Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Our Fourth Day Exploit (Macau) - Hong Kong / Shenzhen / Macau Family Trip

On our fourth day we woke up early and after our daily Choco and Caffeine shots at McCafe we traveled to Shun Tak Center. From Sheung Wan MTR Exit D we raced to 3rd Floor of Shun Tak Center where the Sheung Wan Ferry Terminal is located.

The TurboJet economy class ticket to Macau Ferry Terminal costs 159 HKD each. If you are in a group better arrive early so you can select your seat as a group. From the ticket counters just follow the throng of people going to immigration area.



Prior to the trip, I was apprehensive because my wife and daughter can easily get giddy when travelling thus I asked them to take Bonamine earlier. Quite surprisingly, the entire trip was smooth except for few bumps. More so, to prevent delay at Macau Immigration, stay alert for the staff distributing arrival card inside the cabin since the staff will pass only once. The trip lasted for an hour.





Upon arrival at Macau Ferry Terminal, we simply followed the passengers racing towards the immigration counters. In no time at all we were at the exit of the terminal and searching for the toilet; a lady approached me as I was about to enter it. She asked if I am an Indonesian. I knew she wanted to be our guide thus I simply smiled and left her. After my "stint" inside and while waiting for the family to finish theirs a male "kabayan" approached me and started to ask where I came from and whether I arrived in group or not, etc. He then explained many things about Macau and inquired where we plan to go. I replied that we would visit Fisherman's Wharf first and we didn't need any guide. Sorry Dude! We did our research. Macau is a small place and you don't need a guide to explore it unless you are willing to spend extra bucks.



Fisherman's Wharf



Sands Hotel at the back

Back to our trip, we left the terminal from its left exit door then traveled along the sidewalk and in about 15 minutes we reached Fisherman's Wharf.  Trust me; you can easily hike up to Fisherman's Wharf from the Macau Ferry Terminal. In fact you can see it upon exiting the Ferry Terminal.

We roamed for about an hour at Fisherman's Wharf. The place was desolate at around 11 AM, luckily. Hence, we have the entire place for photo ops.

It is now time to go hotel hopping; we crossed the road to reach Sands Hotel. I knew that there were shuttle buses within the vicinity but I didn't know where they were parked so we just walked along the side of the building. The family being used to travelling and getting lost never complained. Upon reaching the middle part of the hotel, we saw several shuttle buses parked. Bingo! We hurriedly boarded the bus going to The Venetian Hotel. Perfect, since my wife was very excited to see their indoor canals and the false sky ceiling.

Macau is indeed a small place. In less than an hour our bus entered Taipa Island. The bus stopped near the West Lobby of The Venetian Hotel. Upon entering we started searching for their famous canals. We found the place on the second floor. We were all aghast from the moment we entered the place. The Grand Canal was like magical and romantic as well. I have seen Venice only in pictures and movies but I am sure that this place is somewhat similar to it.




Due to their eagerness to explore, my kids got separated from me and my wife. After noticing that our kids were not around, the wife got worried. I told her to relax and eventually after retracing their steps the kids found us or the other way around, lol. My kids getting lost was a blessing in disguise because they found the food court and it was already past 12 noon. All of us dashed for our lunch.

After a sumptuous meal, we had another set of photo ops before we decided to go to nearby Galaxy Hotel.


A nearby hotel means at least 10 minutes of leisurely paced stroll due to wide expanse of gardens and parking at both hotels.

Wishing Crystals

Entering the Galaxy Hotel was another kind of experience though we weren't able to explore the whole place. We spent most of our time at the Wishing Crystals area. Kids were excited upon learning that you can wish by waving your hands on top of the sensor then some Chinese character will be beamed on the Crystals. They also change color once you touched them and they produced sounds as well according to my kids.

I have never been to casino in my entire life and I won't let this opportunity pass thus I told my wife that we were running out of HKD. I dashed to nearby casino to exchange my USD into HKD. Once inside, I felt excited and nervous as well since I knew that I could easily lose my money if I would stay a minute longer, lol. Anyway, now I have an idea what a casino looks like.

By the way, upon reaching Galaxy Hotel coming from The Venetian Hotel I noticed several shuttle buses parked near the entrance. I saw the San Ma Lo route on the other side of the parking lot while the shuttle bus going to City Of Dreams was at the opposite side. I told my wife that we would go first to City Of Dreams to watch the Dragon Treasure then return here to catch the San Ma Lo shuttle.

THE DRAGONS AT CITY OF DREAMS



In short, we reached the City Of Dreams after taking the shuttle from Galaxy Hotel. We searched for the Bubble Theater and we were fortunate to arrive as the show was about to start. We paid 50 MOP/HKD per person for the show with free souvenir shot taken before you enter the theater.

The Dragon Treasure



The Dragon Treasure Show was truly awesome and fantastic. It was the first time we have watched that kind of show. Bubble Theater offers a 360 degrees view with superb lighting and sound system. I can't describe my feeling. I remember when we watched the Songs of the Seas at Sentosa Island. I felt the same rush and excitement.

The free souvenir shot
If my memory serves me right, the Dragon Treasure show lasted for around 20 minutes. Upon leaving the theater we raced for our free souvenir shot. The large framed shot was a rip off, as usual, so we didn't buy it; we asked for our free shot instead. To our surprise, the free souvenir shot looks like a passport size ID picture. You need a magnifying glass just to examine the souvenir shot. Upon seeing it, we all laughed while on our way to the shuttle bus parking.

We returned back to Galaxy Hotel and fell in line at San Ma Lo route. I knew this place was near Senado Square.

The shuttle to San Ma Lo was a mini bus and it arrived sparingly unlike the big and comfortable hotel buses. Due to number of passengers and size of the bus, we were accommodated on the third bus.

We alighted at San Ma Lo or the central part of Macau. This is where my problem has started. I didn't know the exact location of Senado Square. I checked my offline Google map and still couldn't find the correct street.

Another advice to first timer at Macau when searching for Senado Square from San Ma Lo, locate the pineapple shaped building of Grand Lisboa Hotel. When you see that building then don't go there but rather go to the opposite direction and stay at the main road until you reach Senado Square. You will know where the main road is due to countless pedestrians going to and fro Senado Square. We did that and after 5 minutes we reached Senado Square.

Due to crowds the place is better to be seen in pictures. Every corner and every street is full of people even on weekdays. Nonetheless, we were fortunate to find a seat at McDonald's.

"The Free Taste Street"



After a quick bite, we headed to Ruins of St. Paul. We followed the stream of people until we entered a narrow side street where you can have unlimited free taste of their stuff, except egg tarts. We loved the Almond biscuit of Koi Kei. We bought 1 box and another box of their peanut brittle as requested by my kid.

After emerging from this street, the ruins welcomed us.

We got another set of photo ops here and souvenir shopping; due to fatigue the ladies didn't bother to climb the ruins.

Ruins of St. Paul
From the top, the vantage view was not that spectacular obviously because of modern buildings dwarfing the Senado Square. In fact, we stayed here for less than an hour until we decided that it was time to go back to Hong Kong.

Going back to Hong Kong from here was tricky if you want to use the free shuttle. We searched for the pineapple building and this time we walked towards it.

Upon reaching the Grand Lisboa Hotel, several tour groups from mainland China were also loitering inside the lobby. We used the toilets inside the hotel lobby and we got a view of what luxury means inside the toilet, lol.

Having no idea where the ferry terminal shuttle parking is located, we asked the bell boy, concierge and a cop. We were directed to a place beside the GLH. There was a single parking area for the shuttle bus going to Ferry Terminal but the bus was exclusive for their casino visitors only since we need a coupon before the lady dispatcher would allow us to board.

I went inside and searched for the casino. Fortunately, the two casino security staffs were "kabayans" and showed me where the casino reception was. Shortly thereafter, I got 5 shuttle coupons plus a bottle of water not to mention my second visit to a casino. We missed the earlier shuttle and boarded the next one.

Upon arriving at the Macau Ferry Terminal shuttle buses parking we crossed the road through the underpass and emerged in front of the terminal building. Another tip for first timer, if you plan to go hotel hopping upon arrival at Macau Ferry Terminal cross the road using this underpass; you'll emerge at the hotel shuttle buses parking lot.

We paid 148 HKD each for an economy class TurboJet going back to Hong Kong. We left Macau at around 5:30 PM and arrived at Hong Kong an hour later. Immigration procedures for both sides were amazingly fast and easy.

Suffice to say, Macau is indeed a paradise for those who prefer hotel/casino hopping and a bit of Portuguese architecture but for nature lovers out there you might be disappointed due to lack of eco-tours, if I may say so. Likewise, I don't see any reason why you need a tour guide due to numerous info available on the net. Getting lost is a part of the adventure as long as the wife is in good mood, lol.

See our 5th Day Exploit: Nan Lian Garden & Ten Thousand Buddha