Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Over to Macau...

Today dawned fairly clear and so I decided to head on over to Macau. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, Macau was initially a Portugese colony (much like Goa was in India) and, in fact, they still accept their currency over there. Many of the signs posted around are also in Portugese as well as in Chinese and English. I took the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island and walked a quarter mile to another terminal where I caught the turbojet catamaran to Macau, a trip lasting about an hour. Since you're leaving Hong Kong proper, you have to go through immigration to get your passport stamped in and out of both HK and Macau. When I was in Macau back in 1988, I think that they only had one or two casinos. Now, however, there are about 23 of them....including two huge ones currently being built by the MGM and by Steve Wynn...both of Las Vegas. They should be opened by the end of the summer. The boats run between Hong Kong Island and Macau every 15 minutes so there's no problem in getting a seat.
The money in Hong Kong is colorful but a bit confusing until you understand that the same denomination bills often look very different from each other...not because one is the newer version of the bill but because the official HK money is actually put out by different banks in the area. However, it's all considered to be legal tender.
Another thing that impresses me about HK is their incredible ability to move people from one place to another. Not only is their subway system second to none in the world, (my opinion) but they have also constructed miles and miles of well-lit walkways above the traffic that are used to funnel pedestrians away from street level by allowing them to walk for many many blocks without having to hassle with the street traffic below. For example, when I took the Star Ferry to HK Island a few days ago, I was able to walk all the way to Wan Chai on one of these walkways...almost a mile away...without ever going down to the street at all. It's incredibly convenient. They also have created an elaborate system of pedestrian tunnels to link subway stations and key points around HK. There are some new buildings on HK Island that are so beautiful that you just have to reach for your camera. Needless to say, I think that, on many levels, Hong Kong is a very impressive city. More later...

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