Oito Horas em Macao (8 Hours in Macau)

Some people consider Macau as Asia’s bootleg Las Vegas with its multitude of casinos and its dizzying nightlife. But, in fact, it deserves much more credit. When I first set foot (for a 4-hour visit) back in February 2009, I was immediately intrigued by its contrasts – the juxtaposition of its colonial architecture with its seizure-inducing neon lights. The Catholic influences are evident, but so is the atmosphere of worldliness. How can devotion and debauchery co-exist in one tiny territory? I was hooked.

Those sentiments were revived after my second visit yesterday. As for Marga, it was an overwhelming case of first-timer’s wanderlust.

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North by Ngongping

HK in the foreground, PR China in the background
HK in the foreground, PR China in the background

Pardon me, but I’d rather not elaborate on yesterday’s Shenzhen snafu. Let’s just say that obtaining a Mainland visa on the same day turned out to be not as easy breezy as portrayed in most travel blogs (Language barrier = 50, Us =0). I’ll stop there. At the minimum, we did get a glimpse of the Mainland and, in the process, witness the hustle and bustle of the SAR’s northernmost tip.

Our luck shifted to a more favorable direction later on (Sorry, Murphy’s Law. We refuse to cave in).  Amidst our exasperation, Marga decided to take us to Ngong Ping in Lantau, which we originally intended to do the day before. See, that’s the beauty of this place’s commute system. You get to travel its opposite ends in less than two hours. Lantau, by the way, is the island that occupies HK’s southwestern tip. It also houses Hong Kong Disneyland and Hong Kong International Airport.


Despite our less-than-congenial Indian co-passengers, coupled with the gondola’s occasional, violent swaying, the 25-minute cable car ride was extremely breathtaking. It really was the more viable transportation mode, compared to the other option: a two-hour bus ride along a zig-zaggy route. As it was, we already lost enough precious hours.

Soon enough, I got to see why Marga considers this her favorite spot in HK. Upon reaching Ngong Ping Village, we wasted no time in making our way to the peak’s most renowned structure, the colossal Tian Tian Buddha. Completed in 1993, this 34-foot behemoth towers over the vicinity, as if watching over the island’s inhabitants. Ascending the 268 steps was more manageable than expected, thanks in part to the cool weather. Up close, the enormity of the statue was overwhelming, but at the same time, soothing.

To cap off our visit, we strolled to the adjacent monastery for more sightseeing before catching the last cable car at 6:30pm.

My behemoth of a photobomber waves hello!
My behemoth of a photobomber waves hello!