Once you arrive in Hong Kong (HK) - you need to run right around and leave to "activate" your work visa - how to do that easily? Simple - go to Macau, also a "Special Administrative District". It's also beautiful and a great place to visit.
So - you are an expat in HK and just arrived. One of the first things you have to do is activate your work visa and get your HK ID Card - which is a several step process. The first step involves activating your visa by entering the country with your landing slip (a brown sticker that the Immigration Department provides you to put into your passport). Of course, to do this you have to cross a border entry point which one can only do by ENTERING the country which means you must leave. How to do that since most of us don't have a Chinese travel visa (The HK visa does NOT give you the right to travel in mainland China). The answer is simple: Go to Macau.
“Thank you for coming - Now leave!”
Macau Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. It was a Portuguese territory until 1999 and it reflects a mix of the two major cultural influences; China and Portugal. Its giant casinos and malls on the Cotai Strip, which joins the islands of Taipa and Coloane, have earned it the nickname, "Las Vegas of Asia." But I strolled right by the casinos, not that there is anything wrong with them! and headed for the old city, which is beautiful.
No activating your visa is a simple as taking the ferry to Macau turning around and coming back. However I decided to spend the day - and I am glad that I did. It is absolutely stunning.
Once of the ferry you can stroll down to the casinos (if that is your thing, and there are many nice ones such as Las Vegas Sands) or make your way to the old town. The city is very walkable in many ways, unless you want to go to the extreme south of the city, or you can take one of the many touristy guides or taxis that descend on you in the terminal, but you don't need to. If you do take a taxi I recommend taking it to Senado Square, which puts you in the heart of things and you can walk to all the sites from there.
One must see is the ruin of St. Paul's. It is a Jesuit church that burned down in the 1800s. The ruin is stunning.
Also - there are some lovely museums. The Old Mandarin's House is wonderful and is featured in the next few shots:
Trade with the West made the Mandarins of the emperor very rich indeed.
The Grand Lisboa tower is in the middle of everything and dominates the city - frankly it is NOT the Grouchy Gweilo's cup of tea at all.
But next is the food - all of which was wonderful. Lord Stow's bakery is famous for delicious egg custard tarts - and they are a must have with coffee. However, my food experience was made wonderfully complete in Macau when I ran into, by pure chance really, Stephen Anderson owner of the Cathedral Cafe (12 R. da Sé, Macau) and Bistro D'Indochine (Macau Patio da Lenha ) restaurants (See the Restaurants Section for a full review). Do not leave Macau without sitting at Cathedral Cafe (a Portuguese seafarer themed eatery with dishes found in Portugal and along the route to Macau) on one of the outdoor tables, with a glass of wine and one of the large, shareable, Portuguese cheese and meat plates, and watching the world go by. You may even meet Stephen, one of the friendliest lads in town, or his lovely wife and children! Here are some pics to give you a feel:
Speaking of friends in the background of the above pic is Krasen, my German friend who also is a fantastic musician who plays bass with the Orquestra de Macau. I was lucky enough to hear him play a Christmas concert at the Theatro Dom Pedro ( a beautiful theratre - inside and out - I would post pics of the orchestra - but, alas, no photos allowed). Here is the Theatro:
So Expats - take a hint from TGGL - want to activate that visa? Make the Macau circuit and you will be glad that you did!