Macau: City of Dreams

We spent only three months in Hong Kong, but we had the time to meet nice and friendly people so we were kind of sad to leave. But that’s the good season to visit South-East Asia and the road was calling us again, so…

First step: Macau! It’s only one hour by boat from Hong Kong. The weather was cold and foggy and we enjoyed our first night walking a bit in the old town and having a glance to the Gran Lisboa, one of the casinos that make the city shine even in the cold winter. We were expecting to hear a lot of noise inside, crazy people gambling, but the big noise is only in the American movies in Las Vegas! A lot of Chinese spend their night, and sometimes their fortune, there and they do not want to be disturbed. We saw only one or two more excited gamblers. We did not defy our chance because the minimum amount was the equivalent of 30€ which represents for us the budget of a day in our trip.

By day it’s nice to walk in the historical center and discover all the signs on the Portuguese colonization. Portuguese traders arrived in Macao around 1550; at that time Macao was only a village but they realized how important was to set a harbor here for their maritime expansion. In 1557 China gave them the permission to trade onshore (till that time they could trade only remaining on the boats) and Macao became a Portuguese permanent settlement under Chinese sovereignty. In 1887, taking advantage of the Opium War, Macau became a Portuguese colony.

The officials’ languages are Traditional Chinese and Portuguese and it’s funny to see the two combined in street signs, in museums and even in menus at the restaurant.

Architecture reflects the colonization: the streets go up on the hills like wherever we can see Portuguese settlements; the buildings, following the urban design, are small and the density is very high. It is easy to make an itinerary which gives you a whole idea of the old town passing in front of all the churches, the fortress hill, the theater and the museums.

Portuguese restaurant can be found everywhere. Two of them were advised to us: Boa Mesa, not far from Largo do Senado, and Fernando, located at Coloane but we opted for macauense kitchen at Riquexo restaurant. Meat with eggs and bacalhau a Gomes Sa (with eggs, onions and potatoes) had a Portuguese taste with a Chinese accent! The same for the local waitress who could speak Portuguese with us. Cadu was amazed!

Nobody can leave the city without visiting the Venetian Casino: a huge casino, hotel and shopping mall designed with the only purpose to make people feel in Venice and spend money for it. San Marco Square with the tower is waiting outside while inside we can walk along the Canal Grande and gambling in palazzos with marbles on the floor and ‘frescos’ on the ceilings. It’s not only a paradise for gamblers but for shopping: hordes of wives ransack all kind of shops while their husbands loose or win money at the tables.

If we had one more day our options were going to the villages of Taipa or Coloane, the Macau tower and the red market. Perhaps next time, and with a bigger budget.

Now it’s time for real vacations! After 5 months between Russia Mongolia and China and 3 months working in a cold Hong Kong we need to spend some time in paradise. Let’s fly to Thailand then!

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