Trip Start Oct 15, 2007
58Trip End May 01, 2008
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The ferry took about an hour and we could see the neon of the casinos lighting up the harbour and the night sky. Once again we had to go through passport control. I got a three month visa and Frits got just one month. Poor South Africans.
We went to Information and got maps and relevant bus routes to get us to the guest houses. We also asked about budget accommodation. It was well out of our budget and we decided to go to the place that I had called the night before and made a "reservation".
The bus through town took us past all of the casinos. It's a mini Las Vegas with all of the lights dancing at night. We got off at the square.
With our heavy packs we found the small street where the inexpensive guest houses were.
At the top of the stairs, an old man told us they were full. He was the same person I spoke to on the phone. He spoke no English. I tried to explain that I had called the day before and made a reservation. He just said no and told us to come at 10 am the next day and look. That was the same thing he told me on the phone. I tried again and grandpa got testy. He told me that we had no reservation because we didn't pay him any money. We didn't get his website and there was no money. No money, no room. I wish he would have told me that the day before. I asked him where we could go and he pointed us around the corner.
Frits went around the corner to check the room and I waited in frustration. Grandpa was playing games on the computer and not noticing anything. Several other people came up the stairs and were told the same thing. Full. Frits came back and told me we had a room but not to get too excited.
We walked around the corner and towards the end of the small road. There were women of the night offering services of special massage or just a special hour. We went past them and up another scary staircase. A surly woman greeted us and her man showed us to our room.
It was the scariest room I had ever been in. I was afraid to touch anything for fear of unknown cooties. The bed was covered with a bamboo mat and we weren't sure if that was to keep off the dust or to be slept on. I had to sleep in my clothes and cover the pillows in sarongs. We were never sure if someone was going to come into the room.
First thing in the morning we were up and ready to get out of there. No showers were to be had in the disgusting shared bathroom.
It was still too early to check at the other place so we went in search of breakfast. Only a couple of street vendors were open and we tried one that wasn't selling unknown bits of meat. Our breakfast was delicious. Steamed rice paper rolls topped with dumplings and drizzled with vinegar, soy and sesame sauces.
We went back to the guest house slightly early to be first in line, but no one had checked out so they were still full. The hotel next door did have rooms available so we took the first room. Alicia was coming to meet us that night and we were happy to have a place with a bathroom and that was relatively disease free.
In the early afternoon, we went on a walk about town. Macau is well signed and it is easy to walk around and admire the architecture. The buildings left over from the colonial era were well maintained and brightly coloured. Many of the old churches are still in use.
We went for Portuguese food and I tried duck for the first time. Not as bad as I thought.
We walked towards the harbour but could only see the industrial area.
Even with all of the signs and our tourist map, we still managed to find ourselves lost. As we were standing on a corner deciding which way to go, a guy came up to us and gave us directions.
In the evening, we went to pick up Alicia at the ferry terminal. I didn't realize that she was flying directly into Macau so I told her to take the ferry from the Hong Kong airport. Good thing we didn't make plans to meet at the airport. I would have gone to HK and she would have been in Macau. Another disaster averted, though she did get some strange looks when she asked about getting the ferry to Macau from the Macau airport. Fortunately, we found each other and made it back to the square without to much ado.
We had the same rice paper dumpling breakfast and just had to take Alicia to the coffee shop we found. :
We went to see some of the town's sights again and just enjoyed the slow pace as compared with HK. Our first stop was the China gate.
We took the bus to the end of the line and came up right at the China gate. From there, according to our map, Sun Yat Sen park was within walking distance. We thought we should go and see the park dedicated to one of the founding fathers of Taiwan.
After lunch and the dog track, we went to find the Mong Ha fort.
Back at the square enjoying coffee, we asked for directions to the international movie festival. All the movies sounded really interesting and we were glad that we could see one. The directions seemed easy enough and after dinner we set off to try and find Portuguese consulate where the films were being shown. We walked around for over an hour trying every road, asking for directions, and having no idea of where we were. We finally gave up when we realized that we were more than 45 minutes late and would have missed most of the film even if we had found the venue. It was a disappointing night.
The next day Alicia was to leave, she only came for the weekend, we went to see the A ma temple dedicated to the goddess of the water.
Next on our list of attractions was the cybernetics fountain and Pen Ha Church.
We took Alicia to the bus stop where the airport bus supposedly stops and waited for what seemed like ages. At the airport, we had to sort out our tickets to get to Hanoi and there were no problems with getting a flight. We were surprised to find that the fees and charges from Bangkok were actually more than the price of the ticket, so it turned out to be an expensive flight.
It was sad to see Alicia go.
Our last day in Macau we climbed up to the other fort. It was an adventure as the maps aren't too clear about where to go. We ended up walking through the hospital grounds and past the infectious disease unit. Hopefully they have everything contained. The fort is set on a hill and around the base of the hill is a huge exercise park. There were many people out for their morning constitutionals.
After the fort, we got our things and got ready to go to the airport. We waited for the bus. And waited. And waited. One of the bus stop signs had small print that said the bus to the airport was and experimental service and only runs from 4 pm. We needed to catch a cab and fast. It's not as easy as it looks to find a cab in Macau. Finally we flagged an empty cab down but had to wait for the walk light to cross the road. By the time the light turned a group of Chinese tourists were already climbing into the cab. The driver, however, told them to get out because he already had a fare. We were on our way.
We watched the meter climb and checked how much money we had left. Then we saw the note about the surcharge for going to the airport. The moments were tense and meter kept climbing. The cab pulled up to the gate and we had the exact change left. It was a moment of great relief, we had enough money. Days later, when looking through my stuff, I found plenty of Hong Kong dollars left over. Oops.