Tuesday, March 29, 2016

China/Korea 2009: day 10 (Hong Kong & Macau)

Hong Kong & Macau day 3: Wednesday 10/7/09
Map of my Hong Kong stops and my Macau stops, this day in yellow; here are the photos from today. Yellow highlights in the text correspond to flags on the map.

This was the day for my trip to Macau. Bring your passport, they stamp you leaving Hong Kong, entering Macau, leaving Macau, and entering Hong Kong. There are two companies that travel between the two island cities, New World First Ferry which leaves on the half hour from the Kowloon Ferry Terminal, and Turbojet which leaves every 15 minutes from a special ferry dock just west of Central on the Hong Kong side. They're only a couple dollars apart, so whichever one you take depends on timing and location. Make sure you get a copy of the departure schedules, you don't want to be stuck overnight in Macau if you don't have to be. I bought a one-way ticket on New World, since it was on the Kowloon side, but their last boat leaves at 2230 and I wasn't sure if I'd be there or not. Turbojet leaves around midnight for their last boat. 

It's about 1h15m ride from Kowloon to the Macau Terminal. Customs each way isn't bad. Despite my problems with unofficial guides in Beijing earlier, I hired one in the terminal to take me around the island. There are loads of bus tours, but I was willing to pay more for a personal tour, and although it was a total crap shoot as to who I got, I lucked out and picked a good one. We negotiated a price of about $100 US for 3 hours in the car, and he drove me around. I had a couple of maps and a guidebook so I had an idea of what I wanted to see, but he covered everything and then some, so I was very pleased. We pretty much stuck to the central peninsula area, given our time constraints, but I don't think there's really much to see outside the central peninsula area. In some cases he'd drop me off at point A and said to meet him at point B in 45 minutes and I could walk around the area at my leisure. I didn't leave Kowloon until noon and by the time I was finished with lunch (a local pub called La Comedie Vous Café, where he waited outside for me to eat) it was after 2, so I only had 4-5 hours anyway til dark; I suppose I just would have done more wandering around sightseeing had I had more time. 

We started out going through the downtown/casino area (there are 5 US casinos like Wynn and MGM and about 20 Chinese), and then went to the Macau Tower at the southern end of the peninsula, which was an extra fee. The view from the top is amazing, and they've got a glass floor to look down. They also have a walk outside the tower (tethered) and a bungee jump, which you might have seen on The Amazing Race. We drove south across one of the bridges to the southern island of Co-Tai and rode around a bit, showing off the casinos (like the Venetian) and sights, then back north across one of the other bridges and up to the Largo de Senado area, an oddly European style plaza in the midst of the Chinese. I had about 30-45 minutes on my own here, but could have lasted longer. We drove a few blocks over to the Ruins of the Church of St. Paul, dating back over 400 years, for a free tour. During the trip, the driver (who spoke excellent English) gave me a history lesson, pointed out interesting sites dating to Colonial days, and was in general very good. [His name is James Kan, (853) 6686-8909.]  

He dropped me off at the MGM Grand Casino, where I played for a little while, and then went to the Wynn where I won enough at blackjack to pay for dinner. (However, blackjack and craps are almost non-existent over there, it's all baccarat, and I mean like hundreds of tables.) I went to the Grand Lisboa casino to see a non-US place, and ended up eating at The 8 for Cantonese. I finished dinner around 10 and made it back to the terminal after the last boat on New World First left (2230), so I took Turbojet back to the Hong Kong/Macau terminal near Central. I got in too late for the ferry so I took the metro from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui Station on Kowloon and went back to my hotel.

Macau ferry, private tours at terminal for $600 ($73) for 2 hrs. Lunch at La Comedie vous cafe. Good tour, add 90 for tower and 200 for extra hr in Cotai. Drop at MGM, lost 160. Wynn looks just like Encore, won 385. Dinner at Grand Lisboa - steamed crab claw w ginger in wine, shredded chicken with pomelo and a honey lime sauce. Dessert a golden crunchy 8 cake w chocolate, Cointreau sauce, Graham cracker

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