…stays in Macau. Or ought to. But as our readers (both of them) know, we tell every single one of our boring stories. So our thoroughly uninteresting trip to Macau will be treated no differently.
A little peninsula at the mouth of the Pearl River, Macau was a Portuguese trading post and colony from 1557 to 1999. Somewhat of a backwater fifteen years ago, the story goes, now the special administrative region, having opened up to the gambling industry, is China’s Vegas. (I’ve also heard it said that, as Chinese get even wealthier, that China’s Vegas is now… Vegas.) Either way, we decided to go. Time to do some investing with Owen’s new college fund.
Actually, we stayed away from the casinos, but that didn’t stop us from experiencing the gut-wrenching suspense and overwhelming exhiliration of betting it all on one number at the roulette table: in our case, 26. That was the number of the bus line that we picked, after lots of frantic walking in search of a bus stop served by a suitable route, to get us to the pier on the other side of the colony (what else to call it? now it’s just China’s) in time for our boat back to Hong Kong. It had started raining just as we were thinking about heading back, and the sudden demand for cabs greatly outstripped supply. To make things worse for us, we’d wandered away from the big sights where any empty cab might go to find a fare. With no bus map, our only option was to ask and fast-step our way from bus stop to bus stop, trying to guess whether listed stops on a route might be near the pier. We finally found one that listed “temporary ferry terminal” in both Chinese and Portuguese (what an easy language!), and determined that that one might be ours (our tickets called the pier something else, but the location matched). We waited there in the cold rain, wondering if the listed bus would ever come.
After 20 minutes, it did. Now we really didn’t have much time. And after seeing that there’d be approximately 600 stops before getting to the pier, we knew that if we made it, it’d be close. And there there was still immigration to get through.
I’ve already given away the ending, so I’ll skip the part where we initially rode around in every direction except towards the ferry. We made it, barely. And either because 6PM is not a time when anybody who came to a gambling town is going to be leaving it, or because the immigration officials were faster than blackjack dealers the way they stamped the passports, there were no lines. On to the boat we went, arriving back at our Kowloon hotel in time for bed time.
Some pictures from around Macau, as well as a “fishing” village on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island (the primary activity there seemed to be selling snacks to tourists).