ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “ocean

OCEAN PARK (海洋公園), Hong Kong

With 7.6 million admission recorded for year 2013-14, Hong Kong’s Ocean Park is considered to be the biggest theme park in Asia.  Since 1977, the Ocean Park had been attracting locals and tourists with its amazing aquariums, zoological facilities, amusement rides, shows and entertainment attractions.  With 91.5 hectares of land, the site is defined by two main areas: Waterfront and Summit, separated by the lush green hills of Nam Long Shan.

It has been 19 years since we last visited Ocean Park.  A revisit of the park after two decades was quite interesting for us.  In the old days, the park was renowned for its amusement rides, and shows of dolphins, sea lions and the orca named Miss Hoi Wai (海威小姐); today there are exotic animals and more cool amusement rides but Miss Hoi Wai was long gone.  Back then, the park served mainly the local Hong Kongers; now over half of the visitors are from mainland China.  As awareness of wildlife conservation grew in recent years, the park has also included educational interpretation for visitors.  However, as documentaries like The Cove and Blackfish which reveal the cruel reality of marine theme parks, visiting a place like the Ocean Park has become a controversial matter. There are increasing concerns over keeping wild animals in captivity while advocating wildlife conservation through its funded programs and educational interpretation throughout the park

We spent the entire day wandering around Ocean Park, first at the lower Waterfront area checking out the splendid underwater world of the Grand Aquarium and the rare mammals including giant pandas, red panda and golden snub-hosed monkey from the Chinese Province of Sichuan pavilion and the Giant Panda Adventure pavilion.  We then took a short cable car ride over Nam Long Shan to arrive at the Summit Area, where the distant scenery of Deep Water Bay and Aberdeen were equally impressive.  Up on the Summit, amusement rides and wildlife exhibitions scattered upon several platform levels.  We managed to see a number of wildlife exhibits before dusk, ranging from marine animals like jellyfish and sharks; freshwater fish like Yangtze sturgeons and Amazonian pirarucu; penguins, seals and walrus from the Arctic and Antarctic, etc.  We took the relatively new Ocean Express funicular back down to the Waterfront area, where we made a brief visit to the children friendly Whiskers Harbour and enjoyed the last moments of the Symbio, a show that featured a 360 degree water screen, lighting effects and fireworks at the Lagoon by the  park’s main entrance.

As we exited Ocean Park, we passed by the near completed MTR station.  After new features have been added in recent years, Ocean Park is soon to go through another phase of transformations: first will come the convenience of the subway station, and second the highly anticipated Tai Shue Wan Water World, projected to be completed in 2018, almost two decades since the last water park closed its doors.  Surviving through difficult economic times and competition from Hong Kong Disneyland Park, the ever-changing Ocean Park proved its resilience and ambitions.  In 2012, it received the Swedish Applause Award, a highly regarded international prize in the theme park industry.

3A Bathed in mysterious blue light, schools of silvery fishes swim in circles in a multi-storey glass cylindrical tank.  It is visually impressive and attracts all visitors’ attention at the Grand Aquarium designed by architect Frank Gehry.

2Red panda and giant panda at the Giant Panda Adventure pavilion.

3BThe cable car which links the Waterfront and Summit areas is an attraction by itself.  The relaxing 15 minutes ride offers spectacular views of Deep Water Bay and South China Sea.

4The Sea Jelly Spectacular pavilion display over 1000 sea jellies.

1Splendid jellyfish glows under the special lighting.

5Visitors walking through the glass tunnel while a rare Chinese sturgeon swims by in front.

6“I’m FINished with fins” – A smart slogan to request people to refrain from consuming shark fins.  Such education is crucial in Hong Kong where shark fin soup is still a luxurious delicacy in the banquet menu, even though there is increasing awareness among the younger generation.  Years ago documentary such as Sharkwater has already explained the devastating consequences to the marine ecosystem on earth as the result of massive demand and consumption of shark fins

7Close encounter with sharks at the Shark Mystique.  Sharks are one of those animals often got misunderstood.

8Amazonian pirarucu in the Rainforest Pavilion.  These giant freshwater fish can grow up to 4.5m long.

9Pacific walrus at the Polar Adventure pavilion.

10The South Pole Spectacular pavilion features king penguins, southern rockhopper penguins and gentoo penguins.

11Amusement rides are popular attractions at the Summit, including the “Hair Raiser”roller-coaster.

12Partial view of the Summit area.

13At Pacific Pier pavilion, a curious sea lion interacts with a spectator by following the visitor’s hand motions on the other side of the glass.

14Ap Lei Chau, Ap Lei Pai and Lamma Island at dusk.

15[left] a moon hanging above the Ocean Park Tower with slowly rotating viewing platform; and [right[ a seahorse decoration at the Ocean Express funicular station.

16“Whirly Bird” chair ride beyond the Ocean Express funicular station.

17Trampoline performance.

18[left] Cable cars bring visitors back to the Waterfront area from the Summit area in the evening when approaching closing time; [right] the light decoration of a small ferris wheel lit up in the evening at Whiskers Harbour.

19When the kids’ zone Whiskers Harbour left alone without kids.

20 A wooden horse of a carousel in Whiskers Harbour.

21 Water, fire, light and fireworks are the main components of the 360° water screen show Symbio.


DAY 87 (1 OF 1) – NEW YEAR’S FIREWORKS, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Tonight, about a million of locals and visitors gathered in Valparaiso and neighbouring Vina del Mar to watch the largest fireworks display in South America in celebration for the arrival of 2014.   Starting from late morning, people on Cerro Artilleria had already begun to claim their best ocean-facing spots for tonight’s fireworks.  They put chairs, benches, portable tables, and even ropes to mark their temporary territories on the sidewalk.  By midday, vendors at the port were busy cashing in people’s money by selling all sorts of celebration merchandise from party hats to colourful fluorescent bracelets.  Supermarkets were pushing the sales of sparkling wines at their entrances.  We got some groceries and returned to our B&B room to set up our tripods and “snack table” for the night. As night fell upon, myriads of lights were in place of the yellow sunlight illuminating the famous hills of Valparaiso.  But tonight, the starry skyline of the city was a mere backdrop for the most anticipated moment of the year.  Live music from the main square could be heard almost immediately when the sun was down.  Traffic got diverted. Boats kept going in and out of the port. Crowds of people gathered on the main streets, hillside lookouts, apartment balconies, and any public spaces where the sea could be seen.  Upbeat music, laser beams, amateur fireworks, illumination flares continued to lift up the atmosphere of the night.  As time approached, we looked at the time on our laptop and waited patiently by the window with our camera and wineglass in hand.  As the clock struck midnight, the magnificent fireworks display began shooting up high above the city.  We could deeply feel the shake every time the firework exploded in front of us, as if situating in the midst of an air raid. The display lasted for about 25 minutes.  Music was loud and every balconies and roof patios seemed occupied by partying crowds.  We retired to bed at around 4:30am, while our neighbours were still dancing on roof patios under disco lights.  They showed no sign of slowing down.   Valparaiso’s magnificent fireworks display did not only signify the closure of 2013 and the opening of 2014; to us, it also drew an extraordinary conclusion to our three-month journey in South America.  Tomorrow we would be on our way back to the frozen continent of North America.  Under the warm breeze of the Pacific, tonight’s Valparaiso was remarkably bright and beautiful. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

The spectacular fireworks conclude our memorable journey to South America in 2013. Click here for the afterthought of our 87-day journey to South America.

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 82 (1 OF 1) – PENGUINS AGAIN, ISLA MAGDALENA, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

Before our evening flight to Santiago, we took an 8am ferry to Isla Magdalena in Magellan Strait to see the Magellanic penguins.  Isla Magdalena is a much bigger island compared to Isla Martillo where we first saw the penguins near Ushuaia.  According to the guidebook, the Monumento Natural los Pinguinos on Isla Magdalena has approximately 60,000 pairs of breeding pairs.  The ferry ride took about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  During the ride, we could see sea birds, a sea lion, and many groups of penguins in the water.  As the ferry docked at the beach of Magdalena, groups of curious penguins were only metres away.  We got roughly an hour on the island.  Everyone had to stay within a marked path leading to a lighthouse at the highest point of the island.  Perhaps there were too many tourists on Magdalena and too much camera clicking sounds, this penguin encounter didn’t feel as intimate as last time on Isla Martillo.  Though this time we were lucky enough to see dolphins from the island.
On our return, the sea was calm with shades of blue and grey, like a watercolour painting.  We stood on the lower deck and quietly watched the sea and thick clouds moving over the horizon.  At 1pm we arrived back to the mainland.That’s it for us from Patagonia. We have so much fond memories of Patagonia in the last few weeks.  We will certainly miss this beautiful land.  We know we will come back one day.
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

Next Destinations – Santiago & Valparaiso
Continuing on our journey from post Day 83.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 59 (2 OF 3) – CHACAO CHANNEL AGAIN, CHILOE, CHILE

We crossed the Chacao Channel once again, this time, we were leaving Chiloe Island for Puerto Varas on the mainland.  The Chacao Channel today was calm and full of wildlife, including sea lions, Magellan penguins, and many seabirds.
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Read more on Chiloe and Puerto Varas  in 2013 South America
Day 55.1 – Water Finally, Chiloe
Day 55.2 – Chacao Channel, Chiloe
Day 55.3 – Tide, Castro, Chiloe
Day 55.4 – Iglesia San Francisco, Castro, Chiloe
Day 56.1 – Palfitos, Castro, Chiloe
Day 56.2 – Wooden Tequilas Houses, Chiloe
Day 56.3 – Achao, Isla Quinchao
Day 57.1 – Parque Nacional Chiloe
Day 57.2 – Chanquin and Playa Cucao, Chiloe
Day 58.1 – Isla Aucar, Colo, Tenaun San Juan, Chiloe
Day 58.2 – Boat Building, San Juan, Chiloe
Day 58.3 – Seafood, Chiloe
Day 59.1 – Palafito 1326, Castro, Chiloe
Day 59.2 – Chacao Channel Again, Chiloe
Day 59.3 – City, Lago Llanquihue & Volcan Osorno, Puerto Varas
Day 60 – Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, Petrohue
Day 61.1 – Latitude 51-41’28”, Puerto Natales
Day 61.2 – Afrigonia, Puerto Natales

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 55 (3 OF 4) – TIDE, CASTRO, CHILOE ISLAND, CHILE

One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Castro was the tide.  The amplitude of the tide varies slightly each day, but the timing of the change usually comes every 6 to 7 hours.
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Read more on Chiloe and Puerto Varas  in 2013 South America
Day 55.1 – Water Finally, Chiloe
Day 55.2 – Chacao Channel, Chiloe
Day 55.3 – Tide, Castro, Chiloe
Day 55.4 – Iglesia San Francisco, Castro, Chiloe
Day 56.1 – Palfitos, Castro, Chiloe
Day 56.2 – Wooden Tequilas Houses, Chiloe
Day 56.3 – Achao, Isla Quinchao
Day 57.1 – Parque Nacional Chiloe
Day 57.2 – Chanquin and Playa Cucao, Chiloe
Day 58.1 – Isla Aucar, Colo, Tenaun San Juan, Chiloe
Day 58.2 – Boat Building, San Juan, Chiloe
Day 58.3 – Seafood, Chiloe
Day 59.1 – Palafito 1326, Castro, Chiloe
Day 59.2 – Chacao Channel Again, Chiloe
Day 59.3 – City, Lago Llanquihue & Volcan Osorno, Puerto Varas
Day 60 – Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, Petrohue
Day 61.1 – Latitude 51-41’28”, Puerto Natales
Day 61.2 – Afrigonia, Puerto Natales

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 53 (1 OF 2) – PACIFIC OCEAN, ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE

At 8:00, our bus left the terminal in San Pedro de Atacama for Anfatogasta.  During the 5.5 hour bus ride, we passed by many mining sites and small mining towns.  It was desert landscape all the way until the last half hour when the bus drove past the last mountains before the coastal plains.  A different world appeared on the west side of the mountains as houses and apartment blocks dotted on the slope facing the ocean.  Between the mountain and the Pacific, we had finally arrived in the bustling city of Antofagasta, the third wealthiest city in Chile thanks to the prosperous mining industries in the Atacama.
The reason for our stay in Antofagasta is to pick up our rental car and use it as our base to visit the nearby Paranal Observatory.  Dotted with box retails, large shopping centres and casinos, Antofagasta is not the most desirable destination for many tourists.  As we drove around the city, we found Antofagasta was not as chaotic as we thought it would be.  Traffic jam was quite a problem, especially on the main arterial road along the Pacific coast.  After we picked up the car, we planned to visit Parque Cultural Ruinas de Huanchaca, a new interpretative centre for the cultures in Atacama.  Unfortunately, the centre was closed for a concert in the evening.  On our way to dinner, we stopped by the waterfront promenade across the street from our hotel for the sunset over the mighty Pacific.
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Read more on San Pedro de Atacama, 2013 South America
Day 49 – Arrival, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 50.1 – Geyser del Tatio, Atacama Dessert
Day 50.2 – Altiplano Wetland, near El Tatio
Day 50.3 – Machuca Village, Atacama
Day 50.4 – Stargazing, Atacama Dessert
Day 51.1 – Town, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.2 – Valle de la Muerte & Cordillera de la Sal, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.3 – Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 52.1 – Laguna Chaxa, Atacama
Day 52.2 – Lagunas Altiplanicas, Atacama
Day 52.3 – Tropic de Capricorn, Atacama
Day 53.1 – Pacific Ocean, Antofagasta
Day 53.2 – Nan King Restaurant, Antofagasta
Day 54.1 – On the Road, Atacama Desert
Day 54.2 – Paranal Observatory, Atacama Desert

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought