So, I was the featured author of December 2013, it’s a great honor by Ghumakkar, thanks once again. Now being a featured author, does it gives me more inspiration to write more or a little pressure to write more, don’t know :) Well, as I mentioned in my last post of Hongkong Disney, kids things were over and now the time for adults. We left Disney about 4:00 PM with lots of unforgettable memories, we hired taxi for Hongkong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, it took us about 40 minutes to reach the pier. Pier is located very close to the Hongkong business center and from outside you cannot figure out that this is a ferry terminal. Well, we went inside and it was like an airport with lots of shops, restaurants and several Ferry Service windows selling tickets for Macau. There are few Ferry services from Macau to Hongkong and Southern China, almost every hour there is a ferry service from the pier.
We purchased the ticket for Turbo Jet for 6:30 PM and found that we have to pay more due to the night ferry service. This terminal has the helicopter service as well for Macau. We checked in our luggage at the baggage counter and it was not free, each baggage costed about $25, later we found that it was a mistake as you can carry most of your luggage inside the Ferry, lesson learnt for the return journey. After Hongkong immigration formalities, we were in the Boat, it was a huge one with airplane like seating, only passengers no vehicles. Boat started on the scheduled time and reached Macau in an hour, these boats are high speed boats and you cannot go outside on the deck. Boat was having a small bar and a snack counter and a duty free counter as well selling mainly Liquor.
Let me discuss a little background on why Macau and planning of Macau trip, I did not know about Macau few years back, until I watched few Bollywood award function organized there and noticed in few movies, recent once are Dhamal-2 and Skyfall. I heard/read about Macau as separate country but it is a special province of China same as Hongkong, A colony of Portugal till 1999, Macau as Las Vegas of Asia, favourite destinations of many in India and Asia for gambling etc, rest of the history and details can be read as Macau. So, when we were planning for Hongkong trip, we found Macau is closer to Hongkong and can be clubbed together for couple of days, we thought about kids as well as what they will do there as they will not be allowed in casinos, we thought for a while and decided that will see in Macau as how we will keep them busy. We searched few hotels in Macau, had few options like Galaxy, MGM, Venetian, Sands etc. and found Venetian early bird offer was best. Venetian suppose to be one of the best Casino hotel we found in Las Vegas and decided on it without thinking much, and it did not disappoint us in Macau.
So, back to Macau trip, we reached the Macau Ferry terminal around 7:30, it is Visa on arrival and good part is that no Visa fees, had immigration formalities, Amit had a little issue at the immigration counter due to some glitch done by immigration officer, but it got sorted out soon. We inquired about the taxi for Venetian hotel and found that Venetian and other major hotels provides free shuttle service from Ferry terminal to there hotel, we came out and waited few minutes for Venetian shuttle.
Venetian hotel is on Cotai Strip which is on the other side of the main business centre of Macau, it took us about 45 minutes to reach Venetian. As it was night, all the casinos, down town, bridge all were glowing with beautiful lights, our face were also glowing with lots of excitement, I don’t know what excitement, whether it was reminding Vegas memories or Gambling or what?? We found MGM, Galaxy, Hard Rock and few more hotels on the way, Galaxy is huge and looks like a palace of some King. After reaching Venetian, it took us about 15 minutes to find the check-in counter as this is also a very huge hotel, check-in was quick and we were allocated adjacent rooms on 10th floor.
After settling down in the room, few questions we had, how to settle kids, what to do about food and where is the party yaar!!! So, we first decided to have food and settle the kids. Kids are grown up and they agreed to stay in the room after dinner with a promise of returning in couple of hours. To mention little about Venetian, it is as huge as it is in Vegas, beautiful Spanish architecture, a very large food court, multiple restaurants including Indian food restaurant, shopping mall and connection to other Hotels and of course Casino. Rooms, actually suits were huge and beautiful, must mention that we never stayed in a hotel like this ever before. So, ladies and kids came out well dressed and we boys in casual, went straight to the Food Court, it was having Food counters of Chinese/Italian/American/Indian/Japanese etc, managed to find some vegetarian (not desi food though), all counters were accepting Hongkong dollars as 1-1 of Macau dollars, later we found that it was not a good deal as Macau dollar is cheaper then HKD. After dinner and settling down kids back in the room, we proceed towards the Cotai street. It was about 11:30 in the night, we planned to spend some time on Cotai Street and later in Casino. Cotai Strip was a big disappointment as all the shops were closed and there were hardly any people on the road, may be it was Thursday, don’t know. There were lots of shops selling all luxurious clothing, shoes, watches etc. in the mall and we were wondering who all shop here. We came back to Casino after a 45 minute of a “dinner after walk” :), may be strip on the other side of Macau could have been better. Casino was fun, we started with Slot Machines, these machines has changed now, they all are digital, do not have leaver, do not spit cents/dollars, no more “Chan-Chan-Chan” sound when you hit something. There was not much crowd in the casino due to Thursday, we spent about 2 hours and came back to the room. Kids were still not asleep and playing, they did not seems to be very happy see us back so early.
Next day we planned for Macau trip, we booked a guided bus tour “Macao Discovery Tour” from the hotel itself through “Cotai Travel”, tickets were like HKD 400 each person and it was a 4 hour tour. We had lunch in the Desi restaurant “Golden Peacock”, food was very good, I told restaurant manager that this food is even better then few North Indian restaurants in Bangalore, and he kind of a offended and said sarcastically that “Sir, even better then many restaurants in Delhi”, I was not convinced though. Well, after lunch, we headed towards the lobby to catch the tour guide. After few minutes of wait, our guide arrived, explained few things and took out a flag and asked us to follow her and watch out for the flag wherever we go, this will help all to stay together. Then I noticed several flags with different colours in the lobby itself and all the sights we visited as well.
We started from hotel about 2:30, bus was full and having tourists from various countries, Europe, US, Japan, India etc. Our first stop was “A-Ma Temple” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-Ma_Temple), this is one of the oldest and famous Taoist temple in Macau, this temple was built in 1488 and dedicated to goddess of seafarers and fishermen “Matsu”. We spent about 30 minutes there, took few pictures, you can offer aaggarbattis of different size to the goddess, you are also allowed to take the pictures of idols as well. There were few shops outside the temple, similar to what you see in India, our guide mentioned that we can buy some cookies and chocolates from a shop nearby and I bet she was having her cut there :)
Our next stop was “Macau Tower”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macau_Tower), is a convention centre and entertainment centre, tower is about 338 meter high. It has an observation deck which gives a fabulous panoramic view of Macau. Some portion of the floor is made of glass, walking on this glass floor is fun and gives you a little scare :) Next level of observation deck offers couple of adventures activities like “Sky Walk” where you can walk on the outer rim of the tower – thrilling and chilling. Other adventures activity is “Sky jump” or say “Bungee Jump”, this is second highest sky jump. This is not a typical bungee jumping as you are tied up with ropes but must be having the same thrill as bungee jumping in 17 seconds. We did not give a second thought for not doing any of these and walked out of the tower after 45 minutes with few pictures.
Next stop was the ruins of St. Paul’s church, our tour bus took us to St. Paul’s via Macau Down Town, they dropped us at one point and we followed our guide to reach St. Paul’s. It was no a typical church, only it’s front portion was alive, it has typical European architecture. Down the steps, there is a small market. After spending some time there, tour guide took us around the down town, following the narrow lanes and then reached Senado Square, this was th 4th stop. Few people went to see St. Dominic’s Church – 5th place to see, but we stayed on the square and had food. After spending about an hour, our tour guide took book to the bus for the next and last stop, which was Taipa House Museum. Houses are actually museum, it’s set-up inside a park, and you can peek through each house from the windows. It was about 6:00 PM and tour was going to end, bus drive us back to the hotel which was very close to the Museum.
What is the plan for the evening?? Well, it was Friday, Venetian was holding a Spanish Jazz Music event. We left kids in the Kids Play Area, this is a paid facility and you can pay on hourly basis. This facility is made for kids from all the ages, till 17 years. Kids were sent for 2 hours and we went to Musical event. There was a huge stage was set-up, artist from different part of world were performing, one Indian band also performed there. There were lots of stalls having few games, food and drinks stalls, few stalls were giving few freebies like caps, beads necklace etc, it was like a festive environment, 2 hours passed quickly, Kids were back and they were very happy, as they enjoyed a lot in the Kids Play area. Kids also enjoyed in the arena with music, food and freebies.
It was almost midnight when we left arena, kids went back to the room and they had plans to continue shooting their videos and we had plans for trying our luck again in Casino. It was Friday night, as expected, Casino was crowded, we went back to Slot Machines and had some luck. Then we planned to try our luck with other games like Black Jack, Roulette, and another game similar to Black Jack. One of the main problem we faced in Casinos was the language, majority of the players were Chinese and even the dealers, if you ask something about the game, they look at you suspiciously (may be), and then point to the help button on the automated machines. We somehow figured out black jack and other game and had a very good luck. Amit and Palkein even hit a jack pot on Slot Machine, we also made some money in Black Jack. It was about 2:00 AM but we did not want to come but we had to go back as kids were alone. Kids were still up when we reached back and they complained same as last night.
Time was running fast to end our vacations in Macau, we left hotel around noon and reached back to the Ferry terminal and took the Ferry back to Hongkong, this time ticket was little cheaper and we also did not check-in our luggage. On a closing note, Macau was a good experience, it’s not a very family destination as you do not have much to engage kids, specially small kids. We missed visiting other Casinos, but something to leave for the next time. At the end, as I said, Kids things were over and now the time for adults, after watching their videos and stories of play area, we found that they had more fun then us :)