Friday, 21 November 2014
Macau day trip
My wife has a habit: no matter whether we are at home or on holidays, invariably she would be the last person out of the door whenever we need to go somewhere. It was the same again when we were readying ourselves to buy our turbojet tickets to Macau in March this year. We were staying in Sheung Wan and I had to hurry her out of the hotel early enough to have our breakfast before walking over to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal. Once the tickets were bought, we were on our way.
The one-hour journey was smooth and uneventful, and soon we arrived at the Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal. And immediately, we hit a problem: hardly anyone we met outside the Macau Government Tourist Office at the terminal spoke English, and with us not speaking Portuguese, Cantonese or Mandarin, our only course of action was to arm ourselves with one of their tourist maps so that we could point and gesticulate to the destinations we wanted to go.
In 2001, the Macau government eased restrictions on casinos operating here and today, I've been reading that there are as many as 33 casinos in this Special Administrative Region.
So there we were, we hailed a taxi at the ferry terminal and pointed out to the driver that we wanted to go to the ruins of St Paul's. Well, maybe not exactly to the ruins itself, but maybe, just drop us off a distance away so that we could walk and have a look around one of Macau's busy commercial centres. We got off at the Avenida do Infante Dom Henrique, got our bearings correct and strolled to where the Largo de Senado (Senado Square) was.
Obviously, we weren't interested in the big business outlets with their branded goods; they were more or less the same everywhere. Instead we were more curious about the little mom-and-pop shops along the way: the little shops selling souvenir items and the little shops selling tasty snacks like dried sweet meats, meatballs on a stick, grilled pork chops in crispy buns, almond cookies and of course, their famous Portuguese egg tarts, It would be unforgivable to leave Macau without eating two or three or even more of these egg tarts!
We came away from our brief trip to Macau convinced that next time around, we must stay here for a couple more days. After all, Macau is an amazing place, both historical and modern, and visiting this place can be a great experience, especially if your first visit was short or incomplete or if you haven't been here before. So if my wife and I were to visit Macau again, what will we be doing?
Dom Pedro V Theatre, Mandarin's House, A-Ma's Temple and the Guia hills.
But history and culture aside, Macau has other modern-day attractions. I'm talking casinos now. Yes, the casinos. We'd certainly like to step foot into the casinos - yes, really visit them intentionally - not to gamble but to enjoy the side attractions like the gondola ride at the Venetian Macau and the Wynn Macau's water fountain show which I hear is rather spectacular.
In the early evening as we took the same turbojet ride back to Hong Kong, we looked back at this former Portuguese colony and saw Macau's newest casino, the Sands Macau, fading away into the background. Hopefully, we'll be back in the foreseeable future to explore more of this place.