It Begins

Got off the plane, ran around the arrival area tryna get my things set up (Octopus card and sim card; only got one of these -.-) and boarded a bus out to TST. I was meeting up with friends, and they decided to go to Macau that morning. Unfortunately, there was a housing snafu, and I was stuck lugging around my 24 kg luggage from airport -> TST -> Macau. Even though I knew about this beforehand, I didn’t make the executive decision to ferry out from airport to Macau, as I thought I’d be able to drop off my suitcase before ferrying over. It would’ve been much easier, less time consuming, and more cost effective to do so. Just a heads up for anyone else doing the same.

Bused out to TST and got off and walked a couple blocks over the harbor side mall. Unfortunately, I went the wrong way and ended up at Star Ferry Terminal (southern end of the mall). Had I known I was to go to China-HK pier, I could’ve saved myself the extra hassle of it all. But who doesn’t like double trekking through the rain with luggage? My friends had booked a 9am ferry, and I got there at like 8.42am.  Just squeaked in. I was stowing my luggage in the luggage area on the ferry, when the employee started looking at me exasperatedly and broke into mandarin telling me to place it correctly. I responded in Cantonese and asked her what she wanted me to do, and her face and tone immediately changed to one of relief and friendliness. Hong Kong’s been through a rough 17 years of dealing with increased presence of mainlanders, so while the locals can and will speak the Mandarin/Potonghua language, they’ll immediately sterotype you as a Mainlander, even if you’re not. It’s an hour’s ferry ride out to Macau, so by 10am, I had finally reached my first destination (All this after having gotten off a cruise Monday morning LA time, spent the day rushing/packing, left Mon night, arrived Wed morning, and ferry right after).

We met up with Ted, who was a friend of a friend, who had graciously agreed to host us and house us overnight for our little foray into Macau. He took us to eat some delicious Portuguese food for lunch, which included a variety of plates full of delectable tastes. As Macau was former a colony of Portugal (handed back to China in 1999 under the SAR scheme identical to HK). But the Portuguese language, culture, and influence remain abundant, and so does delicious Portuguese food. Languages spoken include Portuguese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Currencies accepted include MOP, RMG, and HKG.

Macau’s main attraction is its casinos, with its gambling revenue far outpacing the paltry sums Las Vegas pulls in. Some nicknames of the city include “Las Vegas of the Far East” and the “Monte Carlo of the Orient.” In Jan 2014, one CNN article wrote that Macau’s 2013 gambling revenue was $45b USD, versus Vegas’ numbers of $6.5b USD, figures showing Macau to rake in 7x that of Vegas. Ted, our host, works in the casino/tourism industry and mentioned that ongoing construction in Macau is slated to complete another 5 mega-casinos within the next couple of years. They’re even working on building light rail to help make transportation easier to get around the tiny area.

The Grand Lisboa.

Mega-casino opening in 2017.

A gondola ride on the canals inside the Venetian.

Main lobby of The Galaxy, one of Macau’s largest and grandest casinos.

After our little tour, we took a little break to rest our legs, and the break included like 3 round of Hoegaarden drinks before a sushi/Japanese dinner with a round of Asahi, before heading back to Ted’s place for a night of playing a drinking game. I may have had too much whisky then (beer before liquor, never sicker!), because I don’t remember anything after 10pm. And we apparently played til past midnight? Oops.

Round 1 of 3. At 4pm. What’s not to like?

The next day, Ted took us to an awesome dim sum place and we spent another hour walking around Macau before ferrying back to HK. I always think it’s fascinating to see the juxtaposition of the crazy casino expansion of large grandiose buildings in the background while still seeing smaller older (sometimes decrepit) buildings languishing in the foreground. Or even the remains of simple cultural architecture nestled in the midst of their newer brethern, all within walking distance of each other.

Ruins of St. Paul (大三巴). And some couple.

Senado square.

Quaint little streets (Green is the color of the Macau flag).

Honestly, Ted was one of the best hosts/people I’ve met, hands down. In terms of personality, knowledge of the area, being accommodating, and flexible/tolerant of our needs/desires/troubles. I think we all had a fantastic time in Macau. The dude even self-earned Cantonese in <4 years, and is currently working on his Portuguese. Amazing man.

A bit tired as we head back to HK.

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CX 883 || It Begins

Smugmug (HKTW2014 album)

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