In the weekend of Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July 2006 we visited Macau. Macau is a former Portugese colony that is located in the south-western point of the Pearl River Delta. It is to the west of Hong Kong and to the south of Zhuhai and Guangzhou. Macau was handed back to China in 1999 and retains special rights, much like Hong Kong. Mainland Chinese can not feely travel to Macau and require a visa or permit. Foreigners, such as Dutch citizens, often don't require any visa for short visits to Macau. Two or three days is enough to see most of Macau. You can pay with Hong Kong dollars, Macau dollars or Chinese Yuan and there are several ATM machines and exchange shops.
Don't forget to view the photos of Macau !
Saturday 15th July 2006
From Shenzhen to Macau
Get up at 6:00 in the morning, because we have to take the bus to Shekou subdistrict to the docks. At 08:15 the ferry to Macau leaves and is mostly empty. No need to make a reservation in advance, but it is wise to arrive early enough to buy a ticket and check-in. In the waitingroom there are also lots of foreigners that will go to Hong Kong by boat or to HK Airport. The exit of Chinese territory was very easy and there queues were quite short. We only had to wait 10 minutes or so. The After we got in the boat, we noticed that it was already going up and down quite a lot. In the front of the boat you will notice the rocking motion of the waves the most. So if you are prone to be seasick, you best sit in the back of the boat. The tickets had seatnumbers on them, but if it is so empty it doesn't matter at all where you sit.
Augusters Hostel, recommended
After about one hour and 20 minutes, the boat arrived at the inner harbour of Macau (on the westcoast of Macau). We walked down Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro and we passed the famous Senado Square. We had made a reservation at the cheap hostel Augusters . We can recommend this guesthouse to anyone that is on a budget and wants a cheap place to sleep. The hostel is located on the third floor of an older appartment building. It was originally a normal appartment, but it is converted so that it can accomodate 9 beds in 3 different rooms. There is also a kitchen and a bathroom and a small sitting/central room with television and computer. The owners are really friendly and are happy to provide you with information and a touristic map of Macau. The toilet/shower is clean and the bedrooms all have airco and a fan. We slept for 60 MOP per bed in a dormitory. This room contains two bunkbeds and has no special lockers. Each guest gets a set of three keys that you can use for the two outer doors and the door to the bedroom. This ensures you can come back at anytime, also when the owners are not in the hostel. Only complaint could be that the airco is quite noisy and perhaps that there is only one toilet, so sometimes you have to wait a little while. Behind the hostel is a small café (Cafe a Naté) which has nice breads, cakes and drinks. The typical little yellow eggtarts of Macau cost 5$ and fresh orange juice 14$. They also have applepie , different cheesecakes and coffee. Recommended!
We walked around the city and visited Senado Square that is in typical Portugese style. From there we walked via Rua de S. Paulo to the Ruinas de S. Paulo. This is one of the hallmarks of Macau and consists of only the front facade of the former church. Next to the church, to the right when you face it, you can find the old fortress Fortaleza do Monte that the Portugese built to defend against the Dutch. We missed this fortress the first day though and we walked next to the famous flighthouse at the Guia Fortress. It was the first lighthouse on the Chinese coast and is still operating today. From the top you have quite a good view of the city and the lighthouse, a cannon and a little chapel. Next we walked to Casino Lisboa, but that one turned out to be more name than fame. Then we went to a newer and much more entertaining Casino Sands. I should have known better, since the Duch already lost their battle for Macau from the Portugese, but we still tried some Blackjack. In casinos everything is priced in HK$ and you will see people with lots of money. No problem for them to play 4000HK$ (400 euro) in one hand! Ofcourse we lost all, good experience. I will never play in a casino anymore :) After the casino we walked back to the hostel and at around midnight we slept.
Sunday 17th of July.
In the night it rained very hard. After a short breakfast at Naté we walked via Senado Square to the fortress we missed yesterday. We walked all the way up, only there to discover that you can also go to the top via escalators. At the top you can see lots of cannons to defend Macau. When you go down escalators, you can enter the museum of Macau (website). Admission for adults is 15$ and students and children 8$. The small museum has quite a nice exhibition and displays the history of Macau. I would still rate the History Museum of Hong Kong better though. After we got off, we walked along Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida to the garden Jardim Lou Lim leoc. This garden is built in Chinese style and has a portugese building in the middle. In the waters swim thousands of fish and also quite a few turtles. We took the bus back to the hostel and retrieved our backpack. Across the street from the hostel, we took bus 3 to the border with Zhuhai in the north of Macau.
F rom Macau to Shenzhen via Zhuhai
The bus 3 stopped in an underground station very close to the border building. We walked inside and then we could quite quickly pass the border in Macau. Only weird thing is that foreigners with a passport have to fill out a healthform and Chinese don't have to do that. Pure bureaucrazy, but fortunately it doesn't take long and there were no queues. You will enter a taxfree zone then and after that you have to enter China. There are lots of open queues, I counted around 24 lanes open. Two of those were for foreigners and those lanes are very slow. Every passport is checked very carefully and every foreigner had to wait around 45 minutes! Totally unacceptable ofcourse, but there is nothing one can do about it. Perhaps 17:00 is a busy time, but be prepared to wait a long time to enter China at Zhuhai. In Zhuhai we walked down two escalators, after the first one you will see lots of shops and after the 2nd escalator one can buy tickets for busses to major cities in Guangzhou. We bought a ticket for 85 Yuan per person for a bus at 18:15 to Shenzhen. The bus had dvd player on board and was mostly empty as well. It went to Futian district and Luohu. We got off a little bit earlier and took a local bus back to Nanshan.
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