Backpacking Hong Kong and Macau
November 27, 2012
My friends (Kat and Melvin) and I checked out from Yiu fai Guesthouse early that day. It was still very gloomy outside. We went to a nearby bakeshop to grab some bread for breakfast then hailed a cab to take us to the China Ferry Terminal. It is located at 33 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
When we entered the terminal, there were a lot of tourists already buying tickets and waiting for their ferries’ departure. The tickets for the 10am schedule at TurboJet were already sold out when I went to the ticketing office. Then a local approached us and offered a 10am ticket for 160HKD. We were really desperate to go to Macau early so we bought the tickets. (I just said to myself, “Uso rin pala scalper dito. Akala ko sa UAAP Cheerdance lang. haha!) When I looked at the ticket, the price was originally 151HKD. The guy was now 9HKD richer. Oh, well. There were other ferries going to Macau like Cotaijet. Just choose the ferry that suits your preferred travel time.
We boarded the TurboJet ferry bound for Macau at 10am. There were actually a lot of tourists heading to Macau that day. I was very nervous because the continuous rain might cause huge waves. I already had an experience vomiting due to ship turbulence and I didn’t want that to happen again. Luckily, we sailed away and reached Macau safe and sound.
While inside the ferry, you can eat your packed snacks or order food from their crew. They also gave us the immigration card for Macau. After an hour, we docked at the Outer Harbor Ferry terminal or the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier. The terminal was relatively small but the service was fast. It was 12 degrees when we arrived and I was literally chilling from the cold air and rain. Good thing I wore jacket and boots.
After falling in line at the immigration desk, we headed to the Tourism center. Because Melvin was really determined to collect maps, we grabbed as much different maps and guides as we can. The we went outside, crossed the underpass then headed to the Venetian Hotel Shuttle terminal located at the opposite side of the ferry terminal. The shuttle was for free and left few minutes later.
Macau was very much like Hong Kong but has a more rural (province) feel to it. It has a lot of huge and extravagant hotels and casinos but the streets were not small and crowded. We passed by the Fisherman’s Wharf, Sands Macao, MGM hotel, Wynn Macau, Hotel Lisbon, Macau Tower, and Galaxy tower. Each of those hotels offered different ambiance and style – from old China, Vegas like casinos, and European and Egyptian inspired hotels.
After almost 30 minutes, we reached our destination – The Venetian Macau. The exterior of the hotel looked simple for me. But wait till you see the interior. Aside from offering free shuttle to different popular spots in Macau, Venetian is also offering free luggage check in. We fell in line then while depositing our bags, the bellboy talked to us. He’s a Filipino. 😀
The we started touring the hotel. The entrance to the Casino already wowed us. From the painted ceilings and intricate column designs to the luxury stores and delicacies they were offering, I felt I can stay there for one whole day without getting bored and feeling sad. It was Italy and Vegas in Macau. Three countries in one extravagant hotel.
We headed to the second floor to see the gondola and experience the Venice vibe. I was in awe. It was intricately designed. The colors of the ceiling, the design of stores and “houses” and the gondola transported me to Italy.
We originally planned to ride the gondola (118MOP) but since we did not have much time left, we decided to just watch the gondola while its gondolier was singing. Then we visited the stores until we found what Melvin was really excited about – The Manchester United Shop. Melvin was really a Man U fan and he wanted to make sure that we pass by the store so he can buy authentic Man U items. In the end, he was able to buy a jacket and I bought him a water bottle for 49MOP (Happy birthday, Mel! Surprise! :P).
We were already famished from scouring all the stores so we looked for the food court. The food court was host to a huge variety of food stalls. There were Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and American stalls. I chose to buy Katsudon from a Jap stall since I was really craving for rice and Mel and Kat chose burger and fries.
After eating our lunch, we went out and took the shuttle back to the ferry terminal. We waited for the bus going to Senado Square. I researched about the bus number but just to make sure we asked a police officer. I think he was not able to completely understand my English so the another woman talked to us. She was a local but can speak English well. She instructed us to ride bus 10A. They have fare and route boards for buses located in the area. Make sure to check them as well. The fare is 3.20MOP but you can also use your HKD. They do not give change for fares so make sure you have ample coins with you. The bus became crowded after passing by a couple of streets. What I found inspiring about the experience was that younger people offered their bus seats to older people or those with babies.
Then we reached the Senado Square. We actually stopped farther from the square but the walk was still good. We were able to pass by some stores selling Macau delicacies like local biscuits, beef jerky and egg tart. The square was a little crowded when we arrived. A lot of tourists were flocking by the fountain taking pictures. While in Senado, you can really feel the influence of the Portuguese – from the building designs to the office names. The building/office names were written in Chinese and Portuguese.
There were a lot of stores in the area like McDonald’s, Bonjour, Bossini and Okashi land. So if you forgot to grab some pasalubong from Hong Kong, you can buy them at Senado Square. We continued walking and reached the St. Dominic Church. One cannot miss this church because of its eye-catching yellow and green color.
While walking, we passed by an egg tart and tea stall. I became curious as to why many tourists wanted to buy their tarts. Then I saw the tv screen. It was actually the store where Ji-hoo bought his egg tarts. They kept on playing the video to attract more tourists. And of course, they persuaded me to try their egg tart and cold tea. The tart was nothing extraordinary but the experience was worth it. There were other stores selling beef jerky, biscuits and more egg tarts. Each store had its own gimmick to get peoples attention. It was noisy but the right kind of noise.
Then one of the most, if not the most memorable experience happened to us. While passing by a beef jerky store, the saleslady approached then spoke in a language I was not able to comprehend at first. Then she talked again and we paused for a while (I recognize those words!). She said “pogi”, “baboy” and “baka”. I was surprised and I actually thought she was a Filipino. I really wanted to talk to a Filipino working there to ask about their life in Macau so I grabbed the chance. But no, she was actually not Filipino and just used Tagalog words to get our attention and to make us buy her products. We were really caught in the moment and she started cutting strips of jerky and uttering words like “pogi”, “mamoy’, “maka” and “manok”. I just bought a little piece then we left. After a few minutes, we started laughing. The lady scammed us. She tricked us by calling Melvin “pogi”. Haha! It was not a good experience being somewhat forced to buy something from a store. But the lady’s comedic approach changed that. We just let that pass and enjoyed a good laugh.
After taking photos with the Ruins of St Paul, we decided to go back to the Venetian to do some last minute shopping. Many people were waiting for the bus so we decided to walk a little farther from the crowed. The fare was still the same (3.2MOP) and we took the same bus (10A). We were dropped off at the Ferry terminal then we took the free shuttle to the Venetian. We went to the specialty store and I bought some poker chips key chain (28MOP) and magnet. The staff of the hotel were giving vouchers so make sure to get yourself one for some good discounts from their stores.
We collected our luggage at 5:00 pm. We went inside the casino to get to the other side of the hotel where the shuttle to the airport was waiting. We only waited a few minutes then boarded the shuttle. It was relatively near the airport. The check in counter was not yet open when we arrived so we just rested in the lobby. There was scarcity in seats so we had to endure seating on the floor. Three hours before the flight, the check in counter opened. The airport was not big but the security was strict. After going through the body scan, the security personnel scanned us again. We got through the immigration easily then headed straight to Gate 6. We were already famished from all the walking so Melvin and Kat looked for a store. They bought sandwiches and bottled water. We boarded the plane on time and left Macau full of new experiences and lots of pasalubong. 🙂
HKD30 – breakfast
HKD160 – One way turbojet to Macau
MOP49 – Manchester United water bottle
MOP28 – Venetian Poker chip keychain
MOP3.20 – Fare from Ferry Pier to Senado Square
MOP3.20 – Fare from Senado to Ferry Pier
MOP70 (approximately) – Lunch (coke and katsudon)