We checked out from the Icon Hotel in Hong Kong on May 25 around 11:30 AM. Our next destination was Macau which is known as the gambling capitol of the East. It is like a sister city of Las Vegas. We were going to take the Ferry to Macau. We realized it was inconvenient to carry all our bags on the ferry. So we left part of our luggage in the hotel to be collected on our way back and took only one big bag and a small bag. We could take the ferry either from Kowloon or Hong Kong. We talked to the hotel staff and found that the easy option was to take the ferry from the China Ferry Terminal in Kowloon. The ferries leave Kowloon less frequently, one in every thirty minutes. We took a taxi to the ferry terminal and then managed to buy ferry tickets for the 2:00PM trip on the Turbojet.
Mala near Ferry Ticket Counter
Tickets for the earlier trips have been sold out. After buying tickets for the 2:00PM trip from the official counter, I saw a person hanging out in the waiting area, selling tickets for the 1:30PM trip for a slightly higher price. Mala did some shopping in one of the shops in the ferry terminal while waiting for the checking counter to open. The checking counter opens only half an hour before the departure. Macau is considered a different country. They have their own money and jurisdiction. We had to go through the normal process of immigration before entering the Ferry.
We got good seats in the Turbojet. The turbojet travels very fast and the trip lasted only one hour. We got out at the Macau ferry terminal and joined the queue for the free shuttle that takes you to the Venetian Hotel. The longest queue was for the Venetian Hotel. It appeared that there were many tour groups taking large groups of people to the Venetian Hotel. There were several people in uniforms to monitor the progress of the queue and make sure you are on the right queue. Our queue kept moving fast as the shuttle buses came one after the other and took passengers away. When we got out of the shuttle at the hotel, the place was equally full of people and again there were people in uniforms helping you unload your baggage and directing you to the reception.
Venetian Hotel Reception Desk
I was wondering whether we made a mistake in selecting this busy hotel. Later we found that most of the tour groups have brought people only to see the hotel. The queue at the reception was not that long. The Venetian Resort Hotel is probably the biggest hotel in Macau. There are 3000 suites for the hotel guests and the hotel in itself a small city. We need a map to go around and find our way. You can easily get lost among all the walkways, passages and corridors.
Venetian Hotel Main Entrance
We got a good suite on the 34th floor. We were upgraded to something called a Cotai suite on the South wing of the hotel. That was a special offer where those who stay more than two nights get automatically upgraded to these suites. Our hotel suite was nearly 70 Square metres in size.
We had a separate sitting area and a huge attached bathroom. The room window was facing the famous Galaxy Hotel which is quite big and presently under renovation. In the night, from our hotel window, we could see the changing lights in that hotel.
Galaxy Hotel Light show seen from Venetian Hotel room
The first and third floors of the hotel have shops and restaurants spread along the corridors. There is a food court on the third floor with many small food outlets and a sitting area giving the option of cheap eating. There is a man made water way running between two long passages with bridges and arches over it to cross over. You can go for a paid gondola ride and take your group photo riding the gondola if you are in the mood.
There is an artificial sky over the roof of the building when you are on the third floor to give the impression that you are in an outdoor area.
The casino parlour is on the first floor, right in the middle of the hotel building. All the corridors and walkways from the hotel wings lead to the casino parlour. We visited the casino parlour to have a quick look. The place was full of people playing all different games. The minimum bet on most of the games was HK$500. We came out of the parlour hoping to visit again and look for a game which we could play for a small sum of money. We found that many people make short visits to the hotel only to play in the casino parlour and go back on the same day.
The hotel guests enjoy numerous benefits and special offers. We get special discounts at most of the shops within the hotel compound. We could have free breakfast or lunch in a few selected restaurants. When you join the Sands Rewards club, each member gets a free KH$100 voucher which can be used in any restaurant in the hotel. Later, you can collect club points by purchasing items in the hotel shops and playing in the casino that enables you to get up to HK$500 in free vouchers.
On the 26th morning, we had our breakfast in one of the nominated restaurants and then decided to join a group tour to explore the city of Macau. The tour takes you to most of the interesting places in the city. That way we could see everything in one day and relax on the third day.
It was a very hot day and the tour started at 2:00PM from the hotel. The tour guide was a lady who explained things in English and Chinese.
Andrew and Mala near Taipa Houses Library
Our first stop was at the Taipa Houses Museum. The Museum consists of five buildings. They were houses built during Portuguese occupation period. They are normally open to the public, but closed on Mondays. We could not go inside, but we stopped near the museum and took some pictures. Newly married couples come her to take photographs. There was one Korean couple in their wedding suits taking photos, when we visited the place.
Entance to A Ma Temple
Our next stop was A Ma Temple . Local people come here for regular prayers and to make offerings. It was built in 1488. The temple is dedicated to Mazu, who is supposed to be the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. When the first Portuguese sailors laded close to the temple, they asked the locals for the name of the place. The locals misunderstood and told them the name of the temple. Portuguese made their own interpretation and named the place as Macau.
The temple is built over several levels. You could climb the steps to reach the higher levels. In one place, you could see all the prayer cards hung by the locals. The devotees who come to the temple also practice Incense Burning. I saw three types of Incense. One is the very thin
Jos sticks. I have seen them being used in other religious places. The second type is a thicker and longer stick. It is probably more expensive. The third type is the Incense Spiral. I saw some of them hanging from the temple roof, though no one was using them at the time of our visit.
Chinese red prayer papers
Incense Spirals for sale at the temple
A Lady burning Incense at the Temple premises
Outside the temple, we found a pedicab which was a well known mode of transport in the past, in Macau. We came out of the temple and walked along a small path to find a shop selling Chinese and Portuguese sweets. We bought a few items though we were not sure whether we could bring them back to Australia. We may have to eat all of them or leave them behind.
Ruins of St Pauls Church
The next stop was the ruins of St Pauls church. This church was fully burnt down and now you could see only the front façade. It has become a major tourist attraction and a place that should be visited by all tourists. We had to leave the bus and walk along a steep passage to get to this place. We were informed that the bus would pick us up at another place in thirty minutes. The church was built by Jesuit priests during the period of 1582 to 1602. It was a cathedral and one of the largest in Asia at that time. It was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835. You can find more details about this church and it's history on the internet. I again found three newly married couples among visitors. They come here with their photographers to pose and take photos with the church façade as a background. I managed to take a few photographs of these couples while they were posing for their photographer.
Newly married couple near the church steps
We walked down the steps and walked along the paved walkways to reach another area which was historically important. Some of the old buildings are good examples of Portuguese architecture.
Busy walking passage in Macau town area
The sun was very harsh and we were sweating profusely after the long walk. We stopped near a busy shopping area and spent a few minutes buying and drinking soft drinks. In the mean time the tour guide tried to collect all the people into one place. A few of the people were missing, stopping over to buy things on the way. We walked up to our bus which was waiting for us on a street corner.
Soft Drink after a long walk on a hot day
Our next and the last stop was the Macau Tower. The Macau Tower is one of the main landmarks in Macau.
Macau Tower from a distance
The tower measures 338 m ( 1109 ft) in height from ground level to the highest point. There is an observation deck with panoramic views and restaurants. It offers the best view in Macau giving a 360 degree view. At 333m, on the upper deck they have skyjump and bungee jump. This is supposed to be the second highest commercial skyjump in the world just behind Vegas Stratosphere skyjump at 260 m. We saw two people doing the bungee jump, but could not take a photo. It happened so fast.
Our third day was a leisure day in the hotel. We walked around doing window shopping in the hotel shops and then had lunch in one of the nominated restaurants. We went around the hotel walkways and all the passages. On the third floor, there is a waterway through the passages of the buildings. There are arches and cross overs over this waterway to make it interesting. This is the water canal, if you can call it a canal, they use for Gondola rides. The Gondolas and the rides on this waterway are as enjoyable as the real Gondola rides in Venice.
Gondola rides on the clear water way.
In this area, the buildings are only three floors high. Initially, I thought it is an open area. You can see the sky over the buildings giving the impression of an open area.
Shopping Malls on the third floor, You can see the clear sky above the building
Then we realized the sky is not the real sky, but a faked one. The ceiling over the building has been built and painted to look like a real sky. They have done a very good job to make it look like the real sky.
Fake sky, See the nail marks in the sky ceiling
We went to the Concierge and booked our ferry tickets for the return journey. The hotel had a special offer to give free ferry tickets to hotel guests. We made use of this offer and booked the ferry journey from Macau to Hong Kong , not Kowloon. We had to go to a different ferry terminal called Taipa Ferry Terminal. After the Ferry journey, we went back to Icon hotel to collect our left over bags and then proceeded to Sky City Marriot hotel to spend the last day in Hong Kong.