‘Lutong’ Macau: Casino Hopping sans Gambling

I first heard about Macau when I was a kid from my late father who was a casino junkie. He love mentioning it as the mecca of gambling in Asia and it was every gambler's dream to risk their luck (and money) here at least once in their dice-rolling life. He wasn't able to fulfill that goal as he succumbed to lung cancer in the late 90's. Gone are the wealth he achieved as a young businessman, no thanks to local casinos in the Philippines. 

Kay Sison

In a way, my trip to Macau was a bittersweet one. I considered it as a sort of homage to my late father, though afflicted with a vice of gambling that ultimately cost his downfall. Just like many people who came before him who ended up pawning their houses, cars and other belongings just to get another crack at beating a system that has been proven unbeatable. I learned my lessons from my father and I have swore off gambling, but the idea of visiting Macau prevailed upon me for many years. This former Portuguese colony has remained on my list of places to visit.

Elal Jane Lasola

During my third day in Hong Kong, I took a day trip to nearby Macau which is only a 2 hour ferry ride away. I woke up around 5:30 A.M. from the lodging apartment owned by Ate Violy–a Filipina OFW in Tsuen Wan. I immediately dressed up in order to catch the earliest trip to Macau which was at 7:00 AM. I took the MRT from Tsuen Wan up until the last station of that line to Central and from there I transferred to the HK MTR Island line going to Sheung Wan which is only a station away from Central station. I arrived at Sheung Wan at around 6:30 and I went to Shun Tak Centre where the Hong Kong - Macau Ferry is located and purchased a roundtrip ticket for 300 HK $ (1,500 ++ PHP - ouch) for the 7AM trip and 5PM return trip.

Marky Ramone Go

The trip took a little less than 2 hours and it rained midway of my ferry ride. The bad weather momentarily worried me whether I'll be able to walk around Macau. Good thing, the sun showed up minutes before we arrived. From the comfortable seat I looked out at the foggy window and saw the towering Macau tower from a distant, along with a long winding bridge and some spherical shaped buildings and other tall hotels and Casinos. A burst of excitement shot up my spine like a bolt and I finally understand all those raving about Macau from my late father. I am here not to bet on baccarat's and black jacks, hell not even to spin a slot machine, rather to experience and see for my own eyes a place built by gambling–in short, a home-wrecking depravity on steroids.  For the moneyed few; a mini Las Vegas of the Orient plus a lot more.

Marky Ramone Go

I was traveling by myself as my trip to Hong Kong was sort of my practice for solo journeying which I plan to eventually take further in other Asian countries later this year and the next. I found myself lined up with a bunch of overly-ecstatic group of tourists from mainland China, though I saw a trio of Filipinos on the ferry I lost sight of them at the line. In that moment - I swear if I could speak Mandarin, I could very well end up with their group.

I was still a bit hassled mentally from my previous 'tete-a-tete' with a HK immigration officer from my arrival a few nights earlier that when it was my turn to show my passport at the Macau immigration, I sort of expected another lengthy questioning. Fortunately, there was zero hassles, as he only flipped through the pages of my passport a few times as if expecting to find anything printed on it like a; "banned in Macau" and in the end, he handed back my passport without any issues. 

Marky Ramone Go

On my way out of the ferry terminal I ran across the three Filipinos I saw at the Hong Kong terminal earlier. They were composed of two males and one female and they were talking to their tour guide which turned out to be Filipinos as well. Sallie and her daughter Eva are sidelining as tour guides in Macau during their day-off from their regular jobs.  Most of the time, they hang out at the arrival lobby of the ferry terminal and wait for Filipino visitors who needed a knowledgeable guide. 

Gretchen Filart

I ended up going with Eva as the three other Filipinos went with Eva's mother. Eva is around 23 years old and she went to Macau to join her mom and dad to try out the life there. She told me that life there is never easy since you need to continuously look for jobs and other gigs. Despite of, she tells me that the opportunities there are more available than the ones found here in our country.

Levy Amosin

So, for $100 HK (560 pesos) I took her as my guide, since she already know the stops where the free buses operated by the different hotels and casinos, stop and pick up passengers. I reckon it will be much easier for me to explore Macau having someone who knows her way and also to talk to that speaks the same language.

Together, we went to the usual tourist spots in Macau like the Senado Square, Ruins of St. Paul, the Venetian, MGM Grand, Wynn Casino. We also walked around the streets and lined up for a free lunch at Galaxy Hotel (something I won't know if I didn't hired her as a tour guide)

We also went casino hopping from Venetian, MGM, Wynn, Galaxy to Lisboa–which is owned by Stanley Ho, the infamous friend of Erap–and in the lobby of his hotel you'd find some of his various collection of rare artifacts of the Buddha, jars and a lot more. 

Marj Sia

While walking the casino floors I noticed that most gamblers playing there are the 'leisure gamblers'. I mean they do not look like the ones deeply trapped by gambling which is alright with me. Just set aside a small money for gambling, to enjoy and experience what it was like betting, winning and losing. Its all part of the thrill as long as you make sure when to stop and do not treat it as a source of livelihood.

Marky Ramone Go

Maybe someday, I'll try playing in one of the Casinos in Macau, but right there I remember conjuring up an image of my father, if only he was still alive he would probably have a blast trying to beat that blackjack dealer at one of those tables. Things didn't panned out in his life because of his gambling addiction, but I still think he deserves a shot to play the tables of Macau. I could have proxied for him that day but I've only enough money in my pocket for my travel expenses. But what if I win?, well the answer to that is something I'd rather not find out as I'd rather win in life than on any casino table.