The tube is really busy when I get on, but almost everyone gets off at Admiralty. At Sheung Wan I make my way up the escalators inside the Shun Tak centre, avoiding eye contact with the countless people shouting at me from all the different travel agents offering boat tickets. My first priority here is a Coke Zero, which I successfully buy and get a smile when I dish out my first mm goi of the day.
At a ticket machine I scan the QR code on my phone that I got from klook.com a few days ago; I am getting a boat, after all. But I’m here way too early, an hour or so before sailing. Walking around while finishing my caffeine I come across the tour operators who take you on a boat straight to strip joints, how salubrious. There’s nothing else to keep me here so I figure I’ll just go through early and grab a seat.
Handing my ticket over for the 1215 the man at the gate replaces it with an 1130 ticket and tells me to hurry. It’s 1127. Well OK then! Wandering through an almost empty departure area I have no idea how to do immigration. There’s a thing saying I have to fill out a departure card, and I’ve got the slip in my passport from my arrival, err, earlier today, but a guy just ushers me to an Oyster-style gate and I get scanned through. Hurrying along to the gate and my ticket gets a sticker and I’m told to hurry even more – I’m basically the last person to get on the boat, and am rewarded with one of the only rear facing seats on the boat. I have no window, and am sat opposite a couple and next to a tall German man with a crying baby strapped to his chest.
I spend most of the journey with my headphones on listening to the Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard podcast, and trying to convince my phone to use a Macanese mobile network (free) rather than one of the Chinese networks (very not free). There’s a lot of choice around here.
After almost exactly an hour we pull into Macau outer harbour ferry terminal and file out. It’s a spangly building with an easy to find tourist information desk. Despite mobile data ‘n all that, I go and grab a map and ask what direction I go to walk to the old town. She tells me it’s about an hour. An hour? A likely story, thinks I.
Immediately outside of the terminal are masses and masses of casino and hotel reps, and lots of bus stops. Not normal buses – well, actually, there’s a couple of those – but mostly free shuttle buses to the the casinos. Macau takes in more money each year from gambling than Vegas, though I’m not here to see all that.
Contrary to advice, it had taken me around 45 minutes to reach the old town, though I was walking faster than anyone else and inadvisably so. By now I was getting very hot, not helped by my refusal to undo my jacket or roll the sleeves up lest I a) display epic sweat patches b) instantly burn.
Frankly it all sounds nice. Who doesn’t love starch and intestines? Trying to fit in, I opt for the Macanese bacalhau ball with chorizo, along with some salty egg french fries. The fries arrive first and I think I’ve made an error – there are MASSES of them.
They’re not actually particularly nice either, but I bravely scoff them all. The balls are nicer, as is the Japanese Hitachino espresso stout.
Not sure about this pizza though.
No. They can’t. What’s this #600daysofuber thing all about? Anyway, with no chance for a cab I wonder if there are any bus stops nearby.
Oh. There’s, like, a thousand. But I have no idea how to buy a ticket and I don’t even have any local currency, the pataca, even though its code (MOP) has made me hum the song Ante Up by, er, MOP, for the last hour or so (do yourself a favour and go search YouTube for Bert & Ernie gangsta rap. You won’t regret it)
Right. OK. So I have a couple of hours, it’s a half hour walk, I’m well over 10k steps already but need to burn off those chips and it looks like it skirts something else worth looking at. I’ll walk back.
Oh, wait, yeah, it’s the masses and masses and masses of tower blocks. That’d do it.
It’s never been properly sunny while I’m there, just hot and misty, but as twilight starts to kick in it lends the landscape a pretty hue. I’m approaching 20k steps for the day now and am about ready to go home. Mistaking the reservoir promenade as a route to the ferry terminal, I’m forced to double back and cross over the bus station. ALL of these buses are courtesy shuttles to casinos.
And, since I’m here...I might as well go for a pint. There’s a place called Kowloon Taproom not far from the ferries, supposedly unpretentious and out of the way(-ish) and stocking actual Hong Kong craft beer. Getting there involves walking through a subway under the busy main road, and the subway is bloody ridiculous. The steps go down clearly further than they need to, evidenced by the fact that as soon as you’re off the steps you’re walking up a very steep surface towards the other side of the street.
Except it’s not just the other side of the street. The subway also goes on for much longer than seems reasonable, past an entrance to a tube station and emerging not where I expected. Still, I can figure the roads out unlike most of the people milling around me, and a couple of minutes later Kowloon Taproom is there.
It’s not busy. There’s about 15 people there, no-one sat at the bar so I opt to prop it up. Numerous taps of local beers. I’ll have the ginger candy porter please.
I don’t really fancy the “mega tasting flight” tonight, though I do love the pub. It’s playing a good mixture of mostly mid-90s rock and indie, and I get to earwig on the conversation between two gents behind me. One of them has clearly just broken up with someone, and admits that “everything she posts on Facebook, I find meaningful”. On the wall are adverts for beers like “Hong Kong Bastard” and “Young Master”, as well as a dark beer whose aftertaste is measured in seconds.
Jade Emperor IPA up next, satisfying my desire to drink beers which fulfil stereotypes I am exposed to through movies. After this I’m about to leave when Twisted F’n Sister comes on, playing I WANNA ROCK, as I simultaneously discover pages 2 and 3 of the beer menu exist. There’s a bottle of a schwarzbier called “Oh, Bacon!” which I obviously must have.