|Another stupid epic trip, from Phuket to Macau. with an overnight stay at Bangkok airport. My flight from Phuket was delayed. but that was OK as the one before was even more delayed so I transferred to that and arrived before I was due to leave. I still had no-fly time left on my computer on the way to the airport. but was free to fly by the time the flight went. Being an old hand with Bangkok airport I know a nice place to have a kip so after getting something to eat I got my head down for a couple of hours. I was running my money down and managed to get it down to zero when I paid the Airport tax. I went straight through into the departure lounge then decided that I needed something to eat and drink so tried to find an ATM to get some more cash - there isn't one, and none of the normal food outlets would take a credit card. I held out for a while, but found that I was starving so had to treat myself to a 'gourmet' tuna sandwich from one of the posher places, it was awful!
Animals, that's the only way I can describe my fellow passengers on the flight to Macau. Check in was fine but then about half an hour before boarding time someone must have stood near to the boarding gate and suddenly they all got up and initiated a mass scrum around the gate. I tried to explain to someone that they were fighting to get on a bus, not the actual plane but they took no notice. Once on the bus transfer no-one wanted to move away from the doors and kept fighting for position. It was funny when the bus got to the plane and they only opened the front door prompting another surge. Even funnier is that once on the plane the fight is for seats near the front (to get off quickly) so I just had to stroll down to the back for a seat by a window. On landing the seatbelts started popping open as soon as we hit reverse thrust and I expected to see a mass dash for the doors before we were even off the runway, but they resisted the urge.
While on a negative roll, Macau airport has to be one of the worst I've been through, all new and shiny, but no common-sense thoughts about service. There is not one shop selling simple things like snacks or drinks in the place. Armed with my nice shiny 100MOP notes fresh from the ATM and the bus into town costing 3MOP - NO CHANGE GIVEN, I was a bit stuck. The Exchange counters all have signs saying that they don't offer a break-down service (so they know they have a problem!). I ended up having to pay an astronomical sum for a small bottle of water from the only (and expensive) restaurant.
I eventually did get into town and found a room. After my journey I only had the energy for a short walk around that evening, but I did the full tourist deal next day. I left my room at 9:30 in the morning and 70 photographs later I got back at 9pm. I resisted the irrational urge to go up the Macau Sky Tower which, if not identical to the one in Auckland, must have had the same architects. I even went into a couple of churches, my favourite one though is St Paul's, one because it's photogenic and two because it's ruined.
This weekend is the Macau Grand Prix, Formula 3, Touring cars and Super-bikes. I had to cross the course twice this morning to get to the ferry port while practice for the Formula 3 was taking place. I was stopped from taking photographs from an overpass by a policeman which I think is a bit tight but he said it was ok as "it's only a mobile", the beauty of a small camera! I don't think I've ever heard anything as loud and I was quite impressed by their speed. I should have stayed and watched it really but my already over-priced room would have trippled in cost this weekend and I'd already bought the ferry ticket.
Other than the maniac locals on the aeroplane getting there I really like Macau, it's a cross between Hong Kong and Lisbon with a much more laid back feel (than HK) and has some really picturesque architecture.