As I pulled into Macau on the ferry, the first two things I noticed was that there were a lot of casinos, and also that it had a tower that looked like Auckland’s Sky Tower.
VIEW OF MACAU FROM FERRY
My God immigration was a nightmare in Macau – there were so many people trying to get in and most of them were Chinese people talking extremely loudly, not respecting the queues and it was just one general free-for-all. It took about 80 minutes to get through the immigration queues – I was so happy to get out of there.
I heard that most of the big hotels have shuttle buses from the ferry terminal, and I was staying in the Hotel Lisboa which was reportedly the most well known hotel/casino Macau had. I saw where all the shuttle buses were stopping, but they were on the other side of a major road and I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get across the road. It was a hundred degrees and I was dragging my big suitcase around so I just gave up and for once thought I’d take a taxi.
Before we got there I realised I only had Hong Kong dollars and we were now in Macau, and I didn’t have any Macau patacas. I’d read that Hong Kong dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Macau so I hoped that was true. HK Dollars are worth 3% more than Macau’s currency so I figured it was probably true. The taxi ride turned out to be only MOP$20.50 (NZD$3.50), so I’m glad that I ended up taking the taxi – it made me realise how ridiculously cheap taxis were on the island.
Macau is a former Portuguese colony and so it has official languages of Portuguese and Cantonese. Lisboa (Lisbon in English) is the capital of Portugal and so that’s where this hotel gets its name – I think! I understand that this hotel is the oldest in Macau and still contains many Chinese antiques owned by, err, some famous Chinese guy. It was quite 70s inside and was clearly very impressive in its day.
By this time it was only lunchtime and they told me I was too early to check in. So they took my big bag off me and I had three hours to kill by looking around the city. There was the Grand Lisboa, the Hotel Lisboa’s newer brother right next door, which you couldn’t miss from pretty much anywhere in Macau.
HOTEL GRAND LISBOA
Luckily I didn’t have to worry about getting lost, because I knew that this Grand Lisboa building is so huge and so gaudy that I just have to make my way back there and I will be back at my hotel next door.
One thing I notice is that there was Chinese writing everywhere, very few of the shops had any English on them and I was getting a bit hungry by this point. But I managed to hold out. I saw some interesting looking apartment buildings, some built on the edge of cliffs.
MACAU CLIFFSIDE APARTMENTS
After a while I was walking and all I saw was buildings, and so I thought I’d walk to the tower, which looked about 45 minutes’ walk away which I thought was okay despite the heat and I was carrying my bag with my laptop in it because I didn’t want to leave it with the hotel staff.
MACAU TOWER II
I realised when I got to the tower that it is imaginatively called Macau Tower. I paid my fee to go to the top of the tower and saw the view.
VIEW FROM MACAU TOWER I
VIEW FROM MACAU TOWER II
There were people walking around the outside platform of the tower all harnessed in, but that cost a lot of money so I didn’t do that, plus it was quite scary! And if you stood in the right place on the observation deck, you could see people bungy jumping off the tower; they would fall right in front of you.
I took the taxi back from the Macau Tower to the Lisboa and it again cost the very small amount of MOP$20.50 (NZD$3.50). Wow, in London the minimum fee just for getting into the taxi is double this amount, incredible. But this time when I asked for the Hotel Lisboa I got dropped off at the Grand across the road, but that was fine, I survived.
I checked into my room, and decided to have a rest in the room for an hour or two. But, I had a lot of trouble getting any rest, because there was a lady in the next room yelling and swearing, and it was not just a bit of yelling, it was full on screaming and swearing for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, in English. Every now and again there was a big punch on the walls or something being hurled across the room. After a while it did stop momentarily and I fell asleep but then half an hour later it started again.
Also, at some point in my sleepy groggy haze, one of the hotel staff came into my room. I was dizzy from being woken up and I couldn’t understand what the staff member was saying but I sent him out and went back to sleep. Perhaps I had accidentally bumped the “please make up my room” switch without realising; I never worked out what he wanted.
After another half-hour of trying to sleep and getting woken up by the abuse from next door I eventually decided I had to go and ask to change rooms. I’ve never asked to change rooms in a hotel before but this was really going to ruin my holiday and also it was a 5-star hotel so I should be able to do whatever I want. The staff were very nice about it and I moved into a room two floors down and on the other side of the hallway so I even had a better view. But I had to change my king size bed for two single beds, which was a bit of a shame.
The view in the first room looked out over a roof and a bunch of air conditioning units, but the new room looked out over the tower and the hotel and the water and a major roundabout:
VIEW FROM HOTEL LISBOA ROOM AT NIGHT
VIEW FROM HOTEL LISBOA ROOM IN THE DAYTIME
It was a bazillion degrees today and it would have been so easy to just stay in bed but I thought no, I’ve got to get out and see the city. Being a former Portuguese colony, I understood there was a lot of nice architecture and history to see.
INSTITUTO PARA OS ASSUNTOS CIVICOS E MUNICIPAIS
CHURCH IN MACAU
ANOTHER CHURCH IN MACAU
But also a lot of rundown apartment blocks.
RUNDOWN MACAU APARTMENT BLOCKS I
RUNDOWN MACAU APARTMENT BLOCKS II
The ruins of St. Paul’s were very touristy, but quite cool. This was about the only place where I saw another foreigner, or should I say, another Westerner, as we are called here.
RUINS OF ST. PAUL’S
VIEW FROM THE RUINS OF ST. PAUL’S
I spent the day just walking around and seeing various buildings, walking in and out of streets and getting lost. Getting lost is part of the fun, especially since I had a map given to me by the hotel!
It was really hot, and so I made sure I wore the lightest clothes I had. Walking up and down hills in the extreme humidity was a killer, but that’s why I got all the outside stuff done in one day.
I had another sleep when I got back. I was too scared to go out and try any of the local cuisine, because I’m such a fussy person and also there was so little English around. During my walks, I found a supermarket near the hotel and so I bought things like yoghurt and biscuits, and lots and lots of drinks because of the heat. They have cool drinks with bits of fruit in them and coconut and Aloe Vera and all sorts of things.
This time when I walked to the supermarket it was pouring with rain, so I took the umbrella which the hotel had provided and I went out. I tried to stick to the covered overpasses that occasionally followed the roads but I kept accidentally ending up in casinos and because I was dressed so shabbily I got Chinese guys coming up to me at the entrances speaking to me in Chinese,. I assumed they were trying to tell me that I was not welcome there in my dishevelled state. So I walked outside through the pouring rain.
I went to the casino in the hotel in the evening. My budget was strictly HKD$900, and the rest of my spending money was left in the room so I didn’t spend it – always a good idea when gambling I say.
I played Blackjack first, but it doesn’t seem so popular here and so it wasn’t long before I was the only one at the table. Perhaps I smelled bad, or perhaps it is bad luck to have a Westerner at the table. I don’t like being the only one at the table, and also, the dealer dealt really really slowly, so it made each hand take a really long time.
So I moved onto Roulette. I was a bit luckier here, and in three of the next four spins I had chips on the numbers that came up. So I spent quite a while here, and when it got to two o’clock in the morning I thought I’d better leave. I came out with HKD$2200 so that was a pretty good profit for a night’s work.
2200 HONG KONG DOLLARS
On the way back to my room I was followed around by a lady who kept winking at me and asking me where I was from. I heard that there were a lot of prostitutes in the Lisboa on the second floor. I just smiled and then looked away. She followed me to the lifts but then left me alone luckily! I say she, but I’m only 80% sure she was a she and not a he.
I did nothing today except packed my bags and went back to Hong Kong. I could have got up early and went to see more things, but the humidity just meant I didn’t feel like it.
At the ferry terminal, I dutifully stood in the wrong queue for 10 minutes, I thought that it was one queue for all destinations, but each destination had its own queue because each destination was a different ferry company.
Then I went to check my luggage in before I went through the gates, because I didn’t want to get told off again. At the luggage check in there was a very flustered Scottish woman who I could tell didn’t have enough money to check in her luggage. She said “My ferry is about to leave, I don’t have that much, do you take credit card” to which the attendant said “no”. So she said she’d have to go to the cash machine to get out some cash. I asked her how much she needed and she said $10 (HKD, NZD$1.75) and so I gave it to her. Being British she of course wouldn’t take it but I made sure she took it and she said “good karma will come to you today”.
I couldn’t check in my luggage because that check-in was for some other destination. So I got on the ferry anyway and this time they let me take my bag on, and put it in the luggage space at the front of the boat. Weird.
This ferry was great, there was almost nobody on it which of course was brilliant. Again I looked like the only other Westerner except for one guy who looked like a real hardcore backpacker with his large backpack and his “unshaven for the last 5 months” look.
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