God of Gamblers – Summer Trip 2007

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Not part of Hong Kong, Macao is also a Special Administrative Region. It’s got it’s own currency, though being valued the same as Hong Kong currency, you can use either. Previously Americans would need a Chinese Visa to go to Macao, but no longer. So Ann and I headed to the ferry port at Central and hopped on a ferry to Macao for the weekend.

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Jet ferry to Macao

Click to super size me
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The ferry’s route to Macao.

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Getting seated.

Ann and I bought a package deal that included tickets and a night in a hotel room. It came out to only be slightly more than 2 round trip ticketsimg_3412.jpg would cost by themselves. IMG_3428Her aunt came along to gamble and have dinner in with us in Macao. It’s close enough and cheap enough that it’s not a big deal to hop over to Macao and gamble a bit (what it’s probably most famous for) and be back in time for dinner. Hong Kong citizens need only their ID cards to go to Macao (and the rest of China now). Unfortunately we got to the ferry and tickets from the booth were sold out for our ferry, so we had to buy her Aunt’s ticket from some very polite triad members for a small markup. I was the only one who actually had to pass through customs. I was essentially leaving Hong Kong and entering a new country, so I had to line up with the Taiwanese and Filipinos and get my passport stamped. The boat ride itself was only about 40 minutes. Ann spent the time playing video games. I spent the time fiddling with my shitty Sony GPS receiver which seemed to have trouble picking up a GPS signal in the middle of the damn ocean. It finally kicked in so you get a nice map. And that brings us to Macao.

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Macao is similar to Hong Kong in that it was colonized by Europeans, but rather than Brits, Macao was settled by Ports…ugeses. This made for a strange experience. In Hong Kong everything is written in Chinese and English. In Macao, Chinese and Portuguese. Macao is building like mad, trying to be the Las Vegas of Asia. It’s still got a long ways to go to compete with the real Las Vegas, but it’s got its fair share of extravagance already. There is a Sands and a Venetian just went up. Macao tower is like a taller Tokyo tower with bungee jumping for that bit of Las Vegas flair. Macao itself has a real European flair that I wasn’t expecting. After all 95% of the population is still Chinese, but after 4 centuries of Portugal up in the mix, Macao’s food, language, architecture, and culture all have very distinct Portuguese influence.

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Our hotel lobby with a …British? theme. Well, there were the stoic Royal Guard stationed out front. Though instead of bayonet rifles they carried M-16s. There was a huge chair in the lobby that was fit for a king. And if you sat in it you’d get a foot massage from a clearly Russian girl dressed like Heidi.

And there are also Casinos. In Asia, the game of Baccarat is king. To a ridiculous extent. Of the 3 casinos we went to, I’d say that easily 80% of the table games were Baccarat. Another popular game is Big small, a dice game. These games are almost completely luck based. In other games like Blackjack, a skilled player has an ever-so-slight advantage over the player who knows nothing (but the house still always wins). But a veteran Baccarat player on the other hand has no advantage over someone who walks up to the table and bets at random. And still, Macao casinos are scrambling to find more space to jam Baccarat tables. I could wax poetic about how its due to Asian culture’s superstition and blah blah blah, but instead I’ll just say, I won $2500 playing blackjack. Suck on that, House. Granted that’s Hong Kong/Macao dollars, but I’ll take it.

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Our elegant TV remote. My favorite channel played nothing but Portuguese stand up comedy with Chinese subs.

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Macao under construction.

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Streets of Macao.

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The Macao strip.

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The famous Lisboa.

At night we met up with Ann’s aunt and took a minibus away from the main strip into the hills to a local restaurant that served Macao cuisine, a fusion of Portuguese and Southern Chinese. It was incredible. My favorite meal of the trip up to this point is by far a mussel/potato gratin dish. It went especially well with both cheap $20 bottles of Portuguese wine we drank.

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Macao restaurant.

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$2.50USD Bottle of wine

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Fried chicken wings.

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Meat.

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Mussels with potato and a little bit o’ heaven.

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Noodles and vegetables top off the meal. Another bottle of wine doesn’t hurt either. Even when it’s refrigerated like grape juice.

After eating we took a taxi back to the city center. Ann’s aunt went to a casino for a bit before catching a ferry back to Hong Kong after midnight. Meanwhile Ann and I went to Largo do Senado (Senado Square), a shopping square that was the center of the Portuguese colony. We walked around the many shops that included everything from old souvenir shops to art galleries to Starbucks and McDonald’s. We made it to the famous Ruins of the St. Paul’s Cathedral, which at night seemed to serve as a meeting place for Macao dog walkers.

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Streets of Macao at night.

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Ann and her Aunt waiting for a taxi. Macao definitely has a shortage of taxis.

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Zooming through Macao.

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Largo do Senado

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Macao streets at night.

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Ann at Senado Square.

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Macao shops

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Macao is a unique city for China.

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Home sweet home…and shoes.

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I wonder if these dogs speak Cantonese or Portuguese.

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Ruins of the Cathedral of Saint Paul or Ruínas de São Paulo or 聖保祿大教堂

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Our hotel or nosso hotel or 我們的酒店

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~ by foomfoom on September 1, 2007.

One Response to “God of Gamblers – Summer Trip 2007”

  1. i was expecting ann’s aunt to be like 60 years old

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