Note: I’m writing this over 4 years after the fact so forgive my sparse memory. Hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves. I’m also using some of my classmates’ pictures as well so thanks to them for sharing with me.
Today was another pre-planned group outing before we start “work”. We woke up early, met outside, took the MTR… somewhere (I can’t remember exactly now, but most likely to Tsim Sha Tsui, since that’s near the harbour), then walked for awhile before we reached the water. It was REALLY hot for that early. I knew that didn’t bode well for the rest of the day. And I wore pants. *waaah*
I remember on the way to the harbour, Girl Roomie found an umbrella just lying around so she picked it up to guard against the sun. It was really big and covered with the 7-11 logo. It made me think of how in Japan, people “lose” their umbrellas a lot (which explains the necessity for umbrella lockers) and will often take one if they need it and leave one for the next person if they don’t. By the end of the day, I think she lost it.
Along the water’s edge is the Avenue of Stars walk with stars and handprints and a few bronze statues of famous Hong Kong actors and musicians. We didn’t have time to take a look but this is on my bucket list of things to see so I plan to come back later.
The harbour itself is pretty. The Hong Kong skyline is cool and it’s interesting to see the transport barges mixed in with more traditional-looking and sight-seeing tour boats. In the distance, we could see where we had been yesterday, up in the hills.
As we continued walking along the water, we could see “the duck” peeking through buildings and pillars. The duck wasn’t something I had been aware of before arriving in Hong Kong but it wasn’t long after arriving that I heard about it. I guess it’s some sort of travelling art instillation. ??? It moves from place to place all over the world and it just happens to be resting in the Hong Kong harbour right now. I don’t know how long it’s here for but I do know that the people of HK are super excited about it. There are images of it all over the place and it’s used in ad campaigns and things like that.
When we got close enough, we saw the was a GIANT HOARD of people just standing there taking pictures of it. It struck me as really strange. Like, it’s just a giant rubber duckie. Why do you need so many pictures of it? Why do you need a selfie with it? Odd.
So we stayed there are few minutes and several fellow classmates snapped pictures of it and themselves in front of it. It was so crowded though. I didn’t want to squeeze myself close enough to the front to get a good picture without other people in it and I didn’t see the point. I could just borrow their pictures later… ( This is my future self being annoyed with myself in HK. Just take the damn selfie, dammit! Oh well. It’s coming to Toronto soon…) I actually just wanted to get out of there. Heat and crowds make me cranky.
I was much more amused by this kid’s Happy Day pants. Awesome.
I’m not sure why, but we walked away from the water and down a street with a lot of high-end shopping. Stores like Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, etc. and a mall called Harbour City. I should mention that our teacher was in charge of where we were going. I didn’t ask questions. I just followed and hoped we’d get where we were going soon. At that rate, I was going to be exhausted before I even got there.
We did eventually get to the ferry terminal. We had to go through customs. It was the easiest boarder crossing I’d ever experienced. I basically just handed over my passport, got a stamp, and walked on to the boat. (Well, with some more waiting involved.) Macau is technically it’s own country so even though it’s close and small, you still need your passport to get there.
The ferry was set up like an airplane, with rows of seats all facing a screen which did the usual security features video thing. I don’t remember anything else except being tired and falling asleep almost immediately. I have no idea how long the trip took. Next thing I knew, I was groggily making my way through more lines and then onto a tour bus with everyone else. *It’s amazing to me now that at that point, I just let myself be led around like that. I’m not normally very trusting and like to be fully in control of all my travel decisions.
For those that don’t know much about Macau, I can’t tell you much. I spent the day there but I can’t give you any real information about it. We kept referring to it as ‘the Vegas of Asia’. There are a lot of casinos, lots of shopping, and lots of architecture. I do know that the original foreign settlers of Macau were Portuguese so there is a strong European atmosphere mixed in with the Asian. There were a lot of churches. It’s also very mountainous for an island and the streets were crazy steep.
We got off the bus at the entrance of one casino and walked through an attached shopping centre before heading outside and through the streets to find something for lunch. Travelling in a large group is difficult, especially when nothing is decided on in advance. We wandered around for a long time trying to find something that would work for everyone. Such a place does not exist so we just went in somewhere. I don’t remember now but I don’t think I even ate anything.
After that, we ended up splitting up into groups. Some wanted to look at some churches in particular. Others wanted to do some shopping. Boy Roomie decided he wanted to go by himself to the casinos. I went with Girl Roomie, Tumblr Girl and her roomie (the one that speaks Cantonese) to seek out some temples. Very indicative of all of our different personalities and tastes.
You could legitimately spend several days in Macau seeing everything, but if you are only there for a few hours, like we were, I suggest you decide what it is you are interested in and make a solid plan beforehand. We were horribly unprepared and pretty much spent the day wandering around, trying to figure out where to go. That approach has its own perks, but if you want to maximize your time, don’t do what we did.
The area around the casinos is nice. Tourist-y and… inauthentic, but clean and nice. Many interesting buildings to see and shops and stuff. Once we got out of that area, we started to see more of what Macau really is. I found it similar to HK, in that the “rich” and “poor” are mixed in together.
We found the temple that Girl Roomie was interested in. It was called A-Ma Temple and it was really cool. It is built in and around a giant rock that just sort of juts out of the ground. The entrance is located at one corner of a cobblestone square. Before we went in, we stopped to listen to the ubiquitous panflute street performer. These guys really get around. 😉
It’s a climb up to the top and back down but worth it. I bought a little jade charm with a spinning monkey inside just because I like to buy trinket souvenirs from temples.
Then we just walked around, up and down the streets, seeing what Macau is like. My main impression was steep. Very steep. There was also a lot of traffic squeezed onto very narrow, winding streets. And, oddly, a lot of expensive-looking, street racing cars. And motor bikes. And did I mention it was hot? It was hot.
(This is what the others were doing at the same time we were in the other plaza.)
We met back up with the rest of the group, got back on the ferry, and went back to home. My roomies (and Tumblr Girl) and I weren’t tired enough at that point, I guess, and were desperate for Pizza Hut after hearing the other girls had found one the other night. All they had said was that it was somewhere around Mong Kok station so we headed over there. I was rabid with hunger and in my exhaustion, just wanted something I recognized. It took forever and when we finally did locate it, they were closed. *cry* I have no idea what I ended up having but I know it was something because I ended up not dying of starvation…
On the walk back to our apartment, we saw a guy taking pictures of people with an old school Polaroid camera. There was a line up waiting and he had displays of street pictures he had taken of people in the past. It looked really cool so we pooled our money together and decided to do two shots. There was a little boy ahead of us, probably 3 years old, doing the cutest kung fu moves. We paid his fee (??? Don’t remember the price.) and posed for the first shot. Girl Roomie planned out some elaborate yoga inspired pose for us that ~almost~ worked out. The little boy and his father were still standing there, waiting for their picture to develop so the others asked him if he wanted to be in our second picture. I think the little boy was freaked out of us strange foreigners but his dad was encouraging and he ended up being the best part of that shot.