Travel to Macau
Macau is located in the southern part of Mainland China and is across from Hong Kong. Many tourists from Hong Kong take a day trip to Macau which is just a boat ride away. Previously ruled by the Portuguese Empire, Macau has a very rich history. Its architecture is reminiscent of the Portugal colony. Some of the old structures that are still standing today have become tourist spots.
The city is one of the richest in the world. According to CNN, it will get even richer by 2025. It is well-known for its casinos, luxury hotels, and egg tarts, just to name a few.
As beautiful as the city is, I regret that I did not get to see Macau in all its glory. My trip with my family was a bit unplanned. We got lost, got scared, and fortunately, had found our way back to the ferry terminal. Here is an account of my family's misadventures in Macau.
We are Going to Macau
If you know my family, you'll know that we're the least adventurous people in the world. We eat in the same restaurants. We visit the same vacation spots every Christmas season. We enjoy staying at home. We hate parties. Though we love each other, we admit that we're quite boring people.
My family has been to Hong Kong several times, but it was only recently that we got to visit its beautiful neighboring region Macau. It is only an hour away from Hong Kong. Macau can be easily reached through the high-speed ferry TurboJet.
Macau is just an hour away from Hong Kong.
Riding on the TurboJet
We took a plane to Hong Kong and set out to Macau the next day. It would just be a day trip. I was excited.
We got to the ferry terminal around 10:30am, much later than what we had planned. We bought the economy tickets and waited several minutes at the gate. The interior of the boat was similar to a plane's. The chair was comfortable. I was able to get a bit of my beauty sleep during the ride.
I woke up and I was already in Macau. The queues to immigration were long. I couldn't wait to see what was out there! Several minutes had passed, we finally got through the immigration. A few locals holding up signs approached us and asked us to join their tours. We declined. I got a bit scared because some of them were persistent. When we got out of the terminal, I took a look around the area. I thought to myself, What's next? There was nothing much to see there. We saw a bus terminal where most tourists were headed to, so we followed. We saw the colorful free shuttle buses to different hotels in Macau such as Venetian, Wynn Hotel, and MGM. We hopped on the bus to Venetian.
I sat with my sister as we were studying the map that we got from the terminal. We were thinking of going to Senado Square from Venetian. The map looked complicated with all the Portuguese street names.
We got off the bus and I was struck by the resort hotel's beautiful architecture. We entered the hotel and I took a 360-degree look at the place. Wow. We passed through the casino area where my sister and I were initially asked for our passports/IDs as proof of age. The employees thought we were below 21! We reached the Grand Canals right when a gondola was leaving. The gondolier was singing a Christmas medley. My family did not have enough budget (and time) to go to Venice, so I was glad to experience a bit of it in Macau. The ceiling was painted like the sky to make the place appear like the outdoors. It looked like a real sky in the pictures. But in person, it's obvious that it's just painting.
There are plenty of stores inside the hotel. The sky ceiling makes it look like the outdoors.
The Famous Pork Chop Bun
We were starving so we looked for something to eat inside the resort. We headed to the food court. It was past 1pm and it took us several minutes before we found an empty table. Some of us ordered food in Tai Lei Loi Kei while the others waited in their seats.
Macau is famous for its pork chop bun. I'm not a fan of pork chops, so I have no idea what the fuss is all about. Nonetheless, we got curious and tried it to see if it lived up to its reputation. As a pork chop hater, I'll tell you this: I love it to pieces! That's how delicious it is. I still get hungry writing about it now! Some people with dentures may shy away from meat, but this one is easy to chew. The pork chop is very tasty!
Going to Senado Square and Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral
With a full stomach, we continued our journey. We strolled around the resort hotel for an hour before we left. Since we still couldn't figure out the map, we decided to take the shuttle bus back to the ferry terminal and take another bus there (there's a bus terminal for the "paid" buses opposite the free shuttle bus terminal). Based on my sister's research, we can take the bus 2, 5, 10, 18, 19, or 26A to reach Senado Square. We randomly chose a bus to ride on. Then the problem started.
Our bus had already made a few stops. I asked my sister, "When are we getting off?" She didn't respond and continued looking at her map. I sensed that she didn't know the answer. We studied the map together. Two heads are better than one, right? Yet, even with our joined forces, we still couldn't figure out where to get off. My parents started asking us where to get off. We were worried that we might get lost if we went further (as if we weren't already lost), so we got off the bus somewhere in the city. We decided to walk to Senado. I saw a couple of tourists who appeared lost too and I felt better. We walked to the direction where we came from. We walked a great deal until we reached a place with lots of tourists. We followed the signs until we finally arrived in Senado! I was very relieved. We got sweaty from all the walking, so we removed our jackets. We took some pictures. We saw signs pointing to Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. We decided to go there too since it's just around the area. We didn't want to miss it.
When we arrived at St. Paul's, I was very happy. The scene that I had only seen in pictures was now in front of me. Despite the cathedral being "ruined", the fact that it remained standing made it look majestic. It looked gorgeous under the sun. There were people in every step of the stairs. We took pictures as we climbed the stairs.
Getting Lost (Again)
After we were satisfied with our pictures, we left and found a bus stop. We were discussing which bus to take. The bus routes were hard to comprehend. We ended up taking bus 28B. I wasn't sure if we had taken the right bus. I looked outside my window. We passed through the places we'd been too, so I relaxed. We were on the right bus. Or so I thought. The last familiar place was somewhere on the highway. Then our bus took a turn. I thought we would reach the bus terminal soon. But minutes passed, and we went through a few stops, but it was never the bus terminal near the ferry.
We panicked. We took out our map and my dad joined us. I'm sure you've seen war movies where people bring out maps and discuss about an imminent battle. That's how we looked like. If two heads didn't work on our way to Senado, maybe three heads would do. Unfortunately, the additional head didn't help at all. The map became crumpled and torn from all the pulling and grabbing that we did. My dad saw some boats and thought we were near the ferry terminal, so he told us to get off on the next stop. Bad decision. It wasn't the ferry terminal. It was in the middle of nowhere. No tourists. Not much people. Only buildings that looked like factories.
It was getting dark. My mom was obviously panicking since she was almost running instead of walking. She was worried about missing the last ferry to Hong Kong. My dad told her to calm down because she would attract a lot of attention running like that. I was getting nervous. I kept telling myself, "I'll write about this experience when I got back!" For some reasons, the thought made me strong.
Getting a Taxi
We asked a few locals (in Mandarin) how to get to the ferry terminal, but they would only point to the bus stop. That was the problem. We saw a lot of bus stops, but if we did get on a bus, we didn't know when to get off. We decided to take a taxi. It seemed that luck was not with us that day. It was not like in Hong Kong where you would see taxis everywhere. We walked to a more "crowded" area. We saw a few taxis and waved like crazy, but not one pulled over. I didn't understand why. We saw a taxi parked along a street and thought we could finally go home. We ran to it and asked the driver to take us to the ferry. He declined and said it was taxi drivers' break time. Break time? That's ridiculous! Not that I want to see people working nonstop, but, why did all taxi drivers refuse to take us? Couldn't they make an exception when they see lost tourists in distress?
Our prayers were answered when a cab finally pulled over. We told the driver, "Ferry Terminal," to which he nodded. Everyone was relieved. It took us only a few minutes to reach the ferry terminal.
Trapped inside the Ferry Terminal
It was 6pm. Disappointed that we've only been to Senado and St. Paul's, my sister wasn't ready to go back to Hong Kong. She suggested to take a shuttle bus to another hotel. She assured us we wouldn't get lost. I knew she was right. The free shuttle buses had only one destination unlike the paid buses that we took to and from Senado. But my traumatized parents weren't ready for another adventure. They flatly said no. They wanted to go back to Hong Kong as early as possible. We checked the timetable and were stunned when the earliest available tickets was for 9:50pm. We immediately bought the departure tickets before they got sold out.
My parents refused to leave the ferry terminal. With four hours of idle time, my dad suggested us to get inside the immigration and had our dinner there. He said that there were probably more stores and restaurants inside. It was another bad decision. It was almost empty inside except for a couple of boutiques. There were no restaurants. No vending machines to buy drinks from. Our stomachs were growling fiercely. I wanted to cry.
We sat on a bench and watched people coming back with lots of shopping bags and boxes of egg tarts. They all seemed happy. We saw different sets of people leave for their ferry. It was only us who remained on the same spot for a long time. My butt was really hurting. I would occasionally get up and walk around, but there was nothing much to see. The boutiques sell some pricey snacks and liquors.
I was feeling really weak and couldn't take it anymore, so we were forced to buy a box of egg rolls and a pack of beef jerky. Without beverage, my throat felt dry. At least my stomach stopped growling. With nothing else to do, we joked about our ordeal. My sister told me, "Let's not forget about what we look like now so we will have something to laugh about when we get home." We took each other's picture and laughed like crazy.
After what seemed like forever, it was finally our turn to board the ferry. It was windy and the water was a bit rough that night. I was exhausted and fell asleep right off. I woke up in Hong Kong. I was home.
Despite our misadventures, I still don't regret going to Macau and exploring the city. Taking an adventure should be every tourist's mission.
I have asked a few friends who had been to Macau. All of them who went there for a day trip had only visited the hotels by the free shuttle buses. It was only us, the boring family, who had bravely ventured a city that was pretty unknown to us.
Getting lost is not something to be proud about. But it's definitely a story to tell.
We still have the torn map of Macau with us.
© Rainy Kua 2016