After three months of backpacker travel, living cheap and organising our own way around it was time to head to Macau and spend time with some of Fran’s family. I’m such a family orientated girl and I’ve been missing home a lot, so the fact that we were on our way to live in a family environment for 12 days was making me extremely excited.
And I was right to be. From the moment we arrived we were treated like Queens. Veronica (Fran’s Aunt) and Matthew (her cousin) met us at the airport, such a simple thing as that was such a big deal for Fran and I as it was our first time being greeted at arrivals by a friendly face. Not having to deal with taxis, crazy locals or organise ANYTHING was only the start of great things to come.
Dinner on arrival was a home cooked roast with all the trimmings. It tasted like heaven on earth and we wolfed it down as if we hadn’t eaten in days – that was that craving settled – it was so worth the wait.
From that moment on I knew I was going to be very happy staying here for the next 12 days.
Fran’s Uncle Andrew returned from Shanghai in time for our first full day in Macau and it was decided that he would drive us around the island and show us the place.
I’ve been struggling to find words other that amazing, incredible or unbelievable to describe Macau and I guess that kind of gives you an inclination of what the island is like.
Macau is made up of three islands, Taipa, Coloane and Macau itself. There are mammoth bridges that link Taipa island (where Fran’s family live) to Macau island. They reach across the water and rise up like mountains to allow the boats underneath to continue through.
The first thing you see driving across from Taipa are the high rise buildings. The majority are huge casino hotels and make up the landscape of this island. Macau has become known as the gambling capital of Asia and generates more revenue from gambling than anywhere else on the planet. It actually takes 7 times the revenue of ‘The Strip’ in Las Vegas!! What a crazy fact!
You can therefore imagine these aren’t no ordinary looking high rises because the money in this country is just phenomenal so every building looks a billion dollars; one is the shape of a gigantic gold lotus flower, another is sectioned into bronze, silver and gold waves the higher up you go, one is completely glass and reminded me of our own Gherkin in London but pumped up on steroids. I could go on but you will all think I’ve become fascinated in tall buildings and have become a typical tourist with my camera – I promise you that’s not the case ;).
The more we drove around Macau the more captivating it became. I think the majority of the drive my jaw was around my feet. I was most defiantly not bored in the back seat!
Macau has 33 casinos on its tiny 29.5km(sq) island with The Venetian being the daddy of them all; just the casino takes over a massive 51,000m(sq). Fran’s parents will join us on the 7th and will be staying at The Venetian so we thought it only right to scope out the area first – you know, make sure it’s all up to scratch!!
We parked up in between the Rolls, Ferraris and Lamborghini’s and feeling right at home we headed into the casino. This couldn’t of been more of a culture change if we tried. Watching people gamble thousands of pounds away on one spin of the roulette wheel actually made me feel a little sick. We weren’t jealous at all… One spin of that roulette wheel paid for both Fran and I’s entire trip around South East Asia and more! Jealous? Nope.. Not. A. Smidge. 😦
We headed up to the shopping mall and on reaching the top of the escalator I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared at what was in front of us…
You are made to believe that you have just walked into a courtyard in Venice, the temperature is cooler, there is blue sky above you and the tiles look wet from rain below you and you are surrounded by Italian style apartment buildings. It was just mesmerising and still to this day I cannot get over the fact that it’s just a mall AND that that blue sky is not real!! So fancy!!!
I was blown away and started to walk through the mall with my jaw at my feet. It then got better.. once you walk a little further you come across a stream inside the mall that has gondolas floating down with Italian sailors serenading whom ever is in their boat. We watched street performances, jugglers, living statues, musicians as we wandered around the colour streets of the mall. It was constantly blown away by what greeted me around every corner, it will be a place I will never be able to forget. The fact Fran’s got us a cheeky nights stay with her mum and dad while they are here is a dream beyond my expectations.
Macau by this time had already blown my mind and were only on day one.
The next few days were spent doing the touristy things that Andrew, Veronica and Matthew wanted to show us. This included learning the interesting history of Macau and why it has such a strong Portuguese influence.
Little history lesson:
In 1516 Portuguese traders arrived in Macau and began to use it as a staging port for trade to China. It is the oldest European settlement in the Far East. In 1849 Portugal proclaimed Macau’s independence from China. However, it wasn’t until 1887 when China agreed that Portugal could occupy Macau under and agreement called the Protocol of Lisbon.
In 1999 Macau was handed back over to China as a special administrative region.
I neeeed to talk about how well we’ve been fed during this visit. I know I’ve already mentioned the roast but that was only the beginning. We’ve been shown all the best restaurants Macau has to offer, both local and commercial. After 3 months of travel Fran and I are very open to trying everything once so Veronica had a field day taking us to some very local restaurants and making us try a mad variety of things. I think Fran and I will agree that the strangest thing we ate was a sea cucumber – never again will that be going near my mouth!!
When Fran’s parents arrived we were treated to some of the finest dining I have ever experienced. One night we all got dolled up and headed to Wynn casino for possibly the best meal that has ever passed my lips.
Can you believe the adjustment we have made from basic backpacker living to high rolling luxury. Whose complaining – luckiest girls alive!!
I’ve been lucky enough to stay in some incredible hotels in my time but nothing will compare to the hotels we have visited here. Some of the casino hotels we only saw as far as the lobby but each of these were so incredibly exquisite and unique that that was good enough!
With our stomachs full and our family time quoter filled we said our emotional goodbyes to our wonderful hosts and headed to the ferry to Hong Kong.
Goodbye Macau, I thought you would bring us back to real life and everyday living again but my expectations were exceeded; we were treated to high heaven, even with a cheeky mani/pedi and hair cut thrown in for good measure. We didn’t want for anything and we can’t thank Andrew, Veronica, Matthew and Rex (the dog) enough – we couldn’t of asked for more!!
I dedicate this blog to my dear Auntie Do who reached the spritely age of 80 last week. Happy Birthday from the other side of the world – I hope you celebrated in style. Sending you all my love and kisses 🙂 xxxx