Published: April 29th 2008April 29th 2008
Getting from Kuala Lumpur to Macau
was pretty easy, involving a monorail, train, airplane, and two bus rides over 8 hours. Macau is our first experience with one of China's "special administrative regions" (the other being Hong Kong). Macau is listed as the world's most densely populated region at 18,428 people per square kilometre! In contrast Canada's population density is about 3.5 people per square kilometre!
Macau is a strange place, and it seems to have 3 faces: Portugese colony, Chinese Island, and Casino hotspot. It's strange how you can be in the middle of a beautiful cobblestoned square complete with Portugese style architecture, then walk a few blocks and be blinded by the blaring lights of the casinos like you're in Las Vegas. Walk a few blocks in the other direction and you're in the middle of an ancient Chinese neighbourhood with street vendors and red shuttered shops lining the busy avenue.
Another adjustment for us is realizing that we're not in SE Asia anymore. Like Japan, most people we meet in China will not speak English. In Macau people mainly speak Cantonese.
We loved Macau! 3 types of currency are accepted here: the Chinese
Rua De Felicidade
We stayed in a hostel on this street - which is famous for having the car chase from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom filmed here.
Yuan, the Hong Kong Dollar, and the Macanese Pataca. Bank machines offer the choice of which currency you want to withdraw. Since we knew we'd be continuing on to Hong Kong, we used the Hong Kong dollar while we were in Macau.
Our plane landed and we took two buses from the airport on Taipa island to peninsular Macau. On the second bus we met another backpacker named Katie from England. The three of us agreed that we'd look for a place together. We had a bit of trouble with the first few hostels (all booked) but eventually found one and shared a room with Katie.
The three of us strolled through the beautiful Largo do Senado
which feels out of place in the middle of Asia! The three of us had some great Chinese / Macanese food for dinner. After dinner we strolled down to the casino area and watched the water show in front of the Wynn before walking through the casinos. It was Katie's first time in a casino so she was wide-eyed the whole time! It seems like Baccarat is much more popular here than in the casinos back home although all of the
Portugese egg tarts.
games we're used to seeing are found here as well.
The casinos are quite fancy, and nothing makes you feel more like a dirty backpacker than walking into one of those places! MGM grand and Wynn especially were quite nice. The architecture inside is amazing, but it seems the general consensus is that the casinos have ruined the Portugese colonial charm that Macau used to possess. The girls played some slots and we headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.
Katie had to leave early for her flight to Bangkok. She was really nice and we're glad we met her. Since she was continuing south from Macau, she insisted we take her Macau / Hong Kong city guide book. So nice! After she left, the two of us moved down the street to a different hostel. The street was made famous as it was the same street used in filming the Shanghai car chase in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! We thought that was pretty cool as that is one of our favourite movies!
The hostel was hilarious as the rooms were all open at the top so you could hear
your neighbours as if they were in the same room as you! Also the door to enter our room was hidden on a corner. It was a crazy place but fun for one night. While we were checking in, the hostel owner, who didn't speak a word of English, asked for Travis' passport and began filling in the registration form. When he turned it around asking us for a signature, we noticed that he had written Travis' name down as "VANCOUVER HALE"! He had flipped to Travis' Japanese working visa (many people have mistaken this for our passport identification page as it includes a photo) which was issued in Vancouver. We had a quiet chuckle but didn't want to make him feel bad so just signed the form and said thanks!
That day we did the walking tour of Macau from our (Katie's) guidebook. The day was a little hazy from pollution, but the heat and humidity were much easier to take than when we were in Malaysia!
Before lunch we checked out Largo do Senado (again - it's quite beautiful!), the Church of St. Dominic, the Macau Cathedral, Monte Fort, and the most famous Macau tourist attraction
- the Ruins of the Church of St. Paul
. The church was unfortunately destroyed in a fire, and only the facade and a crypt remain.
While strolling Monte Fort, we witnessed a grandmother faced with the dilemma of her kid suddenly having to pee. Rather than walk the kid to the nearby public washroom, the grandmother pulled down the pants of the kid and held him over the sewer grate where he proceeded to let loose. Even though we've heard stories of this (and worse) happening in China, it still came as a bit of a shock! For the rest of the day we were subconsciously stepping over and around sewer grates!
For lunch we went to a famous bakery called Margaret's. We had excellent sandwiches and for dessert we tried their delicious Portugese Egg Tarts. After lunch we headed back to MGM Grand casino to try our luck at roulette! We alotted 200 Hong Kong dollars (about 25 Canadian dollars) which is a small fortune to a backpacker! We figured Michelle had better luck than Travis so she picked all of the numbers and handled all of the chips. Amazingly our chips lasted for about an hour
and a half before we hit rock bottom and had to do the walk of shame out of the casino. We had fun and we could tell the roulette spinning lady liked Michelle because whenever Michelle's number came up she would say "ALRIGHT!", which she didn't say for the other players!
For dinner we went to an amazing Portugese restaurant called A Lorcha where Travis had his first proper steak since all the way back in Kobe, about five months earlier. Michelle had Bacalhau (salted cod) casserole which was also fantastic. For dessert we shared a Portugese chocolate mousse / caramel egg pudding topped with bread crumbs which was amazing. Great meal. After dinner we continued our walking tour of the city before heading back to the hostel.
Our final day in Macau we had breakfast in Lardo do Senado before donning our packs and boarding the bus to the Hong Kong bound ferry. The ferry ride took about an hour and a half and a seasick woman was violently ill the entire way. By our estimates she must have filled four or five vomit bags! We were making notes on our vomit bag, and thought we might
have to lend her ours at the rate she was going. Luckily, that wasn't necessary!
Up next for us is Hong Kong!
Thanks for reading,
Love Michelle and Travis
There are more photos below