Macau is a small peninsula in mainland China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. A Portuguese overseas territory until 1999, it reflects a mix of Portuguese and Chinese influences. Its giant casinos and extravagant malls have earned it the nickname, the “Las Vegas of Asia.” One of its more striking landmarks is 338m-high Macau Tower, with sweeping city views.
The tour bus fetched us at 7:00 AM from our hotel to the ferry station. I was amazed at how Kowloon’s ferry station looked like a mini airport. The station was clean and there were beautiful shops inside.
Since this was my first time crossing from border to border, I filled up the wrong immigration card for the four of us. We found ourselves at the last of the line and we ran from the entrance to the ferry that was leaving at 7:30 AM. The ferry ride was approximately one hour and costs 1600php or 123HKD.
When we arrived at the Macau Ferry Terminal, I made the same mistake again. So I filled up the immigration card again across the immigration officer to get into Macau. They were very strict with the whole ‘No Waiting’ rule so my mother and brother found themselves writing on their own immigration card. Mom said that the officer got really pissed at mom since she kept on writing wrong information that he decided to just get their pictures and scan their passports.
We were the last ones to get on the bus and the people from our tour got really worried. When everyone was settled down, the tour guide stood on the center and introduced himself. He was funny and he reminded me of my grandfather.
Our first stop was a street where all the souvenirs were. Macau accepts Hongkong dollars but will give pataca as change. We bought a couple of shirts and of course, Filipino’s favorite pasalubong, keychains! Just then, the rain started pouring so hard that we were left with no choice but to buy two umbrellas which cost 45HKD each (that’s 500php each!).
From the pasalubong street, we started walking up to the famous Ruins of St. Paul church. And just then, the other umbrella gave up (that’s goodbye 500php, huhu). We ran to the basement where they kept the statue of St. Paul and its history. We waited out the rain to stop and then we walked to see the ruins of St. Paul.
Tip: Don’t take your photo at the top of the stairs. The more you go down, the more the photo will look better as you will be able to take a shot of the whole view.
We walked along the narrow street from ruins of St. Paul to Macau Square. There were plenty of stalls at the side and they were giving free-taste for beef jerky. Now, I haven’t heard of beef jerky before but I heard that Macau has the best beef jerky so I jumped right in for the free-tasting. I found it too chewey and sweet which made me decide not to buy any. But thanks for the free taste!
One of the stalls caught my Stephanie’s attention and she suddenly got all giddy. She said that she saw the stall from the Korean drama Princess Hours and asked me to take a photo of her. She also ended up taking a photo of myself.
We walked further and reached Macau Square which reminded me of Trafalgar Square in London (not that I’ve been there) because of the presence of the municipal hall.
The yellow church with huge doors is the St. Dominic Cathedral. I liked how it looked so Portuguese so we decided to check out inside and expected to see beautiful mosaics. Much to our dismay, we only saw the typical church interior.
After checking out the Macau Square, we proceeded to the Municipal Hall across it. It was around 12 noon and the heat was pretty bad despite the rain earlier so we were ecstatic to hear that we were going to have lunch.
The bus entered a neighborhood that screamed Portugal architecture. According to the tour guide, the neighborhood was home to the former Portuguese officials in Macau. In the middle of that fancy neighborhood is the hotel where we were going to eat out lovely buffet lunch.
After lunch, we went to a Chinese temple and since Chinese temples are a regular sight in the Philippines, we took a peek and went directly to the gazebo across it. I kept asking Mom if we were going to see the Macau Tower, the Colosseum or the Fisherman’s Wharf but she also had no idea though I had a feeling we wouldn’t.
We spend the rest of the afternoon inside the Venetian before our ferry trip at five o’clock pm. Since we didn’t play inside the casino, we just walked around and took photos – photos that I am not even proud of because I am such an amateur and still am and I never thought I’d blog about this like how travel bloggers would.
After the Venetian, we drove back to the ferry station to check in. From here thereon, photos have been taken from the amazing and moving bus window where I sat from. Please bear with me.
As the bus was crossing the bridge, it was amazing to see mainland China with all the green mountains surrounding it. The bridge connected mainland China and Macau – Macau is on the left and mainland’s on the right. Splendid road engineering.
We arrived on time inside the ferry station and this time, I got the immigration cards filled out correctly. Yay! What I messed up though after was the ferry tickets. Fifteen minutes before the departure time, we instructed to board the ferry. I reached inside my bag to get the tickets but I didn’t find any. I started panicking and I ran back to the ticket officer to ask what our options would be but he shouted, “Go! Go! Go!” while pointing at the boat. I was horrified at how rude he was so I ran back to the boat and continued rummaging inside my bag. I knew at the back of my mind we wouldn’t be in the waiting area if we didn’t have tickets so we could wait for the empty seats and know for sure those were ours. Gladly, I decided to check my camera bag pocket and found our tickets. That really stressed me out.
Yet again, I messed up on the immigration card while on the boat and asked for extra but they said that we would have to fill out one inside the immigration office. I found myself stressed out filling up four immigration cards I felt my body heat up like I was getting a fever. While taking my bag from the xray scanner, an officer told me to stop to check my temperature. I felt really scared as that time, bird virus was on its height and it originated from Macau. He let go as soon as my temperature showed up on his device and he said it was still normal.
If I were to compare my Macau tour with my HK tour, the former definitely won. Even though we weren’t able to visit Macau Tower, Colosseum and Fisherman’s wharf, at least we didn’t find ourselves inside a novelty and jewellery store.
After that experience, with all the running and the immigration card mishaps, I have tagged tour arrangements as a no-no to my next travels. I never even got good photos because we were always in a hurry and I spent most of the time inside the bus. Maybe not all tours were as crappy as the one we got, but tours are forever crossed out in my travel plans.
I guess among all my travel experience, Macau and Hongkong was my least favorite. The fact that there was a language barrier, I also found the people rude. So much for my first travel abroad.