Last April 29, We brought Mama Babes (my mother-in-law), Megan, and Tita Ops to the South Harbor Pier. They were set to ride aboard the Superferry 19 to Bacolod City. We planned to visit the Manila Ocean Park after bringing them to the pier to make the trip worth the gas and effort.
True enough, the ride to the pier wasn't a breeze. Traffic was really bad. We left the house at nine in the morning, took C5 since we initially planned to take the J.P. Rizal Ext. and Vito Cruz route to Roxas Boulevard. Traffic was heavy by the time we reached Tiendesitas, so we took a right turn at Frontera and out to Julia Vargas. There we drove straight to Shaw Blvd. through the back of SM Megamall and exited EDSA to Gudadalupe. From there we took Vito Cruz Ext., Quirino Ave., and Roxas Blvd. We reached the pier at 11 am. It was a hot 2-hour drive since we brought the small car. (The Tucson already has a plate and its number ending is 4.)
It was just a brief drop and go. They had to check in asap because the ship should be leaving by 1:45 pm. We drove out from the pier, made a right turn at Roxas Blvd. and another right turn towards Manila Hotel. There's a small street that we took that led us straight to the parking lot of Manila Ocean Park.
I think the place has improved much from the date of its opening in March of this year. I have heard more rants than raves about the place from fellow bloggers. It was okay for us, though. (Our pockets not included, hehehe.) The tickets cost us P1,150. We had to eat first before going in the tour because it was already lunchtime and Rap haven't eaten his breakfast yet. There was no choice but to eat at Tamayo's. We couldn't afford the P600/plate buffet so we settled for the cheaper P200/set meals. A Chowking restaurant will be opening soon so there's still hope for those who are on a tight budget. There are food kiosks and a small restaurant outside the place but the weather was quiet hot that day so we chose to eat in an airconditioned restaurant.
First stop, in Agos, we saw the freshwater fishes. There were giant arapaimas that we already saw in Avilon Zoo. There are also African cichlids of various colors. Then, Daddyjun and Ralph touched the Chocolate Chip Starfish and thought it felt slimy.
Inside Bahura (Reef), we saw creatures that reside in our Philippine coral reefs. Rap was able to see clownfishes like Nemo, and the fish that looked like Dory (I can't recall its name). There are also the fishes that we see in the game Feeding Frenzy and that made Rap really excited. Daddyjun wanted to eat the giant Japanese Spider Crab. It's even bigger than the Alaskan King Crab because it's the largest living anthropod in the world.
In Laot (Fishing Ground) we saw schools of fishes. There was the giant grouper which is one of the largest coral reef-dwelling bony fish in the world. There's also the pampano that I usually steam. Yummy!
Buhay na Karagatan (The Living Ocean) showcased underwater life. We passed by a long underwater tunnel that made us see underwater creatures swimming above us. Daddyjun and Rap had a great time running around and trying to catch up with the sting rays and other fishes.
Outside the tunnel, Ang Kalaliman (The Deep) featured the barracuda and more schooling fish. It was a pretty sight seeing the fishes swim in groups. It amazed me how they swim in a synchronized fashion. Probably, there's a leader fish that tells them where to go.
We also saw an overhang tank that gave us a top and bottom view of the sting rays. It made me hungry for kinunot! In the Shark Tank, we were able to see sharks interacting with each other. Actually seeing them in the tank made them look harmless and tame. Before exiting the tour, we rested a while in the Multimedia Facility of the place. Here, children can read books about aquatic life in the Reading Corner. There are also lots of interactive boards and posters that showed the importance of the taking care of our marine life.
We tried the fish spa and rode the glass bottom boat. It was an extra P250 per person but it was all worth it. The fish spa was a tickling experience. We were all laughing our hearts out during the 20-minute spa. The small fishes bit the callouses of our feet. Hay grabe, as in nagkagulo sila sa kapal ng kalyo ng paa ko! In the glass bottom boat, we were able to see the creatures of the Buhay na Karagatan from the top. We even saw the people from the underwater tunnel! The staff that manned the boat gave us bits and pieces of information about the creatures that we saw.
The tour was a worthwhile experience for me. It was my first time in such a place, Daddyjun already had visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and the one in Sentosa. I just wish the place had more exotic fishes. The staff there explained that they had to bring in fish that are native to the Philippines first because species from other countries may have a difficulty adjusting to the environment. Soon they said there will be pools outside for scuba diving and dolphin shows. I can't wait for the mall and hotel to open. We will be coming back when this happens.
Enjoy viewing the and videos below.