Much to my dismay, I woke up to cloudy and overcast skies, which meant that an afternoon expedition to the Peak (since I had accidentally walked down the trail instead of admired the view) or to Lantau Island to check out the Tai O fishing village wasn’t in my favour if I wanted blue skies in my photographs. I took to a more relaxed approach for the day, since I knew that I would have to be at 7PM to catch a ferry to Macau for the weekend.
With the whole day open, I decided that I would go for a much-needed back massage. According to several expat websites, such as GeoExpat and The Rub Down, it was suggested that if I didn’t want to travel too far, Sunny Paradise was the place to go. But first, I took a quick walk to take a look at what was the Golden Bauhinia Square, which turned out to be square surrounded by tour buses and a large flower statue – nothing exciting. Coming back to Sunny Paradise, the place is most certainly a spa (gender separated for those that wonder) where you can spend several hours just watching the television, eating snacks and sipping on tea, along with hanging out in the sauna/steam room; those amenities are all included for 98 HKD. After speaking in some broken Chinese (the staff, for the most part, don’t speak English) found me a masseuse (who dubs herself No. 43) that spoke pretty good English and worked out a lot of the kinks in my back and shoulders. Afterward, I stuck around for another hour or so, snacking on curry fish balls and drinking water, all the while having my ears cleaned. Quite the relaxing afternoon, I must say.
341 Lockhart Road, Wanchai
With a little time to spare before having to head to the ferry station, I took a quick stroll through the Wanchai Computer Centre, which, supposedly, has some great deals. While there were some interesting things to buy, the savings varied depending on what you were looking to buy, and how good your haggling skills were. Since I didn’t have a lot of interest in revealing my lack of language skills, I merely window shopped at computer and cellphone gear.
Before boarding the ferry, I had to go through passport control so as to leave the special administrative region of Hong Kong and enter that of Macau. The ferry ride itself was nothing notable, apart from the facts that the boat rocked more heavily than any one that I’ve ever rode on, and that in first class, a meal (read: bowl of instant ramen) and drinks are served. Nice touch, eh?
Turns out that since there are so many casinos in Macau that there isn’t ever really a need to take public transportation – one could get around by transferring on the free hotel shuttles that run between town and various hotels. That said, I took the Galaxy shuttle bus, which took us to the Galaxy Macau Complex, which is comprised of three hotels – Galaxy, Hotel Okura, and Banyan Tree Resort. As one would presume, the Japanese theme prevailed at Hotel Okura (which was where I stayed) – everything from facilities (that includes the Japanese warm seat toilets) to kimono-dressed staff.
Since I arrived in the evening, there was nothing to do but to eat a rather late dinner at Lugang Café in the hotel complex. Much to my surprise, smoking hasn’t been banned indoors in Macau, which means that there are smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants, which means a mere separation of ten feet. That said, smoking has been banned indoors as of January 1st, 2012.
The next day was spent walking around the main part of town. The Lisboa and the Grand Lisboa hotels were certainly quite intriguing on account of its artifacts. Numerous large valuables, such as ivory and jade carvings, adorn the lobbies of both these family-owned hotels, creating a museum of sorts.
Afterward, I had a short dessert stop, followed by aimless wandering in the streets of Macau. Finding myself wandering into the quieter streets, I noticed the old houses from when the region was under Portuguese rule. Continuing up the hill, en route to Fortaleza do Monte, I could not help but pause every couple of steps to look down at the cityscape. It’s funny – I’ve seen so many skylines that it almost seems like ritual of sorts. I see people take photos all the time of the cityscape, and cannot help but wonder if they will ever notice one particular monument in their framing that will reveal what city it is, even to the most removed of persons. In any case, it becomes part of my consciousness, and I always look for one particular giveaway so as to solidify some sort of memory in the photograph, more so for myself than anyone else.
Coming back down for the fortress, I stopped for one of my most favourite food categories – street food. Apparently, the line at this particular stall (photographed below) can easily wrap around the corner. With only a few people ahead of me in line, one can surmise that no one wanted to fill their stomachs in expectation of a heavy New Year’s Eve meal. For dinner, I took the shuttle bus to what was dubbed the “village,” steered away from the immediate shops, and ducked into a restaurant known for its steamed fish and crab dishes.
Even though there was a New Year’s celebration being put together downtown, I opted to stay at the hotel and watch the countdown live on television. I’m not one for ever joining the mass countdown on account of the fact that waiting in the large crowd for hours beforehand to “get a good spot” isn’t something that I’m particularly interested in. Instead, I rather celebrate during the day, which I most certainly did with a New Year’s dimsum lunch at Laurel the next day.
After tasting soy sauce braised pigeon at Tai Ping Koon several nights before, I was excited to try the crispy roasted pigeon that this particular restaurant had to offer. Also, add a tray of three different hot sauces and several other dimsum favourites, and it comes as no surprise that I was quite satiated.
Macau Galaxy Branch
Tel: (853) 8883-2298
On that note, this is also how I probably gained at least 4lbs during this trip. Since I had some more vouchers to use before heading back to Hong Kong, I opted for a second lunch (albeit, lighter than this one) at Myung Ga.
Given that I didn’t have enough time to explore more of Macau (I was told that Coloane would be quite far from where we were), I opted to take an earlier ferry so that I could spend some time exploring IFC. Somehow, in a brief span of a few hours, I managed to work up a light appetite, which was perfect for a small dinner, consisting of Chiu Chow-style congee, cold steamed fish (烏頭 “wu tou”), and pork’s blood, in the west end of Hong Kong Island.
Tak Kee Chiu Chow Restaurant
Ground floor, 3G Belcher’s St, West Point (opposite to West Wood)
Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
Tel: 2819 5568
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