Since our flight was late in the evening, we decided to leave our luggages at the hotel and do some last minute exploring on foot and shopping. Ipe was adamant that we go visit the Dominican Priory high up in the Guia Hills (which is the highest point in Macau, by the way). We decided to check out the Guia Fort but too bad the cable car was being repaired. But we saw these cute “teddy bears” greeting visitors at the entrance and a small aviary.
The hike up the lighthouse was quite a long way and with the cable car down, we figured it wasn’t worth the effort. So we just stayed in one of the huts to stock up on pictures. 😛
As for the priory, well, we didn’t really know any priests staying there. (But then, I don’t know many priests at all and the ones I know are only through the hubby so they don’t count. But I did have my favorites with the nuns back in high school.) So hubby had to make do with staring at the priory from across the street. It isn’t much to look at as the Dominicans are hardly a rich order; but the building kind of sticks out because of the neighborhood – indeed, it’s located along a long row of dilapidated bliss-type buildings.
We made a quick stop over a Rua do Cunha, a narrow street lined with souvenir shops and food stalls. It also has a small bazaar but there wasn’t much shop-worthy trinkets there. We stocked up on almond cakes and egg tarts. 😀
Shortly after lunch, the four of us trooped back to the Tampa area to check out the other hotels and malls in the area before our flight.
|Counterclockwise from top left: hubby enjoying a cup of hot coffee; Macau’s famous egg tarts; kuya making another favorite pasalubong – the almond cookies|
Hotels along the Cotai strip, near the Venetian:
|Hard Rock, which is connected to the City of Dreams, a high-end mall|
|Inside the City of Dreams, watching the mermaid show onscreen|
There’s a free show at the City of Dreams’ Bubble theater called “The Dragon’s Treasure.” It’s a story about four dragon kings who each show off their dazzling powers in their own lands to their guests, through the use of the pearl of wisdom of the Jade Emperor. A carp who swims through each of the dragon king’s lands, is revealed to be no less than the Jade Emperor who then proceeds to reveal himself and his immense power.
The show is spectacular, shown in 360 degree 3D format on the screen with lighting both on screen and in the audience area as well, making you think, at least for a while, that you were indeed under the sea with all these dragons.
The City of Dreams also has the show “The House of Dancing Water” which looked and sounded more interesting than the Cirque du Soleil over at the Venetian. Too bad we only learned about it on our last day. 😦
Now, I didn’t really enjoy the food we’ve been having in Macau whenever we experiment with their local dishes so on the next days, we subconsciously agreed to stick to cuisine that are familiar to us.
On our first two nights in Macau we stayed at the Best Western Hotel in Tampa – a budget boutique hotel but still has all the comforts we’ve all come to expect. Across the street is a long avenue lined with quaint restos. Since we arrived late at night on our first day, we found just a handful of them still open and ended up in a Japanese restaurant which became a fast favorite – nice staff, decent food, clean place and ambiance.
On our last night in the area, we decided to have dinner early so we can try out the Thai place just twenty meters or so from the hotel doors. I can’t give the name of the place since it’s more like a carinderia-type but the food was divine! And I had sticky rice and mangoes with coconut milk – you really can’t go wrong with mangoes but this is the best dessert I’ve tasted.
|Clockwise from top left: tonkatsu, noodles and clams at a Japanese resto; mangoes with sticky rice and coconut, rice meal and various chili sauce at a Thai carinderia; Mcdonald’s for breakfast; lots of cakes and desserts|
You might notice a McDonald’s plate up in the pictures – e all agreed to have daily breakfast at McDonalds. This way, we ensure we have at least one decent, full meal in case the restos we pick later on turn out to serve awful food (trust, we did get hungry many times!)
We only returned to our culinary adventures on our last lunch in Macau. Off the Rua do Cunha is a Portuguese restaurant which has a very cozy, rustic interior. The lady who runs the resto does not understand English and we were having a hard time wondering what to order but fortunately, she deduced correctly that we were Pinoys and called on her cook – a PInoy! Everything we ordered here tasted good, and no wonder, Pinoys are notoriously good cooks.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels to choose from in Macau from both ends of the budget spectrum – from the super cheap to the uber expensive. Since this is unfamiliar territory and I kind of have a fear of Chinese government, we chose to stay in the middle ground and stay in a fairly decent hotel from a known chain – the Best Western in Tampa. Location’s good – it’s just five minutes from the airport (yes, for real!), five minutes to the Cotai Strip, and there are lots of carinderia in the area. Prices are okay too – costs us around Php 17,000 for a three-night stay. Not bad, huh?
Macau isn’t really a shopping haven, not even if you’re after a particular designer brand that’s not available in the Philippines, since the prices are much higher than in other Asian countries like Singapore. As comparison, I asked for the price of my LV wallet and found it higher by at least 12% compared to current Manila prices (HK price is around 8% higher).
But of course, I can’t really head back home without at least some souvenirs, right? And being sort of a beauty junkie (well, I often hoard but don’t get to use them), I bought SKII (kinda mahalia so I just bought a jar – it comes with two freebies: facial lotion and essence), Crabtree hand treatments which I got at a whopping 30% off (apparently, they have beauty sales on Sundays over at Senado Square), and lots of tarts and almond cakes!
PS: Lord Stow’s Bakery(they have a branch in Market Market) sells authentic egg tarts. I only found out it actually originated from Macau when I got back here in the country and looked it up. So this means I still get my egg tart fix whenever I want.