Macau (I) Arrival in a World of Glitter

What a difference to Tibet to enter into the glitter world of Macau’s casinos.

Getting there involved a lot of waiting due to me being over-cautious. I went to the airport directly after finishing the Giand Panda Tour and a BigMac, arriving at about 12:30 for a flight scheduled for 15:30. And the small international section (Macau flights are still considered “international”) of ChengDu Internation Airport is organized a bit weird: First comes custom declaration for outgoing goods even before actual check-in. And the guy at customs did not let me pass before 14:00. So I had to wait 1,5 hours in front of customs. Check-in was then super-fast, and also immigration was super-fast: When I came I could freely choose between any of the five open counters, only to learn that I had forgotten to fill in the Immigration Card, which is more obvious to fetch on Shanghai Pudong Airport. Having that done my papers where stamped, but then one of the officers asked me to wait for 5 minutes and left with my passport while returning ticket and boarding pass to me. He came back after 10 minutes, gave me my passport and said “Thank you”. That’s it…I didn’t insist on learning the reason. That’s the kind of area of an airport where you don’t ask too many questions.

Arriving at the gate (14:20) I learned that my flight was delayed, now estimated for 16:00. I had a cappucchino and waited patiently. The flight by itself was then uneventful. The scenery became interesting by the time we approached the coast line: Macau is situated close to the mouth of Xi Jiang. And when the clouds finally opened up a bit there was an interesting mixture of water and land to see: A couple of river arms meander towards the sea, lots of rice fields, which basically are also full of water, and some streets pass through, and a few dry islands hold factories and villages.

Macau’s airport is built into the sea and you basically touch down half a meter above water. The taxi-way from the runway to the terminal building is a bridge. Funny exit: Though the plane stopped on a outside position, not docked to the building, we just walked over into the building. There, most of the Chinese actually turned left towards “Connecting Flights”. I looked a bit confused until a lady said: “To Macau this way” pointing to the right. There were again 5 immigration officers waiting at empty counters for guests. I approached one and, damn, I again had no Immigration Card readily filled in! 😉 And this time I could not: The crew on the flight did not distribute these papers, maybe because they knew that most people will fly on. And here in Macau there are no cards available in front of the counters. I filled in the card right at the officer’s desk. Without any questions (and without even checking my flight ticket…according to the rules I should have an onward flight) I got my visa stamped in and entered Macau. By the time I returned from the toilet my backpack was one of 5 pieces of luggage on the luggage belt. The local HSBC ATM gave me money and the taxi driver knew the “Holiday Inn”. All great. A lot better greeting than in ChengDu 😉

I had picked the Holdiday Inn as I had not much time for hotel search and I thought that’s a reasonable chain at the lower end. Well…in Macau everything’s a bit more glittery, also Holiday Inn. I wasn’t aware they even have a casino themselves. But then, there is a casino around every corner.

AM_20070701_210542.jpg: When entering Macau from the airport then you immediately get the feeling: This is a place for cars and only cars, which is completely contrary to what I had expected. First surprise is that Macau runs left-sided traffic like Hongkong, UK, and Japan, while Portugal (the fomer colony administrator) runs right-sided traffic. But then you only see streets and buildings, but no pavements between the two of them. The few people I saw walked at the side of the street in constant danger. My taxi finally stopped obviously at the correct place, I had thought the street would be wider. You could basically spit from one side to the other. Everything so crammed and no place for walkers’ feet. The picture here then shows were you can walk: A street as small as the car’s street, but only for pedestrians on the back side of the hotel. I had a quick simple dinner in the hotel (buffet, certainly not the best way to dine, but it was later already, and the buffet was full of sea food, which gave a good chance to sample some of Portuguese ingredients and ways of cooking) then could not resist to bring my camera out into the lights of this part of Macau. I am sure there are others…but here is where the casinos are.

AM_20070701_210651.jpg: And that’s what the Holiday Inn Macau looks from the back: The entrance to its “Diamond Casino”. And believe me: This entrance is comparatively unimpressive. Not as good visible as I had hoped for are some architectural details like a windmill atop the neon ad.

AM_20070701_211651.jpg: The two most stylished places, giving me back the feeling that the Holiday Inn is at the lower end: Star World and Wynn Club.

AM_20070701_211751.jpg: Risking my life I got onto the center of a roundabout. (OK…there wasn’t that much traffic at this late time of day…) There were these funny glass scultpures, which are illuminated from within, changing their color constantly in synch.

AM_20070701_212445.jpg: One of the bridges from the main island out to the smaller ones. I will learn tomorrow which one it is…

AM_20070701_213120.jpg: The entrance to the Wynn Club Hotel and Casino, mirroring in the large pool in its front.

Today’s Lesson: Macau’s cars drive on the left side.

Categories: Asia, Macau

Originally Created: 07/01/2007 05:17:36 PM
Last Edited: 07/01/2007