Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ocean Park experience, doctor fishes nibble off my dead skin

We visited the Manila Ocean Park, a world-class oceanarium that compares with the Underwater World in Singapore and the Sea World in Jakarta. Press releases say that the MOP is bigger than the Singapore's, but I doubt it. But it also has a touching tank where visitors can touch star fishes, baby sharks, and giant clams. It is a good educational trip for kids (and adults) who seldom have the chance to see nature up close.

The MOP is on a building on stilts while the Sentosa and Ancol oceanariums are built on reclaimed lands. The underwater tunnel is much shorter than the tunnels in the Singapore and Jakarta, as I remember them. The Singapore underwater is much better because it had a moving platform so the guests don't walk through the tunner, they glide. The MOP tunnel appears to be wider, though.

The ticket costs Php400 for adults and Php350 for kids below 3.5 ft tall. It is still too stiff for Juan de la Cruz, but it's cheaper than the ticket to Singapore's Underwater World for which you have to cough up S$120 (around Php3840). That also includes the Dolphin show. The Jakarta oceanarium ticket sells for around Php150.

An upcoming attraction to the MOP is the scuba diving and snorkling facilities, patterned after Singapore. Expect the tickets for this to be astronomical. But at least you won't have to outside of Manila to enjoy the corals.

They have an ongoing promo where for Php500, you get  to enjoy the aquarium for an unlimited time and afterward you get a 10 minute treatment at their fish spa and a ride at their glass bottom boat. It is a good bargain because if you just paid Php400 for the ticket and decided that you want the spa treatment that is another Php120. The boat tide is another Php150.

The fish spa is a wading pool with nibble fishes or doctor fishes. The fishes feed on dead skin cells. Since they consume such cells (when they have nothing else to eat), they leave the healthy skin to grow. You will be startled the first time they nibble off the dead skin off your feet. It takes a while to get used to the tingling and ticklish sensation. The funny thing is that the moment I dipped my feet on the pool, the fishes went on a feeding frenzy. They left the feet they were munching on and attacked my unpedicured feet. It was embarrassing because it was very noticeable that most fishes were on my feet, while the others had just 2 to 5. My skin cells are dead? They feasted so much food, I thought I watched them grow before my eyes.

Joy's reaction to the whole thing is very funny. She had a tortured laugh throughout. But she endured it because of the purported benefits.

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