I had been to Hong Kong several times before but never Macao, so I was really excited about hopping on the ferry with Jade and checking it out. A quick 50 minute hop over on a choice of catamaran or jet foil, the first thing that greets you is the enormous Sands gambling resort, which I am almost positive could be seen from space – even without the night time neon.
One half of Macao is this rather pathetic replica of Las Vegas, but it was the other half I came for. Staying in the East Asia hotel – a place that had clearly seen better days – we were in a good position to step out and see the old town. My Mother – perceptive as ever – had compared the place with Bury St. Edmunds – a small market town near to Cambridge.
I can see what she means (although anyone from outside East Anglia may have trouble making the connection!) – the town square is just slightly too tarted up, with the McDonald’s concealed behind a colonial building facade and local boy racers dragging by in their rice rockets. Outside the centre, it takes on a much more southern European feel – indeed, I felt some similarity with Mexico and Guatemala, which is hardly a surprise.
Overall, a very nice and laid back place and a very pleasant place to spend a day walking around.
Macao – an amazing collision of colonial Portuguese and local Cantonese cultures
King of the Castle
The view from the town centre towards the horrific – HORRIFIC – new casino
Rather more classic Vegas style neon. The Chinese visitors seem to stick to this part of town, whereas the westerners can be seen taking in the colonial sights.
Bulbs powered by burning money inside
Dozens of pawn shops outside selling expensive watches to pay for the good times
Bamboo scaffolding on a Portuguese church makes for an arresting sight
Stopping for a rest
Jade and I chill in one of the small squares
The Arabian Barracks – did the Portuguese host Arab soldiers?
The Matsu temple – god of the sea – was packed with Chinese worshipers