Well, I’ve been in Hong Kong for a whole 4 days. So let’s escacpe! I had the opportunity to go to Macau with some colleagues who are here for a short time, so I jumped at the chance. Glad I did. I’ll be honest, there were some highlights and some lowlights.
There were 5 of us who went: A German colleague and her German friend, and two colleagues from the Paris office, and me. It became apparent that we had different views on what would be the “must-see” places in Macau. The German friend thought hiking/walking/seeing gardens and parks would be the best idea. My French colleague and I thought differently. CASINOS BABY!! …well. One Casino, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
From Hong Kong we took a ferry at 9am. So we arrived in Macau, through customs, potty breaks, etc. around 10:30 and took a city bus to…the end of the line. Woops. Missed our stop. So we took it back to where we wanted to start. We saw a nice Buddhist temple, but along the bus route I was quite shocked at how dirty and run-down the apartment buildings were. I now further appreciate Paris and its ever-cycling cleaning of the buildings!
Noon, time for lunch, right? No. Apparently our self-appointed tourguide decided she wasn’t hungry (from the looks of her she has forgotten what food is, so “lunch” is a foreign concept for her). So we would instead go to the large park in the center of Macau. At this point it became apparent who was not so good at map reading (tourguide), and who was much better at map reading (me!). Well, we found the garden and took a gondola up to the top of the mount, and then further climbed and climbed up to the old lighthouse built by the Portuguese. Quick note: Just as Hong Kong was a colony of England until 1997 leading English to be an official language, Macau was a colony of Portugal until 1999, leading Portuguese to be the second official language of Macau. And this of course also led to many buildings with Portuguese style architecture, and an influence in the cuisine and local delicacies too! There is a small church (of course what lighthouse wouldn’t be complete without a church…right?) and the view from there is incredible. You could probably see Hong Kong from there! …except, you know, pollution. Anyway, it was very cool to see, and it would have been a really nice hike…if I wasn’t sweating my ass off. Then our trailguide led us back down the hill to another garden. It was 2pm at this point. Did I mention lunch? So my friend and I decided this was completely uncivilized, and we must nourish ourselves, and besides, there’s Portuguese pastry to be found!! Time to split the group.
After lunch with my friend we took a bus to the island off the south of Macau, called Taipa. Bet ya didn’t know there was a separate island, huh? 😉 Neither did I. The best description for Taipa that I can give is “Little Vegas”. Casino after Casino, and huge newly constructed, beautiful hotels. The most advertised of these is the Venetian. Just like in Vegas, they have a “Grand Canal” lined with shops, and you can take a gondola ride, under the painted sky. What they also have is Portuguese “Pastel de nata”–> egg tarts! Mission accomplished! We walked along the “canal” and did some window shopping (we’ll call it market research), and took a stroll through the casino. No gambling though. Minimum bets of 300HKD? Too rich for my blood! Another quick note: Hong Kong and Macau each have their own currency, separate from mainland China. Luckily when you go to Macau with your HKD, you can pretty much use them interchangeably with the Macau Patacas. Convenient! 😉
The nice thing about the Venetian is that they provide a free shuttle to each of the ferry terminals (Taipa island has their own ferry terminal, but it’s much smaller than Macau). How convenient, they bus their gamblers straight from the boat docks to the bacarat tables! On the way out of the Venetian we happened to run into another place selling egg tarts. Well, you can’t just pass it up! It was a sign. We needed another 😉 We took the shuttle to the Taipa ferry terminal. No seats on the ferries until 9pm. woops…. So take a taxi back to Macau? Nah, we took the free shuttle back to the Venetian, then another freebee to Macau terminal. We’re smart. And we almost had another egg tart…almost.
So all in all, a cool day trip! I’ll call it recon for a later more organized trip to Macau, hopefully in the near future!