20 September 2008

Macau 15-17 March 08

Oh, this is such a belated post. March seemed a long time ago... after all that has happened these few months, I could barely recollect details of this trip, apart from authentic Portugese egg tarts :p
It was a birthday getaway actually. I guess Macau wouldn't usually be a top choice for birthday getaways. But we hadn't been to Macau before and had been talking about it the longest time. So decided to just do it. Took up a 3D2N promotion package from a travel agency - comprising airfare on Tiger Airways (direct flight) and 3D2N stay at the much raved-about 'The Venetian'! Everyone was talking about the grandeur of this relatively new resort hotel.
Day 1 - 15 Mar 08
Our first time taking flight from the Budget Terminal.
Couldn't remember how long the flight was (4hrs?); when we reached Macau, it was already the evening. Took the complimentary shuttle coach from the airport to The Venetian. The Venetian is not located in Macau mainland, instead it is built on the reclaimed The Cotai Strip, between islands of Taipa and Coloane. The hotel looked impressive alright, and I eagerly looked forward to the highly-acclaimed 'All-Suites' rooms. The coach dropped us at the West entrance, which looked a little too chaotic for comfort. Probably due to the weekend. Apparently, the West entrance is the boarding and drop-off location for shuttle buses (between various points like ferry terminal and border gates) and tour coaches.
We made our way to the reception amidst throngs of people (gamblers, tourists alike). Fortunately as it was past check-in time, not much queue and the front desk staff was quite friendly. We later learnt that there are two check-in receptions, one at the main hotel lobby and the one at the West entrance, which appeared more like a 3-4 star sort of reception.
We were given a map of the premise because this place is huge! Without a map, probably we would get lost. Besides 3000 Suites, The Venetian houses a Convention and Exhibition Centre, The Venetian Arena, The Grand Canal Shoppes and Gondola, Spa, Restaurants and not forgetting Casino.
And here was our Royale Suite with 'King-sized canopy-draped bed and Sunken living room' as described in the brochures and travel websites.
Luxurious indeed. Honestly, we didn't really need such a big room. But since it was my birthday trip, a little pampering was ok!

I love the spacious marble bathroom. Looked a little tacky but no complaints.
After settling down, we made our way to St. Mark's Square. The atmosphere was surreal with its painted blue skies and canals which offered gondola rides. Apparently this is modelled after the sister property, The Venetian, Las Vegas.
As we strolled along the streets, we could even encounter musicians and performers dressed in elaborate costumes.

This is the Main Hotel Lobby, on a much glam scale than the West entrance.Nothing much scenery outside the hotel, just a few construction projects going on.

We had a quick dinner at a food court and proceeded to the Casino. Didn't take any photos since not allowed. The Casino is huge, bright and spacious (unlike Genting Casino which is a tad dark and crowded). Most of the slot machines are similar to the ones at Genting, perhaps a few new ones. Cash is used and if one wishes to stop playing and there is still credit, a barcode cash ticket will be issued. This cash ticket can be used as 'cash' at any of the slot machines. Convenient indeed. Table games are also similar to the ones at Genting. Interesting note, staff went around the casino serving drinks like coffee, tea, juices and even The Venetian label drinking water.Day 2 - 16 Mar 08

After a good night rest, we decided to venture to Macau mainland in search of Portugese egg tarts for breakfast. Many travel blogs, websites and forums recommend Margaret's Cafe e Nata. We had problem finding the cafe since it is hidden in a back alley, but just ask any locals they would be able to give directions.

Cafe e Nata is indeed popular as evident from the crowd. Could already smell the fragrance of freshly baked egg tarts the moment I stepped into the tiny shop.

Naturally we had to order the famed Portugese egg tarts. The buttery flaky pastry matched perfectly with the sweet, creamy custard.The surface of the egg custard was a little burnt which added to the aroma and the custard almost melted in my mouth. Heavenly...
Besides egg tarts, the shop also had a sandwich bar which sold different types of filling for sandwiches. Some locals even order the fillings to eat as salads. The sandwich was not bad either, but egg tarts were still better :d~~~

After a hearty breakfast, we made our way to Largo do Senado - Senado Square, a popular venue for local events and celebrations and a must-visit tourist attraction.
Modern twist to otherwise very classical buildings.
Within walking distance to Senado Square is Ruinas de S.Paulo - Ruins of St. Paul's. Another must-visit tourist attraction, the facade was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602 - 1640, destroyed by fire in 1835, and the ruins of St. Paul's College, which stood adjacent to the Church. The old Church of Mater Dei, St. Paul's College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and formed what can be perceived as the "Acropolis" of Macau. Now it functions symbolically as an altar to the city.
There appeared to be regular traditional Portugese dance sessions, adding much vibrancy and live to the area.

Behind the facade are stairs to access the ruins for better view. See me waving there?
Lots of shops selling local snacks like almond pastries, egg crisps, beef jerky surround the area and business was certainly brisk.Hubby couldn't resist a curry-flavoured beef tripe, texture was rather chewy, not too bad.

Saw a hawker peddling what seemed to be a very traditional ice-cream cart. Wanted to try but we were on our way to lunch. Regretted not buying :(

For lunch, I wanted to try authentic Portugese cuisine. Restaurante Solmar, with a 40-year history was quite highly recommended by several forums and guidebooks.Homely and vintage interior furnishings, quite popular among the locals as well.
We ordered a few of the Chef's recommendation. First up was Stewed Seafood Combination. Vague impression.

Next was Bacalhau, which was supposedly a specialty in Macau. It was basically "Codfish cakes" made of mash potatoes and dry salted codfish and deepfried. It was well, not bad.Another supposedly famous dish is African Chicken. Chicken was fried and cooked with some spice gravy sauce. Couldn't make out the piquant taste, all I could say, interesting.
The waiter kept urging us to try thePortugese style baked chicken, which looked very much like curry chicken to us.
Regretted ordering so much food as we could barely finished half of each. And I had to forgo the Solmar Biscuit Mousse, also known as "saw dust cake".

Although many people raved about Portugese food, we weren't really used to it and found them nothing spectacular. Or perhaps we didn't order the correct dishes.

With stomaches filled to the brim, we decided to go Casino-hopping and see the difference styles and decor of casinos here.

I think Casino Lisbon is one of the earliest casino establishments in Macau. Decor was really old-school and somewhat tacky.Grand Lisbon looks like a newer property of Lisbon.
Wynn Hotel and Casino, our favourite among the lot with modern interior furnishings. The patrons seemed more chic as well.MGM Grand with one of the most interesting building structure.

As we walked around from casinos to casinos, we noticed the streets of Macau were fairly deserted even though it was a weekend. Where were all the people? Then it occurred to us that almost everyone was in the casinos. Yep, the casinos were thriving. Most of the casinos served complimentary refreshment like cakes, sandwiches and beverages like hot coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks and own label drinking water. People could just eat and drink while gambling without having to step foot out of the casinos. In fact, eateries are located inside the Casinos itself to bring convenience to the patrons.

Day 3 - 17 Mar 08

Our last day in Macau, didn't want to venture out anymore and thus spent the rest of the morning in The Venetian Casino trying out the different slot machines which I have never played before. As our flight was in the afternoon, we had to deposit our bags with the concierge. I guess most people had the same itinerary and there were a horrendous queue at the West entrance. Once again, chaos as there seemed a shortage of manpower to manage this service. The hotel ought to improve on this area and better control of the West entrance as the queues and bad service marred the grandeur of the property. After lunch at a dim sum restaurant within the Casino (no photos since within Casino), we checked out and headed to the Macau airport for a boring flight back to Singapore.

Will I be back again? Probably not. But if I do, don't think I would stay at The Venetian again. Wynn Hotel seems like a better choice.

One thing for ladies to note - avoid being alone, always have someone as companion. I was approached twice by strange men when alone. Once at the lobby area where hubby was checking out some info at the reception while I was busy snapping photos. A well dressed man in his mid-forties approached me (sounded like from China) and asked to borrow some money and that he would return the money the next day when his family members arrive. I dared not look him in the eye (heard of tales about hypnotising) and quickly moved to where hubby was. Another occasion I was at St. Mark's Square window shopping. At a more deserted area, I was once again approached by a stranger (sounded like from China once again) asking me if I spoke Mandarin. I just shook my head and quickly walked away. Scary.



  1. Sorry, I'm Portuguese and living in Macau after being born and lived in Portugal for 25 years. Believe me, SOLMAR is not a Portuguese restaurant, they use that excuse to call turists' attention. Well, it seems it works. Portuguese restaurants are run by Portuguese, not chinese people, like that one. Curry is not at all used in Portuguese cooking, ans thereºs no such thing as that port. chicken! Anyway, if you come back to Macau, feel free to send me an email, I can happily recommend true Port. spots were port. food is to eat and cry for more!


    By the way, if you loved those supposedly port. egg tarts, if you tried the real ones, you'd go to heaven. Those ones are crap! Too much pudding-like and way too sweet!

  2. Hi,
    I had no idea! Thanks for telling me, so that I can really get to eat authentic Portugese food next time I go Macau :)