Macau for Dummies

Sunday, November 27th

We had no plan going into Macau other than "we are going to Macau."

This is not normally something I’d advise someone to do.  Let alone something I’d do to myself.  But there we were, on a hydrofoil traveling from Hong Kong to Macau, with NO PLAN in place.

Getting to Macau took a bit longer than we had expected.  The TurboJet Hydrofoil left from Hong Kong (or Kowloon) every 15-30 minutes.  When we arrived at the ferry terminal, we started with Starbucks.  Come on.  I’m no animal.  We didn’t have much in the way of serious food in the fridge at the apartment and I have a tendency to get motion sick when on a boat outside of a river or a harbor.  Having my stomach filled with chai-fueled goodness would be helpful.  Even if the chai is not quite the chai we have at home.  Side note, Starbucks chai in Hong Kong is, well…not great.  But I drank it multiple times because, chai.

Post-Starbucks, we got in line to get hydrofoil tickets.  Here’s the first tip for Macau.  Have a sense of what time you want to return.  If you purchase the round trip ticket in advance, you’ll save some time in Macau.  And you’ll be guaranteed a seat on the boat you actually want.  This is what we didn’t do.  Because we just didn’t know.

Our boat to Macau was scheduled for 1215p or so.  It was currently 1020a.  We were a bit disappointed, cause we assumed it would be much easier to get on the boat.  The guy at the counter said we might be able to go standby if we hurried.  So we started to hustle.  And here’s where the second tip comes into play.  This whole process of leaving Hong Kong for Macau is going to take a while.  Don’t think you can catch a 1030a hydrofoil if you arrive at 1020a.  Why??  Customs and Immigration.  You’re going to fill out forms and get more stamps to put in your passport.

The 1030a boat??  Yeah, we definitely didn’t make it.  But once we were through with customs, we found the next hydrofoil to leave and we stood in the Standby line, which was an actual area duct taped on the floor to show where you needed to stand.  The folks in Hong Kong are nothing if not efficient.  The timing was pretty decent, really.  The people with actual tickets had boarded.  The jerks who wanted to get to Macau a few hours earlier than the time stamped on their ticket (otherwise known as us) were now able to board. 

Oh, hey there!!
We were given a seat number and we walked into the boat, found our seats (after kicking out a couple who said, “What do you mean this isn’t Row 30??”  Come on, people!!  Why are you constantly disappointing me??) and promptly closed our eyes for the next 60 minutes.  And by “We,” I mean me.  I thought closing my eyes and concentrating on deep breathing would be the best way to stave off the motion sickness.  Which totally worked.  Because, Science!!

One hour later, we made our way to Macau.  Remember Tip #2??  Customs and Immigration time.  You need to allot for this.  Which is why we were later getting out of the ferry terminal than we wanted. 

Arriving at the ferry terminal, we still didn’t have a plan.  But we decided we’d hop in one of the hotel shuttles to get us into the city, where we could figure out what to do for lunch.  So we hopped in the Wynn shuttle.  And almost as soon as we hopped into the shuttle, we were off. 

And almost immediately, we realized we were going much further from the center of Macau than what we wanted to do.  Because we were going to the Wynn Palace, the new hotel on the other island.  Whoops.

The Wynn Palace was gorgeous, but we did not want to be there.  We waited for a few minutes to see when the shuttle would arrive again, but we also needed to hustle.  We had plans back on Hong Kong Island at 7p.  So we had the hotel call us a cab to head out to lunch.  Oddly enough, this worked to our benefit.

Our real stop was to the O Santos Comida Portuguesa.  This small Portuguese restaurant outside of Taipa has traditional Portuguese food.  Something we had very much wanted.  We started with some chorizo.  Then we made the rookie mistake of all ordering entrees.  It was SO MUCH FOOD.  I mean, I destroyed the duck rice, but we could have grabbed two dishes and had room for more later.  Then again, we really didn’t eat dinner, but that’s another story for another day.

Duck Rice
There was also roasted pork.
We staggered out of the restaurant in a haze of carbs and meats.  Now that we had food in our bellies, we needed a purpose.  Our purpose was to get over to the other side of Macau.  For that, we had to find a cab.  The expectation was that the cab would be hard to find, but there were a handful of taxi stands in the neighborhood.  For less than HKD$100, we were dropped off in the center of Macau.  The place we wanted to be when we originally left the terminal.

The streets of the "other side" of Macau.
Our taxi went by this place much too quickly.  I'd have loved to visit.
What makes me say the whole “whoops” thing worked out to our benefit was that Macau was SO CROWDED!!  The border of Macau was only a handful of kilometers away from the border of China.  So the mainland Chinese folks come to Macau to shop and gamble.  Which means people are everywhere.  Honestly, I’m not sure we would have easily found food on this side of Macau without so much of a plan.  The crowds would have irritated us quickly and a hangry situation would have gone down pretty darn quickly.

In the main area of Macau, we walked to as many of the sights as we could get to in the few hours we had.

Two musicians were playing in the church.
Spanish architecture isn't often seen in Hong Kong or China.  But it definitely is seen in Macau. 

Kat really wanted to see a temple.  While we may have walked the long way to find one, it was actually pretty easy to find them in the city.

I can't get over the egg tarts in Macau and Hong Kong.  Come on!!  This baby was HKD$9 and was eaten in two bites.  Maybe three.

The front of the ruins.
And the back of the ruins.
The cathedral of St. Paul's was built from 1602-1640 and was destroyed by a fire in 1835.  The ruins still stand and are an important tourist area.  After eating an egg tart, it's an easy climb and even more easy to walk around.  It's only one wall, after all.

Where taxis were plentiful on the other side of Macau, it was not so great in the heart of Macau.  There were a good number of taxi stands.  But the lines were serious and the taxis were not arriving.  So we decided to walk towards the Wynn hotel.  The one we wanted this morning.  I mean, it took a while, but we eventually made it to the hotel.

Not the Wynn
The Wynn
After an epic walk that ended with a tour around a particularly grim parking structure, we arrived at the Wynn.  No one really wanted to gamble.  But we had gotten our steps in for the day, so a lavender and rose prosecco break was needed.

Getting back to the terminal wasn’t difficult.  We found the bus stop at the hotel and they dropped us off at the ferry terminal.  The first hydrofoil we could catch wasn’t until 7p.  It was like 5p.  So we tried the whole standby thing again.  This time, we made an earlier boat to Kowloon.  Sure, we waited in line for a significant time (20 minutes or so), but it wasn’t too problematic.  The boat to Kowloon was a bit larger than the one we took from Hong Kong Island and I followed this morning’s successful non-puking scenario.  Closed eyes and headphones.

We made it!!

We called our day an Adventures in Babysitting kind of day.  Several ridiculous things went down to get us to that ferry back to Kowloon.  For not having a plan for Macau, we had a spectacular run.  And really, had we had a plan in Macau, I’m not sure we could have done much more.


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