We got up a little late today – about 8:00 and then it seemed to take us a while to get organized. We had breakfast about 9:30 and ran into our China Spree group there – guess they were getting a late start as well. We said our good-byes again. We didn’t head out to the subway until almost 10:30. Now that we know how it works, it’s not as intimidating, although it’s still a long walk to get to our train in Tsim She Tsui. We bought an “octopus” card to avoid buying individual tickets each time. This multi-use card requires a HK $50 deposit for each card (we need two) and we put HK $70 on each card. What you don’t use, you get back, along with your deposit. We both qualified as seniors.
We had to change trains once, but it went smoothly. Unfortunately it was another long walk to the Turbojet ferry terminal. We bought our tickets for the Turbojet (hydrofoil) to Macau, but they told us we could not have confirmed seats until 1:30 – it was now only 11:20. We were not too happy! However, she told us we could “stand-by” for an earlier sailing and maybe get on. We went to the departure area and, as luck would have it, we got on the next ferry that was leaving. Only had to wait about 15 minutes – much better than 1:30!
Inside, the hydrofoil was remarkably roomy and handles a large number of passengers. The seats were quite comfy. The ride took about an hour, but we couldn’t see a thing as the “windows” were totally opaque. Bummer!
After we landed and a did a bit of hunting around, we got the free shuttle bus to the Venetian Casino, which in on the Cotai Strip on Tiapo island – not in old Macau. We decided to skip old Macau – only so much two old folks can do. We did get a feel for old Macau on the shuttle ride from the ferry though. Much larger than we thought, and tons of beautiful modern skyscrapers and unusual buildings, and several really, really long bridges from the mainland of Macau to Tiapo island. Very clean, tidy and well maintained.
The Venetian is not at all that impressive from the outside – just a box. But inside is another story, particularly on the third floor where it’s made to look like a beautiful pristine Venice, complete with gondolas and a faux cloud sky. Along the canals are very, very high-end shops – no fake Rolex here.
Although the food court at first glance was similar to the ones in the US, the fare on offering was quite a bit different. Not knowing what to expect, we had brought fruit, cheese, and bread from the hotel, and sat here a while to rest our feet and partake of our backpack contents.
After looking over all our other options, we decided not to buy anything. Decided we weren’t that hungry after all – what we brought was enough.
The casino itself is immense. All kinds of gaming tables – some we didn’t recognize. Mostly Chinese doing the gambling. We look like total hicks, gawking at the rich folks as we walked around observing the betting. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t allow cameras inside the casino itself (with armed guards at each entrance to make sure you follow the rules), so this is a pic of the atrium and the casino is just visible through the arches on the first floor.
We went across the street to the Galaxy Casino, which looked very posh from the outside with perfectly manicured grounds. Graceful palms and blooming flowers. We both got very hot walking to it. Sweltering outside.
Inside the Galaxy in the lobby there are “wishing crystals” – you’re supposed to throw a coin in for good luck. As we’ve found out all over China, “Good Luck” is a very important thing.
At first this casino didn’t look very big until we turned the corner and realized we were only at the beginning and it was large indeed, although not as large as the Venetian.
From the map of the place we could tell there were gardens and a wave pool on the second floor. We tried to get to this but in the end we couldn’t, as you have to be a guest at the hotel (The Banyan Tree) in order to get in. Shucks! (Looked up the Banyan Tree later – regular rooms run $500 US per night.)
I caught a clip of a lady sitting in the lobby playing what looked like a Chinese hammered dulcimer of sorts.
Time to go home. We had picked a 7:00 departure for our Turbojet ride home (we had to do this when we bought the tickets) and it was only 4:30, but we decided to try stand-by again. We were a few people from the front of the stand-by line to get onboard when the ticket guy stopped the line and told us to go to Gate 9 – this ferry was full. So we hurriedly walked to Gate 9 (others were running) and amazingly got right on the second ferry. It was virtually empty and we left the dock before 5:00. Great – and we got window seats you could actually see out of. Although getting dusk, we could see the lovely scenery as we sailed. Mountains and sea. The scenery could have easily been Alaska with no snow, or one of the more mountainous Caribbean islands. The Hong Kong Kowloon lights greeted us as we were coming into port, with all its skyscrapers. Taking pictures through the water splashed hazy windows did not result in good pics however. DH had a Blue Girl beer on the ferry. New beer brand to us.
We got off the ferry and only had to ask once “which way to the MTR?” When we got near the MTR station, the number of people quickly exploded as of course this was Rush Hour. Fortunately, on both trains we were the first stop at the beginning of the line so we could get on pretty easily. For one segment, we actually got seats. Although mobbed, everything was quite well organized. The Hong Kong people are much more orderly, and not pushing and shoving like the mainland Chinese. Traffic in Hong Kong, whether cars or people, follow the British rules and stay to the left instead of the right. This takes a little getting used to. DH is clearly on the wrong side of the walkway, bucking the flow.
Another long walk to the hotel. DH stopped at his friendly tiny 7-11 and got 2 bottles of Yellowtail Cab for HK $160. Such a deal! We were bushed by the time we got to our room, and, after checking prices on the way up, decided to eat in the hotel – just not the buffet – too much food and too expensive. DH had a huge juicy hamburger, and I had an everything-on-it pizza. Both were great – cost HK $520 for both of us (buffet was HK $540 EACH). Much less than last night and better food.
This is the last night of our official China Spree tour, so tomorrow we’re checking out of the Shangri-La and moving to the Conrad Hilton on the Hong Kong Island side.