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Macau--Not Just a Gambler's Haven

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bridge to Taipa

Casinos in Macau
Macau has indeed charmed me by its picturesque views and old-meets-new atmosphere. As a former Portuguese colony, it blends East and West culture into an enchanting and exciting diverse architecture and multi-cultural flavors.
L'arc Hotel in Macau

Senado Square at night
First-time visitors might get the perception that Macau is just a gambler’s haven, but history buffs like me also get to enjoy the place. Macau is simply magical. Some might wonder where is Macau exactly located--Macau is across from Hong Kong to the East. It is one of the two special administrative region of China since 1999.

St. Paul ruins
Macau is rich in history itself. Having traced way back to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC) to becoming a Portuguese colony in the 16th century. Portuguese settled mainly in Macau to engage in trade. The Dutch repeatedly failed to conquer Macau in the 17th century. African slaves were the majority of the defenders since about 5,000 of them used to live in Macau. They triumphantly repulsed the attack that results to the Dutch soldier's retreat.

Tourists heading to St. Paul
Monte Forte (Fortaleza do Monte)
There are many places that non-gamblers can explore in Macau. If you are traveling from Hong Kong to Macau, it is better to leave early so you can explore the place longer. Enjoy Macau's delicious fusion of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisine. Head over to Senado Square to get a glimpse of old Macau. From there you can walk all the way to St. Paul ruins and Monte Forte.
Old catholic church in Senado Square
Staff holding a restaurant sign
The city's ancestral houses, colonial squares, and well-preserved ruins undeniably complements Macau's colorful past. Discover the stories behind those ruin walls and get enchanted with it. Macau is indeed not just a gambler's haven after all.


Macau Food and Sights

Monday, May 1, 2017


Macau is a culture bonanza open to all. Thanks to the Portuguese, Macau represents an exotic blend of Oriental and Western influences. Having been a Portuguese territory for almost 500 years, it developed a rather unique culture. 
You will never run out of hotel choices--from cheap to expensive accommodations, Macau has it all and most of them are renowned for exceptional services and luxurious comfort. We stayed at Hotel Lisboa in Macau. Their superior room is about $170/night during low season.
Hotel Lisboa
Their superior room has a rich and regal interior and offers free in-house movies, free local calls, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary use of mini bar. But be warned: you can only consume the items in the mini bar inside the room. If you decide to take the food outside while you stroll, they will charge you for it.

The bathroom features a massage shower and Jacuzzi bathtub. I love it!

The hotel is only a few minutes away from Senado Square and other attractions. In fact, you can walk all the way from your hotel to several Macau attractions. Ladies, wear light and comfortable walking shoes! It is a bit hard to get a cab at night from Senado Square, so if your hotel is nearby, prepare to just walk! I ended up with blisters on my feet one night coz I wore high heels and there were no cabs available (been waiting for about 30 mins or more) so we proceeded to walk back to the hotel. 

Senado Square at night
For foodies out there, you will never run out of restaurant choices in Macau. But prepare to spend more than you usually do if you want real good food. The high-end restaurants in hotels are less likely to be crowded. McDonald's and other western fast food restaurants in Macau are crowded all the time. We always have breakfast at Starbucks's in Senado Square since they have a second level which isn't too crowded. One time we tried this restaurant called Macau Recipes but never again!! I find the restaurant unsanitary and the food is not so appealing. And you need to pay for your own paper towel! Yeah you heard it right--you will have to pay for paper napkins! Never did I encounter a restaurant that doesn't offer free paper napkins until I went to Macau Recipes. But anyway it wasn't the main issue here--the staff were grumpy, the kitchen was dirty (wish I can tell you exact details of what I've seen in their kitchen!), and the food was not good (That's what I get for being a cheapskate!). Their meals are priced around USD $10 and above which is considered somewhat cheap there. We ended up leaving after having one bite. The utensils smell fishy too as if they were never washed properly.

Macau Recipes menu
The sweet and sour pork I ordered was 90% bones with bell pepper, onion and some lousy sauce served with rice.

Since other restaurants were full, we crossed the road adjacent to Senado Square and found Pizza Hut! Pizza Hut saved our night! Though it is not the usual Pizza Hut that I'm used to, it's at least decent and somewhat familiar and clean! I ordered their Lasagne which is a bit different but still yummy. It is smothered in a tangy minced meat sauce and comes with melted cheese and creamy mashed potato. Prepare about USD $20 for a full meal in Pizza Hut Macau.


Noite e Dia Café in Hotel Lisboa is awesome! They offer a wide selection of Japanese, Cantonese dim sum, Chinese barbecue, and Western dishes. They are open 24/7 and is located at the lobby level of Hotel Lisboa. A meal per person will cost about USD $30-40 or more. But I'm telling you, it is so worth it!
Noite e Dia Café
For those seeking adventure, head over to Macau Tower and try their bungy jumping at 233m (764ft). It is the second highest commercial skyjump in the world. Are you an adrenaline junkie? This can be the perfect Macau adventure for you!
Macau Tower
Here's a video I took (the quality isn't great since I just used my phone). Anyway it will give you an idea how it was like bungee jumping there.

People on a budget will also enjoy Macau, take a stroll at night and soak in the amazing view of the casinos and hotels. Walk around St. Paul Ruins and learn more about Macau's history.
Grand Lisboa at night
You can also ride a bus to Taipa and visit Venetian Macao Resort Hotel and ride a gondola for USD $16.

If you have more time, drop by A-ma temple to get a glimpse of Buddhist tradition in Macau.


Macau is truly an interesting place. You can even make the most out of your trip here in just one day. It is only about 250 hectares so don't you dare blink and miss something! :D

Is Philippines Safer Now Under Duterte?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Manila Yacht Club

I kept getting emails from my foreign readers about safety tips when traveling around the Philippines. Their questions revolve around our new President Duterte who is known for his war against drugs. They are afraid they would get in a crossfire while visiting our tourist spots in the Metro. Since this is a touchy subject, I don't really want to voice out my personal opinion about this whole thing. The local news has been too toxic and I don't even feel like discussing politics. 

Is it Safer Now for Tourists?

It all depends on what you do here or where you go. If I were you, I'd stay in hotels around Makati City or Taguig while staying in Metro Manila. These areas are considered safer than other cities in the Metro. Here are some tips:
  • Do not ever associate yourself or even be seen in public with shady characters (known drug users or someone who looks like a druggie). 
  • Do not go to the red light district if you can help it. Too many shady characters there who will try to scam tourists.
  • Stick to places like malls, museums, etc. Avoid the slum areas.
  • Do not walk out in the street alone at night, or if you have to, don't let your guard down.
  • Do not get in a fight with a local (they might hold a grudge and try to frame you up as a druggie)
Some people say that only druggies get killed. That is not true. There are also innocent people who got mistaken for someone else. Or people who got in the wrong place at the wrong time. So be extra careful.

We have lots of nice tourist spots to choose from outside the Metro. Touristy areas are generally safer since they have added security.

Check out Boracay beaches, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, and etc.

Boracay 
Philippines is such a beautiful place. We have lots to offer to tourists when it comes to beaches and fun activities. Have fun and stay safe! 
 

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Certified foodie. Crazy cat lady in training.

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