Sunday, August 5, 2012

Homegrown is Always Best.

This is from Sunday, August 6.  My posts will be pretty late all the time while in Taipei, the internet is extremely slow.

Well, we were headed to Ocean Park:
Through the crowded urban canyons of Wan Chai:
past the Aberdeen Tunnel (香港仔隧道):
and into the Southern District of Hong Kong Island, a mountain range away from the ever-busy city.
Ocean Park (海洋公園), which opened in 1977, is Hong Kong's oldest theme park, currently run by a non-profit organization for the major purpose of ecological education.  After Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005, the Park began a massive revitalization and expansion in order to stay competitive with the well-established Disney brand.  Today, Ocean Park remains the most-visited theme park in the city, attracting some 7 million people (the entire population of Hong Kong) each year through its gates.
A major attraction is the old cable car system, which runs between the two areas of the Park - otherwise separated, like all things in this city, by a mountain.

This is the new aquarium complex, built in the last few years.

One of the two giant panda habitats in the Park.  There are a total of four pandas living in Ocean Park today.

We ride the cable car up to the aptly named "Summit" area:

...but before that we have to line up for almost an hour, going through a new themed area based on mid-20th century Hong Kong, complete with roadside stalls.
Before traffic signals, people would stand in one of these and motion for cars to go.
Here's the cable car terminal:

At the top, there are a few new rides that have opened over the last couple of years:
New coaster = smooth ride = ridiculously relaxing!
Two polar exhibits are also present at the summit:
Disappointed that there were no real ones here.
There were multiple warnings at the entrance to this one, saying that the temperature inside was extremely cold (around 8 degrees Celsius).  As a Canadian, I really couldn't help but laugh and walk in, sweaty from the heat outside, in a t-shirt and shorts.
Having penguins swim beneath you is kind of nice, though.
If you're wondering what that previous picture was so blurry, well here's your answer!
I think these pictures of lunch are pretty self-explanatory:

I did some wandering while the rest of them were going on rides:
The garden at the back of that aquarium:
A jellyfish exhibit:
Yes, those are upside-down jellies.  Yes, that's normal.
Black and white!
The rainforest exhibit:
With views over the park:

We took the new underground train back to the foot of the mountain:

Oh, and if you were wondering what the Aberdeen Tunnel was named for, it's this place:

And here are the (controlled flow of!) people waiting for the train:
There were some random graphics that played throughout the trip on the roof.
And leaving:

We go into one of the panda exhibits:
...which is immediately followed by a goldfish exhibit:

And as the sun is setting:

We line up for an hour to get into the main aquarium, our last stop.
That green stuff is an animal.  Yep. 

On the way back, we pass by Happy Valley Racecourse (跑馬地, lit. race horse ground.  Real imaginative, I know), the most popular racetrack in the city.

Stuck in traffic, here are some pics of bustling Wan Chai below us:
And the newest bridge in town, Stonecutter's Bridge:
...The exposure in this light was too long for any meaningful pictures while on a moving bus, so I messed around for a bit:

Eventually, we landed back in Sham Tseng, where one of my relatives took us to a place I did not know existed (and it's directly across the street from my flat!)
An italian all-you-can-eat.  It was a lot better than I had expected, although I'm no expert in Italian food.
Assorted antipasti, including some prosciutto crudo on the side there.
Obviously catering to the intended clientele, some breaded shrimp,
Garlic stir-fried ox tongue.

They called it linguine in English, but it seemed more like tagliatelle - and indeed in Chinese it was called a "broad Italian egg noodle":
with Alfredo (meh) and black truffle flakes.  The truffle gave an interesting earthy taste to it.
With bolognese sauce, as I said it was in Italian cooking two posts ago.

Two types of fish: sole on the left, salmon on the right.

Linguine with sun-dried tomato and parma ham (which tasted day-old)

Buffalo wings.  LOL.

Cheese ravioli in that same truffle sauce.  Not bad.

Sliced sirloin.
and sliced leg of lamb.

For dessert, there was tiramisu (DRENCHED in wine) and an egg custard.
For a place that is basically in the middle of nowhere in Hong Kong, and only rarely sees the occasional foreigner, and even less frequent Italian, I was really impressed.

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