Saturday, 2 June 2012

Travelogue: Trip to Macau Part 1

While living in HK, we didn't really want to go to Macau. To me, it is a wannabe Vegas and having been to Vegas, I didn't see any need to pop over there. Plus I thought we would be in HK for 4 years. Lo and behold, we were moving out of HK, so quickly the family and I took a couple of day trips over to take a look at what Macau has to offer.

New buildings on Taipa Island
Going from Hong Kong to Macau is very easy. There are several ways, the most popular being the ferry, but if you have the dough, you can always fly via helicopter :). There are three major terminals for Macau-bound travellers: Tuen Mun Terminal, Shun Tak Center on HK Island or China Ferry Terminal at Tsimshatsui, Kowloon. We took from Tsimshatsui as it was the nearest one to us. The ferry from there is run by TurboJET and takes around 60-75 minutes. You can get your ticket straight at the ticket counter at the terminal and the frequency is every 30 minutes. The ticket prices range from HK$151 to 186 depending on day or night timing or weekday vs weekend sailing.

On arrival at the customs, queues can be long during peak hours, but if you are a Hong Kong resident, you can decrease waiting time by registering for auto clearance using the automated machines which is super convenient.

Senado Square decked in Christmas decoration back in 2009

The first place that everyone heads to on arrival is to Senado Square or Senate Square. It is the main urban area located in the center of Macau. It used to the centre of the former Portuguese colony and is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can find the buildings of Leal Senado, the General Post office and St. Dominic's Church. The square is paved with beautiful mosaics and is popular with both locals and tourists as it is lined with many shops and restaurants.

Holy House of Mercy

You can get to Senado Square from the ferry terminal using public bus service with a flat rate of $3.20. Take the No. 3, 3A, 4, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 18, 19, 21A, 26A, 33 buses to the Av. De Almeida Ribeiro (San Ma Lo).

Christmas lights lined the mosaic paved streets at Senado Square
St Dominic's Chuch

Along Senado Square, you will walk past several shops, most notably and raved about - the Pork Chop buns of Macau, which you have to try!!! The same shop was featured in the famous Korean drama called Boys Before Flowers (花より男子 / Hana Yori Dango)

The famous pork chop bun shop

From Senado Square, one can get easily to the other attractions nearby. If you walk all the way, following signs, you will get to the most famous sight of Macau - the Ruínas de S. Paulo (Ruins of St. Paul).

Ruins of St Paul 
View back towards Senado Square from top of the stairs of the ruins

What remains of St Paul's Church is the front façade and the grand stone stairs. First constructed in 1580, St Paul's caught fire several times in 1595 and 1601. In 1602, the church was reconstructed and completed in 1637. It stoods as East Asia's largest Catholic Chuch for a time until it was destroyed by a strong typhoon and was burnt to the ground in 1835. On site, there is a very informative display detailing the brief history of the once magnificent church. The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt is behind the ruins and has exhibitions of religions artworks including paintings, sculptures and statues, well worth a visit.

Museum of Sacred Art & Crypt behind the ruins of St Paul's

The less glamorous back of the facade

Right to the east of the Ruins of Cathedral is the Mount Fortress and the Museum of Macau. The Museum was most enjoyable and well worth a visit. Follow me on part 2 of the trip to Macau which I will write more about the visit to the museum.

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