Back to Hong Kong for a night

Our flight to Tokyo leaves at 10:15 am on Monday so we decided to save ourselves some hassle by getting back to Hong Kong on the Sunday and booking in to an airport hotel. The best combination of rate and convenience was the Regal Airport Hotel, which is joined to Terminal 1 by a footbridge so would make for an easy journey on Monday morning. I booked it for around £130 – above our self-imposed nightly allowance of £100 but saving on early morning taxi transfer costs.

So it was that we said goodbye to Macau. We’re documenting the travels of Ishbel’s spangly guitar case for the nice people at Chapman Cases by getting a photo of it in every location. Usually it’s on its own but this time Ishbel was stuck with holding on to it while I took the picture. I love her rock star vibe in this.

img_3108 We were waiting at the hotel for the complimentary bus service to the ferry terminal to catch our transfer to Hong Kong. It duly arrived and we bought our tickets and checked the two suitcases and the guitar case. The mandolin and the camera case always travel as hand luggage no matter where we go.

The day was much clearer than Saturday so Ishbel was finally able to get a nice clear shot of the bridge between Macau and Cotai.

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We took the ferry to Hong Kong Island rather than Kowloon because it was a much shorter walk with all our luggage to get to the nearest MTR station. It meant we had to make one change on our route, at Central, but there was a trolley available there which was very helpful. Especially as Ishbel had just accused me of getting grumpy as we hefted our luggage along seemingly eternal corridors. And it was true. I sensed myself getting – grumpy seems a little mild – psychotic?

All was well once the trolley was snared and we took the airport express train, having first topped up our Octopus cards with exactly the right amount needed for the fare. We arrived at the Regal hotel and recognised that it was enormous. And there was an enormous queue for check-in too. It’s obviously the place where airlines put passengers when they’ve had to cancel their flight until the next day. And it really is very handy for the airport, as you can see tell from our view.

dsc_0030 We’d had enough of the hurly burly for the time being so we just had a burger and beer in one of the hotel restaurants then had an early night in anticipation of the next leg of the trip. Tokyo tomorrow.

 

The pretender to Vegas’ gambling crown

After our Friday exploration of Macau’s rich pre- and post-colonial history, we decided we should take a look at the activity for which this place is most famous: gambling. We’ve been staying at the Hotel Lisboa which is in the heart of Macau’s oldest inhabited area but there’s more to the former Portuguese colony than just the peninsula.

macau mapAcross the water, there’s the old settlement of Taipa and the area where there appears to be a concerted attempt to reconstruct the Las Vegas Strip: Cotai. We think of ourselves now as experienced Vegas visitors so we decided to head over there and see what all the fuss was about. There are a number of free shuttle buses that run between casinos in the same family group, so we walked over to Wynn (which is built to look exactly the same as its Vegas namesake) and hopped on the bus to Wynn Palace in Cotai.

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Ishbel’s hopes of spectacular shots of the Pearl River Delta from the bridge as we crossed were thwarted by a lingering humid haze. Arriving at the Wynn Palace, we spotted a cable car ride that went out over their (Bellagio-like) fountain show, so we took that to escape. To be fair, I rushed Ishbel on to it before she had time to think. Only when we were on the ride was she able to demonstrate her famously happy-go-lucky attitude to heights.

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We walked from there to the Venetian which was remarkably similar to the Venetian in Vegas, neither of which bear much resemblance to Venice. Not nearly enough of a smell.

Old school Vegas visitors will tell you that the Strip isn’t real Vegas and that it lacks the life and vibrancy of old Vegas. Having now visited Cotai, I would say that they’ve managed to replicate the Strip but have sucked even more soul out of the experience.

img_1301As we walked from the Venetian to the Parisian, Ishbel and I engaged in a lively debate about whether the Macau Eiffel Tower was bigger than the Vegas Eiffel Tower. It turns out they’re both roughly half the size of some kind of homage tower in Paris.

By this time, we’d had enough of dealing with these second or third generation pale imitations of what were in any case poor copies. We headed for the free shuttle bus from the Parisian back to the Sands. On arrival back in Macau peninsula, and since we were in the area anyway, we once again joined the queue for the custard tarts at Margaret’s Cafe e Nata.

img_1305Close inspection of this photo will reveal two things: one is my (relatively) towering presence at the back of the ridiculously long line; the other is the astoundingly cavalier attitude of Macau residents to electrical wiring, and cable management generally. So much so that it merited a close-up.

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In the evening we picked up our laundry, which we had dropped off on our first day here, and had a relatively sedate meal in one of the small hotel restaurants. We have necessarily become much more adept in our use of chopsticks on this journey than at any other time during our lives. It’s amazing what a little practise can do.

We leave from Hong Kong for Tokyo on Monday and had decided that we would stay near the airport on Sunday evening. We had hoped to be able to take the new bridge from Macau to HK, but there’s no way of doing that without transiting through China. We’ve already used up our single-entry China visa, so the bridge is a non-starter for us. We’ll be taking the ferry to Hong Kong tomorrow before our Japanese adventure starts on Monday.