Made it to Macau and Some First Impressions

I’ve found an open WAP by putting my laptop at the window sill here. Hopefully it’ll last through the weekend.

I made it to Macau without much hassle. From Xujiahui, I took the metro and the maglev to the airport, all told it took an hour or so for only 45 RMB which is faster (1.5h) and cheaper (130 RMB) than taking a taxi. Landing in Macau airport was a bit hard to mentally comprehend. First of all, everything is in Chinese (traditional), Portuguese and English. Everybody in the airport speaks English perfectly and the ATM machine took my Bank of China ATM card and gave me an option to withdraw either HKD or MOP (I chose the latter).

The taxi ride from the airport to the Hotel Royal Macau took 20 minutes or so and cost 50 pactas (at about 8 pactas/MOP to a USD). Originally, I’d tried to book a hostel for the trip since it was just me and I looked on a bunch of hosteling web sites and didn’t find any in Macau at all, but they did ofer a ‘budget hotel’ that I booked, the Hotel Royal Macau. Turns out it’s a 5 star hotel. Not a bad mistake to make.

After dropping my stuff off, I set off with a map on foot through the city. Macau is not that unlike some of the very quaint and small picturesque cities in Europe I’ve visited before. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Tallinn. The roads are mostly small, almost all two lanes wide that are often one way and riddled with switchbacks as the climb the hills. They’re beautifully quaint and quiet, devoid of the honking that’s so common in Shanghai. Since they climb so many hills they often have beautiful views that look down through the city. As I walked around this evening, I often and easily forgot I was in a Chinese country.

Quite accidently I made it to Largo do Senado, part of the UNESCO Heritage Site, which is beautiful. Old Portuguese buildings and fountains, all well lit and maintained make up for a wonderful walking and shopping and picture taking destination. I spent a few hours walking around the area. After getting a bit tired of walking around, I made my way to the casino part of town, near the water.

The first stop, of course, was the famous Lisboa. To get in to the gaming floors, it’s necessary to go through metal detectors and once inside it’s quite a bit unlike Vegas. First of all, it’s packed and second of all, it’s a labyrinth. The place is obviously designed to keep you inside for as long as possible. There were plenty of games being played that I’ve never seen before and I couldn’t find any roulette tables in the Lisboa, although they did have a routlette style game with dice and a lighted table that I managed to quickly lose 100 MOP on (betting on “small” when the dice rolled “big”). It feels fabled inside but it does also feel old and stuffy in the Lisboa.

I left that casino and walked around the corner to the Grand Emperor which was gaudy-beautiful. The floor of the lobby (that is shared with the hotel) has 99 gold bricks lining the floor along with a plaque for HSBC Zurich for their delivery. The second floor (which is where the casino starts) was dedicated to slots gaming and the third is all table games. I did find a roulette table in the Grand Emperor and as expectedit was a bit different than the American version. It doesn’t have 00, plus it also has extra table space for combination play.

Impression thus far? Beautiful city. Can’t wait to go out and explore in the day light tomorrow and see if my night vision holds true in the day.