My brother turned 40 yesterday...and he marked the day by treating us to a full day at the Manila Ocean Park, the Philippines' first state-of-the-art oceanarium. My first Ocean Park experience was actually in HongKong back in 1996. Yes, the HK version is larger in size but, I'm proud to say that, the Philippine version is comparatively good and at par with other aquatic museums out there.
Sure, my one (1) year old baby didn't seem to really care about the giant crabs, lobsters, sharks, stingrays and lobsters. Nor did she seem fascinated by the array of colorful fish, the cool flashlight fish, or the cute clownfish (no amount of me shouting, "Look Maia, it's Nemo!" would get her attention). The famous tunnel (which gave every visitor a perspective of how it is to be in the "ocean wild") was nothing more than a vast "walking space"...as if it was specially laid-out for her. She seemed satisfied, however, because the place, though not silent, was hollow enough to capture different voices and certain sounds, and nobody stopped her from shrilling-out different tunes. At one point, we thought she was actually paying attention to some unique aquatic specie, only to find out that she was merely enjoying her reflection from the aquarium's glass/ mirror. She also got mesmerized by the way the light shone through from the water inside the aquariums, then cast a moving "shadow" on the carpet floors.
But one more thing though, when we got to the area where there was a "cartoonish" mural of the ocean and its inhabitants...boy, did she touch it and gave a good half-a-minute stare! She also decided to "stop and rest" in front of a TV showing some fish-cartoon. Goodness me...is the Disney Playhouse channel still following us even outside the house?!...hehehe. It's a consolation that my brother didn't have to pay for her entrance fee (because babies get in for free)!
I, on the otherhand, made a bee-line for the Fish Spa! Yes, you read it right...Fish Spa. It's where you pay P120.00 to get your feet/ legs nibbled on for 20 minutes by little doctor fish (that are about 4 inches long). Actually, these doctor fish eat away the dead skin cells and rough, dry, cracked skin found at your feet. I heard a lot of good things about this part of the oceanarium, that's why I was very curious to try it out. But if you're like me who gets easily tickled from a regular foot spa, then, like me, you'll find the first few minutes to be a little "unbearable". I kept lifting my legs up and holding it there. I seriously thought the fish were actually biting me (that's how silly I was)! I didn't know whether to stay put, or stand up, go and never mind refunding my money. I was wondering, how come my dad, brother and sister seemed very relaxed, while I was slightly stressed by the whole experience? My sister convinced me it was nothing. So I psyched myself to relax. Pretty soon, my legs were dipped in the water, doctor fish all around my unmanicured feet, nibbling away at my cracked heel and thick, dry cuticles (I better stop now before I gross myself out! hehehe). It felt a little tingly. And nice, actually! Before I knew it, the session was over...time really flies when you're having fun (aaargh!). I stood up, my feet feeling a little tender from being dipped in water for a while, and from the skin at my heels getting that "freshly buffed" feeling!
Anyway, aside from paying for my daughter's yaya to join us in the oceanarium, for my "fish-spa" treatment, plus a couple of stuffed toys I bought for my daughter from the souvenir shop...I didn't spend for anything else. Lunch was still care of my generous, over-the-hill brother (Love you, Den!).
I am just very thankful that I was able to go anywhere with my daughter...and documented the day by taking pictures and videos using my trusty Sony Cyber-Shot digital camera (which I plan to show my husband later). All in all, it was a great, fun and tiring day for us grown ups and the kids.
Before going home, I vowed to come back for more of that Fish Spa experience with my husband next time around (smile!)