Saturday, July 24, 2010

Macau 2010

Macau, how to describe Macau? I first visited the place in 2008 and did the usual touristy things. We hired a van to take us on a city highlights tour, shopped for the usual local specialties (mostly the Macau egg tarts and cookies), took photos and then we crossed over to Hong Kong for some more shopping. Back in 2008, there weren't a lot of casino hotels operating. The only ones I could distinctly remember were the Wynn Hotel and the Grand Lisboa Tower. The Venetian Hotel & Casino along with countless other names were being constructed at the time. I expected a few other places to pop up, but I didn't expect to see a mushroom cloud of casino hotels within a two year period. Many recognizable Casino & Resort Hotels from Las Vegas dot Macau's skyline. Wynn,The Venetian, MGM, Four Seasons and a couple more have made their mark in Macau. Although, Macau is now being marketed as the Las Vegas of the East, it isn't up to par to the standard and glitz and glamour that Las Vegas is known for. For one, the night life in Macau is pretty lame. It's a family destination. And they harass anyone who looks under 18 about the restrictions of being an illegal minor. The language barrier is still pretty distinct. Many of the locals working the hotel grounds could barely speak English. However, there are many other nationalities who can speak good English working there as well. I'll give Macau customer service a C+ for effort.

We stayed at the Venetian Hotel. We were very lucky since our party was upgraded from regular rooms to Presidential Suites. And they were nice rooms indeed. There was a nice hallway that led from the entrance foyer into the living room, a breakfast bar complete with our own espresso machine and its pods, a private bedroom, 2 bathrooms equipped with jacuzzis, his & her sinks, a big shower room, a private duvet & toilette, a large dressing table, 2 studies and a fantastic view. It cost $US300/night to stay there. There's shopping and food courts on the 3rd level, a Cirque du Soleil show along with countless conference rooms, a large casino area and a a large lounging pool on the 4th floor. There were countless restaurants, bars, a Starbucks Coffee Shop and several other familiar brands within this massive complex. Its shops also connect to the Four Seasons Hotel.

What I like about Macau are the old Portuguese buildings, the colonial foods that still remain, the beautiful cobble stoned streets and other small European details that dot the landscape. It's a juxtaposed city on three levels. One: You see European-looking post boxes scattered around the streets which look out of place against a very Chinese-influenced landscape. Two: The old Chinese temples, stores and street signs are written in both Chinese and Portuguese (but nobody speaks Portuguese any longer). And three: The very modern landscape of new hotels and casinos which are connected by an equally modern bridge sitting next to the old Macau business district which houses the traditional Chinese apothecaries, cookie makers, tart makers, incense makers, etc. All these remain almost exactly as it did, fifty years ago. And yet the modern metropolis are only a block away.

Due to the rapid rise of hotel casinos in Macau, it became a popular destination for Asians. It's only an hour and a half flight from many South East Asian countries. It's a quick and easy flight, and its a cheaper alternative to Hong Kong. And if you're unsatisfied with the shopping options in Macau, its an easy and fast trip to Hong Kong. About 45 minutes by fastcraft boats, to be exact. One of the more popular tourist destination in Macau is the Macau Tower. It's known for its viewing deck and the adventurous activities one can do, like bungee jumping, sky jumping, walking on the tower's ledge and some shopping.

No comments: