12 Hours in Transit, Or How I Made it to Macau

originally posted 26 November 2006, 11:08pm

I failed to achieve my goal yesterday morning: I had a steamed bun for breakfast. It was fantastic and I quickly made up for it by having 11ses with some roti across the street at the Indian place that was near my hostel. The one sight in Georgetown that I’d set to see was the Chong Tze Fai (sic?) house/museum. Chong Tze Fai was a Chinese businessman who made a fortune in the early 1900s in trade in the Southeast Asian region, with his favorite home being in Penang (the one he built for his 7th wife). Apparently, when he died in 1915 (??) he was called the Rockefeller of the East by the NYT.

I joined the 11am tour, which went thru the home (and also does a bit of a sales pitch for the B&B that operates from there). It’s quite a spectacular building, very Chinese + Western in the middle of a row of colonial British homes. It looks totally out of place, but the interior was beautiful and had fengshui touches all over as well as some interesting internal water cooling mechanism. After the museum, I walked around some and took a few more pictures, had my last order of hawker Indian food and headed out.

Back at 75 Travelers, I started my 12 hour journey from Georgetown, Penang to Macau, SAR. I got a cab from the hostel to the Penang Airport. From the Penang Airport, I took an Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal. Upon arrival, I took a bus from LCCT to KL International Terminal (a 20 minute drive no less). Once clearing immigration in KL, the flight was a quick four hours to Hong Kong.

Upon disembarkation at Hong Kong, I was asked by a roving immigration agent for my passport and destination. I was the only person that I saw asked for this and as soon as I pulled out my American passport she visibly disengaged and when I said I was heading to Central she left me along. I figure there was a combination of two things going on: first, there’s a lot of Indians in HK, probably quite a few illegally and two, I was looking like a total scrub. I hadn’t shaved in 5 days and my white shirt was looking more yellow than white.

At the immigration counter, I was let thru without any issue or even a word. If this was the US, I’d ask (as I’d done before) why I’d been pulled aside, but figured this is HK so I’m not going to try to push my luck. I made my way to the Airport Express, which took me to Central, and from there took a MTR Island Line train to the HK Ferry terminal. I managed to catch the 1130pm ferry from HK to Macau, clearing immigration again (and another set of stamps). Total time in HK SAR was like 100 minutes. The ferry got me to Macau at 1230am and I took a taxi from the ferry terminal to my hotel.

Thus, after twelve hours and nearly every form of transport possible (sadly no horse or rickshaw), I made it to Macau. Taxi to plane, plane to bus, bus to plane, plane to train, train to subway, subway to ferry, ferry to taxi.

Once I arrived in Macau, I dropped my stuff off in my room and walked across the street to the Sands casino. I played roulette for a little bit but they closed the table I was playing at down after like 5 spins so I figured that was a good indication of time to leave and I went to the hotel (Mandarin Oriental) to sleep. It’s funny, I was thinking, the difference between where I slept Saturday night versus Sunday night. On Saturday, my room was a concrete box with a squeaky bed. The bathroom was separated from the bedroom by a concrete ledge and the shower was a nozzle over the toilet. On Sunday, the floors were marble and plush carpet, the bathroom had little designer shampoo bottles and fluffy pillows and a duvet on the bed. The even funnier part is, on Saturday I met a lot more interesting people than I did on Sunday.

It’s back to work now, for this two day training program. I’m in Macau until Wednesday when I head back to Hong Kong.