Ocean Park- Hong Kong’s first theme park

The pandas laid in the sun, not moving, not even twitching a leg, a whisker, nothing, we stood watching and talking amongst one another waiting for any signs of movement but alas in the end we gave up. The pandas had most likely chewed its way through a bundle of bamboo before settling on a nice, long morning nap.

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I had seen pandas before in a safari park in Japan but to be so close to mainland China, the real home of the panda to only see An An and Jia Jia, the famous pandas of Ocean Park in Hong Kong bask in the sun snoozing was a little bit disappointing. Next door to the panda enclosure though were the mischievous otters splashing around in the water, scrambling over rocks and catching the odd fish or two that the keeper would occasionally throw out to them.

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Ocean Park is the oldest theme park in Hong Kong

It was first established in 1977 and now has over 5 million people visit annually, nearly 500,000 more people than Disneyland. Ocean Park is a large, extensive park, with two lands the Waterfront and the Highland, which are separated by Hong Kong’s mountainous terrain. There are three different ways to move between the lands, a shuttle bus, a train or by far the best way to travel the 1.5 kilometre long cable car, which offers great views of Hong Kong.

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Waterlands attractions mainly deals with animals. Ocean Park overall has eleven animal exhibits and caters more for the younger children while the Highlands have the ocean attractions including the four story Atoll reef, which has over 2,000 fish swimming in and around the waters including a couple of sharks and rays. While the ocean attractions are located here, the rides for older children and young at heart adults are also here including two roller coasters.

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“Rei why don’t you try this” encouraging him to ride the mine train, a steal mine train roller coaster, perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking Aberdeen harbour. The encouraging words must have worked, Rei notoriously famous for being a chicken decided to queue in line, as we got closer though “mummy, daddy let’s go I don’t want to ride it”, tugging on our shirts. In the end Rei backed out but it didn’t stop mum and dad from having a good time. I hadn’t rode a roller coaster in at least ten years probably more but this ride gave me a scare I wasn’t expecting, it looked kind of short, nearly a young child’s first step towards teenage hood ( if that’s even a word) but it wasn’t like that at all, with its twist and turns, covering 678 metres of track and at a height of 85 metres tall.
I think I’ll stick with the local train next time.
Ocean Park may lack the magic of Disneyland but if your into rides and thrills you’ll more than enjoy Ocean Park.

Ocean Park Hours

10am -18.00pm longer in Summer

Admission 

adults 250 HK$

Children 3-11 125 HK$

under 3 free

How to get there

Central bus 6A, 6X, 70, 75, 90, 97,260, M590

Causeway Bay bus 72, 72A, 92, 96, 596

Tip

Enjoy the day at Ocean Park before having dinner at JUMBO a famous floating restaurant in Aberdeen which you can walk to from the park.

 

Escape The Gold Coast, hike the trails in Lammington National Park

You have just spent the past few days soaking up the sun during the day and partying through the night and in between checked out the Theme parks that make the itinerary on any trip to the Gold Coast but it is now time to escape, you’re not in any mood to be amongst the crowds anymore, you have had enough of the morning hangovers. You just want peace and quiet but where can that place be. I’ll tell you just here.

Lammington National Park is just over an hours drive from Surfers Paradise, the heart of the Gold Coast. Once arriving the contrasts will hit you instead of the thumping of the DJ’s music you will hear the chirping of the birds. Instead of being surrounded by built up skyscrapers you will be surrounded by the sub tropical rain forests that has been listed as a  world  heritage site since 1994.

On the plateau of Lammington National park lies O’Reilly’s Guest house which is the only accommodation in the park. O’Reilly’s have been offering guests a place to stay for nearly 100 hundred years. It now features 66 rainforest retreat rooms free of television and telephones and 48 self contained Eco lodges.

O’Reilly’s may have been isolated from the rest of Australia with the National park surrounding it however Bernard O’Reilly became an Australian hero in February 1937 when he found the crash site of a Stinson airplane. He helped rescue two survivors John Proud and Joe Binstead, four other men died in the crash.

Lammington National Park may not be the oldest park in Queensland but it is one of the most significant often being referred to as Queensland’s National Park. If you’re a fan of hiking and waterfalls then you have come to the right place with the park consisting of 160 kilometers in trails and over 500 waterfalls.

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Moran Falls

We stayed two nights at O’Reilly’s and while the rooms were clean and well maintained you are definitely paying for the convenience of being able to sleep in the National Park, close to the trails.From the room we looked out over the open fields where early in the morning and at dusk you could look out and see the pademelon, a rabbit sized marsupial which has similar features to a kangaroo grazing on the lawn.

At the time our son, Rei was quite young so we couldn’t venture out on the long tracks we however filled the days on shorter trails but still very rewarding. One morning,we ventured out to  Moran Falls where the water gushed, plummeting eighty metres to the bottom. The sunlight bounced off the water forming rainbows, we stood and watched as we lost our thought to the rhythmic flow of the water. Another we made our way to The Wishing Tree, which is the tallest tree in the park, we crossed a suspension bridge that crossed over a fern gully, we scrambled up Mick’s Tower a lookout that the rangers use to check for signs of bush fires that Australia is well-known for.

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The view from Mick’s lookout

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The wishing tree

The most popular in terms of people due to its convenience is the Tree-Top walk  which are made up of nine suspension bridges hovering fifteen metres above the ground. We have done a few of these walks in Northern Queensland and Malaysia but never seem to see anything extra even though you are supposed to be closer to the wildlife so we were left a little disappointed.

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Tree top walk

During the down time we relaxed in our rooms, soaked in the jacuzzi and spent enjoyable time feeding the rosellas that fly in everyday looking for food.At night with no TV and being in the middle of the forest you may wonder what we were left to do. However O’Reilly’s show documentaries filmed in the park and have tours to the glow worms that really do look like stars twinkling in the sky.

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How to get to O’Reilly’s

 

Unfortunately if you don’t have a car then getting there takes a little organization and becomes a little expensive if you are more than one.  There is no public transportation to the park so one must organize with a company that makes day tours to the park to drive you and pick you up when you would like to return to civilization.

 

 

 

 

 

Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple

The spires of the Uluwatu temple looms in the background along with the Indian Ocean as the sun began to sink engulfing the sky turning it a bright orange. The dying rays permeating the stage where a troup of fifty bare-chested men wrapped in a black and white cloth draws your attention as they begin their hypnotic chanting of cak, cak, cak as they start their performance of the famous Kecak dance. Unlike other dances this is performed without the gamelan orchestra instead the troup grip you with their chants.

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The Kecak was based on a traditional ritual but surprisingly was adapted in the 1930’s when a German Walter Spies became interested in the ritual while living in Bali.

The dancers swaying arms, movements and sounds depicts a troup of monkeys while the famous  epic Hindu story of Ramanya is carried out. The entangled story has an explosion of twists and turns that will leave you glued to your seat as you follow the story of a women who is stolen from her husband ( a prince) by a demon. The prince and his brother take on the task of the challenge to rescue her.

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The dance lasts for an hour and just as dramatic as the sunset was the climatic performance of the monkey king setting the castle in a blaze of fire will leave you burning for more of this epic story.

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How to see the Kecak dance

The show is for tourists but you couldn’t ask for a better setting. To get to Uluwatu temple hire a taxi for about $25-30 which will pick you up from your hotel, take you to Uluwatu temple, explore the temple, watch the kecak dance and finish at the seafood restaurants on the shores of Jimbalan before taking you back to your hotel.

Admission fees and cost of eating at the restaurant will not be included in the price.