HK - Macau
Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
124Trip End Ongoing
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Once again we utilised the hotel cake shop for a hearty breakfast of pastries and cakes before checking out and heading for the ferry over to Macau. This was the first time we had to carry our bags for any distance as the folks had kindly lugged them around at the airport before checking them in and then the taxi drivers and hotel staff took them from there. Shame the folks, taxi drivers and hotel staff couldn't follow us around on this trip...they're damn heavy!!
The ferry was actually a catamaran and the seats were like first class airline seats which WOULD have made for a pleasant journey if the South China Sea hadn't been so damn choppy. After multiple protests to buying travel sickness bands Andrew was soon extremely thankful for them and slept like a baby for the rest of the journey.
Now seasoned travellers we were wise to the local cons and refused the offer of a HK$100 (8GBP) taxi ride to the Holiday Inn (PIC) 5 minutes down the road and soon discovered a FREE shuttle bus instead.
Checked in and refreshed we headed for the nearest bus stop and made our way to Senado Square (PIC). We had to take an educated guess of which to stop to take as there was very little English (spoken or written) anywhere.
Being the first 'square' that we had seen in HK, Senado had a very European feel to it with its architecture, jazzy paved floor and modern clothes shops. The Portugese influence in Macau was very evident.
St Dom's church (PIC) is highlighted as one of the key draws to the square, so after stopping at a street seller and buying some freshly made biscuits, we tried to find it. En route MaccieD's caught our eye and lightened our wallets once more. Perching on some steps in the square to feast on the gourmet grub we tried to figure out where the Church was. After finishing up and walking around the surrounding streets for 10 minutes we found ourselves back at the very spot we had enjoyed our MaccieD's, only this time looking up we noticed that we had been sitting on the front steps of St Dom's the whole time, so engrossed in our food, we hadn't noticed the 'key draw' or the tourists in front of us taking photo's!! We had to laugh at our own uncouth behavior and slightly skewed priorities - MaccieD's has a way of creating tunnel vision.
The food theme continued as we made our way up towards St Pauls ruins and the Monte Fort as the street was populated with freebie samples of freshly made authentic treats. We figured it would be rude to refuse such generosity but not too rude to leave without buying any and parting with our precious money.
The ruins largely consist of the facade of the original building which in itself is still quite stunning and worth seeing (PIC).
We decided to give the adjoining museum a miss (having overdosed on museums on our previous tour of Europe) and started the climb to the fort. Not for the unfit or light hearted (surprised we made it!), it was quite a steep climb up a lot of steps to get to the panoramic views of Macau at the top (PICS).
We descended the hill to find the next bus to Macau tower on the south of the island. This unfortunately is where our Macau experience went rapidly down hill....and up hill...and all around the island but NOT where we wanted to go. The buses on Macau are NOT to be recommended; some go the wrong way, some stop and wait for no apparent reason, some stop and make you get off without explanation and to top it all off don't bother trying to track your route on the map as there seems to be little correlation between the map and the actual streets.
After two hours, three buses and a mile and a half of walking we finally got to the tower (which would have been 10 mins away in a taxi!!). The only mild saving grace was the A-Ma Temple we stopped at en route (PIC) although by the time we got there we couldn't actually go in as it had closed for the evening.
Macau Tower is an impressive and imposing modern erection (PIC) (no pun intended) which overlooks the commercial end of the island taking in all the extravagant casinos which are the main attraction for most visitors to Macau.
Inside the tower we were approached by a representative of the 'A J Hackett adrenaline experiences' that are available there. We had seen a flyer for a few of them e.g. wall climbing, zip line (only 30m) and the Sky walk around the lip of the observation deck at the top of the tower.
What we hadn't seen on offer was the Sky Jump from the top - 233m up. This is the tallest of its kind in the world....now this we were interested in! Figuring that the daytime jump would be scarier and therefore more of a rush we decided we would do it the following morning.
On the way back to the hotel we passed the Cybernetic fountain show (PIC) on the lake near to the Tower which was entertaining but not spectacular - us being the only tourists watching should have been a bit of a clue.
We ambled back to the hotel via the Casino Lisboa (PIC) which is the most famous on the island and only 5 minutes away from our hotel and popped into a local equivalent of a greasy spoon for dinner; noodles and dumplings. The experience and ordering was made more interesting and exciting as there was no English on the menu and the staff didn't speak a word either. One thing we did recognise and indulge in was a piece of toast - it was great!
First port of call was the Kun Iam Temple (PICS) in the Mid-North, luckily we had the buses sussed and managed to stop right outside. The Temple was a sprawling maze of shrines and gardens with a constant flow of incense fumes and a plethora of Budhas. Deciding it would be prudent to follow the trend, Andrew put his wallet on one Budha and rubbed his belly for good luck (PIC). Verdi decided it would be prudent NOT to do the same as she would probably leave the damn thing there and lose all her money instead.
Just around the corner was a distractingly cheap cake shop which could not be ignored. Then the Lou Lim Ieoc Garden (PIC) which was not as well maintained as others we had visited but still contained an abundance of locals practicing music, doing there exercises and the usual group of old men congregating for a 'wives meeting' and a bit of Mahjong.
The plan was then to catch the cable car up to the Guia lighthouse, but as they say 'the best laid plans..', evidently the cable car was "closed for maintenance" on Mondays! Taking one look at the daunting climb up hundreds of steps that lay ahead of us, we realised that we weren't THAT bothered about the lighthouse after all. All was not lost as we spent the time instead, peeking into the cages of the monkey's (PIC), peacocks, and a bear that were in the Flora garden at the foot of the hill (PIC). The garden must also double as a gym as an aerobics class...well, group of local ladies doing Tai Chi, was the back drop for our visit.
Sites exhausted, the time had come to make our way to the Tower to do our Sky Jump. We had a quick look around the observation deck at the panoramic views allowing just enough time for us to pose on the glass flooring (PICS) over the 233m drop and for Andrew's nerves to build.
Having donned our rather fetching jumpsuits and harnesses we perched on the edge of the jump platform for last minute safety checks. Andrew was first to take the leap of faith in front of dozens of excited Chinese tourists. After a brief falter and 'oohs' from his audience, Andrew leapt into the void and disappeared downwards at 75 miles per hour! Having witnessed his safe descent and gotten slightly impatient with the wait, Verdi eagerly followed suit off the edge and plummeted groundwards. Luckily Andrew had sneaked our camera into his pocket and whipped out the camera in time to film Verdi's jump...and not so elegant landing.
Feet both safely back on terra firma we returned the jumpsuits, collected our belongings and headed to see the White Tiger cubs (PICS) in an enclosure at the bottom of the Tower (random! but very cute).
Our time was up in Macau - what a way to end it!
Bags gathered, we checked out and hopped on the next ferry back to HK Island to catch the boat over to Lantau Island.
Where I stayed