Wednesday, 31 December 2008

If you go to Macau - go hungry

There were only first class tickets available on the Cotai jet ferry to Macau for the price of $236 for a single. Initially I balked at the price and was tempted to wait for a later ferry until Melissa pointed out it was about $40 US. Sometimes where foreign currency is concerned I can be hopelessly slow on the uptake for a trained mathematician.

The fast ferry takes about an hour and soon we’d arrived at the ferry terminal in Taipa, the smaller of the two islands in Macau Special Administrative Region, and hopped on the free shuttle to the Venetian hotel on the Cotai Strip. At the moment the strip is essentially the Venetian and Four Seasons hotels; the rest is still a building site

Melissa told me that China had clamped down on providing permits for the Chinese to visit Macau, the only place in China where gambling is legal, owing to concerns about the amount of money pouring out of China and flooding into Macau’s, often American owned, casinos. Apparently gambling revenue in Macau has been growing at a rate of more than 20% per year and in 2006 overtook Las Vegas as the most profitable gambling centre in the world.

Wow!! Who’d have thought it.

The Venetian hotel is the spit of the one in Las Vegas. Macau’s quite freaky that way as whether you’re visiting the casinos or the old town you have to keep reminding yourself that you’re in China.

After a quick look around the Venetian we took a cab to Senado Square, a pedestrianised hub of activity in Macau lined with beautiful neoclassical buildings.

After a quick pitstop at Leitaria i son for egg custard pudding and red tea with almond milk (strangely delicious) we headed for the Ruínas de São Paulo, the facade St. Paul's Church, which was built between 1602 and 1640 by Jesuits and destroyed by fire in 1835.

After a stroll around the ruins of Fortaleza do Monte we decided to check out the Wynn Casino. Along the way we walked down a street chocka-block with food stores and vendors offering tastings, such as this woman who was snipping off strips of some sort of cured pork with scissors and handing samples to passersby. We were wary of eating samples off the street at first, but took the plunge and were glad we did. It was soooo good!!

Dessert was also on offer in the form of these teensy cookies that Melissa was quite partial to. They were a bit on the dry side for my taste.

On the way to the Wynn we passed the Casino Lisboa, one of the most famous hotel casinos in Macau built in 1970 by Stanley Ho who held a government granted monopoly of the gambling industry in Macau for over 35years. The older Chinese casinos provide an interesting contrast to the newly opened western owned casinos. The chinese casinos were also packed unlike the Wynn, but that could have been because we were there on a Monday or because its probably costlier to gamble at the Wynn than across the street at the Lisboa.

The Wynn in Macau has dancing fountains similar to those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, with one crucial difference, the Wynn fountains also have fire, or they do when they dance to Bonnie Tyler's "I need a hero". They were pretty impressive as fountains go.

We rounded off our lovely day in Macau with a fabulous dinner at the beautiful Pousada de Sao Tiago.


Mike S said...

Wow!! So happy I didn't miss these posts. Having spent a great deal of my working life in Asia it's like a 'tour' of the old neighborhood!! Amazing how westerners tend to pick such different subjects to photograph than do the Asians.

A close friend who is of the Japanese 'persuasion'(hehehe) sort of summed up his ideas on my fascination with most things Japanese with his pet verbal jab at me when the subject arose: "I don't understand why you like temples. Seen one temple full of pigeon shit, seen ALL the temples full of pigeon shit."

I guess I have much the same attitude about many of our tourists here in rural Maine. Seen one stupid moose, bear, etc...., seen alla stupid moose, bear, etc...!" And I'm a critter lover too.

Thanks again:)

Kitty said...

Happy New Year, Fish!
hope this year brings you many more adventures. :-)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Mike, I'm glad to hear you are enjoying the posts :-) I have to say I do agree with your friend about the temples. I saw so many pagodas in China I'm a bit over them for now ;-)

Happy New Year Mike. Much health and happiness for 2009.

Hi Kitty, happy new year. Hope 2009 brings you everything you wish for.

Sister Sassy said...

Happy New Y ear to you too!! :)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Sassy :-)

Blur Ting said...

It's amazing you still have a fresh memory and can write in detail of all the places you had been to. I have such a short memory, I find it hard to remember details once I return home from a trip!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Blur Ting, I carry a notebook with me when I travel and I make quick notes of what we've done when we stop for lunch or coffee or something. I tend to remember the details quite well, but I get all my days jumbled up if I don't note what I did and when :-)

Spandrel Studios said...

Totally impressive, how you've experienced so many different aspects of the culture - what an amazing trip!

Where are you off to, next?

Anonymous said...

This is great! I'm so jealous, though. Lucky you.

Although I was in Japan for a year I never got to see much of the rest of Asia. Such a shame.

Happy New Year!


fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Spandrel, it was a great trip. I don't have any travel plans for 2009. I think given the economy I shall keep it cheap and local. There's a lot of the US I've never seen :-)

Hi Tom, yes it was a great trip, I do feel lucky to have done it. You still have time to see more of Asia.

Amel's Realm said...

WOW...I didn't know that it's that crazy in Macau - in terms of gambling. Tsk tsk tsk tsk...

THANKS for taking me through this trip. VERY interesting! ;-D

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Amel :-)

HF said...

Great post!
Macau is such a wonderful place. Like they say in Portuguese, “não há outra mais leal” (there is no other more loyal).
Helder Fraguas

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Helder. Macau was definitely a highlight of the trip, it was amazing!! Thanks for stopping by :-)