Like Hong Kong, Macau is a former European colony. Portugal controlled the region from the 16th century until it was transferred back to China as a special administrative region in 1999. Macau was China’s first and last European colony.
Just an hour’s ferry ride away from Hong Kong, Macau is an easy getaway to a very different experience in China. Flashy Las-Vegas style casinos mingle with stone, European structures. Macanese food is a lovely combination of Portuguese and Chinese influences.
TurboJET is the easiest mode of transportation. The hydrofoil ferry departs from the Hong Kong terminal
every hour every 15 minutes. The company also has terminals at the Hong Kong airport, Kowloon and Shenzhen.
There’s also a helicopter option that gets you from Hong Kong to Macau in 16 minutes. For HK$2,200 ($350 CAD). I guess I’d take that after I hit the jackpot in Macau.
A TurboJET economy-class ticket is about $21 CAD. You will be charged a “service fee” if you use your credit card. Go with cash, I say!
There are sometimes scalpers near the ticket counters who are selling fares they’ve bought at a reduced group rate. This may save you a few bucks, but I have no idea how legit they are.
Once you reach the actual departure gate, get a sticker from the counter for your assigned seat. (I’m telling you this, because we had no idea what was going on amid a hoard of people, which is common anywhere in China.)
If you’re travelling in a group, hand your tickets over all at once, so the stickers you get back are for seats together.
You can get in a standby line for an earlier ferry than your scheduled time if there’s room — and those extra seats are usually in the upper-level super class.
The hour goes by pretty quickly. A main TV screen plays TurboJET commercials, and on both of our rides, the same episode of Guinness World Records with no sound.
Did you know the highest fall survived without a parachute was 10,160 metres (33,330 feet)? It drove us crazy that the show didn’t say what happened to the woman.
You have to go through immigration both when you leave Hong Kong and then enter Macau, something we didn’t factor in when we decided to go to Macau on a long weekend. It seemed everyone was headed to the casinos for a little R&R.
The lineups for immigration and then taxis put a crimp in my plans to spend the afternoon eating my way through Macanese specialties, but I did squeeze in a pork chop bun (猪扒包).
It was definitely too late to reach Cafe Tai Lei Loi Kei (大利来記) for its signature pork chop bun. It starts selling them at 3 p.m. until they’re sold out, apparently less than an hour later.
But this being Las-Vegas like, I found a pork chop bun in a lounge at the Grand Lisboa at midnight.
BTW, the old Casino Lisboa is like old ’70s Vegas, smoky and kind of sad. The new Grand Lisboa is brighter and pumps air freshener that smells like CKOne. However, there’s still smoking allowed.
Sadly, we’re not very good gamblers much to Mark’s dismay. I won $20 CAD at the Top Gun slots though.
Anyway, the pork chop bun is really just a pan-fried or deep-fried pork chop on a fresh bun, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The fresh bun is key.
The one at the Crystal Lounge was really good, but I don’t have anything to compare it to. I guess I shall just have to make it my life’s mission to try more pork chop buns.
TurboJET, ticket prices weekdays HK$134 ($21.50 CAD), weekends HK$146 ($23 CAD), night HK$168 ($27 CAD).
Cafe Tai Lei Loi Kei (大利来記), Rua Direita Carlos Eugenio, Taipa Village, 853-2882-7150, open 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Crystal Lounge & Deli, Grand Lisboa, upper level, 853-8803-7711. Open 24 hours.