elb's hovel of thoughts

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Aquaria KLCC

While wandering about KLCC taking pictures and all yesterday, we decided to visit Aquaria ('Merry Water', if you choose to directly translate between various languages). It was a bit of a walk from KLCC Suria, probably around 400 metres? It involved going through a long bright tunnel, follwed by a walk through a carpark. Red flag #1: A carpark? Bad, bad design. You should NEVER allow tourists to go through an underground carpark.

So anyway, we reached a previously unknown (to me, anyway) part of KLCC. It consisted of a small food court, followed by Aquaria itself hidden at the back, with no signboards to point to it being there. *Cough*. That was red flag #2.

Entrance is a princely RM38 per pax, however a Merdeka special rate of RM20 was being levied. We were issued with entrance cards, used on the turnstile pretty much like a Touch N'Go / Oyster card:

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The 'ticket'.

Red flag #3. The opening tank display was completely unlandscaped. All it was was a concrete tank painted blue with fish swimming inside. No rocks, no seaweed, no nothing. Bad omen of things to come, I thought, as another part of my mind struggled to convince myself that at least the place would be as decent as the Petrosains Centre.

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Look at it, even the fish looks like it is crying.

No flash photography allowed. Its time to get prosumer/ SLR cameras, people*. Next to that tank is a big information display, discussing about the theory of evolution and how different species came about and all that:

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The turnstile entrance and that information display behind it.

Stupidity #1: A little kid passing by asked his parents what the display was about. Stupid parent replied after taking the briefest of glances: 'Oh, thats about the various parts of a fish. Come lets go and see fish, this is very boring.' What the hell... you didn't even bother to read even one line, and you come to the conclusion that it is boring and uninformative? On top of that, you misinform your poor little child who obviously will grow up to be more well-read than you are if not for the fact that you are discouraging him. Phhft.

Next comes a display of several reptiles and amphibians. How on earth they made it to the displays beggars belief, except that they are supposedly relatives of fish, if you choose to believe evolution. More like trying to make up for the lack of exhibits.

Now for the fish, this display was actually pretty impressive, and gave me some hopes after the pathetic opening display. It was about the Amazonian rainforest and how some parts would get flooded by up to 9 metres. But what I didn't get was another display talking about Malaysia's rainforest. It had absolutely nothing to do with fish; probably just trying to salvage a little bit of pride after feeling left out.


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The only display that made me think 'Wow!'

Stupidity #2: Next to the 'underwater tree' cylindrical display is another display, containing two gigas fish. You might have seen these fish before at some of the traditional cave temples in Ipoh. A mother was frantically calling out to her son: 'Look boy! Big fish!!! Over there!!!! On top! Can you see it or not??!!? Not there, here!!'. Poor boy. His mother, who has a good chance of being categorized as one of those parents who sends their kids for several hours of tuition everyday, was obviously more excited about the place.

There were a few other displays and all that, with horseshoe crabs, lionfish and the like. Then, for the supposed highlight of it all, a 90 metre long tunnel through a display. Red flag again. The tunnel was so small, you could at the very best fit three men standing side by side along its diameter. One half was a moving conveyer belt not dissimilar to that of a luggage collection point at the airport.

The highlights were the sharks, there was really nothing else worth seeing besides a couple of manta rays.

The typical shark we are familiar with, complete with the cleaner fish so fondly called the 'Bandaraya fish':

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The cleaner fish and shark symbiosis remind me a lot about the little children, they simply love to glue themselves to the glass of the aquariums.

Also, the shark that we dubbed the 'Chinaman shark'. Why? See for yourselves:

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After that, there were some displays of coral reef fishes, like clown fish and seahorses. Here was stupidity #3: While trying to wait for the clown fish to be as still as possible for me to make my shot, a guy in his late 20s came up and exclaimed 'Finding Nemo!'. -_-". Its NOT Finding Nemo, please. Its a clown fish which happened to be called 'Nemo' in the animated feature film 'Finding Nemo'. There are no species of fish called Nemo fish to my knowledge.

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These are clown fish, not Finding Nemo, for goodness sake!!

And at the exit, a final display of a shark's jaws, and then you return your card pass and exit. One would have thought that you would be allowed to keep it at the very least for that price of an otherwise disappointing place. At least it was better than Langkawi's.

Verdict: Do not bother going unless you feel that you have no other choice. Save up and head for the Underwater World at San Diego, California, or that at Australia and be amazed.

*All my pictures were taken at ISO speed 1600 and quite often with maximum aperture size, because of poor lighting conditions. Even then, a low shutter speed was only managed, resulting in blurriness which was made the already grainy pictures worse.

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