the HK SAR was given a pair of young giant pandas as a gift. The same was done to Macau and Taiwan. There are now four pandas at Ocean Park.
This was the first time I had ever seen a Panda (as far as I remember).
The Pandas are well kept in their dens in behind a glass cover. They are very popular and you have to queue for a while to see them, as well as working your way round a progressive line of tourists.
Grab your panda photos while you can. The queue is moving fast.
The Panda behind a tree.
Panny Yu and a Panda on her birthday. Panda Yu!
Adorable black and white panda.
Amazing creature, munching his dinner.
The best photo of me with the Panda.
The panda looks up making a noise.
Another photo of Panny Yu and the panda.
Next we went to the massive aquarium. Well remember the name of the park is Ocean Park.
Fish. Nothing you haven’t seen before.
Another hot air balloon ride passes me by. I still cannot believe I have NEVER been in a hot air balloon, passing down numerous opportunities over the years for whatever reason. This time, queuing, timing and the lack of enthusiasm from the others paid a part.
More from the aquarium.
Some kind of weird urchin. A sea monster!
A crab with long legs.
Dad and I in the aquarium.
Panny, Jonny and Mark.
Mum and Dad outside the display aquarium, which is known as Sea Traders. It was a very hot day, they were just glad to be in the shade and in an air conditioned building.
Next up we got into the cable cars to the other side of Ocean Park.
Mum, Dad, Cathy and the kid in their cable car.
View from the cable car.
So basically there are two parts to Ocean Park, separated by either a train or a cable car. Next we decided to take the cable car up to the other part of the theme park. Mark, Panny and I were in one cable car. I had been in cable cars at Isle of Wight, Quito and Queenstown before. This one resembled the Isle of Wight one most.
Going up. I just noticed I forgot my hat that day.
Northern Ireland flag on the cable car in Ocean Park.
Amazing views of the splendid southern Hong Kong coastline.
Hong Kong Island – south side viewed from Ocean Park cable car.
Despite not being a fan of theme parks, I quite enjoy cable car rides. They are a novel way to travel. Panny and Mark were slightly more sceptical than me. Mark was a bit scared of them.
Pretty hill faces that we passed through on the 12 – 15 minute journey.
Mark and I. Brazil and Northern Ireland football shirts!
Panny and Mark (Siu Jun). Mark is Panny’s nephew and I had met him a couple of times before this day out. He was 6 years old at the time and very excited about the whole day out.
View back into the bay. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that Hong Kong is merely a skyscraping metropolis. The beauty of this fragrant harbour stretches beyond your office blocks and oversized residential towers, lending itself to your eyes in other ways such as gorgeous beaches, green hills and aching sunsets.
At the time I was working six days a week at Delaney’s Irish Pub in Tsim Sha Tsui so this being my day off was also a great way to relax, here sitting on a cable car miles from Kowloon City.
Mark and Panny. We were almost on the other side. Where we spotted a restaurant. We were all hungry and it was time for lunch.
The menu was in English which was great. Cathy and Mum relax away from the heat.
Either Panny or Mum has discount coupons for us to use!
We ate at Terrace Cafe. Which had a great view over the sea.
The menu, bi-lingual.
Panny is a typical Hong Kong lady. Umbrellas in sunshine!
You could also argue I’m a typical Northern Irishman. The nearest thing to a cheese soda on the menu was a cheese and ham toastie with potato chips and red sauce!
Jar of juice.
The family at lunch in The Terrace, Ocean Park, Hong Kong, 31st July 2011.
The kid munches his lunch.
Dad got a vegetarian option.
I flew the flag.
Restaurant view of south side Hong Kong Island.
Looking out to sea.
A dolphin carved from a hedge. After lunch it was time for some rides, however queues were long and the heat was strong.
They even have escalators inside Ocean Park.
The kid and I joined the queue for Raging River. Mum, Dad and Cathy relaxed. While Panny and Mark went to another ride. The queue took about 45 minutes.
Raging River. We were going to get wet so no cameras or wallets. I gave everything to Mum to mind.
We actually paid for the photos they had. I can’t remember the cost but it was the only way to get our photo of getting splashed together. The kid and I reunited after 2 years!!
There were two photos so I kept one and he kept one.
Close up of us on the Raging River!
There was a fake pier there too. Known as Pacific Pier. Odd because Hong Kong doesn’t share any coastline at all with the Pacific Ocean. All part of the gimmick.
We also went up on this. A big Ocean Park tower with a decent view from the top. The queues again were horrendous, and the journey to the top and back down was probably less than 10 minutes all in.
Plenty of games for the young ones as well. Mark controlled a remote control boat.
Mid afternoon the heat had got too much for Mum, Dad, Cathy and the kid who were alsoo still recovering from their long flights from the day before so that left Panny, Mark and I to explore the rest of Ocean Park and to meet up with the family later that day at the Hotel in Mong Kok before dinner in Sai Kung.
View from the top of the Ocean Park tower.
Thirst needed to be quenched and Panny and I shared an iced lime cone. Essential.
Another view from the other side of Ocean Park.
A few photos of Mark now.
Mark on one of the viewing walkways. Ocean Park is pretty big!
Mark by one of the exhibitions.
Mark by a fake toucan. It must have reminded Panny of travelling in Costa Rica.
Panny and Mark didn’t buy the photo of them at Raging River, but Panny sneakily took a photo of the photo! Nice work!
Panny and Mark in the heat.
With just 3 of us, we decided to join the queue for Sea Jelly and the Starfish Spectacular Show. It was hard to work out where the queue began at the start, and we had tried to find it with my family there but to no avail.
Once inside not surprisingly its just a load of jellyfish (and other fish) lit up and glowing in fish tanks. Spectacular slightly, but a tad over rated.
Panny photographs the lit up fish show. More photos below, all from Panny:
After that it was time to head back to the other part of Ocean Park. Having arrived by cable car, we left by train…
Ocean Park train station and its umbrellas in the sun.
Ocean Park’s Summit Station. All the places have names and the part we were at was The Summit, having just visited Thrill Mountain and Adventureland. We were heading back to Aqua City at Waterfront Station.
The trains are not your average one.
More like a futuristic submarine without the water.
The Ocean Park submarine. Which only has two stops – The Summit and Waterfront Stations.
Onboard the train.
Back on the other side I rested by the Giant Panda Adventure sign.
And we went into Whisker’s Harbour as there are a load of kid’s games in there.
Mark sits on ice cream.
Mark plays hop scotch.
Mark on the Merry Go Round.
Panny Yu on the Merry Go Round.
Mark and I on the Merry Go Round.
Another of Panny.
Mark was on all sorts of rides in Whisker’s Harbour!
And remote control cars.
View back to the cable cars over to the other side where we had come from.
One last game for Mark and it was almost 7pm, we were shattered!
Panny and Mark with the remote control cars.
Last chu chu train ride for Mark.
And a final photo of Panny and I on her birthday. A great photo to end a fantastic day at Ocean Park! There will be more to come from backpacking in Hong Kong.
What – Ocean Park
Where – Ocean Park, Ocean Park Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
When We Went – Sunday 31st July 2011
Who Went – Jonny Blair, Muriel Blair, Joe Blair, Cathy Blair, Danny Blair, Panny Yu, Siu Jun (Mark)
Entrance Fee – 250 Hong Kong Dollars/FREE if its your birthday!!
Key Song –
OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – THE RIVERBOAT SONG:
My Videos –
PANDA PART 1:
PANDA PART 2:
AQUARIUM PART 1:
AQUARIUM PART 2:
MARK AND PANNY ON THE CABLE CAR:
LUNCH AT TERRACE CAFE:
HEAT OF OCEAN PARK:
JELLYFISH SPECTACULAR PART 1:
JELLYFISH SPECTACULAR PART 2:
JELLYFISH SPECTACULAR PART 3:
MARK IN A LADYBIRD:
MERRY GO ROUND:
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF OCEAN PARK TOWER: