A daytrip to Macau

Yesterday was my day trip to Macau. On the trip was Oxana and I, what with it being a different country and all and taking up a whole day easily, not all travellers have Macau on their itinerary.

First off is catching the MTR to the end of the line to Sheung Wan. From here, it’s booking the ferry. There’s ferries every 15 minutes so you’re not likely to miss one, but there appears to be a bit of a wait for the ferries so it’s a bit wise to book earlier. Here’s my travel tip – book at the automated ticket machines rather than the front counters. There’s no one there, no lines, same booking, and it takes 2 minutes rather than 15. The trip costed 151 HKD one way to Macau.

There’s a bit of overpriced shopping in the ferry terminal, as well as a KFC if that’s your thing, but otherwise there’s not that much to do. One thing to note is you’re going to what’s considered a new country, so do factor some time for doing all that new country stuff, like leaving Hong Kong customs. Bring a pen, and be prepared to wait about 10 minutes. We forgot about doing all this, and so had to rush somewhat to get onto our ferry.

The ferry ride is pretty uneventful, and before you know it you’ll be at the Macau ferry terminal. At the Hong Kong ferry terminal we talked to the Macau Tourism Board who said that because Oxana is a Russian citizen she’ll need to prepare  5000 HKD in cash as evidence of funds, as well as an ongoing flight ticket, and pay 100 HKD for a visa. We didn’t believe that to be true, so in Macau it turns out all she had to do was going to the visa line which had about 3 people in it, pay 100 HKD, which is about 16 NZD, and then she was through. I on the other hand had to wait in the free, but 60 minute long line. Not happy.

The first thing you notice about Macau is all the free shuttle buses waiting to pick you up and whisk you quickly to your nearest friendly casino to part you of your money. The first shuttle we tried was the Venetian. Simply massive in size, this place was like having four Sylvia Parks glued together using tacky faux-Italian styling. They even had gondola rides! I didn’t buy anything substantial like a Samsung Galaxy Note, but did end up buying a back of Duty Free Daim bars. I’m not sure there’s duty on chocolate bars, but they were delicious and unavailable in New Zealand, so it was a good deal.

In all the casinos we went to we had a play and tried to win ourselves rich. I lost about 50 HKD in the end, or around 8 NZD. I guess I shouldn’t have fel so bad, but you know, compared to Oxana who won 800 HKD, I felt like lady luck was not on my side. Of course, Macau is the destination for the high rollers of China, the people who would not think twice about spending 500 EUR on a table and losing it immediately. I would think more than twice if I was in the same situation.

We next visited the grand daddy of all casinos in Macau, the Grand Lisboa. This is a pretty old and tired casino, and has been around since perhaps the start of casinos in Macau. It’s certainly an attractive building from far away, but the closer you get, the more run down it appears, especially compared to much newer casinos.

Like the MGM. This was also pretty nice, and revolved around the lion symbol. More casinos, more ways to lose money. If you’re playing the slot machines, do look for the 5 cent games, which will make your money go a lot longer. Of course, when you win big, you don’t really win big, but still, none the less, better to win or lose small, than to win or lose big right?

My favourite and most notable casino would be the Galaxy. Casinos are generally engineered to create an artificial environment in which it appears that the best thing to do is spend your cash. The Galaxy is the nicest environment to do this in, with nice sunny lighting, rather than a dark atmosphere full of chain smokers. It’s still legal to smoke indoors which I found to be a little weird, but I think this is becoming illegal soon.

By this time it was time to head back to the ferry terminal to head back to Hong Kong. By not purchasing your ticket in advance there’s no stress to ensure you don’t miss your ferry. On the other hand, when we arrived at 9.30pm the next available ferry was the 12.45am one. This of course, was of some concern to me. And so I came to a decision. We could instead choose the super class ticket which was twice the price, at 318 HKD, but was available for the 10.50pm sailing. Probably the best money ever spent. And with a quick wait, we were heading to Hong Kong ready for New Years Eve.

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