Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hong Kong Day 3: Theme Park Fun

The highlight of this day was a fun trip to Ocean Park, a theme park in Hong Kong.

There is a newly built Disneyland in Hong Kong that I would have liked to check out but group opinion did not fall in its favor. That may have been for the best, as the new Disney park has been widely panned by critics due to its small size and low number of exciting rides.

Ocean Park was all decked out for Christmas and had a special zone dedicated to the holiday theme, but we didn't find it too interesting and didn't spend a whole lot of time there. There were two noteworthy aspects to our experience. The first was the excellent view. The park is built overlooking the sparkling ocean.

A fairly long cable car ride connects the two separate areas of the park which provided a relaxing bird's eye of the whole area.

The second interesting thing was the pandas. If I have seen pandas before, its never been like this. We were lucky enough to see the pandas eat their dinner. A big pile of bamboo and some other little snacks were placed next to the glass to force them to be still long enough for everyone to thoroughly gawk at them.

Around five of the animals were “bestowed” on the park by mother China, which continues to use the little guys as political doggy treats for governmental good behavior. Between the glare and the mass of slack jaws with their faces smashed up against the glass, I only managed to get a couple good shots of the pandas.

The pandas had perfected a cool little leaf eating system.

These two refused to even look at their fans. They briefly bent over backwards when it was time to grab more branches.

I'm confused, and a bit worried about these things.

A very otherworldly jellyfish exhibit with psychedelic lights and music.

Another party jellyfish, this one with long tentacles.

Here's a random concession stand to give a little hint at the sort of things being offered. Allison actually recommended trying the fish balls, but I missed my opportunity.

Clarence had an introduction to Chinese medicine at the gift shop. Reading the boxes was really entertaining. "This will fix you" was pretty much the gist of it.

Mmmm, minty snake oil.

After the theme park, we finished up our day in the part of Hong Kong called Stanley. Wikipedia offers an interesting bit of Stanley history: "Stanley was the location where British and Canadian troops made their last stand before surrendering to Japanese troops during the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941".

There was a market here too, but it was a bit more upscale compared to the earlier markets. There were a few overpriced art galleries and a whole lot less copyright infringing happening here.

Mike fighting his urge to buy.

A few steps away was a boardwalk type area near the ocean. It was lined with expensive pubs and little restaurants, all with tables and chairs outside. The patrons were mostly affluent looking white people. I got the impression that no one bothered to tell these guys that Hong Kong is no longer British.

A random little shrine that caught my eye. These are hidden in lots of little areas everywhere, just like in Japan.

One thing that was cool about being in Hong Kong was the writing. My understanding is that Hong Kong is using the more complicated old school version of the Chinese writing system, some of which carried over to Japan. So occasionally I could understand the meaning of written words without having the slightest idea how to say them.

Last but not least, I had my first fresh dragon fruit.

I cut that fiery looking fruit right down the center and found the flesh had a consistency near that of a kiwi. The flavor was very subtle though. Mike joked that the plant spent all its energy looking cool so it had nothing left for flavor.

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