Hong Kong: Day 4 - Macau (Lou Kau Mansion, St Paul's, Macau Tower)


No climbing in three languages

I'll admit I was actually kind of excited about today. I don't know much about Macau, but one of the main (and perhaps only) reasons I'd wanted to come was because of the beautiful Venetian which imitates the streets of Venice indoors. Ever since I've read the Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman, I've enjoyed elements of Italy and Venice greatly, but the architecture and language and the way of the Venetians had always been rather interesting to me.

Regardless, let's say my first impressions of Macau were not what I had in mind. Perhaps Hong Kong set a high bar for my expectations but after less than 12 hours in Macau, I'd seen that it had many small alleyways, most people rode bikes, closed early, had dangerous streets, was full of casinos and had no other form of transport for visitors than taxis or buses.

Bikes

The deal breaker for me is the lack of trams or trains. I have to admit that even only being in Hong Kong for three days, I love the MTR to bits and even the shaky tram system I blogged about before. It's fast and it's efficient and it's frequent. It makes me wonder how much I would like Singapore's MRT system, which naturally Ruben has mentioned many times before.

To cut to the chase, after we stepped off the ferry, we stopped by one of the vending machines in the terminal to obtain a couple of sim cards after extreme difficulty inserting banknotes, then caught a taxi to our hotel.

Pretty Portuguese tiles

There in the hotel room, we phoned the 3 hotline since I wasn't able to figure out how to active the data network and were told that cards of value less than $100 had no data capability. Which was just dandy, seeing as we'd just bought a couple for our short stay. The advertised plan on the 3 vending machine was at around $9 for unlimited internet for a single day, which would have worked out nicely if the sim card had supported it. Unfortunately, the hotel also didn't have any wifi except in the lobby and their dining area... also another deal breaker for Macau.

As it was, we headed outside to buy a sim card on the SmarTone network, with the data plan being $200 for 250MB of data (paid for in HKD, so ~$26.66AUD), thus meaning I have to watch my use very carefully now, lest I run out early. We went for some noodles, then wandered into a market street where they were selling street food. Kind of made us regret the noodles, though they were delicious.

Almond cookie

We visited Lou Kau Mansion, a very old building that an extremely wealthy family lived in. There was a lot of history about it, but I'm not sure how to translate it, or indeed I'm not sure I understood all of it. The age of the house was very apparent even though it no longer completely reflected its former glory. Paint has come off after so many years and the gold painted onto the intricately carved panels had been scraped off.

My brother's photo from here gets a special mention.

We continued on our way to the Ruins of St Paul's. Despite not being religious, I would have been amazed at the splendour of the place if it had survived all the years, but with many things, it didn't last. We wandered around the museum there before wandering up to the fortress where we busied ourselves with the view as the highest point on the main island before going on an extremely long trek to Macau Tower.

St Paul's Cathedral

Macau Tower was in all reality rather anticlimatic. The view was pretty, but the main observation deck was a better vantage point than the one upstairs because the one upstairs was easily blocked off by the way it was built – the view was marred by the building itself. It was more of a disappointment because of the time of the day though – reflections in the glass made it almost impossible to take photos.

View from Macau Tower

Extremely tired and walking a long, long way back from Macau Tower, we wandered to drop out stuff off at the hotel, a dinner at somewhere nearby because none of us really cared anymore since it was getting late, and we sought out a supermarket before returning to our 'home' for the next few days.