Friday, September 12, 2014

Hong Kong and Macau (Part 3)

And I'm back. Let the recounting resume.

After a packed Wednesday and a good night's sleep, it was time to check out Macau on Thursday. Before I thought about visiting Hong Kong, I had this idea that Hong Kong and Macau were too far away from each other. When I found out that it was possible (and apparently common) to see both in one trip, I figured that I might as well venture over. Jesse and Annavelyn wanted to go too, so we decided to meet up and go together.

The day got off to a clumsy start. Have you ever met one of those people that advises others to make sure they remember to bring something before an outing, and then the person who gives the counsel is the person who forgets to bring that really important thing? 

Yeah, that was me.

We started walking toward the ferry and got to talking about visas, and I realized that I'd forgotten my passport back at the hostel. Erps. Jesse and Annavelyn were awesome and waited for me as I retrieved it, which took about 45 least they were able to wait in a cool park, if it's any consolation.

Thanks for keeping the park classy, flamingos.
After I returned, Annavelyn, Jesse, and I went to the ferry terminal building to buy tickets to Macau. Like the previous day, I figured that we'd be able to grab a ticket and walk onto the ferry a few minutes later...after all, it wasn't a weekend or a holiday.

Like the previous day, I was wrong.

It was about 10:30am by the time we got to the ticket counter. We were told that the earliest ferry available was at 11:30am...well, that was until the ticket agent realized that we were a group of three, then he said the earliest ferry that had three available seats was at noon. So we bought the tickets and waited.

There were pros to this situation. For one thing, I found this nifty backpack for a bargain.

At 11:15am, it was time to get ready to board. Even though Hong Kong and Macau are both part of China, they have their own currencies and immigration processes. You can learn more here. What it meant for me was that I had to go through immigration when leaving Hong Kong and entering Macau. Just like Hong Kong, Macau isn't so hip on the whole stamping-the-passport thing, but I do have this nifty piece of paper (plus a bunch of pictures) to prove that I was there.

Interesting note: Macau is referred to as the "Vegas of the Far East." The tiny little territory relies a lot on revenue from gamblers.

Another interesting note: As I was waiting for the ferry, I heard a PSA warning about the dangers of gambling.

The ferry terminal is similar to an airport terminal; just switch the tarmac for water, and they're pretty much the same place. The ferry ride itself was comfy and uneventful. I was asleep for most of the ride, which was about an hour.

After we arrived, we went through immigration and were approached by a man who insisted on giving us a taxi ride everywhere. We assured him we'd be fine, and off we went with a surety of where we were going wandered, aimlessly. The area around the port wasn't bad to walk around.

After strolling around the lake in the picture above, we figured that it was time to figure out where we were going; after all, we had to be back at the ferry terminal at 5:45 to catch the 6:30pm ferry. 

Thankfully, we found a guy who spoke English, and he was able to direct us to where we should go. For all Macau-bound visitors, the info he gave was useful. Most, if not all, of the casinos in Macau provide free shuttles from the ferry terminal to their establishments. The casinos are in the heart of Macau, and most of the attractions are fairly close.

I wish I could remember the guy's name. He was from Brazil and had lived in Nigeria. He now lives in Macau with his father, who is a university professor. I appreciate the helpful stranger, and hopefully I'll be able to recall his name at some point.

As directed, we went back to the terminal and found a shuttle to the Grand Lisboa, one of the casinos. About ten minutes later, we arrived and saw this:

Gamble? Moi? Never.

Our main goal in Macau? To get to the tower. After some walking around (seriously, it's a huge'd think we'd be able to see it from anywhere). we found it.

Then we walked, rested, took some pictures, and walked some more.

We soon got to the tower. Apparently, the tower is the site of the tallest bungee jump in the world. Did I consider doing it? You bet I did. Was I willing to pay the $300+ to do it? Nope. BUT...I did take this picture of the ground from the top of the tower, which is kind of like bungee jumping, I think.

Of course, there were some pretty cool views to be seen from the tower.

Eventually, it was time to eat. After reaching the bottom, going to a tunnel which we thought was part of the subway (it wasn't), getting on a crowded bus, and tumbling off said bus, we headed back to the Grand Lisboa to eat.

Turns out that casinos in Macau are similar to those in Vegas in that the food is pretty cheap. I was pretty happy with it, and the service was much better than that which we'd gotten from the crank at the Victoria Peak restaurant.

It was about 5:30 when we finished dinner, which meant it was time to skedaddle. We found the line for the shuttle bus and waited. And waited. Here's the thing: The lines weren't that long, but the buses didn't come that frequently. This caused some momentary worry, but we were able to get on at about 5:50.

We high-tailed it into the terminal, went through immigration, and boarded the ferry without incident. After getting to Hong Kong, we decided to go to a night market. After getting directions, we went to Temple Street, where there was much negotiating and browsing.

After spending some time and (believe it or not) money, it was time to call it a day. I said goodbye to Jesse and Annavelyn. I'm sure glad they were willing to let me tag along with them for a couple days.

Alright, before signing off for tonight, here are a few more pictures.


Working out with the master

Grand Lisboa

Inside the Grand Lisboa

Oh hey, Circle K. It's been a long, 20 years.

Gate to the Temple Street Market

Jesse and Annavelyn - these guys are awesome.

Stay tuned for...

Hong Kong and Macau: The Conclusion

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