Thursday, October 10th - Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Ocean Park is a local theme park that has not only rides but also, as one might expect, a large number of displays of sea life. It is also in a beautiful setting beside Deep Water Bay on the south side of Hong Kong Island as well as on top of an adjacent mountain then down the other side towards Aberdeen. The hotel offers a shuttle on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays but we knew we wanted to avoid the weekend and having checked earlier in the week we knew that the shuttle was already full for tomorrow. We figured we would go today instead though we did buy our tickets from the concierge as they are cheaper than at the park itself.

The park opens at 10 so we had set the alarm for 8. It was a bit jarring after having been able to sleep in up to now. We staggered around and got ourselves set for what should be a fun day. It looked a bit like rain outside but fingers crossed we should not have any problems. Grapes from the market yesterday and buns from a bakery was our breakfast. The hotel shuttle would have been a lot easier but we made do. Taking the bus (our friend the #6) to Admiralty MTR station we took the overhead walkway through a few office buildings searching for the “West Admiralty Bus Station”. Eventually we came out and were pleased to see clear signs telling us where to catch the bus to Ocean Park (complete with mascot cutouts holding them). The 629 was our transport of choice and 9:15 we set out. The bus took us through the Aberdeen tunnel as we were slightly worried to see raindrops on the windows. We arrived at Ocean Park at about 9:45 where we took the escalator up to the square in front of the main entrance. The square had some abstract sculptures looking vaguely like marine animals so we had to take some pictures and a park photographer offered to use Mel’s camera to take our picture - Which was very nice (he then asked if we wanted him to take an official photo which we declined…these photographers seem to be everywhere here).


Other Animals

Loads of kids arrived and it looked like it was one or two schools on a bit of a day out. They ended up being in the queue at the gate ahead of us but thankfully the staff opened a “group entrance” gate where they all quickly disappeared to.

The gates opened at 10 and we were off. We were certainly going to make the most of our visit and see as much as possible. I last visited many years ago and it has certainly changed in the meantime. I have been told they have recently had an expensive upgrade and it really shows. Entering into the park the first thing you see is a large fountain with a ring of water shooting up into the air - It is here there is a light show just before closing. To the right was “The Grand Aquarium” that we wasted no time in entering by it’s escalator.

Aqua City Lagoon

This was what we had come here to see - Amazingly colourful fish, rays, nautilus (I did not even know they still existed!), lion fish, jellyfish…We saw them feeding moray eels. A giant cylindrical tank was full of schooling fish swimming around and around, amazing. We walked under a tank full of hammerhead sharks and tuna. Amusingly we also saw a diver cleaning the glass as we walked below the tank.


Spider crabs with impossibly long arms were amazing - I have seen them on television but they never looked this big. These were monsters. The kids loved everything too. It is well laid out with a surprise at every turn. Amazing.

We next visited the “Giant Panda Adventure” where we saw a panda close up to the edge of the enclosure though the other was sleeping. The red panda, which we had wanted to see, was visible sleeping in a log high off the ground. We had rushed over hoping to see them being fed according to the schedule we had been given but we were disappointed - No feeding right now.

Panda (!)

Oddly the panda display ended with an exhibit on goldfishes and it was amazing to see the varieties they had. Some have such unusual eyes and others have oddly shaped bodies - Some both. I know that some of these fish are extremely valuable as well. Outside they had several pots with water lilies with goldfish swimming around there as well. Back at the entrance to “Giant Panda Adventure” we returned to have a look at some nasty looking Chinese alligators before moving on…

We next followed the “Emerald Trail” past several large bird enclosures housing some wonderful looking birds. The trail climbed up the side of a mountain for a bit ending with a rope bridge and waterfall. The plants throughout were all specimens and looked very unusual.

Heading over towards “Whisker’s Harbour” we were interested in what was there. It was, as we suspected, full of rides for smaller children and nothing was really open but we took the opportunity to visit the toilet and finally have something to eat. The food on offer was not great but we had some fries, hot dog, drink and chicken nuggets (though they did not really taste like chicken to me). It was a time to sit and relax before the rest of the long day.

We headed back towards the entrance then up to the cable car. They have a lot of decorations around for halloween - Skeletons, cobwebs, spiders and the like. We enjoyed “Old Hong Kong” which is right outside of the cable car station. There are a series of shops set up as if it was early in the 20th century selling older-styles of food. Around the side there are a number of bird cages and fake food stalls set up. It was quite well done and quite convincing.

Where did my driver go?

We enjoyed a ride on the “Sea Life Carousel” where Mel chose to ride a hammer-head shark but, cunningly, I chose the porpoise. Of course it was never going to be a contest with who was going to win…We had a good laugh.

Clearly the Porpoise Won

Onwards to the rest of the park. After dodging the ever-present park photographers we boarded the cable car capsule which we shared with two other English-speaking people who seemed to be from the area though we did not talk to them (the capsule had six seats but even with four of us it was very crowded) - We were too busy admiring the magnificent views of Deep Water Bay as we went up the side of the lush mountain. In the distance we could see through to the beach at Repulse Bay as well.

View Back Towards Main Entrance

View Up

Deep Water Bay

The cable cars continued along the side of the mountain to the end station overlooking the bay. We knew there was a cafeteria-style restaurant here (“The Bayview Restaurant”) that had been recommended to us so we found the entrance and went in.


There were no seats at the inclined windows looking out to the water so we found a table close enough that at least we could see, well, until the lady we were sitting beside put her purse in the window (!). We both had the beef stew which was served on top of rice with steamed vegetables and a Haagen Daz ice cream for dessert. Mel had a mango juice ($32!) and I had a coke ($30!). At $316 for everything it was not a great value but it wasn’t that bad tasting. As it was Halloween they also gave us a free inflatable “bloody hand” which I thought a bit macabre particularly considering they were meant for children - It was quite life like as well. Eating our way through our meal a neighbouring table had parents dealing with several young children so we offered our bloody hands to them…They would probably appreciate them more. We quickly left after finishing as the restaurant was getting quite busy as we got closer to lunch time.

Next on our visit was the “Sea Jelly Spectacular” which was exactly that. Absolutely amazing. We saw walls of jelly fish, jelly fish floating upside down, massive jelly fish, small jelly fish and tiny baby jelly fish. All of them in tanks with lights that changed colours. Absolutely amazing. The display that Mel particularly enjoyed was an electronic wall where you could bat jelly fish around - She waved her arms around as she moved these electronic jellies around the wall. Hours of fun that.

Jelly Fish

The “Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium Yangtze Exploration” was interesting with these large fish floating above you as you walked through a tunnel.

Sturgeon View

After a quick visit to the facilities we had a trip on the ferris wheel that commanded wonderful views of the park around us and looking out to the ocean. It was very hot so when we got to the top the breeze was very refreshing.

Ferris Wheel

“The Dragon” roller-coaster beside the ferris wheel was something I remember from my first visit as it winds its way up and around - in places over the edge of the cliff with the sea several hundred feet below. This was a great, but noisy, ride - Very fast and we were able to sit in the front row. Mel accidentally did not have her head back in the car so ended up with a bit of a headache though, come to think of it, so did I even though I pushed my head back!

The Dragon

Next up was “The Abyss” which is an ejection seat ride. We enjoyed this one were you were strapped into seats around a square central pillar. You were sent high in the air then dropped. It was a lot of fun but a bit too short.

As I said earlier, the most important thing to see here was the sea-life so next up was a trip around to see the “Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre” which is a building in the middle of no-where, a path that leads over to the far side of the park. It was worth the trip. Inside there were four pools surrounded by windows looking out at the ocean far below. There were a number of dolphins in each pool there. Trainers were working with them, feeding them, and we got a number of great pictures of dolphins jumping or laying on the floor outside of their pools. You could see the animal’s great intelligence and amazing strength. We spent a lot of time here. We were only four or five feet away from the animals.

Dolphins Waiting for Attention


In the building I saw some measuring devices - 75% humidity and 27.1 Celsius. That was inside where it was remarkably cooler.

Continuing along the path we came to a series of escalators leading down to “Adventure Land” where we started with “Mine Train”. Sitting in the front it was a good roller coaster with great views of the surrounding area including Aberdeen Harbour then, looking a bit harder, Jumbo Kingdom restaurant!

We wanted to catch the 3:30 show at the “Ocean Theatre” at the top of the mountain so we headed back up the escalator, stopping only briefly at “Pacific Pier” to look at some seals through the plexiglass.

Up the Escalator

“Ocean Theatre” is a large open-air amphitheatre on the side of the mountain with a large pool. Luckily we were able to sit to the far right of the theatre where we were in shade but the sun was starting to go down and things were cooling off anyway.

Ocean Theatre

The show has a number of dolphins and several sea lions. It was nice to see the animals doing things without any direction - Obviously they had been trained to do this but it was nice there was no one blowing a whistle or holding up a hoop for them to jump through. The dolphins were amazingly quick and jumped extremely high in the air. The sea lions (from California!) were the hit of the show with someone from the audience being given a kiss…as you would probably expect. The theatre was packed so when the show ended it took us a while to get out.

Walruses in the Show

We continued from where we had left off - Going back down the escalators we had just come up on past the “Mine Train” but onto the “Raging River” next door - A log ride. I was a bit worried about my phone knowing that we might end up on this ride so I had mine in a plastic bag. I need not have worried as we did not really get THAT wet though I did sit in the front…It was a fun ride up and over and around leading to, of course, the final drop into the pool at the end. The screeches were from everyone.

Aberdeen from "Adventure Land"

Back up the escalator we paid a proper visit to the “Pacific Pier” seals. There were two large tanks that contained different species of seals. Some large and some small. We were able to see under the water as we followed the path around the tanks. We spent some time watching these gentle giants but they generally sat there and did not move that much though they seemed to enjoy the water that their keeper was spraying over them. Mel loves these guys. Actually, come to think of it, Mel loved pretty much all the creatures she saw in the park.

It was getting later in the day but we had to try one ride - One of the newest - “Hair Raiser”. We passed by this roller coaster on the way up in the cable car as it is perched on the top of the mountain with massive loops and incredible speeds. We worked our way up to the “Challenge Zone” where “Hair Raiser” is and quickly found our way into the queue…which was empty. We walked through all the twists and turns of the queuing system to end up at the boarding station where we walked straight to the front. Seeing there were a few people waiting for the front seat we took the seat behind so we could get on straightaway. An amazing roller coaster. Loads of fun with unexpected turns hitting us all the time. It was fast, quiet and super-exciting.

We took a bit of a breather after that and visited the “North Pole Encounter” which was very chilly and had a number of seals inside including a big bull seal posing for the cameras beside the glass. We were able to look at them underwater as well but a number of the harbour seals were not up to swimming around. The exhibit is very well done with lots of places to view the animals who seem quite happy and content. Continuing on with the cool theme we went on the “Arctic Blast” roller coaster outside of the exhibit - A small, flat, smooth, fast roller coaster where we sat in the front row. A good quick thrill.

South Pole Spectacular

More cool followed as we visited the “South Pole Spectacular” where we saw a number of different varieties of penguins. The exhibit had a large enclosure with simulated land along the wall and water in front that we could see into with plexiglass barriers. Under the floor itself there were water tunnels that the penguins could go through that we could also see into but none of them seemed to be all that bothered to demonstrate during our visit.


They were quite talkative throughout as they squawked at one another in anger or just to be sociable…We spent some time watching a male penguin pick up rocks for his nesting mate only to see the rocks tumble away. He seemed very determined though. We were starting to catch a cold and it was getting close to closing time so reluctantly we said good-bye to the penguins as we exited into the gift shop that was closing up.

All the escalators, were, sadly, all only going down so Mel and I raced two in parallel - I think squeaky won but she thought that creaky had (which was hers). We both actively encouraged our steeds but in the end, I think it may have been a tie. An attendant laughed out loud, he thought we were funny!

The “Ocean Express” is a rather boring express train that took us back to “The Waterfront” area near the entrance of the park. It is sort of fashioned after the Nautilus (from submarine from “10,000 Leagues Under the Sea”) but it is basically just a train. It did have interesting video screens in the ceilings and on the walls that showed rather amusing animations on the way though.

Now back at the entrance we were now just biding our time before the 7:00 show in the large fountain so we went back to Old Hong Kong. We shared some “Char Sui Bau” (a steamed barbecue pork bun) which tided us over before the show. Wandering around at 6:30 we noticed an acrobatic performance going on so we watched for a few minutes as they threw themselves in the air with seesaws. Amazing.

Where did my biscuit go?

I am NOT taking a ride on that tram!

We made our way over to the fountain, “Aqua City Lagoon”, to get a good spot for the show. We sat on some rocks right in front of the central curtain of water. Eventually people stood in the railings in front of us so we got up and did the same. “Symbio”, the show, was absolutely amazing - It told the story of two dragons that had to learn to get along to survive but in the telling of the story there was a lot of fire spreading out across the water and several large explosions. Very well done and a lot of fun. They suggested we might get wet but actually I think we were more blasted with heat from the fire.

Waiting for the show to begin

The park was now closed as we headed out to catch the bus to return to Admiralty. We had opened the park and also closed it. I think we got our money’s worth.

The queue for the buses was quite long but there were also a lot of buses so we were quickly boarded and on our way. At Admiralty we were tempted to catch a tram but the only way to catch it would have been to physically climb over some fences - We saw that they wanted us to instead take a pedestrian overpass that had a stair case leading to the tram platform but we were too tired for this so instead we caught a #6 bus. Instead of returning to the hotel after we got off the bus we headed out to try to get something to eat. After climbing down some stairs beside the local school, we stopped by a local bakery for some breakfast items which was interesting since they did not have any English labels - They look pretty tasty.

On the way back towards the hotel we decided to try the restaurant we had visited the other day for breakfast since we had such a good experience there. Unfortunately, that experience was not to be repeated tonight. The lady serving us spoke very little English and hovered around us for most of the meal asking us things all the time that we did not understand meaning that things were brought to the table we did not know we had ordered. But, we did order a chicken and vegetable hot pot that was put on a burner in the middle of the table. It had a wonderful broth that our waitress topped up halfway through eating it. She wanted to add more vegetables too but we stopped her - It was an enormous portion already! We had some “spicy squid” which were deep fried and covered with a bright red powder which was absolutely fantastic. The chinese vegetable side dish we also ordered (served in garlic) was also amazing. A drink which I, evidently, agreed to try was brought to the table as well - A sweet barley/pea drink which was quite odd but tasted alright. The biggest issue we had with the meal was the cost, $381! The most expensive local meal we have had so far by quite some ways and the fact that we were not left alone to enjoy it in peace was a bit irritating (there was also a lady from a beer company there trying to get us to buy some of her beer but she quickly vanished early into the meal when it was evident we were not interested).

Returned to the hotel, had shower, watched television, copied photos to laptop, charge the phones/cameras (in the somewhat oversubscribed power outlet on the wall), drank some water and Mel did a bit more laundry.

⇒ Continue to Friday, October 11th - Wan Chai, Hong Kong