Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vegas meets Portugal meets China

Dear Macau,

I still don't quite know what to think about you. Thank you for a very interesting mesh of... culture.


We have officially been to Asian lands that were once territories of Spain, Britain, and now Portugal. (Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau respectively.) I have been to Vietnam, so add one under French rule as well. Those rascally Europeans, racing to take over the world hundreds of years ago...

Today (Tuesday the 10th) we decided to spend our last full day in Hong Kong not in Hong Kong.

Macau is an island (plus a tid bit of mainland) that was Portugese until 1999 when it was returned to China (two years after Hong Kong did the same). It is known not only for its Portugese influence but also because it is basically the Las Vegas of Asia... complete with the Wynn, MGM Grand, and Venetian.

We were confused when we got to the ferry terminal to buy tickets and there were signs for "Turbo Jet" everywhere. A jet is an airplane, right?

Wrong. So very wrong. Apparently, ferries are high tech now complete with jet engines. It was seriously like being on a waterplane. These things are incredible. We tried to take a picture for you but the lens fogged (they air condition them a little TOO well) so you'll have to try this link instead... . The ride was very fast for the distance and only took about an hour.

I'll admit that I was very unimpressed when we got there. The first thing you see when you get off is "Fisherman's Wharf", which really has nothing to do with fishing but is some sort of amusement park... only it was practically deserted. I was expecting hordes of people... but nada. It seemed like a lot of waste for not a lot of use. It ws like that scene from Shrek when Shrek and Donkey arrive at Duloc.

It didn't take us long to find the Wynn and MGM Grand. While there isn't a concentration of casinos like in Vegas (they're a little scattered), once inside the casinos you would never know the difference aside from signs being in Portugese and Chinese instead of English.

Fun to note: I have spotted several other caucasians in Hong Kong, but I counted five in Macau that I saw. Could just be chance. I'm definitely the minority here! That's always a fun feeling. Same in the mainland of course. Same same ;)

The waterfront seemed so rundown compared to what we'd just seen the night before on Kowloon... and everything was eerily empty.

Finally as we wandered up the hills toward the center of the island we found the ruins of the famous church on the island and night came seemingly suddenly. We wandered around the old walled fortress (similar to the Spanish one in Manila, go figure) and generally took in the stunning views. Then I was impressed.

On the way back down we enjoyed a boba tea and finally found the life of the town in the wandering nameless (and not on the map) alleyways filled with shops. It was teeming with teens, a much younger population than we'd expected.

Back at the Wynn we enjoyed the very amusing and overly dramatic "Golden Tree" show as well as a Bellagio-esque light and water fountain show set to music. All free to the public of course.

Dress code: It seems that everyone in Hong Kong wears sandals and shorts (aside from business people going to and from work of course who wear suits), so that's what we wore to Macau. Suddenly, especially in the nice casinos, everyone was wearing slacks and close-toed shoes. It took us a while to find a place to have dinner (back at Fisherman's Wharf) where there wasn't a dress code.

In the beginning I had spotted a sign on a quickly moving taxi for Cirque du Soleil so I was trying to figure out if we could see the show as it was one I'd (of course) never heard of before... but alas, we figured it out as we were leaving instead. It was at the Venetian on the other island we never went to. Oh well, probably better this way anyway.

We ended up on the 11:30pm ferry back to Hong Kong, putting us on the last MTR train back home. Yes, home... or as close to it as we can get right now :) (Ferries run 24/7 every 30 minutes between Hong Kong and Macau... we could have caught a cab back if needed.)

You have to go through immigration and customs between the two territories, so my passport is now adorned with more entries and exits out of Hong Kong than you can imagine as well as a new Macau stamp! How about that?

It's either very late or very early right now, depending how you look at it, but I felt it important to stay up and blog. We get back on the plane for San Fran tomorrow afternoon, and by the time all is said and done if I don't write about it now I never will. This blog is as much for me (us) as it is to keep our mothers updated as it is to amuse the rest of you :) Multipurpose... my kind of style.

I'm sorry that we've been running ourselves so ragged that we haven't had a chance to upload more pictures. There's a really funny one from today that deserves its own post. Hopefully We'll get a chance in California. And by the way Chris, thanks again to you and Scott for having us and we're looking forward to seeing you too! And I'll gladly take you up on using that washing machine if you're offering it!

P.S. Attn Sam Shepherd: There are tons of Body Shops both on Hong Kong and Macau! I took a picture just for you. I have no idea if you're reading, but there you have it.

P.P.S. Sorry children, I am entirely too tired to proof read right now. I realize some of my grammatical structures are odd and I have some run-on sentences. Please forgive me!

No comments: