Second day at Macau, and the weather was still as cold. It was between 5 to 12 degree celcius in Macau. For brunch on a holiday, we had it at the hotel’s Cantonese restaurant ‘Ying’. It’s supposedly a One-Star Michelin Restaurant, but we think it might have been over-rated, as several Chinese restaurants in Vancouver/Singapore could easily beat it for the food. The decor of the place and location is unbeatable though, offering great views of Macau with crystal chandeliers and decors.
Since a visit to the neighbouring Mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai was a planned itinerary, we boarded the complimentary shuttle bus from Crown Towers to the Border Gate. The Border Gate is basically the walk-in border crossing between Macau SAR and China. It is possible for day visitors to apply for a Chinese Visa from the Border Gate itself and the process is fast (around 30 mins depending on crowds) though make sure you don’t visit the Visa Application Office during lunch hours between 12 noon to 2 pm. And being the 2nd day of the Chinese New Year, the crowds were rushing from the Chinese side to the Macau side. Fortunately for us, we were heading the other direction! Immigration on both sides was pretty efficient too, even though the crowds were there.
Well, after getting the Visa, we crossed the immigration and upon leaving the immigration building, we were greeted with a vast town plaza, with an underground shopping mall! For one, Zhuhai was much better than my expectation, though the underground shopping mall lives up to its name as the main retailer for all things cloned/duplicated/copied. Basically a large retail mall selling low cost copies of everything from bags, watches, clothes to DVDs.
Being an first-timer in the city, we just headed to a tour counter and registered ourselves for a day tour around Zhuhai City. Cost was around RMB 150 for a day tour, if I remember correctly without any meals. Prices would be cheaper for groups of 3-4 and do bargain. Since it was a half day tour, we had a fast lunch in the mall before heading out to meet the tour bus (or rather van). The tour basically includes a boat cruise that allows tourists to soak in the sights of Macau! (yes Macau, not Zhuhai…) The boat ride around the Macau Peninsula, passing by sights like the Macau Tower, the 3 bridges linking Macau and Taipa as well as the new casinos along the town took around 90 minutes. After which, the tour bus brought us to see the coastal pedestrian walk of Zhuhai, ending at the ‘Mermaid’ statue which became a symbol for this seaside city. This area of the city is dotted with newly built condominiums facing the South China Sea, and well-lined trees grace the paved walkways along the shore line. One of the nicest part of the city. The last stop for the tour was one of the scenic hilly viewpoints of the city, though with foggy and cold weather, was not so scenic. And the gondola that carries visitors to the peak was closed due to the foggy weather. Overall, the price seems reasonable since there was transportation around the city, a tour guide that shows the sights to us, as well as the convenience for a fast visit.
To end the day, we got a recommendation from the tour guide on the place to have a seafood dinner (this city is well known for cheap and good seafood). She recommended us to Xin Hai Li Seafood Restaurant, which has several outlets around the city. We were dropped not too far off from one of the outlets and made a leisurely evening walk towards the restaurant. It was a good recommendation with diners at the restaurant being able to select fresh seafood ranging from lobsters, scallops, geoducks, prawns and various assorted shellfish. Not forgetting the ubiquitous abalone, sea cucumber and shark’s fin that’s typical for a full-service Chinese restaurant (we didn’t order these though). We did order Lobsters, Scallops, Mini-geoduck (interesting dish) and a Steamed Fish for dinner. Overall one of the value seafood dinner ever! After the dinner, it was just time to head back to Macau, crossing the border once again. It was a 10 minute taxi ride from the restaurant to the border gate and even late at night around 9pm, the crowds were still there crossing in and out of both Zhuhai and Macau. Little wonder then that this border gate is the 2nd busiest border crossing in Asia and possibly the world (after the HK-Shenzhen border crossing).