Getting lost along the narrow alleys of Hong Kong all day on foot might be traumatizing for some, but me and my buddies were quite freaks to do the same thing in Macau. With a little sightseeing trip on some of the usual spots in Macau, we spent three days on getting lost and doing nothing around the city.
After our one-hour TurboJet ferry ride from Hong Kong, we arrived at Macau and went straight to our home for two nights, the Metropole Hotel.
Me and my buddy were first-timers but we want no casinos and lifeless monsters of concretes. We wanted to explore and discover the everyday lives of the Macanese so we somewhat diverted on the opposite side.
Being an overseas territory of Portugal for the longest time, from 1887 and only relinquished in 1999, the almost 400 years of rich history and culture of Macau can be felt and seen. Macau Pataca (MOP) and Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) are commonly used on shops here. Gambling has been the main appeal of this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China that has their own ruling system thus, enjoying democracy in their own terms. As with Hong Kong, immigration rules are different here compared to mainland China, we just presented our passports at the ferry terminal and got stamped (oh, no, they have print-out visa here) effortlessly without paying anything, visa-free that is (except for some nationalities).
Portuguese street signs such as portas, avenida and so on are commonly used. With thousands of travelers here, you’d probably feel that you’re not in China. Me and my buddies decided to go on foot. Well, that’s the most suggested form of exploration here as the key spots are close to each other. One of my friends kept on bugging us to check out Cotai Strip (Asian version of the “Vegas Strip”) which I considered.
We hopped on a free shuttle bus service of one of the famed casinos that was stationed on the downtown area. It was comfy, free and fast. We passed by the Macau Tower and the Macau-Taipa Bridge to Cotai. We were dropped off at City of Dreams (where we watched the greatest water-based show, House of Dancing Water) and walked our way to The Venetian (had a buffet dinner at Four Seasons Hotel’s Belcancao Restaurant) and checked out both the gambling and entertainment scenes there.
I dunno why but the establishments felt artificial and cold (literally and figuratively). I am not fond of malls and crowded indoor places and the huge establishments that were elegantly embellished weren’t thrilling so I basically asked them to go back to town for much needed booze.
We, again, availed of the free shuttle bus service and went off at Macau Tower where a food festival was happening. After an hour or so of food splurging, we went back to downtown Macau, on foot.
Our feet led us to a boardwalk where we relaxed for some time. Macau’s skyline with the towering casinos and hotels were glowing. We strolled a few and went back to civilization, heading straight to a convenience store where we hoarded some canned beers (around MOP 5 | US$ 0.62 per beer).
It was around ten in the evening and it was my first time to visit the Historic Center of Macau (inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List) and it was almost deserted except for some tourists who were doing their last-minute shopping. We were drawn in front of St. Dominic Church and popped the first can. We had unrestrained laughter, endless chats and were given some cold-shoulder by Filipinos who were working there. Nonetheless, it was a fun booze night.
The next day, me and my buddy woke up earlier than usual to check out Senado Square before the crowd swells. My blue flowy top sways in tune with the early morning breeze. It was the perfect time to visit Macau, it was neither summer nor winter.
We passed by the hilly roads leading to the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church. A dozen or so Macanese were doing their routine morning walk, some with dogs in tow. We chilled for a while on the steps and took pleasure on discovering the beautiful carvings on the facade.
|Let's go there while the tourists are still dead to the world...|
|Deserted at six in the morning.|
|Ruins of St. Paul|
We went further and explored the Fortaleza do Monte of the Fort. Again, Macanese oldies were doing their morning ritual of stretching and some tai chi exercises (complete with background music).
The view from the top revealed the construction marvels of Macau. We stayed there a bit before we started the almost arduous climb down back to the Ruins (which was packed with tourists at seven in the morning).
We walked downward the hilly road, passing some of the shop’s the free taste of cookies and bakkwa (dried cured meat), and got lost along the narrow alleys that led us to I-dunno-where.
Macau with its narrow alleys and closely packed houses can confuse you with its impression of sameness. We quietly walked passed by the old doors and took gazillion photos of what seemed to be a living museum.
It was fascinating; the simplicity of exploring and getting lost along the tight alleys getting hold of Macanese local culture. I loved checking out the unique and colorful doors and windows of the houses that indicated the centuries-old influences from Portuguese with touches of the very distinct Chinese influences.
That went on till night until we did a unique night-out beer sesh along the steps of the Ruins. It was a party, in a not-so-loud-and-flashy way.
I was resting on the paved footpath somewhere and observed the early morning habits of shop owners as they start their day. They were discreet and the place looked serene. I got so absorbed that I didn’t notice my stomach grumbling in protest, it was ten in the morning and we’re just starting the day. Maybe it’s just me but I loved Macau in its raw and simplest form.
|No plans. No itineraries. Let's go!|