Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hong Kong Day 4 - Macau

Another sunny day!  Makes me wish I'd gone to the Peak today instead of Macau...

Being my last full day in Hong Kong I thought I'd head to Macau to explore the World heritage listed historic part of the town.  Macau was a Portuguese colony before being handed back to China in 1999.  Macau's economy is based largely on tourism - the gaming, tourism and hospitality industry contribute more than 50% of Macau's GDP and 70% of the government's revenue.

Hence Macau seems to be the primary place to gamble in Asia.

I caught the ferry from Hong Kong.  Silly me got off at Central instead of Sheung Wan, so I had to get back on the MTR and I missed the first ferry, which set off at 7am.  I ended up getting the 730am one.  I bought a ticket on the Superjet using the ATM type facility and ended up with a super class ticket instead of economy, which coast HK$100 more.  But it was worth it, I had a nice seat and food!

The whole ferry ride takes 1 hour.  The worst part was actually getting on the ferry, it was pitching and rocking so much I actually felt a little seasick.  Once it was sailing, I was fine.  Passport control exiting Hong Kong was BUSY!  I thought I was going to miss my boat, so next time I think I'll buy my ticket with at least 30 minutes to spare, not 20 minutes.

On arriving in Macau, I had no idea where to go.  Unfortunately for me I was there so early the tourism office wasn't open yet so I couldn't even get any maps.  I did remember from reading that I should try getting some of the casino shuttles which operate every 10-15 minutes.  So I did that.  I was obviously waiting in the wrong spot because there were hardly any shuttles where I was waiting and I thought I'd go check out Galaxy Macau, the new casino which just opened because in Hong Kong there are ads for it EVERYWHERE.  Yes, yes I am a victim of advertising.  But the ads look so cool!  There are a number of hotels at Galaxy Macau, and I have to admit, don't you think the lanterns floating in the sky in the advertisment remind you of "Tangled"?  No?  Well maybe it's because I watched Tangled so many times since I was in Vegas having recently gotten it for the kids to watch.

So here are some of the other advertisements that bombarded me about Galaxy Macau which made it a tourist attraction for me:

Doesn't it all look so classy?  Don't you just want to stay there?  I swear next time I'm going to stay there!

So I waited for AGES (like till 9am) for a shuttle, and I went all the way to Galaxy.  Now I didn't realise it wasn't on Macau peninsula it was actually on Cotai (one of the other islands...) but there were other casinos there I could see (like the Venetian - but I couldn't be bothered going there), so I decided to wander inside and look at the place.  There are some giant coloured crystals inside for luck.  And the gaming tables were clean and well spaced.  I didn't stay long as I noticed there was a shuttle from Galaxy to San Ma Lo near where the historic part of town was.

The good thing about getting there was there are PLENTY of signposts pointing you in the direction to go for various tourist attractions.  And so without a map, I just followed those all around.  There are maps dotted around the place too so that helped a lot as well.

I started out in Senate Square (Largo de Senado), which is so pleasant I could just hang around there all day!  It doesn't feel like I'm in an Asian country here, more like in South America.  I was mainly trying to get to the main attraction, the Ruins of St Paul (Ruinas De Sao Paolo), which I thought was very impressive.

After that I went to the Mount Fortress (Fortaleza de Monte), and walked around it, that really wore me out! I was getting hungry and thirsty by that stage.  So I bought a drink while I was there and there are great views from the top of Macau Peninsula.  Though I have to admit that the view to me seems dominated by the Hotel Lisboa (or Grand Lisboa anyway) with it's massive perfume bottle shape rising high above the rest of the city.  I think I took about 10 pictures of Lisboa!  People will think I'm obsessed.  At the top of the fortress there is also a museum and there are cannons there too still in place.  Someone said there was an escalator there but I couldn't find it...

After that I went to a park to have a rest and then made my way to Hotel Lisboa so I could check it out.  I heard that if you want to see a European casino this is the place to go.  However, I found that it was very cramped, smoky and not to my liking at all.  But the Grand Lisboa had some very impressive things in their foyer.  There was the "Star of Stanley Ho" which was a 218.08 carat diamond, D clarity with no imperfections!  I thought it was a man made diamond but it was in fact a natural one!
There were also jade and ivory carvings, gold sculptures, the whole lobby was worth millions and millions of dollars!  I was very impressed.

Across from Lisboa was the Wynn, and I had to go have a look since I stayed at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  The Wynn Macau has fountains outside just like the Bellagio and I was fortunate enough to get there as they were "performing".
And I had a "rest" in the casino at the craps table... for 2 hours.  Walked out $5 richer... hahaha!

That evening I caught the 515pm ferry back and rested and packed my bag for the rest of the evening.  I didn't see everything I could have in Macau, but I think I'd like to go back and see more.

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