Friday, April 23, 2010

Hong Kong Post 3: Ocean Park, Going to the Races, Samurai!!


Before I get to Ocean Park and Happy Valley, here is a photo of me and Akira Kurosawa.'s just a statue (obviously, since he passed away some time ago). Actually my trip coincided with a traveling exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth; this exhibit runs through the end of this year, and you can find more information on where it will be here. In addition to screening his films, the exhibit has many of Kurosawa's personal effects as well as, most exciting to me, actual props and costumes from some of his movies!


I think this was used in Ran. By the way, pardon the darkness of the photos, the lighting was quite dim.


Really intricate embroidery on a kimono used in one of his movies. I don't know much about textile design and really nothing about embroidery, but this looks really, really expensive.


A sketch done by Kurosawa. There were lots of display cases full of awards and various honors conferred upon him, but, as I said, the lighting was very dim, and so I have very few photos. But that is unimportant--the exhibit was really, really fascinating and I felt very honored to have been able to see it. (And as a side note, it was located in kind of a weird spot--a strange little gallery space in an office building. This was early on in my trip so I was still getting used to these massive sprawling high rise buildings which are combination mall, residences, office space, food court, etc.)


I had really wanted to go to HK Disneyland, but on reading a bunch of reviews, it sounded like Disneyland is a lot smaller than WDW, and it sounded like it wasn't worth the admission price. So we went to Ocean Park instead, and had a great time! That's Whiskers above, the mascot. It's really easy to get to Ocean Park by bus--you can pick up bus 629 at Admiralty MTR and it'll drop you off right at the entrance. You can also buy your admission tickets at the station; you can't miss the booths, trust me. For more detailed directions (and other options), check out their website.


Ocean Park is an amusement park with the requisite ferris wheel and terrifying tower of doom (neither of which we rode), but look at how gorgeous the setting is! We did ride a log flume (super fun) and a roller coaster that was perched on the edge of the cliff. It was probably the most terrifying roller coaster that I've ever been on, because I kept thinking about how far we would fall if the coaster went off its tracks.


My favorite was actually the cable car ride, which connects the upper and lower parts of the car. It's a pretty long cable car system, and along the way you are treated to some stellar views, like the ones below.


Enormous hunting bird, hunting.

Nice view

The ocean!


But besides rides, Ocean Park also has an aquarium, and a jellyfish exhibit. I like looking at jellyfish, they are very soothing. I mean, to watch--I would not like to be stung by one.


And they also have pandas! I learned that pandas basically do two things--eat, and sleep. Oh, for the life of a panda. Although I would probably not have enough time to travel if I were a panda.

Red Panda

And, just as cute as giant pandas, the red panda! He looks almost like a red raccoon, and has the most beautiful fur. I just want to pet him. (I didn't, don't worry.)

Fish Lantern

There was also an exhibit (temporary, I think) of exotic goldfish. No, I'm not talking about the ones in the photo above (although, they sure are exotic!). It was a REALLY interesting exhibit with some pretty detailed information on the different types of goldfish that had been bred through the years, and it was also beautifully designed. I just wish more of my photos had turned out, but the only one that did is this one:

fancy goldfish

To think these all originated from boring old carp. Enough of fish, on to another kind of animal!

GOGO Number 10!

Yeah, we went to Happy Valley to see the horse racing! Wednesday nights seem to be pretty hopping at the race track, and we had such a good time the first time we went that we went back a second. Admission is 10 HKD, and they obviously get a lot of tourists because they are very well set up with a big information tent right by the entrance, where they will help you figure out how to fill out your betting slips. Minimum bet is 10HKD, and drinks and snackies are available (at not too extortionate prices) so this is a highly recommended activity in my book. We bet on number 10 in the race above, and everything was looking great but he fizzled out in the end. It's okay, number 10, there's always next time!


This race track is serious business! Look at how crowded it is! We wandered around on the ground level mostly and you could really tell the tourists from the serious gamblers.

Anticipation, anxiety, dread?

Like this guy. I hope he won. Seriously though, after a while, I stopped watching the races, and started watching the lifetime gamblers. These were guys with like, 3 cell phones and ear pieces who were reading the racing form like their lives depended on it. Who knows, maybe they did! I don't think any of them watched the races, either, they were too focused on making their picks for the races. Obviously a world removed from me, who picked horses based on their names (Spicy Shrimp!). Anyway, we did win 14 HKD or something like that, so, awesome.

Future jockey?

On our way out, I wanted a photo of myself posing with this fake race horse, but this cute kid was busy playing on it. So I took a photo of him instead. Maybe he'll be a jockey one day...

Oh, before I forget, I meant to include this in my last post, but I forgot to (scatter brained, that's me)--there is an excellent little teaware museum in Hong Kong Park that is WELL worth the hour or two that it'll take you to go through it. Really fascinating stuff, even if you are not a tea drinker. It's located in the Flagstaff House--admission is free, and I guarantee you will leave knowing 100% more about clay and teapots than you did before going in.

Thus concludes Part 3 of my Hong Kong adventures! Next time...Lamma Island.

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