Pit stop in Macau

Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
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Trip End May 28, 2011


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Where I stayed
Dragon Inn, Chungking Mansions

Flag of China  , Macau,
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Woke up today to the news China has gone ahead and executed mentally ill Akmal Sheikh. As we went to bed last night BBC World was reporting that there was a superslim chance of clemency but now it’s been confirmed there wasn’t. Having just left the country and fallen in love with a lot of things about it, it’s especially sad to hear this and remember that despite all the wonderful things about China, it’s got a very ugly side too. Plus hearing about the latest protests in Iran, definitely appreciating the fact that we’re lucky enough to live somewhere with more respect for human rights and where we won’t be censored for saying/blogging what we think about it.

Anyway, on to happier things….

 We planned to spend the day in Macau – some people had told us not to bother as it’s just an ugly ‘Vegas of Asia’, and others had said it was worth a visit. We decided the only way to find out what it’s like was to visit for ourselves so set off to the China Ferry Terminal in Kowloon to catch a boat. Unfortunately we hadn’t realized how quickly the ferries get booked up so the earliest we could sail was 12.30, and were due back on the 6.30pm crossing. The crossing was just over an hour, then Macau immigration took another hour to get through, finally leaving us with only about 3 hours to cram as much of Macau as possible into our visit.
Caught the bus straight to Avenida de Almeida Ribero, the main street of Macau, and the Largo de Senado, the main square which is surrounded by colourful colonial era buildings and currently even more colourful inflatable Christmas decorations.Walked up a big hill to the old Monte Fort, which was built by the Jesuits in the early 1600s and provides a great view over the city – a view dominated by the fantastically hideous golden flaming torch-shaped Grand Hotel Lisboa Casino which towers high above all the other ugly casinos and high rises.

Visited the ruins of the 17th century Church of St Paul. It was designed by an Italian Jesuit and later built by Japanese refugees who fled  Nagasaki after Christian persecutions there, then it caught fire in the 18th century and now only the huge fašade and stairway are left of it. Despite that it’s apparently considered to be the greatest monument to Christianity in Asia.  Walked around a few of the pretty cobbled streets including Rua da Felicidade (Happiness Street), which was the setting for several scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It used to be the red light district, but is now full of more respectable little wooden-shuttered shops selling local delicacies such as ‘yuk gon’ (strips of sweet dried beef and pork which Chris quite liked), ‘hung yan bang’ (almond biscuits) peanut and sesame brittle and Macau’s famous egg custard tarts, which we had just enough time to sample before heading back to catch the ferry back to Kowloon. All in all we’re glad we made the brief trip to Macau. Beyond the gaudy gambling areas the old town with its unique mishmash of Chinese and Portuguese influences (everything is  still written in Portuguese and Cantonese although not many Macanese actually speak Portuguese anymore) is really quite charming and couldn’t be more different from the crazy casino culture on the coast.

We arrived back in Kowloon just before 8pm and legged it to the waterfront to catch the 8pm ‘Symphony of Light’, the free light show that takes place at 8pm every night. Loads of coloured lights, lazers and spotlights lighting up the skyscrapers on both sides of the harbour, pretty cool.

Finally, we had our last Chinese meal I guess we’ll be having for a while – off bright and early to Bangkok in the morning!

Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Michael on

Wonderful looking light show and interesting to hear of Macau. I'd always assumed it would be total yuk but you've dug out some nice corners.
Keep on trekking..!
xx

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