Monday, December 31, 2012

Bangkok on ANA and United

I was fortunate enough to have the chance to teach a workshop at a conference in Bangkok. This trip was full of many travel firsts for me. To start with, I flew on ANA (All Nippon Airways) for the first time, which was a treat. Asian airlines do it right. When I checked in at the international terminal at the nightmare known as LAX the agent apologized for the inconvenience that the flight was 20 minutes delayed. Japanese are so polite. That was the least of my worries. I headed to the Star Alliance Lounge and had some coffee and toast. My flight left a little late because the previous flight landed a little late, so we left about an hour late but boarded only about 30 minutes late. This is a shot of my 777-300ER.

I was the first person on board in the very last section of the plane. The cabin was spotless and the seating is a 2x4x3 in coach. I had the aisle in the middle section. The plane was completely packed but it was very comfortable. There is a lot of legroom including a foot rest which actually does help your legs feel better. The one thing I do not like about the seats is that instead of reclining, they slide forward to give you the illusion of reclining. It was a good thing that I didn't need to sleep because it was a daytime flight. The service consisted of a main meal soon after take off and then a light meal about 2 hours before we landed. There were always snacks and drinks available in the galley during the flight. This flight probably had some of the worst turbulence I had experienced in a really long time. I think that comes with the territory when crossing the Pacific in the winter months. It was so bad about 4 or 5 different time that the flight attendants were ordered to sit. It was less than pleasant.
We had a really strange routing this flight. Usually flights to Japan fly up towards Alaska as that is closest to the great circle route. This flight had us fly straight out across the Pacific. I've only ever seen this routing on the return flight with the tailwinds. Our flight was just under 12 hours long and we landed about an hour late. 
After that long flight it is hard to feel human. I really needed to take a shower but I had about 70 minutes until my next flight was leaving. So I headed right to the ANA lounge shower where I cleaned up and brushed my teeth. It was so nice. I didn't have time to eat anything in the lounge which was too bad because the food is actually really good. My next flight was on United and it was on the opposite side of the terminal so I had to huff it to the gate. I grabbed a little trolley for my bags and made my way through the terminal to my flight. They had just started boarding when I got there. I had an aisle seat again on the side section. This 777-200 has 2x5x2 seating and it must have been one of the very first 777s ever made. The TV screen was so tiny and the entertainment system was the first generation where the programs just cycle through several different shows. It's so sad compared to airlines like ANA, Singapore, Emirates, and Thai. Even Delta has a better system on the planes that do have individual TVs. This United flight was a short 5 hours and 45 minutes from Tokyo to Bangkok. It's hard to believe that only getting to Tokyo from LA is only about 2/3 of the way to Bangkok. I tried napping but I only mildly succeeded. They did feed us a dinner but it was nothing special. The flight was super smooth the entire time which I appreciated after the vomit comet on the last flight. We landed around 11:30pm in Bangkok and I expected us to park at the terminal but we parked about 2 miles away (no joke). We were past the cargo areas and the charter airlines. We had to take a bus all the way back to the terminal which is actually quite cool because you get to drive right under all the jumbo jets and you can appreciate just how huge these planes are. This is a shot from the bus and it is clear that we were nowhere near anything.
After a quick wait through immigration, I found myself waiting for the airport taxi/limo outside of the terminal. This terminal is nothing but glass and concrete. After about a 25 minute ride into the city, I was at my hotel for the next 5 days, the Centara Grand CentralWorld. This was the first time I've stayed at a Centara hotel and it was very nice.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

I fly the United 787

This was a flight from LAX to Houston Intercontinental on United's first 787. This plane is awesome. Here are some pictures that I took from the trip. This was the view from the terminal.
This is next to the door which is the second one back. There are three rows of business class seats both in front of and behind this set of doors.
This was seat 3E, my seat for the almost 3 hour journey. The seat was very comfortable with lots of space. The plugs behind on the left of this photo include a usb port and you can connect your iphone to the system and listen to it while it charges.
I think this is the largest screen on any TV on any plane I've ever seen. It was awesome. There is a little area below the TV to put books and things.

This was a postcard-sized information pamphlet that had all the information on 787 and the features that make it so different from all other jets.
This was my view from my seat and the size of the windows is evident here. I could see out of the windows perfectly from where I was seated.
All new planes have hiccups and this one thought it was going to London Heathrow. Even once we arrived the computer still showed the destination as London.
I love the lighting in this plane. Apparently the section up there houses the crew rest area. The irregularity in the overhead bins is noticeable here.
My cold plate with crudités, red wine, and green tea wasn't half bad. They also brought around warm scones which seemed a little odd for a post-dinner evening flight.
This is the view from the gate in Houston. It is such a beautiful plane with a humongous wingspan.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Ebags: I wish they paid me for this endorsement

I am leaving for a trip tomorrow and I wanted to share one of my packing tricks. One of things I absolutely love to travel with are my packing cubes by ebags. They aren't really cubes (the mathematician in me hates that they are called this). I now have 9 of these "cubes" of all different sizes. It's almost like a puzzle trying to fit them with your clothes and then into your luggage. I packed 3 pairs of jeans, 6 shirts, 2 sweaters, 5 underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 3 undershirts, a shirt and shorts to sleep in, running shorts, and a running shirt.
All of that fit into 4 different packing cubes. 
They fit easily into my rolling garment bag which also holds 2 more pairs of shoes and my toiletry bag that is also from ebags. It is a flat toiletry bag that fits perfectly into luggage. 
I think I can actually fit more clothes into my garment bag this way than by laying out the clothes in the usual way in the bag.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Travel weekend: Sacramento on United

I went to Sacramento for about 40 hours two weekends ago. I left work at about 2:15pm on Friday afternoon and headed to LAX. I didn't hit much traffic at all considering it was a three-day weekend and I arrived at  LAX around 3:00pm. I had prepaid reservations to park my car at the Hilton LAX which in my opinion is one of the best deals for parking at LAX. You can either self-park or do valet and if you book 2 weeks in advance, then you get even more of a discount. It is cheaper than the economy lot that is run by LAX and the parking is all indoors. When I arrived at the Hilton there was a giant crowd of people dressed up like Japanese comic book characters. They looked like they belonged in Harajuku in Tokyo. It was odd. It turns out that it was some expo the entire weekend. I paid to self-park and I ended up circling the underground lots for about 20 minutes and never found a spot. I then proceeded to the overcrowded valet and waited to have my car parked. I thought that I was going to miss my flight because I still needed to take the shuttle to the terminal. The hotel was so crowded that it wasn't possible for the shuttle to get through the valet area. A hotel employee told the gathered crowd waiting for the shuttle to head toward a different hotel entrance to wait for the shuttle there. By this time it was about an hour until my flight was departing. I started thinking about what was going to happen if I did miss the flight. I arrived at Terminal 6 for the Premier check-in area for United and luckily there was no line at all and I had 45 minutes until my flight left. I am now a member of the TSA precheck program and it changed my life. I didn't need to take off my shoes, or take out the liquids, or even take anything out of my pockets. It was just like the good old days. I had to walk all the way to the gates at terminal 8 and all the way down to the end. 

I waited at the gate for about 5 minutes before we started boarding. My flight was on a CRJ 700 on United Express. The flight was completely full and we left the gate on time. Our flight went all the way to the other side of the airport to use the runway and along the way I got a really good view of the progress of the international terminal which looks awesome with several gates large enough for multiple A380s to park. 
By the time we took off it was dark and I didn't take any more pictures. The flight time was just under an hour and we flew right up the center of the state. The service included only a drink. While descending into Sacramento, we passed the airport and made a u-turn right onto the runway.
Two days later I found myself back at the Sacramento airport. My flight was supposed to leave at 10:40am with a stop in San Francisco. When I checked into the flight on the kiosk, it offered me an earlier flight for no extra charge. It offered me a nonstop to LAX leaving 5 minutes later, but arriving 2 hours earlier, so I changed it. This is a shot of my plane, another CRJ 700, before boarding.


Once again the flight back down the state was about an hour with just a drink. We flew right down the center of the state and right over Oxnard and Malibu, then turned inland, then a u-turn back towards LAX. We parked back in terminal 8 and I only needed to wait a few minutes for the bags to come out. I then waited about another 20 minutes for the Hilton shuttle to pick me up. The nice thing about doing the valet parking at the LAX Hilton is that you can text them your ticket number and they bring out your car so that it's there by the time you arrive from the shuttle. It's the best deal in town and much more convenient than the LAX economy lot and cheaper. Other hotels in the area do this too, but I like the Hilton. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Article: Lonely Planet's top 10 countries for 2013

here is the full article:

Here is the list:


  1. Sri Lanka
  2. Montenegro
  3. South Korea
  4. Ecuador
  5. Slovakia
  6. Solomon Islands
  7. Iceland
  8. Turkey
  9. Dominican Republic
  10. Madagascar


Friday, October 26, 2012

Article: Singapore Airlines to End World’s Longest Non-Stop Flights

Full article here.

Having flown on one of the longest flights ever, LAX to BKK (Bangkok) nonstop 17.5 hours in business class no less, I can't imagine a 19 hour flight no matter what the seats look like. I love Singapore Airlines, but the human body wasn't designed for flights this long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Article: Lonely Planet's top 10 cities in 2013

Here is the full article.

But this is the list of cities.

  1. San Francisco
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Hyderabad
  4. Londonderry/Derry
  5. Beijing
  6. Christchurch
  7. Hobart
  8. Montreal
  9. Addis Ababa
  10. Puerto Igauzu

Monday, October 22, 2012

Article: Four magically cheap dates to fly

Here's the full article
1. November 22nd - Thanksgiving
Most of us are acutely aware that that Thanksgiving fares can carve a big gash out of your budget - unless you travel on the day the turkey is the one under the blade.
Thanksgiving Day is a relative deal; it's the same price as the Thursday after Thanksgiving - which was priced at 40% off last week, thanks to a sale from Southwest.
Tip: Avoid the Wednesday before and the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving unless you're prepared to - let's keep the metaphor going - apply a tourniquet.
2. December 18th - Last day before the airlines' Christmas season
The Advent calendar may start three weeks earlier (the chocolate version of which seems to vanish pretty quickly at our house) but airlines begin their Christmas season on the 19th by charging an additional 30% or more for the following two weeks.
Tip: Airlines offer a bit of a price break for Christmas Day and New Year's Day departures.
3. March 20th – European vacation
The first day of spring - yes, it's on the 20th next year - is a charmed date as departures to Europe go up in price by 20% or more starting Mar. 21.
By the way, the first day of spring in 2013 is a Wednesday which adds its own mystique since weekday departures bring an additional savings of $30 each-way compared to takeoffs on Friday through Sunday.
Tip: No, it's won't be too cold; look for crisp afternoons in the 50s in Paris.
4. June 3rd – Tokyo
This is the last day to fly to Tokyo from the West Coast on the biggest airplane in the world (the A380) on one of the world's best airlines (Singapore) for just $852 round-trip - and yes that does include everything. A good trick, given that tickets on United and Delta on that route cost twice that amount.
Tip: Buy a cheap ticket to the coast and hang out a day to prepare for a flying experience that I trust you'll find magical.
FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.

Article: TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports, But Some Will Remain

TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports

by Michael Grabell ProPublica, Oct. 19, 2012, 10:37 a.m.

The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly removing its X-ray body scanners from major airports over the last few weeks and replacing them with machines that radiation experts believe are safer.

The TSA says it made the decision not because of safety concerns but to speed up checkpoints at busier airports. It means, though, that far fewer passengers will be exposed to radiation because the X-ray scanners are being moved to smaller airports.

The backscatters, as the X-ray scanners are known, were swapped out at Boston Logan International Airport in early October. Similar replacements have occurred at Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare, Orlando and John F. Kennedy in New York, the TSA confirmed Thursday.

The X-ray scanners have faced a barrage of criticism since the TSA began rolling them out nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009. One reason is that they emit a small dose of ionizing radiation, which at higher levels has been linked to cancer.

In addition, privacy advocates decried that the machines produce images, albeit heavily blurred, of passengers' naked bodies. Each image must be reviewed by a TSA officer, slowing security lines.

The replacement machines, known as millimeter-wave scanners, rely on low-energy radio waves similar to those used in cell phones. The machines detect potential threats automatically and quickly using a computer program. They display a generic cartoon image of a person's body, mitigating privacy concerns.

"They're not all being replaced," TSA spokesman David Castelveter said. "It's being done strategically. We are replacing some of the older equipment and taking them to smaller airports. That will be done over a period of time."

He said the TSA decided to move the X-ray machines to less-busy airports after conducting an analysis of processing time and staffing requirements at the airports where the scanners are installed.

The radiation risk and privacy concerns had no bearing on the decision, Castelveter said.

Asked about the changes, John Terrill, a spokesman for Rapiscan u2014 which makes the X-ray scanners u2014 wrote in an email, "No comment on this."

The TSA is not phasing out X-ray body scanners altogether. The backscatter machines are still used for screening at a few of America's largest 25 airports, but the TSA has not confirmed which ones. Last week, Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz., installed two of the machines.

Moreover, in late September, the TSA awarded three companies potential contracts worth up to $245 million for the next generation of body scanners u2014 and one of the systems, made by American Science & Engineering, uses backscatter X-ray technology.

The United States remains one of the only countries in the world to X-ray passengers for airport screening. The European Union prohibited the backscatters last year "in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens' health and safety," according to a statement at the time. The last scanners were removed from Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom last month.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two types of body scanners the TSA uses.

The X-ray scanner looks like two blue refrigerator-sized boxes. Unseen to the passenger, a thin beam scans left and right and up and down. The rays reflect back to the scanner, creating an image of the passenger's body and any objects hidden under his or her clothes.

The millimeter-wave scanner looks like a round glass booth. Two rotating antennas circle the passenger, emitting radio frequency waves. Instead of creating a picture of the passenger's body, a computer algorithm looks for anomalies and depicts them as yellow boxes on a cartoon image of the body.

According to many studies, including a new one conducted by the European Union, the radiation dose from the X-ray scanner is extremely small. It has been repeatedly measured to be less than the dose received from cosmic radiation during two minutes of the airplane flight.

Using those measurements, radiation experts have studied the cancer risk, with estimates ranging from six to 100 additional cancer cases among the 100 million people who fly every year. Many scientists say that is trivial, considering that those same 100 million people would develop 40 million cancers over the course of their lifetimes. And others, including the researchers who did the EU study, have said that so much is unknown about low levels of radiation that such estimates shouldn't be made.

Still, the potential risks have led some prominent scientists to argue that the TSA is unnecessarily endangering the public because it has an alternative u2014 the millimeter-wave machine u2014 which it also deems highly effective at finding explosives.

"Why would we want to put ourselves in this uncertain situation where potentially we're going to have some cancer cases?" David Brenner, director of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research, told ProPublica last year. "It makes me think, really, why don't we use millimeter waves when we don't have so much uncertainty?"

Although there has been some doubt about the long-term safety of the type of radio frequency waves used in the millimeter-wave machines, scientists say that, in contrast to X-rays, such waves have no known mechanism to damage DNA and cause cancer.

The TSA has said that having both technologies encourages competition, leading to better detection capabilities at a lower cost.

But tests in Europe and Australia suggest the millimeter-wave machines have some drawbacks. They were found to have a high false-alarm rate, ranging from 23 percent to 54 percent when figures have been released. Even common things such as folds in clothing and sweat have triggered the alarm.

In contrast, Manchester Airport officials told ProPublica that the false-alarm rate for the backscatter was less than 5 percent.

No study comparing the two machines' effectiveness has been released. The TSA says its own results are classified.

Each week, the agency reports on various knives, powdered drugs and even an explosives detonator used for training that have been found by the body scanners.

But Department of Homeland Security investigators reported last year that they had "identified vulnerabilities" with both types of machines. And House transportation committee chairman John Mica, R-Fla., who has seen the results, has called the scanners "badly flawed."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Staying in a Langham Hotel Soon?

This might be useful for you if you are planning to go to Hong Kong or China in the next year. The Langham hotel group which has hotels in Auckland, Boston, Hong Kong, London, Pasadena, Melbourne, Shanghai, and Beijing, is offering some extra perks if you have a Visa Signature Card. Check out the link.

Langham Hospitality Group - Visa Signature Promotion

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The coolest indoor waterfeature in Macau or anywhere

This is inside the shopping mall at the Sands Cotai Central complex. The mall is connected to the Conrad hotel. The water falls in the shape of words and pictures. Crazy!

video

Clip of Macau hotel lights

This is the view from room 3222 at the Conrad Macau. The lights on the buildings here put the ones in Vegas to shame.

video

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Article: 45 Places to go in 2012

An interesting list of places from the New York Times.  I think Myanmar is now on my radar after reading some things about it and seeing some shows about it. Check out this article.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I love Hong Kong

After our time in Macau it was time to leave by high-speed ferry to Hong Kong which is an hour away. The ferries are either catamarans or hydrofoils. This is the jetfoil that we took. They are like a big jet inside with blocks of 2 to 6 airline type seats across. They are jet-powered and are very fast.
Since both Macau and Hong Kong are SARs (Special Administrative Region) of China there is passport and immigration procedures at both ports. I didn't have any issue this time coming and going. So from the Macau Ferry Terminal on Hong Kong island in Sheung Wan it was a few minutes to the Conrad Hong Kong hotel by taxi. It is located right near the Admiralty MTR and right above the Pacific Place shopping mall. The hotel is very nice but just like everything in Hong Kong, they jam-pack as much as they can into the smallest of building footprints. We were given a room on the 52nd floor which was an executive level floor with access to a lounge with the most amazing view of Hong Kong and Kowloon. This was the view from room 5222.
The Conrad is the building in the reflection of the other one. This picture was taken from the pool level.
Within minutes of being in the room, there was knock at the door and a butler had tea and chocolates for us.
The last time I was in Hong Kong the tall building in the background was not there and in fact the area surrounding that building, ICC (International Commerce Center), is still under construction and isn't a very happening place. There is a Ritz Carlton in that building and of course there is a shopping mall at the base.

I have a personal love affair with Hong Kong for several reasons. First of all, this was the very first city I had ever visited in Asia and it has always been very special to me because it began my addiction to travel in Asia. The second reason, which should be the first reason, is that Hong Kong saved my life. The vacation I originally planned to Hong Kong was actually to Phuket, Thailand, but something told me not to go to Phuket and go to Hong Kong instead. We arrived in Hong Kong on Dec 25, 2004 and if you remember anything about December 26, 2004 you'll know that there was a massive tsunami that killed over a quarter of a million people in 15 countries. So we woke up on Boxing Day to the news of the tsunami that would have killed us because we were planning to be on one of the beaches that was completely washed away. Both Phuket and Hong Kong have emotional connections for me. The third reason I love Hong Kong is because of the food. It's so easy to find really good food and any kind you can think of. The last reason I love Hong Kong is because speaking Chinese is not necessary thanks to the British. 
On the next day in Hong Kong, we headed out to Lantau Island where I had been wanting to visit for a long time. I wanted to see the Giant Buddha, but getting there is quite an ordeal. From Hong Kong Central you have to take a 35-40 minute MRT ride almost all the way to the airport at Tung Chung where Hong Kong's only outlet mall is located. From there you have two options to get to Ngong Ping at the top of a mountain where the buddha is. The first option is by cable car which doesn't look fun if you have a fear of heights. It is also kind of expensive at about $16USD roundtrip and takes about 20-25 minutes. When we got there the queue was 45 minutes long just to buy the ticket. The other option which is equally as adventurous is by bus. The Lantau island buses are coach style public buses so they are a little more luxurious than a public bus. It also only costs $3.20 roundtrip and takes about 40-45 minutes. Guess which option we took? I think we waited all of 5 minutes for the bus once we purchased the tickets. The bus driver drove it like it was a mini cooper buzzing along the south of France, but the views were amazing. It barely felt like 45 minutes and when everyone exited the bus I didn't think we were in the correct place because it didn't look like we were where we should have been. 

But as soon as we got out and looked around, it was a little hard to miss the giant statue of buddha located at the top of a nearby peak. You have to walk through a little village area and there are 240 steps to the top of the peak to reach the Tian Tan Buddha

The statue is magnificent and was everything I hoped it would be. It was hot and unbelievably humid but it was well worth it. Your entrance ticket includes a viewing of a relic inside the temple under the statue and you get an ice cream snack too. We must of walked around it several times and the views were beautiful. 

Back at the bottom of the steps is the Po Lin monastery which has a vegetarian restaurant and a very old temple. It was quite a serene setting. After about 2.5 hours at the peak we took the bus back down and it took much less time going down the mountain than up. We ate at the Food Republic at the Tung Chung Center and had very cheap but great food. I had xiao long bao and noodles. Another 40 minute train ride and we were back on Hong Kong island. Later that evening after a dip in the pool we ate Shanghai cuisine at a place in Pacific Place mall.
Fast forward to the last day in Hong Kong was spent walking around Central and spending more time by the pool getting some last minute relaxation before the late night flight back home. I love Hong Kong and always will. I don't think I will ever get tired of visiting. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia

After my ordeal with immigration, my time in Macau was pretty awesome. It began with the very nice free bus/shuttle ride from the airport to the Sands Cotai Central complex which includes a shopping mall, a casino, the Holiday Inn, and the Conrad. There is also a Sheraton there but it's not finished yet. The Holiday Inn and the Conrad share a building which is really odd and makes for a somewhat confusing lobby setup. When we got to the check-in desk we were treated like royalty. Two people took our bags and another manager showed us to our room on the 32nd floor. I was shocked to see that it was a club-level suite. It was huge and had two bathrooms. This is a brand new hotel that has only been opened since April so they are really trying to make a name for themselves. The view from the hotel was of the rest of the city and the lights on the hotels in Macau put Vegas lights to shame. I think they are all LED lights that do different patterns that are much more reminiscent of old Vegas lights that  flash and move in patterns. I loved it.
This is the casino and hotel complex known as City of Dreams. The hotels are Crown, Hard Rock Hotel, and Grand Hyatt.
 These are pictures from suite 3222 at the Conrad Macau Cotai Central.





If you didn't know already, Macau was the first European settlement in Asia. It was founded by the Portuguese which is why many of the old buildings have the wonderfully bright colors and the architecture is decidedly European. There are many streets that are cobblestone or mosaic. The old part of the city is about the only area that is sort of untouched by the casinos although you can still see them towering over the old city. All of the street signs are in Chinese and Portuguese, so I can read almost everything because of my limited Spanish knowledge.
There's always a Starbucks and this time we needed it. 

The last time I visited Macau was in 2006 and many things have changed including the landscape of buildings. But the most notable change is the influx of mainland Chinese tourists. They literally come in busloads and descend upon the city. We walked around the old part of the city with really narrow streets and it felt like New Year's Eve in Times Square except it was over 90 degrees with just about 100% humidity. It was quite a steamy time. There is a "walk" from the main center of the old city called Senado Square to the ruins of St Paul's cathedral where only the facade remains. It felt like there were about a million people walking along the path. There are tons of little shops and lots of bakeries selling all kinds of Chinese and Portuguese (Macanese) creations including the famous egg custard tarts.  


This is a great shot that includes the old city with the newest additions. This is taken from the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral ruins looking down the narrow street path. In the upper left corner is the equally gigantic and gaudy Grand Lisboa which is located right next to the original Lisboa casino. It is quite famous and was featured in a James Bond movie. The original still feels like the 1960s old Vegas. It's quite cool, but also kind of sad.


The Macau Wynn is actually quite small. You might call it the mini-Wynn. There is an Encore tower but it doesn't look like the Wynn tower at all. There is also a Vegas Bellagio style fountain in the front of the Wynn but it was under maintenance. The Macau MGM Grand is the monstrous tower seen behind the Wynn in this picture. It also looks nothing like its Vegas counterpart. 


Originally Macau consisted of two island that lie south of the Penha peninsula where the old part of the city is. The island just south of the peninsula is called Taipa and the one south of that one is called Coloane. Currently Macau consists of the peninsula and one island. They reclaimed all of the land between Coloane and Taipa and called it Cotai. That is where the Venetian, Galaxy, City of Dreams, Cotai Central, and the Macau Dome (which is a sports facility) are located. At least they have preserved both Taipa and Coloane villages. One of these days when I return I'll visit both of those.  


This picture shows one of the three bridges that connects the peninsula with Taipa. The Macau Tower is seen here. This is the waterfront right in next to the Wynn. 

Also if you didn't know, Macau is only a one-hour ferry ride away from Hong Kong. There are high-speed hydrofoils that leave about every 15 to 30 minutes. Macau has two ports. The main ferry terminal is the original one on the peninsula and there is a temporary ferry terminal right near the airport located on Taipa. Because of its proximity to Hong Kong, you can easily make a day trip out of Macau or stay a night or two. Each casino and most hotels have their own free shuttle buses that run all over the place. They all run to the ferry terminals, the airport, and the mainland border gate, but they also run to other casinos. So if you plan things right, you never have to pay for transportation while in Macau, but you will have to go to some hotels and casinos that you may not want to visit.