Thursday, July 12, 2012

Macau One Day Trip

Macau is a historical city. Being under the influence of Portuguese for more than four and a half centuries, many buildings were built with strong influence of western designs and architectures. Macau and Malacca have two things in common, firstly, both occupied by Portuguese before, and secondly, the historical sites are landmarked by churches and forts.

We spent a day in Macau, visiting many of UNESCO Heritage Sites, starting from Senado Square to Ruins of St. Paul. We travelled from Hong Kong Kowloon Sea Terminal to Macau early in the morning (our full itinerary for our 7 days 6 nights trip is available here) and returned to Hong Kong late in the afternoon. One day trip might not enough for us to understand the living and culture in Macau, but the trip was really a wonderful experience for us.

Starting from Kowloon China Ferry Terminal, we took around 1 hour to reach Macau by Turbojet ferry. We found that the terminal in Kowloon was "well-hidden" at the first floor of the shopping mall in Gateway Towers. On the other hand, Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal at Macau stood as an isolated building and it was easy to locate. The ferry had offered us a very comfortable aircraft-cabin experience. We found the information about Turbojet ferry from its official website. The ferry departed every 30 minutes, and we were required to get the immigration clearance 20 minutes before the departure. Travel from Hong Kong to Macau was really convenient.

Ticket for the Turbojet can be bought from the counter at the first level of the shopping mall (upper left). We can pay in cash or credit card. Far at the opposite side of the counter is the ticket checkpoint. The immigration checkpoint is located behind these checkpoints (upper right). The departure hall is very big, clean, and all the information of the departing ferries are clearly displayed (lower left). We were lucky to get the comfortable window seats on our way to Macau. Our parents were reading the magazine and leaflet available in the ferry.

With the television showing the entertainment, shopping, and tour information, we could get more information about Macau.

The ferry terminal at Macau is big with many visitors (upper left). Visitor Information Centre is the place where we got our new map, bus and transit information, and the tour packages available in Macau (upper right). We decided to move around by ourselves, using the bus service (lower left). The bus service in Macau is very reliable and comfortable. Anyway, we need to prepare  the exact amount of bus fare, or will get stuck at the auto payment machine after the entrance.

We reached Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro (locals refer it as New Road, 新马路) around 12:30 pm. Heavy downpour had blessed us with a long lunch time and cooling temperature in the afternoon.Then, we started our walk through the heritage trail, which we wish to share with our photos.

These photos were taken along New Road. Photo at the upper left shows the street where we had our lunch. Photo at the lower left shows the location where we went down from the bus.

We started our heritage walk starting from the Senado Square. The square has a small fountain at the middle of it, surrounded by the heritage buildings, such as Holy House of Mercy (upper left, behind the fountain), the post office (upper right), and Leal Senado Building (not shown).  The shopping area is just beside of these buildings (lower left). The direction for other heritage buildings are clearly stated at the square.

Our parents in front of the Leal Senado Building at Senado Square. The building was built in 1784 and serves as the municipal chamber to the present.

 Holy House of Mercy at Senado Square was built in 1569 by the first Bishop of Macau.

Our photo at Senado Square. As we can see through this photo, there are many visitors at the square.

The shopping area of Senado Square from St. Dominic Church.

St. Dominic Church (玫瑰堂) is located 50 meters north from Senado Square. It was built between 1590 - 1610, and remains functional until today. According to wikipedia, it is the place where the first mandarin newspaper was published. There is a museum at the far right side of the church (can be accessed without entering the church), showing the sacred items which were recovered from the church. We saw the statue of St. Francis Xavier in the museum (lower left). The statue is similar to what we saw in St. Paul Hill, Malacca.

The sanctuary of the St. Dominic Church.

We turned into Rua de St. Paul (St. Paul Street, 大三巴街) and headed north to go to Ruins of St. Paul Church and Monte Forte. We were greeted by mass visitors there on that hundred meter long street (upper row). We needed to squeeze and breakthrough the line to move forward. The journey worth all the effort. Finally, we saw the Ruins appears at the end of the street (upper right). We stood at the UNESCO Heritage signage and took two photos, one towards the Ruins to the front (lower right), another, towards the street behind us (lower left).

Our photo at Ruins of St. Paul Church.

The Ruins from the front.

Close up of the Ruins.

From the back, we can see the metal scaffold that had been built to reinforce the structure of the fragile ruins. The project was undertaken by UNESCO.

If we are facing Ruins of St. Paul Church, Monte Forte is on the right side of the Ruins. We visited the hill, with our fitness tested by the awaiting stairs (left). We saw the metal plate "Alto! Sentido!" on the entrance of the fort (upper right). What is the meaning of Alto Sentido? From google translate, we guess it means "High sense". The maintenance office and toilet is just beside the entrance (middle), while we had to climb few more stairs to reach the top part of the fort.

Cannons on Monte Forte.

The fort is high above the ground, which could easily put a rain of cannon balls on the enemy. This strong fort had held the ground from the intruders for hundreds of years (of course, some said that the builder of the fort- Portuguese was the intruder). The view on this hill is spectacular! Take a look on our panoramic photos taken from this hill, as shown below.

Panoramic view to the southern part of Macau from Monte Forte.

Panoramic view to the northern part of Macau from the same area.

The heritage site is a must visit place in Macau. The site gave us a strong feeling like we were in Malacca. We found that one of the road at Macau is Malacca Road.

We tried some of the food in Macau, which some of them were strongly recommended by our friends, e.g. the Portuguese tart and pork burger, and some other local delicacies. Portuguese tart is the one that we would like to recommend to all of you. The tarts taste really good. We bought these tarts from New Road, just beside the bus station. About the pork burger, we tried one at St. Paul Street when we were on our way back from the Ruins. Our comment is... forget about it.

If you wish to take a one day trip to Macau from Hong Kong, we would like to recommend the Turbojet ferry from either Kowloon or from Central ferry terminal. Central ferry terminal is located inside Shun Tat Center. Shun Tat Center can be accessed with MTR, which Sheung Wan MTR Station is located at the underground level of the building. The bus service in Macau is really convenient. We can literally go to any place using the service. We can get the information about the bus service from the tourism information center at the ferry terminal.

Most of the heritage sites are within walking distance from each others. Do expect massive visitors in the afternoon, which makes the place very crowdy. As advised by the authority, we have to beware of the pocket pickers, as they could be very professional and organized. Bring an umbrella, comfortable footwear, and extra clothes (if you are the type that sweat easily). Drinking water and snacks can be bought with reasonable price around the heritage area. By the way, the forex was 100 Macau Pataca to 49 Malaysia Ringgit (USD 15.80).

As a part of our Hong Kong trip, we personally like Macau more than Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Well, if you wish to know more about our experience in Hong Kong, please visit our posts on Hong Kong. We will write about Shenzhen in this few days. Stay tune. :)


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