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By Mikey
Tuesday, 19th October 2004 06:24

You know us and boats. You know how something always goes wrong. What could possibly go wrong with an hour long jetfoil ride between Hong Kong and Macau? Well, before we even made it onto the boat we had to turn around and head back to the hotel because I had forgotten to bring any memory cards for my camera. That took about 30 minutes extra although we still made it back in time to catch our boat at 10:15. In fact we even had enough time to sit and eat our breakfast before boarding the boat.

Having taken the Star ferry across the harbour a week or so ago, we knew that Victoria harbour could be a bit bumpy. Thinking that the jetfoil ride would also be a little bit bumpy we both took some travel sickness medicine with our breakfast so that we wouldn't lose it. The medicine box did warn that drowsiness was a side effect of using the drug but drowsiness fails to describe what happenned to us. I remember the first three minutes of the journey and I woke up as the boat slowed down to enter the Macau ferry terminal, I was comatose for the rest of the journey. Claire had a similar problem although I actually had to wake her as the boat pulled up. For about two hours afterwards we both felt very, very sleepy and doing anything was a bit of an effort. I think perhaps that they should remarket that drug as a sleeping aid!

Once we had cleared immigration, we headed outside through a dozen or so taxi drivers who were all waiting for people like us. We stopped briefly to pick up a map from the tourist office on the way and then went off in search of a bus. At first we couldn't find a numer 3 or 3A that would take us to the centre of the city so we started walking instead. Quite by accident we found a shop with a photocopier so we could make a copy of our passports for our Indian visa application the following day. By another stroke of luck, a number 3A bus pulled up a few metres further on and we managed to get on it.

We hadn't managed to work out where we were on the map or where we wanted to get off exactly but after a few moments everybody decided to stand up and press the stop button. Looking out of the window, it looked intersting enough and so we decided that we'd get off too. Just round the corner we found Senate Square, a pretty good place to start exploring and taking pictures.

Macau, for those who don't know, was a Portugeuse colony for many years although, like Hong Kong, it is now a semi autonomous region of China. The Portuguese influence is obvious in many of the buildings and we felt more like we were in Europe or perhaps somewhere in South America than in Asia. It has been quite some time since we'd seen brightly coloured colonial buildings like the ones that we saw in Macau.

Having admired Senate Square for long enough, we decided to follow the green tourist trail on our map in order to see some of the sights. The map though was a little deceptive. Some of the roads on it were quite large looking but in reality were narrow, paved streets open only to pedestrians. It made missing turnings too easy. We eventually happenned to find a location map on a street and we worked out that we were quite some distance away from where we meant to be. Finally though we found our way to where we wanted to be, the ruins of St. Paul's (former church of Mater Dei). All that's left now is the front wall and the bases of some of the other walls. A fire took care of the rest many years ago.

We jostled with the other tourists for a while for prime photo positions before heading back down the hill to the centre again. This time we were following the green route. All along the narrow street leading back were shops selling biscuits. Almond biscuits are a Macanese speciality and they were being sold by almost everyone. Claire was happy to sample a lot along with everyone else but I'm not a big nut fan so I didn't. Most of the other tourists were either from Hong Kong or mainland China and they were buying these biscuits by the bagfull.

Back in Senate Square, we decided to follow the green route in the opposite direction for a while but after a couple of stops we turned around and headed towards the Lou Lim Lok park. It took a little while to get there but it was worth the walk. The park was sandwiched between several big buildings but it was easy to forget that they were there. We wandered around slowly, testing out all of the benches to see if they were good to sit on. It was a beautiful park.

Having seen the park, we now felt that we could buy postcards of it and so we headed once more back to the centre. After an ice cream in the waning sun we wrote our postcards and then set off in search of a recommended restaurant.

The restaurant in question was just about as far from the centre as we could get but that was only a 30 or 40 minute walk. Unfortunately it didn't open until 6:30 and we didn't want to wait an hour for it. Also, our ferry back was at 8:00 and we thought that might be cutting things a bit fine so we looked around for another restaurant. We didn't have to look far though, there was one just down the road and they served lots of interesting dishes. Claire settled for Minchi(?), a Macanese dish, while I had African Chicken, a speciality from another Portugese colony apparently. Both were very tasty. I had hoped to try a Macanese beer too but they didn't have one so I settled for a Super Bock from Portugal.

The sun had well and truly set by the time we had finished but we still had lots of time left. We decided to walk for a while and ended up walking the whole way back to the ferry port. On the way back we didn't take any more drugs. The ride was actually very smooth, except for the last two minutes in Victoria harbour, so they weren't needed.

I liked Macau, it's a great little island and it would be fun to spend a little more time there one day. It was a shame though that it was the first country on our trip where we didn't hear the song Hotel California.

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