The mother came to Asia. It really happened, though right now, almost three weeks later, it feels like it didn't. Her visit was so quick and jam packed, but it was still wonderful. After meeting her at the Hong Kong Airport late on Thursday night, we went to our hotel and decided that we'd take a day trip to Macau the next day.
We woke up early and walked a few blocks to the ferry terminal and our boat that would get us to Macau in 45 minutes. After buying our tickets and going through HK immigration again, we were on our boat and away.
We arrived in Macau, went through immigration again, exchanged some money and then we were off. I decided that we did not need to go on any tours and we could do things by ourselves. We hopped on a casino bus and headed into the main part of town. We got off and started walking to an area that we thought was an older part of town. It turns out that it was a touristy area, with replicas of old buildings, including a Roman amphitheater and a volcano. It was very bizarre.
A replica, but still pretty
After a random bus ride that we underpaid for and a long walk along the water we arrived at Macau Tower.
The view from the top
They had glass floors, pretty sweet
After eating lunch at a bakery inside the tower, we caught a cab and headed to the Panda Sanctuary that was across the water on another island. The complex was pretty deserted and we ended up being there right around a feeding time. We got to go inside the sanctuary and watch the pandas feed. Pretty much all they do is sit on their bottoms and stuff their faces with bamboo but it was still great to watch.
Pandas, pandas everywhere
After leaving the complex, we realized just how isolated we were from the rest of Macau. We tried to no avail to catch a taxi. After waiting for a bit we hopped on the first bus we saw and said that we would figure it out when the bus stopped. The bus took us further and further away from the bright lights of the casino and into the back neighborhoods. We were speeding past practically jungle, dilapidated plantation homes and deserted beaches. It was beautiful and a part of Macau that I doubt very many tourists see. The bus arrived at a beach area with a few shops and restaurants. The bus driver yelled at us in Mandarin to get off and I said "Bu yao" and then he started raising his eyebrows and yelling at us in Mandarin. We quickly exited the bus and luckily found a waiting taxi. The taxi took us through the jungles and past the dilapidated houses back to the bright, shiny, luxurious casino district. We asked the taxi to take us to the old town and this time it was the real thing, not tourist city.
Macau used to be controlled by the Portuguese and their European influence still can be seen today. If it were not for the shop signs in Mandarin, the smells of pork jerky and the hundreds of school kids out with their teachers, I would have felt like I was in Europe.
The facade of a beautiful, old Catholic church
The inside of the Catholic Church
Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. The church was originally built in 1602-1640 and was destroyed in a fire in 1835.
The view from the top of the steps, looking down on the old town
An old fortress on top of the hill
The non-glamorous side of Macau
Walking the streets
The old town area was filled with little squares, Spanish tiles, tall trees and churches.
The colors everywhere were beautiful
One of the most famous, old casinos in Macau. Fun fact: More money is gambled in Macau than Vegas
Another old, famous casino