Being an avid viewer of 獎門人 when I was younger, one of the prizes from the show was a night time safari for a zoo in China – and so for the past 10 years, every once in a while, I’ve nagged my mum to take me. But unfortunately our Chinese visas had expired and needed to be renewed, and we could never be bothered (not to mention that it costed quite a bit to renew in Australia).
However, before we left for Hong Kong these holidays, we filled out and submitted all the forms along with our hot-off-the-press ID photos (courtesy of Officeworks), and got ourselves brand spanking new visas, which meant I could finally fulfill my childhood dream.
We had been doing a little bit of research about the various zoos/safari’s that were in China before we left and settled on Chimelong Safari Park in Panyu and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhu Hai (despite the English versions of their website being of absolutely no help at all).
When booking our tickets, the travel agent advised us that a 2 day trip would be plenty of time to see everything – see the circus the the night of arrival, then going to the zoo the second day. He mentioned that he zoo would only take around 5 hours, but that definitely wasn’t the case. We ended up having to skip the Australian section of the safari (kangaroos, koalas, cockatoos etc) because we were short on time. So personally, the next time I go (and trust me, there will be a next time whether it be 5 or 20 years~) I’d probably go for 2 nights.
- Took the MTR taxi from Mei Foo to Tsuen Wan so we could fit a quick breakfast in before the start of our adventure
- Took bus #1 (which came super early – but luckily we were ready to go) all the way to the Chinese Immigration where we hopped off with our luggage and passed through immigration procedures
- Passed through immigration and waited for bus #2 which then took us directly to the Hotel
Once we got to the hotel, I couldn’t help but notice all the things I learnt in tourism/hospitality – themes, customer experience, atmosphere and in Chimelong Safari Park’s case, everything was executed impeccably.
Chimelong going above and beyond:
- Customers were given bottles of water whilst they lined up to check in: makes the waiting more bearable
- Everything in the Hotel/Zoo is consistently animal themed – even the sand on top of the bins (ash tray) had the name of the hotel printed into it (the cleaners went around with a stamp)
- The place was spacious and the sights were spread out all over the hotel preventing clusters of people gathering in one place
Whilst walking around the hotel, we stumbled on an ad for one of the restaurants in the hotel that had a winter melon hot pot and there was a mutual silent agreement that our dinner had been decided. Unfortunately we weren’t able to enjoy it as much as we would’ve liked since we were rushed for time (not to mention we went a little crazy when ordering and ordered a bit too much…).
I haven’t been bothered enough to go through the circus photos, so we’re skipping straight to the safari/animal photos!
There were several exhibits where you could pay a small amount (5RMB-20RMB) to feed the animals. One of those was a monkey(?) enclosure with packets of food costing 5RMB.
The monkey’s below aren’t the ones that I fed! The feedable ones were much smaller and more like spider monkeys~
The second animal you could feed were tigers, and for 20RMB you were given 6 pieces of chicken/meat to feed them (the problem here was though, that your throw had to be strong enough to get the meat over the mote around the enclosure and close enough to the tiger). I personally skipped out on this
Animal encounter #3 was feeding giraffes! I think I might have spent a little too much time here, but I was so in awe of them that I honestly wouldn’t have minded spending more time there. Despite there being quite the gap between the enclosure to the pathway, you were pretty much face to face with the giraffe, and could pat them (if the giraffe let you, that is).
Feeding giraffes costed 10/15RMB (I can’t remember for sure), and you were given a branch with a generous amount of foliage. You had to be extra careful here not to let the giraffes pull the whole branch out of your hands in one go~
I was also dribbled on by a giraffe. Not one of my best moments.
Some miscellaneous photos of some animals~
Then we decided to stop for lunch before heading to the ‘safari on wheels’ tour (which is the ‘main attraction’ of the Safari apart from the panda triplets).
Then we headed to the Safari on Wheels which was right next to where we had lunch.
They actually recommend you go to the Safari on Wheels first, then make your way around the rest of the park, but personally we found how we navigated the park (exhibits first, then safari on wheels) better, since we were able to relax and rest our feet a bit whilst enjoying the safari tour. (Plus, whilst everyone else is at the Safari, we were able to view the exhibits basically by ourselves~)
The scenery in the safari was absolutely astounding – especially when it got to the African Plains. All the animals are literally in front of your eyes, in their (man-made) natural habitats. From giraffes, to zebras, buffalo(s)… Unfortunately the park map is still on it’s way over to Australia by boat, so I’ll update this when I get my hands on it again..
For once, it feels like we are entering the animal world and their homes, instead of the other way around with the animals being placed into enclosures for viewing. The train was basically silent (minus the narration) so the animals weren’t stressed by the presence of the visitors. We would stop for a minute or so in front of each section of the safari, where we were given bits and pieces of information about the animal, and time to take some happy snaps and just soak it all in.
I would’ve liked to spend a little more time in that part of the safari but I guess that’s why they have the option for you to drive your own car at your own pace through the safari. Oh, and the narration during the safari is only done in mandarin which was a minus – but I was too busy taking videos/photos anyway.
We didn’t end up buying separate tickets to go see the panda triplets since there were other pandas that were out and about.
The meerkats were probably in my top 5 animals for the day! Most of them were huddling under the shelter since it started to get a bit cold.
- Toilets were everywhere (as well as hand washing stations): no holding it in whilst looking for toilets, and more importantly, no need to wait in line! (something you really come to appreciate after shopping in hong kong) If squatting toilets aren’t your cup of tea, then I would suggest you use the disabled toilet.
- Plenty of (themed) food options (snacks/full meals, chinese/western) that were scattered around the park as well as plenty of seating (both undercover and covered)
- Animal welfare is a top priority: all the animals were healthy, energetic, and all enclosures were (very) clean
- Greenery: The park is lined with plenty of trees and hedges, which provides natural shading, more homes to (actual) wildlife, and a much better alternative than concrete walls. They were also maintained very meticulously so there weren’t any overhanging branches/overgrown areas.
- Spacious walkways: No need to be rubbing shoulders with the tourist next to you, and no chance of your feet being rolled on by baby strollers
- Animal:Human distribution is perfect: If it weren’t for the several animal shows we attended and the Safari on Wheels, we wouldn’t have even known there were that many people there. Since the park spans over quite a large area of land, we rarely came across a large group of people, and were never bothered by the noise of the other visitors. (Keeping in mind most of the visitors there are mainland Chinese…)
- North and South entrance: prevents queuing at the gates, and crowding at the exhibits close to the entrance of the park
- Not the most ‘international traveler’ friendly: like I mentioned before, most of the narrations were done in mandarin, and from one encounter I witnessed, the park staff weren’t the most capable when dealing with non-Chinese speaking visitors. The shuttle bus from the hotel-park also had very poor English announcements…
- It would’ve been nice if they had a sign that said what they did with the money made from the feeding stations – whether it’s going into research, maintenance of the respective animal, or back to the park?
Final verdict, would I go again? Yes, but not straight away. Give it a few (5~) years! Even with my limited Cantonese, I definitely wouldn’t go back by myself though, I’d make sure to bring someone who spoke mandarin with me…
now playing: 94 – #GUN