Monday, 3 September 2012

Hong Kong: Day 4 - Ocean Park


Woo hoo, what a fun day. Yes, yes, I highly recommend Ocean Park to anybody planning a visit to Hong Kong.

Okay, most people who visit Ocean Park probably do so simply looking forward to seeing the seals, sea lions, penguins and such marine attractions. After all, it is called Ocean Park, isn't it. We were no different; we thought we would spend the day oohing and aahing over the cute, the agile and the well trained. What we fell in love with was something quite different -

- the amazing, fabulous, enormous aviary. This place is huge, and so beautifully kept, and it would be very easy to spend the whole day in this section of the Park.

Black swans! It almost feels like home.

There are lots of fabulously coloured tropical birds, the sort of birds you normally only see in cute Disney movies, you know the ones with names like Polly, Rio and the like. They are fascinating to watch, and spotting them amongst the beautiful greenery is fun.

Ah, did I say black swans? Well, of course we are used to those here in Western Australia where the black swan is our state emblem, and where our main waterway is the Swan River, named because of the large numbers of swans, and all of them black. How delightful it always is, then, when we come across those incredibly elegant white swans.

Where, you may be asking, are the photographs of those exotic and colourful birds I talked about? Well, to be honest, we just wanted to watch them, entranced by their plumage, to the point where we didn't even reach for the camera.
What we did have to capture was just more and more of the stunning surrounds.


One thing which really impressed us was the care taken to protect the environment and the birds within this enormous walk-around aviary area. As you enter and leave you sanitise not just your hands but your shoes, which is wonderful. In this way, you are not taking any unwanted, and potentially dangerous, infections into the enclosure, and you are leaving behind any remnants of whatever you may have trodden on or touched. This place is magic, and not to be missed, and certainly not to be endangered in any way.
After that lovely experience with the birds and the stunning landscaping, we took what must be one of the lllllooooonnnnnngggggeeeeessssstttttt escalators up, up, up to the marine section of Ocean Park. We hadn't done the escalator to the Mid-Levels, but this one is definitely a blast, and the views on the way up are nothing short of breathtaking.

Once we reached the top we went for a wander around the marine section. Yes, we did see lots of lovely penguins, and lovely graceful seals, and lazy, lovely sea lions, and .. and .. and .. but, as with when we were looking at the exotic birds, our camera stayed in our bag and we just simply enjoyed ourselves, particularly as we somehow found ourselves surrounded by a group of small children and so their wonder and excitement was a lovely added bonus.
Oh, and for those needing more fun, there is a bit of an amusement park to give you even more adventure once you leave the acquariums. It was hot, and we just wanted something to eat and something to drink, and so we didn't join any of the rides on offer, but we did thoroughly enjoy the dolphin show as we fed our tummies.

If you thought that that was it for our fabulous time at Ocean Park, you're wrong. What is black and white and too cute to even be part of nature? A panda bear, of course. And, yes, there are a couple of them at Ocean Park for you to check out. Okay, they are not the most cooperative creatures, tending to just laze around and endlessly munch pieces of bamboo. They tend to move - slowly, it must be said - every time somebody's camera focuses on them, and so they are not the easiest creatures to photograph. I have to tell you, though, that seeing a real panda makes you feel like a child again. They really are as adorable as any fluffy toy panda is, except they are, of course, so much bigger. The day just got better and better.

Note to self: take some lessons in photographing incredibly cute bears.

How do we cap that? Well, with one of our favourite things - a cable car ride. Sure, there are other, more mundane ways to bring you back to earth, but why would anybody not want to zap down a mountainside in one of these great capsules.

I told you it was a fabulous day, didn't I. Well, don't miss day 5, when we visit Macau, that lovely mixture of old Portugal, the old Orient, and go-go-go modern day Asia.

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