Today, we go to Macau, declared Ryan. I said, ok, then promptly forgot to take my passport along (DOH!) and we only found out on the double-decker bus to the ferry terminal. So we did something else and shifted our Macau plans to the next day.
I had forgotten that Macau is another country. Or at least it needed a passport for entry, even though Hong Kong and Macau now belong to China.
Ryan told me to watch my wallet as we boarded the high-speed Turbojet ferries. Macau has quite a reputation for pickpockets and we Singaporeans are so used to our city's safety that we take things for granted overseas. Nothing like a lost wallet or smartphone to ruin your trip.
Breakfast was congee and zha leong. Mmmmm, zha leong. It's yew char kuay wrapped in thin chee cheong fun and tastes soooo good. I love the congee in Hong Kong too, the taste is different from ours in Singapore. Mine had slices of fish and pork bits.
The first thing that hits you when you reach Macau is the giant casinos, like the two Lisboas owned by gambling king Stanley Ho. We took the free shuttle service to the hotels but spent more time wondering the streets of Macau.
The second thing that struck me was how European Macau looked. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that was a Portuguese colony for a long time, until 1999.
There were tourists everywhere, more than I expected. I am told that most of the 500,000 population (about two Ang Mo Kios) work in the casino/tourism industry of Macau.
It seems the locals don't usually gamble in the casinos, unlike in Singapore, where we need a levy to keep our own people out. I guess it is not easy to gamble openly when you live in such a small community and your cousin's friend's sister can tell your mother he saw you blowing your salary at the baccarat tables yesterday.
The main tourist attraction, besides the casinos, seems to be the Ruins of St. Paul's (Portuguese: Ruínas de São Paulo). The ruins of this 16th century Portuguese cathedral are all that remain after the ravages of fire. The southern stone façade is the one most people take photos in front of.
I enjoyed walking the cobbled streets of Macau, away from the more touristy shops, to see the old stores like an old Chinese laundry and a cheongsam maker.
It is like peering into the past, and we don't see this kind of history in our own fast-modernizing Singapore much anymore.
Maybe we should slow down a little. And enjoy our heritage more.
Oh, I almost forgot the food porn. Here is what we had for tea, 義順紅豆雙皮奶 or Red Bean with milk pudding at a place called Yishun.