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lexomatic
19 October 2015 @ 08:23 am
Ocean Park is (according to the Big Bus tour narration) Hong Kong's most popular amusement park, with five million visitors a year. (Hong Kong Disneyland is number two.) Located on the south side of Hong Kong Island, it's divided into two parts; most of the rides (several roller coasters, other carnival-style rides, and midways) are on the coastal slope of a mountain, and are reached by funicular railway tunnel (the most themed part of the park) or by ropeway. There is a lot of vertical movement, mostly by sloped roadway or escalator, but also by stairs; several exhibits are decidedly not wheel-accessible.

Like Seaworld, it combines wildlife exhibits (a main aquarium, polar animals, sharks, rainforest, pandas) and shows (sea lions, dolphins) with amusement. The scientific placards are very good (not that I saw many people reading them), and are trilingual: English, Chinese, and Simplified Chinese. Ocean Park has active breeding and conservation programs, and the number of signs alluding to climate change might be shocking to an American audience; others were specific to Hong Kong (e.g., why shark fin harvesting is bad).

The park is open until 11:00 pm (the light-spangled carnival rides are well-suited) and appears to have enough light stanchions to support this.

During October the park runs Halloween-themed events and decoration. Putting plastic skeletons in the tarantula enclosure, and pumpkins around the shark tank, is a bit much.
 
 
lexomatic
19 October 2015 @ 07:14 am
Generally the same setup as Singapore -- same rolling stock, same full-height platform doors, same exit/board arrow signage on the floors, same use of multimodal stored-value IC cards (the "Octopus" card). However, because Hong Kong is mountainous, the escalators to the surface are much longer; and the passageways between exits and the platform, or between interconnected stations, contain horizontal conveyors for part of their length. This applies only to the Island line, which runs east-west across the urbanized northern coast of Hong Kong Island; I haven't had reason to use any other. (Most of the lines spread across the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, north of Hong Kong Island.)

An extension to Ocean Park, Hong Kong's most popular amusement park, located on the southern coast of the island and currently served by bus via Aberdeen Tunnel, is under construction.
 
 
lexomatic
16 October 2015 @ 07:21 am
Singapore's public transit consists of subway, surface light rail, and buses. The subway has five lines. Stations are air-conditioned; signage is extensive, multilingual and generally clear; service is fast; the trains are articulated, clean, and crowded.

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lexomatic
14 October 2015 @ 09:58 am
I had an unplanned stay at the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita hotel, one of many hotels located around Narita International Airport, in the forested hinterlands of Narita City. At night it's very dark, and after the air traffic ends, very quiet.

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lexomatic
14 October 2015 @ 06:01 am
The Tokyo megalopolis is threaded by dozens of rail lines and hundreds of stations, but it's not a unified system. If you go with paper maps, you will need at least two of them; you will also want to plan ahead -- for which exits are best for your destination; if you're limited to stairs, especially at interchanges; whether the route is covered by a tourist ticket.

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lexomatic
12 October 2015 @ 06:36 am
NHK is the Japanese national radio and TV broadcaster, its BBC, known for news, educational programming, historical costume dramas, and a world service. Its mascot is Domo, a brown furry block with a gaping maw.

The Studio Park at the NHK Broadcasting Center is located 15 minutes north of JR Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit) (which is up a hill) or 10 minutes west of the Harajuku (JR and Tokyo Metro) stations, adjacent to Yoyogi Park and Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Admission is normally 200 JPY, but I happened to arrive on Free Admission weekend, which also had sports activities underway outside (possibly related to tomorrow's national holiday, Sports and Fitness Day). There is a snack corner (outfitted with Domo-themed furniture and videos), gift shop and restaurant. Photography is generally prohibited.

The tour has 17 numbered stations reticulated across two floors, including electronic quizzes, theaters, and prop displays. There are English-language pamphlets, and all of the displays are profusely labeled, but aside from a few section titles (why would you bother with a lone "Drama Archives" nameplate on a video monitor in a cabinet?), it's all in Japanese, and it's generally designed for small children. There are three hands-on activities (animation dubbing studio, news studio, and audio/video editing) and an opportunity to remote-operate cameras as though you're a wildlife videographer (left-right-up-down-zoom). As a foreign visitor, you're probably not familiar with the TV shows depicted -- live-action, stop-motion or cel-animated. (There is one display that mentioned NHK World, but none of its shows or talent specifically.)

The first exhibit, in the ticket lobby, is an "8K Super Hi-Vision" video wall, tiled from 36 large flatscreen monitors; when I arrived, it was showing footage of the Takarazuka Review (an all-female performance troupe -- you might call them Vegas-style for their flashy costumes and staging, except they predate Las Vegas by several decades). The detail and dynamic range were impressive, although not much more so than the best consumer TV sets you'll see in stores nowadays.
 
 
lexomatic
12 October 2015 @ 06:12 am
Akiba Fukurou ("Akihabara Owl") is a salon (not a café -- there's no food or drink) on an Akihabara side alley where you can interact in a small group under controlled protocol with numerous species of owl. Foreign guests are welcome; reservations required; 1500 JPY for one hour.

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lexomatic
The 14-hour flight on a United B777-200 with 3-3-3 seating isn't too bad, because I have an aisle seat at the back of the section, with the transverse aisle immediately to my left and ready for stretching. Immediately behind me are three restrooms (the toilet flushing is muted, certainly less noisy than the engines) and one staircase to the secret crew refuge, and behind that, a pair of hatches. It's not a red-eye flight but the idea is to tranquilize the passengers by closing all the window shades, so I resort to the mini-windows in the hatches -- not that it matters, because the entire flight (Newark, Canada, Arctic, Russia) is above a solid cloud deck.

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lexomatic
11 October 2015 @ 06:02 am
At New York Comic Con: Hall costumes; toy manufacturers; previews for Syfy's The Expanse, Nick's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles season 4, and Disney's Star Wars Rebels season two.

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lexomatic
Location (hat-and-sunblock zone), time zone, daylight (when should I be in observation decks or wheels to catch the sunset?), weather forecast, currency, taxes, tipping practice, electrity (I'll need a voltage converter for my latter two stops, but I can buy that at Yodobashi Camera).

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