The Olandescas in Macau

Some people may have raised their eyebrows upon knowing that our whole family had toured abroad.  They may have said that it’s impractical and just a waste of money.  But for me, traveling is more than just a luxury.  It is an investment of precious bonding and lasting memories (especially now that our parents are aging) that money can’t buy.  It is in fact, priceless!

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For our recent Hong Kong-Macau trip, it took us months of planning, years of scrimping and saving, and a decade of working double time!  It’s never easy to save up for a trip.  It takes a lot of sacrifices, a lot of compromises, and a lot of bargainings.  So when we finally pulled out our resources, we did GO!

I know you’ve had enough of my Hong Kong posts so I had started giving you Macau in these posts.  Just like Hong Kong, Macau is another Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.  It is just an hour ferry ride away from Hong Kong so if you’re in Hong Kong, never miss to have a side trip to Macau too!  You can leave Hong Kong in the morning, spend a day in Macau, and return to Hong Kong in the evening.  With just one day, you can have an ultimate Macau experience that you’re gonna reminisce over and over again!

To start with, we hopped into the free shuttle of Wynn Macau which is the most accessible from Taipa.  We were just in time for the Tree of Prosperity show at their lobby when we arrived.  It was such an awesome show foretelling a very good day in Macau for us!  See the video of their show from my previous post here.

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Then we paid a visit to Jackie Chan’s Grand Emperor Hotel which is just nearby Wynn to see and step on his real and pure gold bars right on the lobby’s floor.  In here, it’s never feet off the grass gold!

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Then we walked our way to Senado Square.  The square is like a small portion of Portugal.  Unlike Singapore and Hong Kong which were once colonies of Great Britain, Macau was a Portuguese colony.  Until now, Portuguese language is still in use in the names of their streets and establishments.  Just like this square.  It is also called Largo do Senado and is a paved area of traditional Portuguese design.  It is enclosed by the buildings of Leal Senado, General Post Office, and St. Dominic’s Church.  A fountain at the center of the square is a landmark of Macau.

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In one corner of Senado Square is St. Dominic’s Church.  The church serves as a cathedral parish for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau.  It is a 16th century Baroque-style church which is the oldest in Macau and also one of the 29 sites of the historic centers of Macau, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  (Senado Square is also one of the 29 sites.) Considering that we have more colonial churches here in the Philippines which are far better than this, we didn’t bother to get inside anymore.  (We are closely related to Macau as a once Spanish colony.)

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Walking down the streets of Macau further, we reached the Ruins of St. Paul’s.  This was once a 16th-century complex of St. Paul’s College and the Cathedral of St. Paul which is also known as Mater Dei.  The cathedral was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia built by the Jesuits during the years 1582 to 1602.  Unfortunately, the cathedral was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835 and what remains now is its facade.  The facade sits on top of a small hill with 66 stone steps leading up to it.

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Meanwhile, overlooking the Ruins of St. Paul’s is the Fortaleza do Monte.  In English, Fortress of Our Lady of the Mount of St. Paul.  It was built after the completion of the Cathedral of St. Paul to protect the properties of the Jesuits in Macau.  On the other hand, the Museum of Macau was built on top of the fort in 1990s to house Macau’s historical artifacts.

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Then it was time for lunch and we found Filipino lunch at Sarimanok.  Yepey!!!  Filipino food!!!  For our fourth day of starving and craving for “the real” food, we finally found solid food to satisfy our stomachs.  Sarimanok is owned by a Filipino couple who had established living in Macau for quite sometime now.  They are one of the best cooks of the Philippines, being Ilokanos.  I super love their kare-kare!  The peanuty taste was just so perfect along with the sweet and spicy bagoong.  Mmmm…..  Yum yum yum!

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So if you want to find your way to Sarimanok, I hope these directionals can help:

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After lunch, we were in the mood for more walking so we headed back to the pavements around Senado Square.  There were plenty of shops around and what fascinated me most was the narrow street of Macanese delicacy shops.  Famous Portuguese specialties as egg tarts and pastéis de nata are offered for free-taste.  Even my favorite Chinese specialty Bakkwa is also offered all around the corner which is cheaper by kilo than Singapore’s price.  Additionally, we also caught the YouTube sensation Turkish ice cream vendor in action who was wowing his audience with his sauvé  moves!

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Going along with the crowd, we reached the Cathedral of Macau.  Its architecture is not as impressive as our churches here in the Philippines but it possesses beauty in its own simple way.

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Around the bend is the Galaxy Macau free shuttle stop so we hopped in to also watch a free lobby show just like Wynn’s (also see the Fortune Diamond video here).  After the show, we toured around Galaxy’s casino for the free milk tea, coffee, and very cute bottled water.  You can just pick and drink any as much as you want.  Nobody would call your attention by doing so anyway.  They are just busy gambling.  Hehe….

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Finally, saving the best for last is The Venetian Macao!  This was the highlight of our HK-Macau 2014 family vacation as written here.  The Venetian was just so so LOVE!!!  This is another dream come true to me.  Though Europe is very out of reach for me (as of now), The Venetian had already taken me there!  It is all by itself, Europish.  It is so chic, so stylish, and so so Italian!  I just fell head over heels for the place.  Oh, how I wish I could go back there someday (with a special someone, of course).  I would die to take the gondola rideagain.  I would die to walk down the aisle of Gothic street posts again.  Oh, I would just die going to The Venetian again!

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Additional info: we became the most-viewed gondola riders on that day.  Just look at our spectators on the left photo below.

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With our very entertaining gondolier, we give The Venetian’s gondola ride 5 thumbs up!

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And that ends our HK-Macau family trip diary.  It has been a month but the experience is still fresh that we still talk about it over meal times.  We are really grateful to God for the great blessing.  We are so thankful to Him for providing this opportunity of creating good and beatiful memories that would last forever! 🙂

All in, I would definitely go back to Macau if I have enough money to splurge for a hotel, casino, and shopping!

Wanna take a trip to magical Macau?  Take this few tips for your guidance:

1.  Hotel shuttles offer free rides!  From airport or seaport, you can take any shuttle to bring you to the city proper.  Hop into any shuttle but it is advisable to take Wynn’s if you’re from Taipa for a convenient route.

2.  Know the hotel shuttle stops.  There are loads around the city.  You can get from one place to another through these free rides.

3.  Get the feel for the place.  When in Rome, do as Romans do.

4.  Look around and everything around.  Do not leave a place without taking a look at every corner of it.

5.  Ask people on the street where the good food is.  Take a bite of the place’s specialty and buy some to take home with you if you like.

6.  Pay a bit for a tour guide.  In Macau’s case, there are Filipinos who welcome Filipinos at the airport or seaport.  Do not fret and think that they might fool you (because we always tend to think that kapwa Pinoy, niloko ng kapwa Pinoy in another country).  They are there to help.  They do touring on their day-offs to earn extra money as well as to ease their homesickness.  So if you meet one, grab him/her!  I guarantee you that it will make your Macau experience much more meaningful.  They can tell you stories and explain things to you.  Plus, they already know the where-tos and what-tos so you can save time and see more of the place especially for a very bitin day tour.

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And we were just so lucky that Ate Riza of Isabela, a public school teacher here in the Philippines never left us at the seaport without making us her tourists for the day.  The fee was just so so minimal and super sulit!  If you want to book her in advance since this is not really her job, you can contact her in her mobile:  Josefina “Riza” Verdillo (+853) 625 76734.

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