Three languages populate the signages in Macau: Chinese, English, and Portuguese.
English with a thick Chinese accent is used in many places – I was lucky to have a travel buddy who’s had four Chinese bosses in the Philippines and in Singapore, so he did most of the talking in stores, food stalls, restaurants, bus and cab rides (no trains), and sidewalks (when we’d lose our sense of direction).
Getting lost should be rare. The place is easy to navigate. GPS has made travels easier, adventures a bit fewer. Funny thing though: Google Maps wasn’t working properly in that part of China. Sometimes we’d find ourselves walking in the middle of the sea, according to the Maps, when we’re actually walking on the windy streets toward the Old Taipa Houses from Hotel Taipa Square (our home for the first two days). We’d joke, maybe this reclaimed land is a ghost town, still submerged in the sea, with illusions of humans coming and going?
We missed our car when we spotted a Suzuki Swift in one corner. After some time, we realized the road is full of compact and subcompact cars like Swift, perhaps because many streets are quite narrow. But we had to be careful in Taipa Village’s cobblestone streets – narrow as they are, buses still pass through them alleys. And those buses were fast – something we noticed among cabs, too, as if in race with sports cars, which must be a common sight in Macau.
Not only are hotels and casinos luxurious in Macau. Transportation, too. Many businessmen and people of influence fly to Macau from Hong Kong and other parts of China through helicopters and private jets.For us, commoners, we’re glad hotels are connected through shuttles. Bus operations reminded us of Singapore – numbers, schedules, and all. Thanks to a combination of shuttle and bus rides, we were able to cover most, if not all major attractions of Macau:
Senado Square going up to St Paul Ruins
St Paul Ruins
Hotel Taipa Square
From Macau International Airport, we hailed a cab to take us to Hotel Taipa Square. As expected, we had to repeat the name of the hotel and show a Chinese version of its address just to be sure. The driver knew it and circled the roads in 15 minutes before stopping in front of a casino. The lobby is on the 21st floor. The doorman’s a Filipino – he greeted us with a question, check-in po, Ma’am? Our looks must’ve given us away, so I said, opo, kuya. He pointed the elevator lobby and repeated the top floor. At the lobby downstairs, there were young men entering the gaming floor bright with LED.
After making ourselves at home, we went down in the middle of the night and asked our doorman where the nearest 7 Eleven is. The next day, we asked for more directions. He assigned himself our stationary guide.
A source of curiosity for us in any place we visit is the market or supermarket. In Macau, we wanted to see their famous selection of Portuguese wine. We bought a nice bottle of red wine and gulped it back in our hotel room to double our dose of much needed heat, while surfing the cable. The news about Pope in the Philippines was in many local and foreign channels.
Aside from the walks, the wine, casino mega-structures, flower beds, and the Taipa Village, another favorite of mine from this place was that TV ad I saw on a local channel. It’s an infomercial on how to report corruption, as part of Beijing’s massive crackdown on this political crime. Things like this actually had some effects on gambling revenues some time ago, said news reports. Interesting, isn’t it?