Brief update on my life.
Well yeah. I’ve been tardy with my posts – no excuse really. Just been lazy, not in the mood, and just feeling pissed off. Seriously, sometimes the smallest things can really annoy me – and they shouldn’t. But I’m only annoyed because I want at least one person to stand on my side and agree – and then that’s it. It sounds immature, but I just want that bit of reassurance that yes, being angry or irritated at stuff that shouldn’t usually be a problem is normal and that it can be right. Even just for a few minutes.
I’ve never been to Macau, but I have seen photos of it. My impression of Macau is really bustling and busy, and the first thing that comes to mind is “casino”. So the image that came to mind was a really tourist based city that looked and felt like Las Vegas – only in Asia.
Macau is a SAR which is just a boat’s ride away from Hong Kong. It has a fairly rich history as it was ruled by the Portugese so there is a mix of both Eastern and Western architectural influences which makes it a fairly interesting place.
Find it confusing as it’s not the same as Hong Kong? No worries, they accept Hong Kong dollars, so you don’t need to exchange money. Most of the time you will get your change in Hong Kong dollars as well, with the exception of taxi drivers – they are super sneaky and will give you Macau dollars (well, to be fully correct, they are called Macanese pataca) instead as it is cheaper than Hong Kong dollars in terms of exchange rates. That’s not too bad, provided you just spend those dollars buying food, or whatever it is you need to buy.
Sunday: Macau one day trip
We travelled to Sheung Wan where the Hong Kong Macau ferry terminal is. There’s another terminal you can choose, which is Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal at Tsim Sha Tsui. You’d think we’d choose HKCN since I’m staying at Tsim Sha Tsui – but we didn’t. I don’t know why either. But oh well.
My friend bought a book about Macau which included maps and a bunch of places you need to visit (for example, go to this place to eat that) at a newsagency when we got there. I ideally should have researched the place beforehand, because we were both completely lost when we got there. Macau was not what I was expecting – I thought that Macau was just a city with a few streets hustling and bustling with people, but actually that wasn’t the case. Yes, Macau is small, but I had no idea that Macau was actually an island plus a chunk of mainland connected by a bridge. Everything is closely located and within walking distance, so if you go food hopping most likely your next eating destination is only 2 minutes away – barely enough time for you to digest what you just ate.
And no, no Las Vegas vibes 😦
I thought that there would also be heaps of people in Macau, but there weren’t all that many people, possibly because it was a Sunday and many places were closed, and most people were inside “shopping centres” which are all in the vicinity of casinos, which are tucked in major hotels. The weather in Macau is mostly dusty, humid (but not as humid as Hong Kong) with probably very high UV levels. I really felt stupid for not having sunglasses… my skin now is a wreck
Macau is a 1 hour ferry ride from Hong Kong and you are required to pass customs, so bring your travel documents with you. You do not need a visa to go to Macau unless you are staying longer than 90 days.
As soon as you get off the ferry you will find a bus terminal full of free hotel shuttle buses which will take you to your hotel – or *cough* desired casino location. They are all free anyway, and they will most likely take you across the bridge… unless you choose a casino that’s on the same island. Excuse my confusing directions – we got off at Taipa, which is the little island part. The rest is just mainland Macau (which is confusingly called Macau Island).
We chose the MGM bus, which is orange in colour. This was the view going across the bridge… as you can tell… dusty. Really dusty. I didn’t expect Macau to be like that!
If you were struggling to choose between normal class tickets or first class tickets for the ferry to go to Macau, let me give you a precious piece of advice – go for the ordinary cabin tickets. It’s not worth paying an extra 50% for the first class cabin… there’s not a lot to look at from Hong Kong to Macau to be honest.
When we arrived we went through customs (really annoying, I had to fill out an immigration slip because the people on the ferry did NOT give me a slip… so I didn’t know I had to fill one in until I got to the customs officer wtf) and then hopped onto a bus which took us to MGM, which is a hotel/ casino/ shopping centre complex on Macau Island. MGM stands for Mei Go Mei which roughly translates to “beautiful tall plum blossom”.
What I really liked about MGM was their tourist attraction which was their butterfly simulation ball – this was the first thing I saw when I entered the MGM lobby and it was breathtakingly beautiful. It feels like a wonderland in there with the glass roof and beautiful architecture. This was not photoshopped! Defiintely my favourite photo from Macau… I’m using it as my phone screensaver. They had little foil pinwheels on the trees that spun and glittered under the sunlight too… too bad I couldn’t capture that.
The butterfly simulation globe has little butterflies flying around… to this day I’m still not sure if they were real or not… but it looked so real. Either way, it was a really memorable sight to see first thing visiting Macau.
This is generally what the buildings in Macau look like. Everything is reflective glass (it’s really bad for people on the street though because it means concentrated levels of light and heat reflected onto uhhh YOU) and mostly golden in colour since it’s a casino district. MONEY.
As you can also probably gather, it’s quite difficult to cross the road. It takes more skill in Macau to cross the road than it does in Hong Kong. True story.
We trekked super far to get to a small cafe named Margaret’s Cafe e Nata. Apparently they have the best Portugese tarts and milk tea – it’s tucked in a wide alley just off a main street. It doesn’t look like much as it’s a pretty old err shop which is really small and has a few seats and tables outside. The most notable thing is that it has a super long line.
Once you get closer to the cash register you will see the prices of the stuff they have. Milk Teas are $12, tarts are $8 each. The cash register is super good at like, a zillion languages (heard her speaking Thai!) so it shouldn’t be a problem ordering. She will collect your money, give you a receipt, and then you tell one of the girls in the white aprons and stuff what you paid for (the receipt only says the price and quantity but doesn’t say what the item is as their cash register is still the old type). She will gather your order.
I had no idea what a Portugese tart was – actually, it’s just an egg tart that appears to be scorched. It didn’t taste any different to an egg tart to me, but after a long walk, it tasted pretty damn good. The milk tea was probably the highlight – hands down the best milk tea I’ve had (of course it’s an ice milk tea – for the weather I trekked in, lawd I can’t imagine what it’s like drinking a hot one). I pretty much drank it in one go.
After this “snack” we decided to walk it off and find a restaurant recommended in our guide book named “Solmar”. To our disappointment, it was only about a 5 minute walk away… it looked further on the map so when we arrived, we were still stuffed and half unwilling to eat.
Solmar has Portugese foods and is in the style of a Western cafe. You get the glass of water, warm bun and butter before your meal even starts so it felt kinda weird. At the same time the interior of the restaurant is really interesting, so you can really feel the distinct East-meets-West feeling Macau has to offer.
We ended up ordering half a Portugese chicken and these deep fried fish crochets.
The Portugese chicken was actually curry chicken in a stone pot LOL. I don’t know what to really say. It was pretty yummy though, and the fish crochets were pretty nice too. They were really crispy on the outside and really soft on the inside.
The cafe is slightly pricier than what we originally thought – the bill came to about $230 MP (or in our case, HKD since we were going to pay in Hong Kong dollars anyway) – a step up from the normal meal I was used to in Hong Kong, but it was worth it for the experience. When you convert it back to AUD or USD, it was like $20 each, so that’s not too bad.
By the way, the toilets at Solmar are amazing. To be precise, the doors. They are beautiful. I didn’t take a photo though.
This was taken outside Solmar after our meal as I waiting for my friend to resurface from the toilet. A very common form of transport in Macau seems to be via scooters. A lot of the streets are also pebbled and quite reminiscent of a European, laid back city.
Close up of the footpath which I thought was pretty cool. I mean, apart from being bothered to mozaic the floor, they even had a colour variation and pattern (!!). Super weird colour combo I wore on the day. These watermelon red jeans were from H&M for $249HKD. Comfy, but I was super bright and probably stood out for a mile. Nobody was quite as bright as I was… and usually I’m not someone who goes for bright colours, which is kind of funny.
We decided to walk to “Fook Long Street” which is a pretty famous street for its cheap sharks’ fin soup, and various other things like souvenirs (food, obvs) to bring back.
On the way we passed by Senado Square.
We didn’t hang around Senado Square for long, because as you can see apart from the buildings there’s nothing else to really look at or do there.
Opposite Senado Square there is a taxi stop which is regulated with the help of Macau’s helpful police. They basically regulate it so that whoever is in the queue next actually gets a taxi. The thing that happens so commonly happens in Macau too – yes, people steal your taxi and jump the queue. We saw a Madam being super fierce and told a tourist to get out of the taxi even after he closed the door! She opened the door and ordered him to get out. They are so amazing.
This is Fook Long Street. This queue is a queue to have sharks’ fin soup. The sign above reads “Tim Fat Sharks’ Fin Soup in a bowl”. I did a dodgy translation because what they really mean is I mean, duh of course it comes in a bowl… but it’s a small bowl and well yeah. Apparently it’s like just $25 MP for a small bowl. We saw the queue and decided to forget about it. After all the news about how painfully sharks die because of sharks’ fin soup, I kind of felt turned off by it. But if you want cheap sharks’ fin soup, this is the most famous place to get it.
We got some food to bring back… mostly phoenix egg rolls (boxed) and sweets. I personally bought mango nougats (they were pretty good). I also got a box of plain phoenix egg rolls… but I kind of abandoned at my hotel room because I ran out of room in my luggage space. They sell them at Thai Kee supermarket in Market City anyway OTL Made in Macau too… I totally shouldn’t have bothered. But anyway, the places that sell these foods let you try before you buy, so you can actually stuff your face stupid with samples without buying a single thing. If you think you’ve stayed in the one place for too long, you can just hop a few stores down and let the process repeat. You can never go hungry in Macau, even if you have no money – food is virtually free and we were starting to think that we were stupid for eating lunch.
After that we headed back to Senado Square where we lined up for a taxi, which we rode all the way back to Taipa.
Our return ticket was scheduled for 6pm, and it was around 3pm already, so it was about time we headed back.
The taxi from Macau Island to Taipa was $49 MP, which is pretty cheap considering it was a pretty long ride away.
Once we got to Taipa we headed for the eatery strip… I got $51MP change from the taxi driver and I just wanted to spend it all and not keep any of their currency. I didn’t realise that the $1 was also MP though… I thought it was a HKD… if not I would have spent it. It was so dumb of me =.=
We decided to go for a light dessert and there was a stall selling small desserts in plastic bowls/ cups. The prices were generally around $10-25 MP each. We ended up choosing 3 (because I wanted to spend my $50).
This was dessert 1, Swallow’s Nest Ice Cream. We ate this first as we were worried it’d melt… we were assuming they melted some swallow’s nest into it… but we couldn’t taste any. It just tasted like vanilla ice cream that was iced in durian air. Pretty disappointing – but then we realised it was because they put this next to the durian ice cream, which is what gave it its weird smell and taste. This was the most expensive dessert (I think it was $28) – totally not worth it. We should have had the durian ice cream instead then… but then again I don’t eat durian so IDK.
This is dessert 2 – I don’t know what to call it except for a tricolor glutinous jelly. I’m sure you’ve all seen this at an Asian grocery just as you’re going to enter. And yes, it is okay yummy. It’s pretty watery though, and it tastes like the jelly I’ve made at home (though we can never get the consistency right). This is a watermelon flavour and it was just perfect for us since we were pretty thirsty.
I don’t know what to call this either… it’s just a pudding but with some shavings on top. This was highly recommended by my workmates but I’m not sure what the hype was. Then again I’m really not a desserts’ kind of person… so yeah. I don’t know LOL.
On the same street you can get your pork chop buns… which are a famous thing to eat in Macau. We could have shared one between us (but we never thought of it that way until I got back to Sydney and my colleagues were like “you could have shared!” – then I was like “…. OH YEAH…. didn’t think of that.”), but we were pretty full anyway. 3 desserts K-O’d in one go.
This park was at the end of the street. Shows how colourful and how laid back Macau is. I honestly didn’t see people really working or stressing out. I kept thinking that it was a weekday… kept forgetting it was a Sunday so everyone pretty much had free time to relax and do whatever they wanted.
We went down the other way along another main street as my friend wanted to try out this other type of food… but when she tried the sample she said she didn’t like it.
It was about 4pm by then and we had nothing to do so we decided to sit at a nearby “park” and just chat.
This place was pretty cool (and super sunny – wear a hat or sunglasses – totally regretting not doing it now) – it’s a temple, but there’s also a place to rent bicycles so all the neighbourhood kids rent a bike and pedal around in circles. It’s also good for tourists – you can rent a bike and ride around Taipa. Useless for me, I don’t know how to ride a bike :S
Sitting there and seeing how relaxing it was really put my mind at ease. These kids are still pretty fresh to the world and find plenty of fun and joy in a bicycle, which I feel somewhat comforted by. Kids these days can be such brats and take everything for granted, but these kids were really content and had fun in simpler things.
We took a taxi back to Taipa Ferry Terminal and we arrived just before 5:30pm. Ferries are at 30minute intervals, and we weren’t sure where to queue. There’s one queue where you queue for your 6pm ferry (ie. us), OR you can choose to line up in the other line as a wild card and if there are free spaces on an earlier ferry, they will let you on.
This is the case for all ferries from Macau to Hong Kong – you can’t MISS your ferry ride, but you can choose to ride on an earlier one. Had we known, we wouldn’t have sat there aimlessly for about an hour before deciding to leave!
We DID get on the ferry (it was pretty empty and it was a larger ferry than the one we got on the way to Macau). It took me ages to get through customs though… my friend walked through with her ePass (HK citizen), but I took forever as I was a “visitor”. I was stuck at customs for about 40-50minutes. It was crazy, there were just so many people.
Note that in Macau, I didn’t say much about drinks apart from water and ice milk tea. There were no real shops selling drinks only – they didn’t have anything remotely similar to EasyWay or ChaTime. We were pretty dehydrated… I mean… the best you could get to getting drinks was going into a cafe/ restaurant and they will probably expect you to also eat something (and eating was something we couldn’t do since we were never hungry that day).
That night we ate dinner at “Chi Kee” on Lock Street, Tsim Sha Tsui. I was craving for noodles so we went for it. The thing I like about Chi Kee is that they are fast, clean, and you can add things to your meal – a main and a dessert, soup or green (as in boiled vegies – Chinese style) was for a set price. You can also add $3HKD for a drink I can’t translate into English because I don’t know what it’s called. But it’s good for you because it gets rid of water retention. My meal came to $48HKD.
Went back to hotel and just slept. What a tiring long day.
So that concludes my trip to Macau. Part 3 will be about my super boring remainder of the trip (it’s boring, seriously). If you were wondering why it took so long for this post, I can only say I sped up the process by forcing myself to finish writing this one… it could have taken longer, but I have nothing to do LOL. Off to work tomorrow =_= I might do an interlude post. Guh – whatevs. Until next post!