By majority vote, the class decided on Leofoo Village as our field trip for this term. Laoshi showed us the theme park’s web page with dinosaurs, animals, and a monkey couple that looked strikingly similar to a certain mouse couple most of the world is familiar with, and we were sold.
We left for school early Saturday morning for what was sure to be an amusing day. After about two hours of bussing, we’d arrived.
The park is divided into four areas—Wild West, South Pacific, Arabian Kingdom, and African Safari—with a giant plaza in the center with a underwhelming fountain.
Laoshi steered us first to the Wild West, and I felt like I’d walked right into Frontierland, still dressed up for “Nightmare Before Christmas” a few weeks (months? pumpkins?) after the fact.
We warmed up with a spin on Big Thunder Mountain (sans mountainous environment), then rode “Asia’s first U-shaped suspended spiral roller coaster.” We crossed an area boundary to do two water rides in a row. Yes, we’d left the mucky gray of Taipei for a warm, sunny day in Hsinchu (Xinzhu), and I was getting soaked on Rapid’s Ride (and just misted on South Pacific’s Mighty Mountain Flume Adventure).
Lunch was followed by the park’s free-fall ride, Pagoda’s Revenge (best decision of the day? Probably not), and we made our way around to the Arabian Kingdom. It was basically “Aladdin” on the super-cheap (they were playing music from the movies on the merry-go-round). It did have Sultan’s Adventure, mimicking the Indiana Jones ride down to the perilous drive through air darts.
Laoshi didn’t want to miss the “parade,” so we rushed over to see the float—one—flanked by two teams of lackluster dancers, moving around the fountain plaza. Jake, take note, they’d hired exotic Westerners as the performers.
Our last area, the African Safari, was more zoo than theme park. Laoshi explained the owner’s conservationist efforts, but I had trouble looking beyond the skinny tiger and agitated monkeys. We hopped on a bus for the backlot tour and drove through enclosures of black bears, giraffes, Bengal tigers, baboons, and lions. He’d collected an impressive number of specimen, and while they weren’t in habitats to the standards of the San Diego Wild Animal Park, the animals didn’t seem mistreated (although the bus driver didn’t seem overly concerned by the baboons lounging in the middle of the road). I have trouble getting excited about experiences like this, but most of the other visitors on the bus were stoked.
On the whole, it was a lovely day. The weather did wonders for our damp group, and it was as much fun to experience the park as a collector of vintage Disney animatronics as it was to just spend the day at a theme park. And at $15, we were paying vintage Disney prices, so it all works out, really.
We capped the night off (sans a sick and tired Colin) at a yakinikku restaurant near school. That’s the same kind of restaurant that Colin’s contact Paul took us to on our day of gluttony. I finished this meal with three (small) cups of ice cream (all you can eat! How can I say no?), so the whole system really encourages overeating.