Friday, December 22, 2006

For a theme park with limited thrill rides -- 2 mild 'coasters, a flume and a drop tower -- Ocean Park still pulls in the crowd even on a Monday. It's hard to imagine how one could spend a whole day there without getting bored at some point but, surprisingly, the experience was quite enjoyable.

For one thing, there's a lot of space to cover, whether on foot or by some other means of conveyance. The attractions are well laid out: the kiddy rides at the bottom of the hill, the thrills higher up with a glorious Pacific Ocean view, and the aquaria and show areas concentrated together near the peak. And sufficient toilet facilities -- very important. The park is easy to navigate and because it's all on a slope, walking from place to place can be quite a workout too.

Though there's little we haven't seen before in the centrepiece marine show, the presentation was lively and it's nice to see the animals so animated and motivated for their schtik. The carny games gave out enough prizes to tempt participation. It was amusing that a toddler won a large Santa plushie by accident, while Vince and I got zilch for our efforts.

Ocean Park is simple, without the flash and the thoroughness of concept of most American theme parks. Yet it still packs in the people. I hope our own IR on Sentosa can do as well.

Observation: in any given situation, a people can choose to be happy or unhappy. Good government recognizes the people's right to choose unhappiness.
Finally uploaded our HK holiday pix! There's quite a lot to wade through, so only if you're interested, ok? Click here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

HK turned out to be quite the holiday. Tiny freezing hotel room (but snug and warm under the blanket), no actual plan, just doing whatever our inclinations directed, weather permitting. More walking and shopping than I believed we would do. June says shopping in HK in December is 'nothing,' but if this was nothing, I'm all agog at what 'something' might be.

While people in S'pore were drowning in a 48-hour torrential rainstorm, we brought the sun and a nasty cold snap to HK. Although it rained on our first 2 days, we had gorgeous weather for the rest of our stay.

A couple of places of interest:

Ngong Ping 360:
A tourist trap featuring a fake old-style Chinese village, a couple of multi-media presentations, and a climb up to see the giant Buddha statue; but the Skyrail ride up the mountain is spectacular with amazing views of the countryside. Best to take the Skyrail one-way though, unless you just want to hang out with the tourists.

There's a side-deal at the bus terminus where they offer a 1-way Skyrail ride, then unlimited bus rides to anywhere on Lantau Island. We took the bus to Tai-O Village for the sights, sounds and smells of a local fishing port. Lots more photo-ops and interesting local delicacies that you don't find downtown here.

The Mid-Levels Escalator system:
We were looking for the longest escalator in the world (which is in Ocean Park actually), but our map pointed us to this exotic, innovative people mover instead. From Central, a series of connected escalators takes people up a hilly incline. It passes Hollywood Street (antiques and curios), SoHo (western-style bistros, but also where I finally got my hands on some Krispy Kreme sweetness), and up to where the rich people stay.

The escalators start the day going downhill so the rich people can go to work, but the rest of the day they all point uphill so people like us can explore and the rich people can go home at night.

Once at the top though, it's a long trek back downhill again. Considering that we spent the morning walking down from the Peak back to Central to save HK$11 on the Peak Tram, June and I had wobbly legs by the time we hoofed it back to Central -- again.

BTW, Central becomes Manila and Causeway Bay becomes Jakarta on Sunday.

Have a whole load of pix to be uploaded. Perhaps they'll tell the story better than I can. Watch for the link!