Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sun 27 Nov - Guangzhou to Macao

Today, we are leaving mainland China to go to Macau.

Early up, had breakfast at Cafe de Coral around the corner and a final wander around the neighborhood. After paying our bus dues of CY70 each (which is about A$12 each), we were on our way on the 9am bus, which left right on time. There seems to be one bus leaving every 20 minutes or so, and there are at least 2 competing bus companies. Clearly big business to shuttle the Chinese back and forth between the 2 cities.

The trip to the border took some 1 hour and 40 minutes or so, through an ever expanding city mass, with more high rise buildings coming up all the time. And, of course, it was freeway all the time, almost from where we stayed and until we got into older areas of the SAR (Special Administrative Region).

Finally, we arrived at our destination, an underground bus station. What to do next? No idea. No signs, nothing. But, of course, there was a shopping centre attached. We went in and found arrows for how to get to Macao immigration.
Now, a real disappointing episode started.
  • First, everybody needed to entered an outdoor area of cattle fencing, where this massive amount of humanity crowded together, just to get into an immigation building. Of course, there were the mandatory cripples and deformed people stretching out their hands with cups attached to them. Well, that is if they had any hands. Otherwise, they just sat there. All this took maybe 20 minutes or so, so not too bad. Still in Chinese territory.
  • Secondly, inside the building, you are queueing up to "leave" China. Nowhere near enough counters and only two for "Foreigners". We spent more than an hour here and probably picked the worst officials. There was one lady with glasses "servicing" our line who seemed to flick through everybody's passport and every page and then zooming in on one page, staring on it, pretending to read it and then do this all over again for the same passport.
  • Thirdly, well, you would have thought that step two would be sufficient if the Chinese want to keep the undesirables out of Macau given that it is one single country these days, but no. After walking outside a hundred metres or so, you entered another building; Immigration to enter Macaa and step 2 started all over again. No special treatment for foreigners this time, the mainland Chinese are now also "Visitors" and we all queue up together. A bit faster this time though, another 20 minutes queueing. BUT, can anybody explain to me why this step is even necessary given that we have been in China all the way, SAR or not?
All in all, we would have spent around 2 hours queueing, that seemed largely unnecessary and bureaucratic. Sorry no photo evidence of this - not allowed!

Once in Macau, all easy. Just find The Venetian's free shuttle bus, get onboard and 3 minutes later on, we were on our on way.

Well, The Venetian, however tacky, is truly amazing. They have spent a lot of money on faux Venice decorations, and the place is enormous. As anybody who has been to these places in either Vegas or here, you get a map of the hotel, just to get around. Some differences though,  theVenetian does not appear to have a swimming pool. In and out door canals, of course, you can do your gondola ride anyway you like, but you can not go for a swim or as Di wanted "lounge by the pool with a cocktail".

Our suite (there are only suites here), which is entry level in pricing, is also enormous. The bathroom is like a small hotel room and the main room is in two levels, one for the king size bed and one for the living room. 2 TVs, of course. 25th floor (out of 38) with wide views, of one other casino only at present, but very likely to look much different in say 5 years time.

We spent some time wandering around the place (of course). We smiled and laughed a lot as we...
  • listened to Figaro Figaro Figaro from an "opera singer" from one of Venice's many windows,
  • walked on the Rialto Bridge,
  • heard "O sole mio" from a Chinese girl dressed a Venetian gondolier
  • explored dining options (LOTS) and decided Italian. When in Venice, do as the Venetians do
  • played some pokies - still boring
  • lost HK$300 on roulette
  • admired the Christmas feeling - saw Santa and his helpers and there are big Christmas trees in a variety of places
  • passed the Manchester United dedicated store
  • ... and Di just had to have a bath... and why not

Given that we are here for 3 nights, we decided to get tickets for Cirque De Soleil for Tuesday night which plays at The Venetian (we have already purchased tickets for House of Dancing Waters for Monday night).

We eventually sat on one of Venice's many squares for dinner, under the forever "blue hour" sky and had an Italian dinner of pasta, washed down by a French wine (oh well...) listening to Opera singing and then a trio playing classical music.  Not bad!

After dinner, we wandered across to City of Dreams (just across the road at the front) to pick up Monday night's tickets (as that show is over there).

I am not sure what James Packer was thinking when he decided to invest all that money in that place, but it does not have a theme like The Venetian, is half empty and frankly boring. It just feels like a glamourous shopping centre, with a casino thrown in. We went back to The Venetian as soon as we had our tickets.

BTW, the ladies of the night had all congregated on a street corner outside CoD, so I suppose that it is good for something. It seemed to be busier there than inside.

Back to the hotel suite, and trying to log on again to internet, but no. Connected, but no internet access. I had to call the reception, who sent up a guy to have a look. The router was ^*((%%$. Overheated, he said. He replaced it and now it works, but geez, if this is high speed internet access, I hate to think how normal access would be. Hence, less photos now, just takes too long to upload. Not cheap either, HK$190 per 24 hour block, which is more than A$25 per day. The price we way to get access to and communicate with the wider world...?

It was close to midnight before bed time...easy to lose track of time.

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