We docked at the Macau Ferry Terminal, where there is a nice view of the Pearl River Delta (the one that leads to Hong Kong), and the island of Taipa. The terminal sits by a part of the Guia Circuit - one of the most challenging racing circuits in the world - the Grand Prix Stand can be seen from where we stood. The circuit was already set up for the 57th Grand Prix, which would happen from the 18th to the 21st of November, 2010. I was curious at how it would feel watching a race - live. But then again, I don't have that much money nor time to come back on winter just for it.
Macau, like Hong Kong, is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China with its own immigration regime. We had to go through the immigration process, like we were entering a different country - so, our passports got stamped again here. And like in Hong Kong (unlike in Mainland China), entering Macau is visa-free for many foreign nationals, including Filipinos.
|The inner side of the ferry terminal. I took this shot while on our way in search of hotel shuttle buses.|
One particular manong who was offering such services told me, "Ma'am, baka maligaw lang kayo. Masasayang lang ang panahon n'yo." (You might get lost. It would be a waste of your time.) To which I replied with a smile, "Okay lang ho. Sanay na kaming maligaw." (It's okay, we're used to getting lost.) Inside, I felt pity for the guys and at the same time, I felt insulted. I pitied the guy for he looked like he needed the money so much - having waited there for tourists with all the competition. And I felt insulted because, although I'm an amateur traveler, him questioning my sense of direction (and general common sense) offended me. However, the pity I had for the guy was more than my regard for my pride. Nevertheless, we didn't avail of his services. We prefer exploring new places - that way we really learn the ways of traveling, and we tend to remember directions more. But bless him for he still gave us a tip - to take the free buses picking up tourists from the terminals to the hotels, for a free get-around ride. And he recommended getting on the Grand Emperor Hotel bus since one of us mentioned the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral - it's walking distance between the hotel and the religious/tourist site, just bring your bottled water with you.
More on the tourist guides: they usually ask for 50MP (Macau Pataca) for a whole day tour, plus meals. They seem friendly and helpful - especially the Pinoys who meet fellow Pinoy tourists. Some guides - that we've come across while treading through the streets of Macau - went out of their way to assist travelers. However, I've read from travel forums that there are tour guides who take guests to shops where the latter would have to buy souvenirs and whatnot - and not to the tourists' intended destinations.
Indeed, our group's the adventurous kind - often to our disadvantage. The manong was right, on our Macau trip we have wasted a good amount of time finding our way around from the ruins of St. Paul's to the Venetian Hotel. Had we known where to board the right buses, we could even have visited the Macau Tower. But that doesn't mean that we didn't enjoy going through the hassle. Basing on what I've observed on how my buddies were, just like me they wouldn't have it any other way. It was fun navigating through a new city, and it felt amazing getting through it. Along the way, we stumbled upon interesting sites and shops, which we think we wouldn't even notice had we had a tour guide. Besides, we went along with our normal pace, not having to rush taking photos or lounging at certain places in regard of a stranger waiting for us to get done with our thangs. Personally, I was also concerned that tour guides might stick to certain itineraries, and that it would not jive with our stride.
Anyway, so we looked for the Grand Emperor Hotel bus - there were so many hotel buses at the ferry terminal offering free rides to the corresponding hotels. We were like giddy kids as the bus drove by posh hotel/casinos, especially the Grand Lisboa, with all its shiny-shimmering glass walls. It calls you. When we got to the Grand Emperor Hotel, we took advantage of the air-conditioning at the lobby (it was hot in Macau!), while we took pictures in there.
|pure gold bars such as this one lay encased under|
glass on the floor of the hotel lobby
Reality time! And so we plotted our way to the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, with the help of the map that we got from the tourist information center and my phone's GPS. It took us a while, discussing our course at the front of the hotel prior to venturing on to our little adventure.
Again, I wanted to kick myself for not bringing a hat. Have I mentioned it already? It was hot in Macau!