Nomhla Mahalia Macingwan

My friend, Chuma decided she wanted to spend her birthday in Hong Kong and Macau. It's not every day that a person can have the luxury of celebrating their actual birthday in two places!I have old and new friends in both places; you can refer to my article on “How to Make and Keep Friends” for more ideas about communicating with friends overseas. YiTian (Tina) is a former EF colleague who became a dear friend. She lives Hong Kong and was now our designated tour guide around the island. In Macau, I have some old friends of mine who we visited. Hannah is a Principal Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society(UNU-CS) there.



We landed in Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon. As we went through customs I saw an ATM. It didn't even cross my mind until this moment that I would need physical cash. In China, we pay for everything using our phones by scanning QR CODES. Unfortunately, Bank of China (Hong Kong) uses a completely different system. Hong Kong Alipay and WeChat pay aren't compatible with a foreigner's account - only Chinese nationals are able to use it. It was okay through, my friend Chuma withdrew a lump sum for me and I transferred her the money via WeChat.

Getting to the Hotel

As you get out of customs, you'll see all the major hotel groups have a guest services counter at the airport. To get to our hotel, we had two options; we could either use the hotel taxi service and pay 170 HKD (about 21 USD) each, or we could take the airport express to a central station and pay 75 HKD (about 10 USD) each. From there, we could hop on the free shuttle to our hotel. We went for the latter option. It was super easy to get tickets and it helps that most people in Hong Kong speak English.

Grand Harbour Hotel

As club members, we were given the option to check in on the 41st floor. Also our elevators were separate from ‘normal' guests of the hotel. We got there and were escorted to the private lounge for something to drink. That “something to drink” turned out to be a gorgeous spread of finger foods and bottomless drinks. It was quite possibly the happiest hour of my life! I follow a mostly plant-based way of eating. However, Belgian waffles plus the most amazing Swiss ice cream were served at breakfast time. “You only live once” they say; so I indulged. The view of the Victoria harbour was just breathtaking. I highly recommend this hotel to anyone travelling to Hong Kong.

Exploring Hong Kong

We asked Tina to plan exciting, touristy things that a visitor who has two days must see. We took the MRT (Hong Kong underground system) as the main mode of transportation. The evening ferry ride around the harbour was a highlight. The hop-on-off bus is a must to see the main sights of Hong Kong quickly. We also took a mini bus to the peak and had an incredible dinner at the top of the peak. After we experienced all we could in Hong Kong, my friends and I headed to the Ferry Terminal where we'd be in Macau in an hour.

Macau Grand Hyatt

We stayed at the one of the best Macau hotels located within City of Dreams in the Cotai area. We had the fountain view, which was extremely beautiful and mesmerizing. The hotel even had a Jacuzzi, which we took full advantage of! The area that our hotel was in is equivalent to the Las Vegas strip in America and was in a prime location.

Out and About in Macau

House of Dancing Water. This was definitely a highlight for me. I haven't seen anything like this show. It's deemed as “the world's largest water extravaganza” and definitely lived up to its name. This was also located at the City of Dreams so it was convenient to get to. The motorcycle stunts kept me at the edge of my seat. This was my birthday gift to Chuma.

Hannah took us to the Macau Tower, which offers the best view of the city. We saw people take a jump on the world's highest commercial sky jump in the world.

We also had sundowners at The Oriental Hotel.

Macau Eiffel Tower located in front of The Parisian Macau, completely lit up from top to bottom.

The Ruins of St Paul, one of Macau's most famous landmarks. So many tourists looking and taking photos of the facade. Its an artist's dream.

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