Yesterday Floyd and I and our friends Mark and Michelle enjoyed a trip to a theme park not far from their home in Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast.

 The entrance fee was just 890 NT (less than $30).  It was definitely worth it, even though Farglory Ocean Park is the kind of place you can do thoroughly in about six hours.
It’s literally right by the ocean, and though it’s not a water park (i.e. no waterslides), the whole place has an ocean/watery theme.

It’s built on a hill, but there are escalators and elevators all over – not to mention the cable cars – so it’s easy to get around.

There were some great views from the cable car that we rode from the bottom to the top of the park (and back… several times…).

There were some fun-looking little rides in the children’s section of the park. Farglory is very family friendly!  
I loved that there were no lines to speak of anywhere in the park!  It was a Monday, and hardly anyone was there.
Floyd described the bumper boats as “a little cheesy”, but we had fun on them anyway.
There aren’t a lot of rides, but the ones they have are pretty good.

The log ride (above) was our favorite.  The log boats even went down one of the drops backward!

Can you tell it rained part of the time?  Fortunately, Farglory Ocean Park has roofs over a lot of sections, and many of the attractions are indoors (which also helped in the morning when it was warm and very sunny).  It’s the kind of place where you can have fun no matter the weather.
Rides aren’t the only attraction at Farglory.  They have a very nice little aquarium with an interesting variety of sea creatures.
Um… what kind of lobster did you say that was?
We enjoyed seeing some of the unusual creatures.  I don’t know if blue lobsters are really that rare, but it was our first encounter with one.
Lionfish always look exciting.
The shows, along with the aquarium, really made the park experience.  (The rides, though fun, were too few to be worth the entry fee on their own.)  We enjoyed the sea lion show first.
It was fun to watch the sea lions play volleyball and basketball!

Tell me that cute sea lion (below) doesn’t remind you of a bird in this position!

After watching the sea lions, we attended a dolphin show.
Their jumping skills were quite impressive!
My favorite show involved Russian dancers with some amazing skills and gorgeous costumes.  Unfortunately, photography wasn’t allowed in that one, but if you ever go to Farglory, make sure you don’t miss it!
Altogether we had a great day and made some fun memories.  If you’re looking for interesting activities for the whole family in Hualien, I highly recommend Farglory Ocean Park!
I’m here in Malaysian Borneo for a few days attending a teaching conference, and I’m loving it!  (To see my first Bornean blog post, click here.)

Yesterday afternoon after the conference was over for the day, Floyd and I decided to visit an aquarium called the Green Connection here in Kota Kinabalu.  It wasn’t especially large or fancy, but we got to pet sharks and see lots of interesting critters.  I recommend it for those who enjoyed such things.  Here are a few glimpses of the creatures we saw there:

We followed our visit to the Green Connection with a scenic dinner by the beach – it was the tastiest meal we’ve had since we’ve been here!  There was sort of an open food court area with lots of little stalls under one large roof – here’s what it looked like right outside.

This little stall offered all sorts of wonderful-looking smoothies and fancy drinks.  It was hard to choose one!

This is the drink I ended up ordering.  It was a mango smoothie float – delicious!

When I had lived in Indonesia, I really enjoyed a dish called “ikan bakar” (literally, baked fish).  I saw a sign above one of the stalls advertising ikan bakar (the language in Malaysia is very similar to Indonesian), but what they brought me was quite different than what I remembered!

Want to see more of our adventures in Borneo?  Click on the links below to read my other blog posts from the trip:

The Wilds of Borneo (Well, not Quite)
Borneo: Tun Mustapha Tower, Sabah Museum and Cultural Village
Borneo: Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

We just got back from a fun little four-day vacation in Kenting (pronounced “kun-ding”) at the southern tip of Taiwan.  We went with some friends from Morrison who were nice enough to let us ride with them in their van (we don’t have a car here in Taiwan). Kenting is one of the most famous tourist spots on the island; sooner or later everybody goes there to spend a few days at the coast.  Although we enjoyed our stay, I must confess I’m not sure why it’s so popular.

A lot of people love the beaches there, and I guess they were okay, but they were too crowded for my tastes (and there was far too much trash on them).  Maybe I’m spoiled after having grown up in Kenya, where the coast at Mombasa is so pretty.  Or after the year I spent in Indonesia, where the remote beaches I visited were literally an unspoiled tropical paradise.  I must admit, however, that these ones are nicer than the beaches in Southern California!

This particular beach was much less crowded than the more popular one above.  This one is on the Pacific coast (to the east), not the Taiwan Strait (to the west).  Unfortunately, it still had a lot of trash (I was careful with the camera angle so as not to show much of that), but I’m told it’s trash washed up by the waves, not dropped by tourists.  That’s better… I guess.  In any case, it had good waves for boogie boarding and coral tidepools where we saw sea stars, urchins, crabs, and seashells.  And both beaches turned out to be perfect for taking naps on the sand in the warm sunshine.

One thing we did enjoy was walking around town.  There’s a touristy area where there are lots of shops and stands selling souvenirs and interesting things to eat.  If you ever go there, though, make sure you notice the mannequins in the clothing stores.  They have a bit more, shall we say, personality than most.  If they came to life and started walking around, it would make for an excellent horror movie.

Floyd and I agree that the best part of our Kenting experience was the aquarium.  If you ever go there, you have to check it out!  Our friends who were with us had elementary-age kids, and they loved it; but really, the two of us enjoyed it just as much as the children.  There’s something there for everyone:

touch tanks…

huge tanks containing coral reefs with all the layers, complete with not only coral but fish and a wide variety of other creatures – it was interesting to see the reefs through the glass at eye level, the way only a scuba diver (or a fish!) normally would…

all sorts of sea creatures, (our favorites were the beluga whales, rays, and angry-looking whale shark), clearly visible from a winding glass tunnel people can walk through under the water of a gigantic tank…

…and of course the submarine simulator arcade games!  

They also had separate areas for habitats like antarctic waters, kelp forests, and the deep sea (you know, with the glow-in-the-dark fish). Part of the aquarium was designed to look like the inside of a shipwreck, which added to the fun.  All in all, we spent quite an enjoyable morning there!