We took advantage of the UPSR exams holiday for a trip to Macau 澳門 (also Macao).
Macau is Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, just like Hong Kong. It used to be Portuguese colony until 1999.
From Kuala Lumpur, it takes four hours’ flight to reach Macau International Airport. Macau Airport is not huge and it’s good for travelers as we don’t need to walk too far to get out the airport.
We have booked rooms at a hotel (we can only afford 2-star in Macau) – which is near to the Cultural Center – for our stay in Macau. It’s a no-frill hotel but it’s not cheap. It has two blocks and 6 storeys. From airport, we can either take taxi or a bus to the hotel. Since it’s cheaper, we decided to take bus there.
I have to ask the bus driver to make sure we boarded the right bus. Once boarded I asked him to remind us when we reached the destination. He did.
After checking in, we walked in the vicinity which was recommended by the front desk staff for dinner. Finally, we settled at one of the restaurants which I noticed was packed with customers. It turned out that the food was good. The serving was huge and luckily we didn’t over-order.
Day 1 – Sedano Square, the Ruins of St. Paul, Water Fountains at Wynn
After dinner, we walked to Sedano Square 議事亭前地 which is decorated for Mid-Autumn Festival.
By following the signs, we managed to reach the iconic the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral 大三巴牌坊.
Along the road leading to the historical church, you can sample some local delicacies and pastry. Such as dried meat and highly popular Macau almond cookies. One surprising scene: even for the same shop/brand, you can see the next one after a few steps away.
We tried the pork chop buns after reading about it on a blog. The famous Macau food from the recommended shop turned out to be a disaster. It was too salty and way below my expectations.
Continued with our walk, we went on to Grand Lisboa and later Wynn Hotel and Casino. At Wynn Hotel, we watched the fountains show right outside the entrance.
Once inside, one may have the chance to watch two shows: Dragon Show and Tree of Prosperity Show at the same hotel. Everything is extravagant and grand in the hotel. And of course, it is lined up with boutiques of international designers brands: Cartier, Hermes, etc.
Since K complained about his inability to walk back to the hotel, we decided to take taxi. After asking security officer, we waited for a cab in front of Star Hotel. Since there are 6 of us, we have to take 2 cabs. Macau cabs use meters and therefore safe. Flag fall is MOP$15. The fare to reach our hotel is MOP$22.50.
Day 2 – Taipa 氹仔 and Cotai Strip 路氹
On the second day, we took a free shuttle bus (courtesy of Venetian Hotel) from Yuet Tong Ferry Pier 粤通码头 to the Venetian Macau Hotel 澳門威尼斯人 that is located along the Cotai Strip . We checked out the indoor shopping gallery. One can’t help but be amazed by the indoor blue skies and unbelievably complex architecture. There are many shops lining up the floor and along the way, you will see some performers/clowns entertaining you. It’s amazing how big the hotel cum casino is.
As the name suggests, the hotel has a theme of Venice, Italy. From design to performance, it’s all related to Venice. You can even have a gondola ride indoors! Gondola rides: Adult (per ride) MOP$118; kids (per ride) MOP$88. Private Gondola (per boat for 6): MOP$472.
After walking around, we had a pleasant surprise and bumped into Lord Stow’s outlet 安德魯餅店 at Venetian. The queue was long at the bakery and cafe. Only then did we discover that there’s a stall setup a few steps away selling the same famous Portuguese egg tarts 葡撻. True to its name, the egg tart has crunchy, flaky crust with generous custard. Each tart costs MOP$9. The tarts served at the outlet are still warm. The tart is so good that we came back for another around the next day!
Lord Stow’s Bakery 安德魯餅店
(Established in September 1989 – Original Shop)
Address: 1 Rua do Tassara, Coloane, Macau. 路環市區戴紳禮街1號地下
Tel：(+853) 2888 2534.
Opening Hours：Open Daily 07:00 – 22:00. Bus 15, 21A, 25, 26, 26A, 50 to Coloane Village.
Lord Stow’s Bakery and Cafe 安德魯餅店及咖啡店@威尼斯人度假村
Address：Shop 870, Mask Street, The Grand Canal Shoppes Venetian, Macau. 澳門威尼斯人度假村大運河購物中心臉譜街870號鋪
Open Daily Sunday to Thursday 10:00 – 23:00. Friday & Saturday 10:00 – 00:00.
Bus 15, 21A, 25, 25X, 26, 26A, 35, MT3 to Venetian or take Venetian’s own tourist bus service.
We wanted to settle down and have lunch at the food court at Venetian. But it was unbelievably full and getting a place to sit was nearly impossible. After walking around and couldn’t find an empty table, we gave up. We decided to leave the hotel and head to Taipa Old Village for lunch. After asking a staff of the hotel, we walked over to the village by using an overhead bridge. It was about 20 minutes’ walk. The weather was hot and it was not fun walking in such weather.
We went to Rua do Cunha 氹仔官也街 which is a short and narrow street that has many stalls selling mainly food: almond biscuits, ice-cream, Portuguese food. The place is touristy and I find Macau food is expensive. We stopped at Galo for late lunch. It’s located at the end or beginning of Cunha, depending on which way you are coming from. The waitresses are not friendly at all and they look stone-faced. Later, we wanted to try out Tai Lei Loi Kee’s pork chop bun but the shop was closed for mid-autumn festival.
Since everyone was tired after a hot day, we went back to hotel to freshen up.
We went to a nearby Japanese restaurant for dinner: Nikuu Hall Ramen 日食堂拉麵. We chose it because the eatery looks clean and decent. And most of all, there were customers inside. As it turned out, we didn’t regret as the service and food are excellent. I especially like the beef rice with poached egg. This is the best restaurant so far while we were in Macau in terms of food and service. And it forms a stark contrast with the Portuguese restaurant in Taipa.
We walked to St. Lawrence church by following the signs along the street. It was about a 20 minutes’ walk from the Japanese restaurant. Then we walked back to Sedano Square to get some almond biscuits.
After sampling the biscuits, we finally bought from Pastelaria St. Paulo 大三巴餅家 because their biscuits are less sweet. MOP$32 for 18 pcs. Buy 5 free 1. Addresses: Pastelaria St. Paulo, 15, 22A & 17A Rua de S. Paulo, Macau +853 2835 8414. Near the Ruins of St Paul’s.
Before that, we stopped by at Yee Shun Milk Company 義順牛奶公司 to try out its famous steamed milk pudding. I tried milk with red bean topping. The dish is okay and I don’t find it especially special. The milk tasted as smooth as bean curd. However tasty, with that kind of price at MOP$30 a bowl, I will not think I will try again.
Yee Shun Milk Company 義順牛奶公司
Addresses: 7 Senado Square 议事厅前地7号. Tel: 28573638.
381 Avenida de Almeida Rebeilo 新马路381号.
Day 3 – Macau Science Centre and Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre
Took a bus from hotel to Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre 觀音蓮花苑. It’s a bronze Goddess of Mercy of 20 meter high with a 7m high lotus as the base. It’s built on a man made island connected with a bridge for visitors. There’s a small exhibition hall and a library on the lower ground. The obvious landmark is located at Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Admission is free. Opens from 10:00-18:00. Closed on Fridays but open on public holidays.
Later, we walked over to Macau Science Centre 澳門科學館 which is not very far from the Kun Iam statue. The spiral, shell shape building is easily seen as there are no buildings around it. Admission: Foreigners MOP$25 for adults; MOP$15 for children under 12 and above 65. If you are hungry, go to the cafe or McDonald’s near the ticket counters. There are 14 galleries at the centre altogether. It took us 3 hours to finish our visit. J and K enjoyed themselves very much and the science centre is very much hands-on. Besides the exhibition, one can choose to watch 2D or 3D movie at the planetarium – with a fee.
After that, we walked to Macau Fisherman’s Wharf 澳門漁人碼頭 which is nothing more than restaurants and pubs at the seafront. We are quite disappointing with it as the place is still incomplete with construction works still ongoing. And there are not many shops open during the day. You can give it a miss.
We were hungry and we couldn’t find anything to eat in Fisherman’s Wharf. After asking around ( which is not an easy task and a huge hassle) we luckily found a place and ended up at Gold Sands Hotel’s food court.
In the evening, we went to a place near Grand Lisboa and Wynn to catch a glimpse of 26th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest. The venue of the contest is at the sea front of Macau Tower. There were 2 shows scheduled for one night but there was only one show that night due to some technical reasons from the Croatia team. This is an annual event that coincides with Mid-Autumn Festival.
Day 4 – Rapping Up the Trip with a Bang
We walked to areas around the Ruins of St Paul’s. This time we wanted to check out Mount Fortress and Museum of Macau. This is the first time we were in Macau’s hottest season during day time. The weather was hot and it was no joke walking under the hot sun.
Anyhow, half way through, we stopped by at Lou Kau Mansion 盧家大屋. A former home to one of Macau’s richest merchants: Lou Kau 盧華紹（盧九). The house is divided into three sections and it’s built with grey bricks. While you are there, check out the window and door decorations and other wood carvings. For Macau’s standard, the house is still considered big by today’s standard. The house was built in 1889.
Once used by Portuguese as a fort to protect against invasion from enemies such as the Dutch, Mount Fortress 大炮台 has transformed itself into a historical site. There are still cannons lying around but now it’s protecting Museum of Macau which is located in the middle of the fort.
Here’s one tip if you are visiting Mount Fortress: The steps leading up to Mount Fortress can be intimidating and steep for some especially the aged. To bypass these, there’s an easier and more comfortable (away from the sun) way up there. That is to take the escalators to Museum of Macau 澳門博物館. Once you are at the reception of the museum, you can take another escalator which leads you up to the exit. Mount Fortress is just outside the museum. Mount Fortress was built in 1617 and completed in 1626.
We didn’t enter the museum due to time constraints.
If you are hunting for souvenirs (fridge magnets, casino chips, etc.) there are 4-5 stalls along the way to the escalators which lead to the museum. Remember to bargain because the prices vary a lot.
Not enough of historical sites? Check out Na Tcha Temple 哪吒廟 which is a World Heritage Site. The temple is small and is located right to the left side of the Ruins of St. Paul’s – if you are facing the Ruins.
I didn’t realize I was standing next to Section of the Old City Walls 旧城墙遗址 (another World Heritage Site) while I was at Na Tcha Temple. I only knew that after I reached home. The walls was just in front of the temple.
As mentioned earlier, based on a recommendation of a blogger/writer, I tried Macau’s iconic food: pork chop bun 猪扒包. But It was a huge letdown. Not wanting to give up, I accidentally found out that there’s a Tai Lei Loi Kee 大利来记 branch not far from the Ruins of St Paul’s (same street as Starbucks). I wanted to give it a go but the service tax held me back. Call me cheapskate but paying an extra 20% tax (normal days 10%) on a public holiday for a bun is ridiculous. A MOP$30 pork chop bun would have cost you MOP$36 instead.
The final item on the last day of our visit ended with a satisfying smile despite the time taken to find the place. Previously, we had tried Portuguese at Ruo do Cunha in Taipa but the food was average and the service was bad. But not this one. Though the service was a slight improvement from the previous food adventure, the food is excellent. Everyone was happy with the quality of food offered at Dragon Portuguese Cuisine 福龍葡國餐. We ordered roasted pork ribs MOP$98, African chicken (which is slightly spicy and we asked for gravy served separately), cheese buns, and baked duck rice MOP$198. Again, the food is fantastic and you should give it a try.
Dragon Portuguese Cuisine 福龍葡國餐
Rua da Felicidade, No.40, Macau, China. 澳門新馬路福隆新街40號
Phone: +853 2831 3104
Abel’s Tips for Traveling in Macau
Currency used is Macau Pataca (MOP). MOP$100 = RM41. Languages commonly used are Cantonese, Mandarin, and to some extent English. The food in Macau is generally more expensive. A bowl of wanton noodle can cost you MOP20- 30. So is accommodation. So expect to pay more.
Asking for directions in Macau can be very daunting. Generally, unlike Taiwan or Japan, Macau people are unfriendly and they don’t like to talk to strangers (from my observation). They get very impatient and agitated when you ask more questions to clarify. After being lambasted by them, I learned one important tip: asking the right person is important. Who is the right person to ask? The police (men in blue) and hotel staff manning the door.
Summer (May to September) is not the best time to visit Macau as the weather can be very hot – up to 31 degrees Celsius – with occasional thunderstorms. Although Macau is an all-year holiday destination, probably the best time for sightseeing is the autumn or the winter months between October and December.
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