Last week I talked about my trip to Hong Kong, which was a long overdue break from my teaching labors. Yes, I love teaching English in Korea but even people who enjoy their job still need a break to recharge the batteries from time to time. Anyway, while in Hong Kong, my friends and I also made a day trip over to Macau, a special administrative region of China.
For those of you unfamiliar with Macau, it is the largest gambling mecca in the world. I have heard some people say it is five times larger than Las Vegas, but I don’t know exactly how they quantify that, since in my opinion it seemed like Las Vegas has a lot more casinos. Either way, being the degenerates that we are, of course we were going to check out the the casinos in Macau. Along with visiting the casinos, I quickly found out there is a lot more to do in Macau than I previously thought.
The journey itself to Macau is insanely simple, requiring just an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong, and then a bus to the Macau city center. The ferry cost around 20 US dollars one-way and it is quick, easy, and comfortable. Make sure to bring plenty of coins, since the buses do not accept bills and will not make change, so that is definitely something to be aware of when you are hopping around Macau.
As I mentioned in the opening, one of the first places my friends and I visited were the casinos. Prior to our trip to Macau I did some research and determined that the gambling minimums are generally higher in Macau than in American casinos. Although, apparently some of the lower end casinos offer 7 or 8 US dollar minimums for the most part that is not the case. Because of the Lunar New Year, the minimums were jacked up even higher. We tried many different casinos but could find nothing below 300 HK dollars (approximately 35 US dollars), so eventually resigned to our fate, we decided to roll up our sleeves, and waded into the most high stakes blackjack session of our lives. I started off hot, getting up a lot of money rather quickly, but alas my greed got the best of me and I ended up at exactly even for the trip. If you are looking to get a little buzz going at the tables, sorry you are out of luck since a lot of the casinos do not offer free alcohol. It was all good though, since I was buzzing hard on the adrenaline of super expensive blackjack hands.
OK so that gambling section went on for a bit longer than expected, so I guess I will have to do a brief recap on the other sights to check out while you are in Macau. Macau has a rich history, as a melting pot of Chinese and Portuguese influences, since it was a colony of Portugal for hundreds of years. The most famous attraction in the city is the ruin of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was absolutely swarming with tourists when we arrived there. The narrow windy street leading to the cathedral is dotted with dozens of food stands and other stores selling a wide variety of wares, so that makes the journey even more enjoyable. If you want a breathtaking vista of the city, check out the Macau tower. For the thrill seekers the Macau tower also has a bungee jump company operating at the top, but obviously there was no chance of me doing that.
In all, my trip to Hong Kong and Macau was a memorable. Between the two places my friends and I were not only able to enjoy fun activities, such as gambling, but we were also able to learn a great deal of history through all the sites we visited. Make sure to add these two destinations to your travel bucket list while you are teaching in Korea.