It was hot and humid and the sun was beaming towards us during summer in China, but I couldn't allow the heat to weaken me. Macau was an hour and a half ferry ride away from Hong Kong, in spite of this short distance and the fact that both are laying over the Chinese soil, they were two very distinct places, each having it's exclusive identity.
Luck was in our path the soonest we got at the ferry terminal, we unconsciously fell in line in a "standby area" giving us the chance to board our boat two hours before our schedule. It is something worthy to note, find that sign and fall in line the very chance you get. Not only were we given an early head start for this trip, my friends and I got upgraded to Super Class (Business) while we only purchased Economy. I didn't bother knowing the reason anymore, I just had to sit on that seemingly-lazy boy couch I was assigned for.
Super Class Deck at the Second Floor of Turbo Jet
Wearing light clothes that day seemed to be the best choice I made in my life. Summer was immensely terrifying and any movement you make will either dehydrate you or burn you, both actually are of equal bearing.
Good thing though is that Macau's land area allows you to tour it within three fourths of a day, and you need not spend much as almost everything there is for free. Free rides, free food. If you know how to work it, that is.
You see the moment you step out from the ferry terminal, free bus invites are literally lined up at the terminal exit. You just have to plan your priorities. To go to the Ruins of St Paul, ride the free shuttle to Wynn, walk your way to the old and new Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino. Head out from the main exit then walk right, straight to the Macau Tourism Building, follow the crowd and that will lead you to the ruins. If you don't have a map or a GPS, bring a photo of the ruins and ask a local, it is best to show the photo since only a few of the locals are well versed in English compared to the locals of Hong Kong.
The Grand Lisboa
While you are en route to the ruins, which basically is the main tourist spot in Macau, you'll notice that the look and feel everywhere resembles Portuguese settlement, all sign boards are even translated in English and Portuguese, primarily because Macau was once a Portuguese colony. This explains why Macau remains very bizarre to the rest of China, it feels East and West at the same time. You will notice that the architecture, although are hoisted in Chinese soil are built in a western design, something I think is truly remarkable.
The Streets of Macau
It is easy to navigate Macau since the flock of people will bring you to your destination before you even plan it, this motion will bring you to a narrow road with stores side by side, selling food, branded clothes and whatnot. Right at the start I mentioned that if you know how to work things, you need not spend a penny, even for food. Because in this area, merchants offering free taste of goodies in every step of the way temporarily feeds your gustatory craving. Call it leeching, free loader or how ever you call it, nothing beats freebies.
Before we even got to the ruins,my friends and I were feeling anxious and frustrated already as we had ran a little lost to look for the path although we tried to remain at pace with everyone's direction, somehow in the middle of it we got tangled on a few stores that had us lose the pace. The sun was so high that we were all sweaty, tired, famished and dehydrated and we thought we could eat anything edible that moment.
As we were walking out the little energy we had left at an early stage, we saw this restaurant with not a single English subtitle on its facade, we entered and could not find any vacant seat until the third floor. I instantly felt it was a bad idea to get in as the stares of the diners were a bit awkward, an indication that we are the only foreigners in the place, with barely no one able enough to speak conversational English for us. We grabbed the menu at the table and all we see are Chinese characters, until our friend Rafa decided to ask any random people dining if they speak English. Luckily a family seated next to us spoke good English and offered to help us order, little did I know that the place we dined in was Yee Shun Milk Company and is one of the most famous cafes in Macau, known for its Pork Buns and Milk Pudding. There goes another luck! Check them out in this blog post: Top 5 Macau Street Eats.
I've heard that Macau has the best pastries and true to that, one should not miss almond cookies and
egg tarts which are practically everywhere in Macau, best eaten while hot and while walking the pavements. On top of that, there's the all famous meat jerky.
Reaching the Ruins of St. Paul after thirty minutes was such a relief, it was beautiful from a far but it was incredibly prettier up close. We spent an hour just lazing around, watching people and snapping tons of selfies and photographs while watching dragon dance show before leaving.
While it was getting late in the afternoon, we walked back to the Grand Lisboa to catch the shuttle back to the the port. From there, we boarded the free shuttle to The Venetian. If you are eyeing for at least three casino stops, you should really include The Venetian in the itinerary.
The Venetian stands far from the Ruins, this isn't an easy en-route stop over you can make. You will get the chance to see the Macau Tower and pass by the Macau Bridge going to this casino and hop off an exciting interior.
The word grandiose instantly came in my mind when I saw the interiors of The Venetian. Painted on the ceiling were clouds that gives us the illusion that it is a perfect day to walk with carpets the entire place, with Gondola paddlers who sings to tune of classical music, some of them are Filipino.
As a mall, The Venetian houses almost every brand you can think of while the aura sets you a very cozy mood. I was fascinated with every minute walking in The Venetian and had it been not the time running out, I would not mind spending a few more hours after I took my first decent meal for the day.
A variety of Chinese-style Chicken and Rice
Getting lost in Macau and hopping off to a few places got us in the night and with another stamp added to my passport, the day, albeit tiring, was nothing but great. We rushed back to the port and had our luck again to be a stand-by passenger, boarded the ferry two hours earlier than our rightful boat, this time, was no longer lucky enough to be upgraded. But with legs sore from walking, I didn't mind where I was seated, it felt cozy that I slept the entire sail back to Hong Kong.
- When in Hong Kong, check your nearest ferry port. Turbo Jet accommodates stand by passengers so you better find the line if you want to hop on an earlier ferry schedule than the one you purchased.
- Take advantage of the free shuttle rides from the Casinos, they all stops at the ferry port, from there you can hop on another shuttle.
- The Venetian's foodcourt has one of the best food choices in Macau.
- Macau merchants usually accepts Hong Kong dollars so you need not exchange them.