Summiting Macau Tower at 338 metres high was certainly one for the books, if not for the ‘gram. How did I end up there?
Macau Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Macao, the city of lights which draws visitors with its flashy casinos, extravagant light shows and high-end shopping. As high rollers fill up the roulette tables and slot machines, I was gambling in a different way. For my life.
That’s because I would be climbing a hundred metres of vertical steel ladders to the very top of the 338-metre-high Macau Tower. That’s like 100 floors high, my friends.
There are four exhilarating activities offered at Macau Tower managed by AJ Hackett. For the uninitiated, AJ Hackett is like the Tesco for extreme activities. Started by a daredevil from New Zealand, this adventure company now has bases in Australia, France, Russia, Singapore and Macao, featuring an impressive catalogue of death-defying activities for people who might feel that life is a little bit boring.
There’s the less frightening but no less exciting Sky Walk and Sky Jump, but for the ultimate thrill seekers, the choice boils down to two – Tower Climb or Bungy Jump. Or you can even do both, or all of the above!
After considerably thorough internet research, I opted for the climb that would take me to the top of Macao, thinking that it might be easier compared to bungy-jumping off the tower’s 62nd floor. Boy, was I wrong.
My ascent to the top of Macau Tower can be described in three stages – ‘Hey this is not too difficult’, followed by ‘Whoa look at the view’, and finally, ‘Why am I Here?!’.
Hey, This is Not Too Difficult…
The first leg of the climb—roughly 60 metres of ladders inside the tower spire—served as an exercise to attune ourselves with the art of climbing. With each move up the steps, I learned the proper ways of climbing – arms stretched out and allowing the legs to push you up so you use your energy efficiently.
Being indoors made the process relatively easy and not scary at all. Until we reached the height of approximately 280 metres and had to continue the climb outside in the open air.
Whoa, Look At The View!
Outside, we were treated with fabulous bird’s eye views of Macao city as well as a tiny bit of mainland China. Was that Hong Kong over the distant horizon? I wasn’t sure as I couldn’t google – we’re not allowed to bring anything except the inner strength of our humanly beings during the climb.
Happy pictures snapped and long breaths of fresh air taken, I soon came to realise that there’s another side of this ‘treat’. Because from here onwards, we would be climbing with views from all directions – down, up, left, right, basically 360 degrees all around. Each glance a chilling reminder that we have come so far away from the comfort of solid grounds.
The higher we climbed, the slimmer the spire, and the narrower the passage. The most challenging part was the last ascent, about 20 metres up the leanest and longest part of the spire. That’s like climbing up six floors alfresco, me comrades.
As scary as the pictures might portray, the fact is I was in no real danger as all participants were fitted with the best safety gear. Strapped with a specially designed harness, safety lanyard with carabiners, as well as a climbing helmet, I was assured by the staff that it’s highly unlikely that I would splat down to the ground in the event that I let go of the railings.
Welp okay that’s nice to know. Except that it’s kind of hard to trust it completely at 300 metres high up, looking down at the faraway grounds and the possible end of my young-ish life.
What Am I Doing Here?!
When the going gets tough, pick a theme song. For me in this case, it was Arcade Fire’s Put Your Money On Me. A random song selection that seemed apt for the occasion as I was betting on every molecule in my body to work together and focus on ascending. Perhaps being in a gambling city also had a little bit to do with it.
The theme song functioned as a motivation-slash-distraction tool to avoid looking down and keep moving up. So there I was at 320 metres high, channelling my inner Celine Dion even without the Smule app.
After what seemed like an especially long American Ninja Warrior episode, I reached the highest point eventually. Greeted by a peek of nature in its pure state. Noise from the busy city (and also my singing) completely drowned in the colossal hymns of the high speed winds blowing from every direction.
Just how strong were the winds? Here’s a fun fact: the spire was doing a slow little dance up there! This was where things stopped being scary because it was now downright terrifying. For someone who’s never really had a fear of heights, this was just flipping nuts.
With hardly any space to rest my feet and winds blowing every bit of fear and doubt inside my mind away, I clutched on to a railing and marvelled at the lunacy of the moment. What an insane view. Summiting Macau Tower at 338 metres high was certainly one for the books.
I’m Still Alive!
Verdict: Macau Tower Climb is the kind of experience that transforms you on a cellular level. No regrets.
In retrospect, it never even occurred to me that I had absolute right to stop whenever and not continue with the climb, like a guy in our climbing party. Was that an option? Would I have stopped? Probably.
But then if I had stopped, I wouldn’t have won over the tower. Achievement unlocked.
Top Tips to Prepare for Macau Tower Climb:
▪ Put on sunscreen. You’ll be exposed to direct sunlight. Sunglasses optional.
▪ Wear comfortable shoes with proper grip.
▪ Eat breakfast. You’re going to use a lot of physical energy flexing your arms and legs for each step, as well as mental energy to remind yourself that you’re not going to die that day.
▪ The climb up and down takes approximately 2.5-3 hours. If you’re travelling with other people, they might want to take up other activities.
▪ Prepare a theme song. It can be the theme song from the movie Rocky or Queen’s We Are the Champions, or anything from Celine Dion that pumps your spirit. Just don’t pick Let It Go.
▪ Remember to keep going and smile when you reach the top! A crew member is ready to snap your new Facebook profile picture.
▪ Try not to plan anything serious after the activity. You’ll probably end up with jelly legs for a while, so best to just chill down by the hotel swimming pool or a cute cafe.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Macau. Book your tickets now at airasia.com.