Having just gotten to Taiwan, I find myself with a couple spare hours this evening to post about the last two stops in my September/October Asia tour. After Shanghai, I grabbed a flight down to Macau and Hong Kong, spending several days in each locale. These two former colony city-states, and now Special Administrative Regions, were assumed by China a couple decades ago and are still currently untouched for the most part due to deals (until 2049 and 2047 respectively). Macau is considered the premiere gambling destination for Asia and is the largest gaming mecca in the world. Getting to visit completed the trifecta of world gambling centers including Las Vegas and Monte Carlo (Monaco). Of course, Hong Kong is well known as one of the largest financial and commercial centers in the world.
The weather was pretty decent in Macau but took a turn for the grey and rainy when I managed to get to Hong Kong. Fortunately, I was still able to catch many of the sights on my list as seen by my itinerary:
- October 12th: Flew into Macau via Shanghai Airlines and got to the the Airbnb. Convenience with the free shuttles that eventually got me to the Macau Sands which was just beside my lodgings. Did my duty and gambling a bit to complete the quest to gamble in all 3 major gaming meccas.
- October 13th: Made my way to the southern island of Taipa and wandered through Old Taipa Village. Eventually managed to get down to the Giant Panda Pavilion (bus service isn’t the best). Dined at the Galaxy Macau Festiva buffet – a gastronomic experience that is hard to compete with. Finished off the evening with a trip to the cinema.
- October 14th: First stop was a walk over to the Macau Museum for some history of the area before descending to view the Ruin’s of St. Paul’s, Senado Square, and Casa de Lou Ka. After a brief respite (bubble tea!), I headed over towards the Temple of A-Ma and stopped at Teatro Dom Pedro V and Mandarin’s House along the way.
- October 15th: Visited the Kum Iam statue and the small museum below it after finding breakfast. Caught the ferry to Hong Kong Island. Checked into the hostel in Yau Ma Tei before finding some dinner (Tim Ho Wan).
- October 16th: Had to change plans slightly as Hong Kong’s metro system was in chaos due to technical issues on four of the main lines. Walked down past Kowloon Park, checked out the Avenue of Stars, and looked out over Victoria Harbour. Unfortunately, heavy rain in the late afternoon and evening prevented me from sticking around to check out the light show.
- October 17th: Decided to hit some place indoors and explored the Hong Kong Museum of History before grabbing some Hong Kong french toast and milk tea. Grabbed one of the famous double decker street cars to cross the island to Hong Kong Park and dodged rain showers to stroll through it. Finished off the day with dinner at Michelin rated Kam’s Roast Goose.
- October 18th: A bit drizzly but managed to get to one of the most famous sights in HK – Tian Tan Buddha (the Big Buddha). Spent some time there and had lunch at the monastery (all vegan). Managed to have enough time to get to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum which had a special exhibition on Bruce Lee with a fantastic movie about his life.
- October 19th: Caught the bus to the airport and headed back to Japan.
In Macau I ended up staying at an Airbnb near the Macau Sands Casino. It was very convenient as there are free shuttle buses from casino to casino all over Macau and Taipa islands. The Airbnb was in a giant apartment structure as pictured below which housed a preschool (convenient for the local families) and had a play ground in the center courtyard which was technically the 2nd floor. Overall it was comfortable, had my own AC, but shared a bathroom. The toilet seat needed repair (thankfully only the top cover) but it wasn’t a deal breaker.
For Hong Kong, I decided to stay in a hostel. It was a nice place, with a decent common room but I was too busy to really hang out. The mattress on the bunk bed was nice and thick and the 4 bed mixed dorm had an ensuite bathroom. Only thing is, as in many Asian countries (especially South East), the shower lacked a curtain or divider to keep water from spraying everywhere in the bathroom.
Getting around Hong Kong was definitely much easier than Macau. However, as Macau is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, it has already anticipated the need and a new rapid light rail system is nearing completion (estimated 2019 or 2020). Hopefully this will alleviate some issues for commuters and visitors that need to get around.
While I did enjoy Macau, I don’t see myself returning any time soon. Hong Kong is a different story and currently I’m planning to go back to enjoy the festivities of Chinese New Years celebrations. But for now, random photos!