After a late night and packing our bags, I was woken up at around 9am – enough time to get ready to head to Sheung Wan for the ferry to Macau. We sort of got out of the house too late for any proper food so we would dine at the most chinese fast food place we could find – KFC. Turns out they at least have a slightly different menu over here, I had fried chicken and cheese in a breakfast muffin, which was pretty damn good though a far cry from authentic chinese cuisine. We boarded our ferry shortly after – with first class tickets no less (apparently it was only a few quid extra per seat, and comes with free food and drink, as well as priority de-boarding on arrival.The boat ride was around an hour, upon arrival and going through immigrations (as Macau is it’s own country) we got on the shuttle bus to our hotel for the night – the Sheraton.
Bus eventually pulls into this grand looking hotel, the air-con hits us from outside and we are greeted with an over the top looking lobby with miniature indoor forest, casino in the back and a lobby that is probably larger than some airport departure lounges i’ve been to. View from our hotel room was equally as impressive, up on the 28th floor, we could see the swimming pools below as well as everything else nearby – including an under construction eiffel tower from the looks of it.
After dropping our bags off, we went to check out our hotel, part of a cluster of two or three hotels, they literally merge together through common spaces in the form of posh malls and restaurants, presumedly so that any money people win from their nearby casino has a better chance of being absorbed into local purchases rather than elsewhere. Oh, just remembered, the first large set of slot machines we saw in the lobby had a grand prize of 5 million HKD, or around 400k GBP, literally cannot even imagine pulling a slot machine lever and winning a 3 bedroom house.
After browsing the ridiculous mall inside the hotel, we went for lunch at a hotpot restaurant, this particular one actually uses individual burners and even offers a variety of different soup bases to choose from, along with a vast selection of things to cook in it.
Filled to the brim after lunch, we went across the road and checked out the hotel there – a place called City of Dreams, we’d only check the main lobby, which was populated by a wall of cascading water and a topless mermaid swimming about on the wall. Caught a taxi from the hotel front and headed for Macau’s supposed most famous location, St Paul’s Ruins, the ruins as well as old town are actually on a different section of island to where our hotel was, and then we got stuck in a traffic jam, so we actually lost a lot of time in transit just trying to get there, but I was asleep for most of it anyway so this story is irrelevant I guess.
St Paul’s Ruins on the outside was sort of cool I guess, reminded me of a lot of the ruined architecture we saw while in Rome, there was a crypt inside, along with a large sign outside which read “Crypt, please be quiet” or something to that effect, we opened the door to be greeted by a large group of chinese tourists from mainland china, loudly talking in their language made from Z noises and talking selfies with the corpse remnants on display.
We hit up the Macau museum next, as it was only a short walk away from St Pauls, it’s a history museum filled with… stuff… figurines, remnants from history, and just generally old shit which they found which hasn’t completely fallen apart yet. Wasn’t the most interesting place i’ve ever been, but the it was well cooled inside at least, and not too expensive to enter.
St Paul’s and the museum are actually atop a hill, with Senado square towards the bottom at the end of a stone paved road. The road to the square is (for some reason) completely filled with snack shops, these shops all compete directly with each other and so try to draw in customers by handing out free samples on the street, so basically every single shop has a dude outside, shouting at you and asking if you want to try their biscuit / waferthing / pork jerky. There are worse issues to be had, sure, but it was pretty ridiculous nonetheless to have free food shoved in your face constantly.
Did I mention this whole area is in a kind of spanish/portugese style? Macau is actually a former portugese colony and so there are a bunch of small quirks like this to be found in the country. At the bottom of the road was Senado square, marked via a large fountain filled with people taking selfies. We’d head down the road after this, to get to where all of the larger hotels and casinos are.
First one up was the Lisboa, which you can actually see in the distance in a few of the pictures earlier, given that it fucking towers over the entire city with it’s ridiculously flashy architecture and the bit where it’s coloured gold and decked in moving lights. This hotel was even more ridiculous than ours, with gigantic chandeliers and intricate carvings made from mammoth tusk in the lobby. We had a walk around and took in the scenery, I tried to take a picture of the casino area but was caught – they are pretty strict with that stuff it seems. After leaving, we’d see a couple of dudes on the road having a full on argument about to evolve into fistfight – as you can see from the picture, Chinese people are not well known for minding their own business (it ended peacefully, though im still not sure what they were arguing about).
Next door is the Wynn Macau, which is yet another Hotel and Casino, infact all of the hotels here have casinos and a shopping complex inside – I can only imagine how many goddamn Gucci/Prada etc stores are in Macau on the whole, as it seems just about every large hotel has one if not more. Unlike the others, we actually went into the Wynn’s Casino to take a look around, it was gigantic inside, easily some hundred games tables, and probably digital slot machines in the thousands, this was over 2 floors and included VIP rooms with a minimum bet of £200 and a maximum of £50,000.
In a lobby area outside of the casino, there was an impressively intricate ceiling display and a large hemisphere in the center on the floor, adorned with the chinese zodiac and constellations respectively. Mum passed me a few coins and said to throw them when ‘the thing happens’. We stood around for some 10-20 minutes waiting for ‘the thing’ to happen, and then it finally did and holy shit.
So first, the intricate ceiling with carved chinese zodiac? Yeah apparently that opens up, behind it was like a hundred foot circular LED TV playing some psychadelic shit (music is blasting like crazy right now). Wow, this is pretty cool I thought, then the video on the ceiling TV ends… and the fucking TV splits in two and opens up, and down comes this gigantic neon chandelier. Wow okay, that’s insane. But what do I do with these coins? So then the hemisphere in the floor splits open, and at this point im thinking ‘okay theres probably a water fountain or something under there’… Nope. Like a 2 story deep cavern and a gigantic golden tree which raises up two stories high – and is big enough that the gigantic chandelier has to retract itself up into the ceiling again a little bit. The fucking tree then starts to rotate, and this super loud chinese ballad starts playing, and all these chinese people around the display start launching full fucking fists of coins at this poor tree, there are cameras flashing everywhere, coins are pinging off the tree and bouncing all over the goddamn place, the tree is STILL rotating… Yeah, that was a hell of an experience.
After touring the casino, discoball tree and the hotel’s mandatory mall, we ended up in one of the lobbies overlooking the fountain outside, and just caught the end of a fountain show (literally the last 2 seconds or so). We headed outside to wait for the next one, I was busy taking photos in the meantime anyway so it passed pretty quickly.
As the sky slowly began to darken, some water cannons poked their head out of the water, and the show began. Bonnie Tyler’s ‘I need a Hero’ starts playing over the speakers and we are treated to a fantastic show with water and lights – and rather unexpectedly, fire cannons too. I say rather unexpectedly because I was still looking through my viewfinder when suddenly this wall of heat and light hits me.
We stuck around a little longer afterwards for another show and to let the sky darken a little more so we could enjoy the vegas-esque views, the second show was more mellow with some sort of ballet kind of song… it was also about half the length and featured no fire, boo. We were spoiled by the first one i guess.
One last stop for today on our speed tour of Macau, we hailed a cab to get to The Venetian Hotel, which is just across the road from our own. The Venetian is styled upon the famous hotel of the same name found in Las Vegas, Macau’s edition is smaller for sure, but still manages to amaze. Along with the stunning lobby and 3 floor designer mall that just about every hotel seems to have, the Venetian also has its signature decoration style intact in the major shopping area, with walls disguised as full buildings, bright blue artificial sky and river flowing through the middle – though there were no singing gondola men on duty at 8pm it seems. We had dinner in the food court here, a mixed meat noodle soup for myself, and then headed back home… or well, attempted to – we got lost for about a half an hour trying to find our way around the hotel and it’s 2+ malls (it’s that big.).
Absolutely exhausted, we had planned to go gamble some in the casino but everyone just wants to collapse into bed, or just generally not be on our feet for a while. Quite desperately need a spa/rest day.