Arriving back from Europe recently, and finding that the last of the only two remaining evening ferries from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau had closed its gates 10 minutes earlier, I decided that I’d give the ‘new bridge’ a try. Quite pleased really to have the opportunity to test things out ahead of bringing back my 90 year old mother in a few months, and likely also missing the ferry.
So I cleared Hong Kong immigration, retrieved by luggage, put it on a trolley, and trundled it along following the signs to Macau. Met with the choice of taxi (a short queue, and a cost of approximately HKD60.00 inclusive of luggage), or a public bus costing HKD6.00. Let’s give the bus a go. More trundling … down ramp, across a road – and yes, it was sprinkling rain, so I got damp. Strange I thought … no covered walkway to the bus?! And by the way, no sign of wheel chairs or porter service … how could I cope doing this with Mum?
A ten minute wait, under cover, a straggling of 15 or so fellow passengers, then the B4 bus arrives. Just a normal Hong Kong public bus, clean and efficient, but we all had to struggle with getting our heavy case plus hand luggage up and on to the bus. Then a rather fast and swervy ride, holding on for dear life and luggage sliding this way and that.
Off the bus. No trolleys this time. Wheeling/dragging our luggage – queue for the lift (not permitted to use the escalators with check-in-size case which most of us had), then more wheeling/dragging to the queue to buy a cross-bridge coach ticket. HKD65.00.
On on! Following the signs across an immense concourse. I couldn’t help but notice that the floor markings for blind passengers were in places blocked off with barriers (I’ve got the photos).
On the coach now. Staff going up and down the aisle with signs – put your seat belt on. And off we go. Drive was smooth and uneventful. Took about 40 minutes. And what struck me was how empty the bridge was. You could count the number of other vehicles we passed on two hands.
Arriving at the Macau end of the bridge. The coach draws in (covered lay by but open at the sides, so yes, we got wet again). More struggles with our luggage – finding and
pulling cases off. No trolleys. And what shocked me most was a number of rubbish bins simply overflowing with rubbish that it spilled on the road (trust me folks, I have more photos). Looked like they hadn’t been emptied for days. By this time it was about 7.30pm – on a weekday. Where are the cleaners? Another shameful first impression to our visitors.
More wheeling/dragging our cases inside the Macau immigration building. A quick stop in the ladies – cheap laminate stalls, bag hook on the door broken off, smelly – and then thankfully at last through immigration. Concern that there would be no taxis the other end was unfounded; there was a steady stream of them arriving. I’ve never been so pleased to see a Macau taxi driver in my life … and he even helped me with my cases! And home. Ride, from memory, was HKD80 including tip for his good service.
A journey of just over 3 hours door to door. Cost: HKD151. Had I gone the ‘old fashioned’ way by ferry from the airport (“Madam, most ferries are cancelled now because of the bridge”), it would have taken maybe an hour or so wait, then an hour on the ferry, then half an hour by taxi home. Time: 2.5 hours. Night cost: HKD300 economy plus say HKD80 again for taxi. HKD380, to my mind well worth the price if only to avoid having to lift and push heavy bags.
he alternative is to pay HKD500 per person for ‘Premier Plus’ service – a door to door coach/ferry/coach service of about 3 hours offered by TurboJet. Counter intuitive having to travel in to Hong Kong, then out again to Macau, but the best option if travelling with elderly/children.
But making no use of our famous wonderful new bridge!
Then there’s taking the airport express to Hong Kong island train station (HKD115 per person), queuing for a taxi to the ferry terminal, cost about HKD50 including bags, then ferry to Macau (around HKD171-211 depending on time of day). Total cost: HKD376
And finally, there’s a private car option, driven in style across the bridge, the cheapest of which I’ve seen is HKD2,000+ per person, one way. This may be a bit rich for most purses.
Wheew, what a journey. Delighted to be home but perplexed at that I’d just experienced. For a 55 kilometer bridge, the longest sea-crossing on earth, that took 10 years to build and cost USD7.56 billion, it’s undoubtedly an impressive feat of mankind. Amazing.
I can’t stand grumblers, but in this case, surely some thought needs to go into a better system of baggage transport. In this technological day and age there MUST be a solution to having customers struggle with heavy bags on and off buses and across vast expanses of immigration buildings. At the very least let’s have a porter service available – and I have NO argument with paying for this. Or even use of robotics? I was dining recently in Shenzhen where much of our food arrived at our table on un-manned, robotic trolleys.
Well of course, as many have commented on over the years, in the spirit of trying to be ‘green’ and reduce air pollution this bridge should really have been made to accommodate a train, something like the Hong Kong airport express. Now THAT truly would be impressive.