As expected, I packed my stuff for my first trip abroad 2 days before my flight. Needless to say, on the morning of our trip, I was inserting last minute things into my bag. I brought 1 suitcase and 1 backpack…which really didn’t have much inside it because I had already planned it to be my “pasalubong bag.”
Tito Dong drove us to the airport and we left the car at the T2 parking lot. Though we’d been warned about how ridiculously expensive airport food would be, it wasn’t enough to stop us from eating once inside PAL Terminal 2.
I ate. I waited. I checked my facebook. I waited. I started reading my book. And I waited. At last it was boarding time…here we go…
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL
Ah, the joys of flying…for my first international trip, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a noisy 4 year old…with her equally noisy mother. Thank God it was only a 2 hour flight!
The flight arrived at around 2:30pm (no time difference between Manila & Macau) and as the scenery of Macau moved past the airplane window IT has finally sunk in: “Holy sh!t, I’m actually in a totally different country!” We lined up at immigration (or was it customs?) and I took a quick shot of it using my camera phone…2 seconds later I noticed the sign, “NO PICTURE TAKING ALLOWED”. Oops…eager beaver kasi…
We found our coaster and another OMG moment hits, “Holy sh!t, we have the entire coaster all to ourselves!” Of course, I kept looking out the window the entire time. We arrived at Hotel Emperor about 20 minutes later and…my first impression of the place was, “Not bad.” It’s only a 3 star hotel but as long as there’s a decent bed & bath & a tv, that’ll work for me! The only complaints I can think of were: the carpets were full of stains and the room smelled like cigarettes.
The hotel’s neighborhood looks like a safer & cleaner Binondo or chi-town…with it’s narrow streets and tiny shops with huge lighted signages selling everything and anything from gadgets, fruits, clothing, money changers and of course, Chinese food & medicine—complete with animal bones & skins you’re pretty sure are on the endangered species list. Two shops made me laugh: 1) is the local 7-11, a sign of the familiar and 2) the friendly neighborhood “sex shop”. I could’ve sworn I even saw a pimp showing pictures of his girls to a prospective customer! I wanted to take a photo of the shop…but CCTVs were all around and it felt like a God-like voice would suddenly call out and say, “What do you think you’re doing?!” if I did it.
We spent our first afternoon walking around as far as our feet could take us. There wasn’t much going on since it was a Sunday. I did have my first pinoy encounter (and celebrity sighting!) though…Kempee De Leon was doing an Independence Day show with Giselle Sanchez (though I didn’t see her) for the OFWs.
What were my first impressions of Macau as we walked her streets? It looked normal—I don’t mean that in a bad way of course. The buildings were regular looking, the streets super neat. It’s how I would picture Manila actually…if only Manila were a little more disciplined. From our island, (the country has 3—joined together by these amazingly long bridges) the only buildings you’ll ogle at apart from the Macau Tower are the casinos.
We walked some more & come 6pm found a food court inside a commercial arcade. Tito was already hungry so we decided to give it a try. It looks like your ordinary food court here in Manila. I would’ve wanted to try out something different…but then I settled for the tried and tested noodles!
DAY 2 – DAY TOUR
We got picked up by our tour bus at around 9:30am. Our Chinese tour guide’s name was Roger (“ROH-JHAH”)—I highly doubt that’s the name written on his birth certificate hehe. We picked up the next set of tourists at a nearby hotel and as they were climbing up (2 women, 1 teenager, 1 child) the bus, I heard the dude sitting behind me say, “PILIPIN” and I noticed that indeed pinoys were climbing aboard. I never realized that foreigners can easily pinpoint us readily—the way we can readily say, “African American” or “Indian” or “Japanese” when we see foreigners here. I can’t decide if that’s a good or bad thing.
Our first stop was at Fisherman’s Wharf, followed by the oldest bakery in Macau. Samples are made available for the customers which was a pretty cool thing because you can easily pick out the food you want to buy. I spent HKD100 in this shop—bought 4 boxes of sweet yam as pasalubong—yes, sweet yam…a fancier way of saying “hopia”.
After the bakery, we headed for the A-Ma Temple, which is the oldest temple in Macau. Near the temple is a river and across it is another piece of land with mountains…I was shocked to find out that that was already fricking China! Pretty cool huh?
Then it was off to the Macau Tower. Apparently there is a fee if you want to go up the observation deck—they have two: the 61st floor, where the bungee jumps, mast climbs, and sky walks happen and the 58th floor, where you can watch the jumpers and where the glass floors are. I have to tell you—those glass floors look pretty harmless..at first..but boy did they scare the cr@p outta me when I tried to walk across it! Obviously it’s pretty safe…it’s just that you feel like your foot is stepping on thin air…plus it doesn’t help that you can see all the way down to the bottom! Another pinoy sighting at the Macau Tower was the Security Head at the 61st floor.
It was now time for lunch and we headed to a nearby hotel for some food & rest. Check this out…carbo loading galore! That’s fish fillet on the top left, pasta on the right and yummy, yummy fried rice on the bottom. That’s soup in my cup…”Russian style”…whatever that means. I tried out their dessert “Creamy Custard”…only to find out that it’s not so creamy and is only a poor imitation of our leche flan.
After a good meal it was back on the bus and off to the Ruins of St. Paul, another famous tourist spot. The original cathedral was built in the 17th century and after going through several wars & burnings, only the façade remains. As our bus was making its way towards the place, I was looking at the shops from my window…and was suddenly surprised to read several “Kabayan, mura dito!” signs! One of the tinderas even noticed that I understood her sign and gave me a friendly wave!
We had an hour to tour this place and I immediately thought of finding my pasalubongs for home. As I walked the tiny cobbled streets—which reminded me of both Europe and Baguio at the same time—something caught my attention…”Oooh! Magnets!” I’ve finally found a souvenir shop. I was already checking out the different designs displayed on the door when a lady suddenly tells me, “Pili ka lang ate.” I laughed because here is yet another pinoy encounter! Truly there was no place in the world where you can’t find a pinoy! I made my purchases and thanked the owner (who has lived there for 20 years) and as I was making my way out the shop, she runs to me and thanks me while handing over “3 lucky poker chips, darling!”. It’s only a tourist knick-knack but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless.
The bus brought us back to the hotel & after a short rest, Tito & I walked around the neighborhood again. He liked looking at the cameras being sold and found a Canon that he liked. In Manila, it’s priced at PHP95,000 while there it was in Macau going for only PHP80,000. He didn’t buy it though despite being tempted.
We also found THE.ONLY.EFFING.MALL. on our island. It was nice looking…parang Rustan’s. I tried venturing on my own while Tito stayed on the Tech/Appliance Floor. Lakas ng loob ko kasi if there’s one place I would feel safe & sure & not get lost, it’s the mall. I looked around the grocery and the food court and as I was making my way down the escalator, I heard the dude behind me say, “PILIPIN”..again! Jesus, I immediately did a mental check on how I looked. Maayos naman suot ko. My hair is fixed. Are they talking about me? Why are they talking about me?! Mukha ba akong…DH?! Ay naku, paranoid ako ng galore galore! Anyway, we ended our day by passing by 7-11 and buying instant noodles and coke for dinner. Yum!
DAY 3 – FREE DAY
Tuesday rolls around and I wasn’t even sure if we were going to Hong Kong that day. Eventually, Tito decided on seeing The Venetian—which is one of the most popular casinos in Macau. We had to take a cab to the Sands Hotel (note: OMG! Their cab drivers actually give you change…even if it’s coins!) and from there we take the shuttle bus to The Venetian. I thought this was pretty cool because the casinos/hotels actually make so much money that they can afford to shuttle people around for free!
I was excited to see this place…not only do they have a shopping center (Malling! Glorious mallling!) but it was also the place where some scenes from Boys Over Flowers were shot! We entered the place and wow…please note that I am a mallrat and nice malling places always make me go “wow.” Have I mentioned that you can take gondola rides inside that place? Complete with Gondoliers singing you Italian love songs!
I started getting trigger happy with my camera and started taking pictures of the places where I knew BOF was shot haha! We took our lunch at McDonald’s and my sausage mcmuffin with egg meal cost me about PHP200! Can you believe that? I had a pretty fun time in this place—again, mostly because of the BOF connection…but honestly, it really was a beautiful place.
DAY 4 – GOING HOME
All too soon Wednesday arrives and it was time to head for home. We were brought again to the airport by our coaster driver from Sunday and as I was watching Macau move past my window I suddenly thought, “It would be great to come back here…or possibly even live here…dang it, if only they had more malls!” hahaha
Checking in our stuff, I had my last pinoy encounter of the trip—one of the airport personnel was yes, pinoy and he said he used to work for Philippine Airlines and has been living in Macau for 7 years. And then there was…the cute Mr. Wong, station manager for PAL. He’s a Chinese dude with dark Weezer type glasses who seems like he just stepped out of a Korean drama. I had moments like that where in my head I’d randomly point at guys and say, “Koreanovela!” or “Boyband!”—grouping cute guys on where I think they’d fit best. I tried taking a peek at his ID but couldn’t see his first name, only his last. So, a shout out goes to the cute Mr. Wong!
As I was going through Security, because nobody called my attention, I went through the metal detector with all my jewelry and belt in tact! Shempre tumunog ako and they made me stand on a box so that they could wand me. Hehehe…ooops! Uuwi na nga lang…
One of the things I told myself I wasn’t going to buy were the egg tarts for the simple reason that I’ve already tasted those here in Manila (Lord Stow’s in MOA). As I was waiting in the departure area, and realizing that I haven’t had lunch yet (it was already 3pm), I noticed the nearby dining area. Oh what the heck, I bought the egg tarts as a last hurrah…the 3 pieces cost about PHP180. One piece I ate, the other I gave to Tito and the other I tucked away in my backpack and brought home to manila.
I had the window seat next to the emergency exit on the flight back. I never knew I’m required by law to read the emergency manual when sitting next to the emergency exit…wow, i-pressure daw ba!
The flight was smooth & easy and we even arrived 5 minutes ahead of schedule. All too soon we were getting our things and making our way back to the car. That was an awesome first trip abroad. Thanks to my tito and thanks to you too Universe! So, where to next? =)
note: Complete photos will be posted on my facebook and multiply. Please come and see them. =)