Dr_Drew2 is now huge in China and Turkey.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
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!
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.