With a heavy backpack, I left early today to retrieve my passport from the Chinese Embassy in Wan Chai. Then Proceeded to Central Station where i was to board a turbo ferry going to Macau. There are actually 2 ports by which you can ride going to Macau. One is on the Tsim Sha Tsui side (operated by First Ferry Company), in Kowloon, and the other in Central (operated by Turbo Jet), in Hong KongIsland. Both ferries have the same fare rates, at $134 HKD for a one way ticket. They also have trips to Shenzen, China for $200 HKD. I took the TurboJet ferry to Macau.
The boat was very a "katamaran", clean, and well organized. The smooth sailing ride to Macau lasted for just an hour. Lining up on the Macau immigration was just chaotic! There were about 1500 people crammed on the area to get thir passports stamped, and although there were segregations in between lines, there were a lot who attempted to just fit in between making one line branch out into several lines! I dropped by the tourist center in the pier lobby get some maps and tourist info and boarded Bus 3A which goes to the city center and to my hostel. My hostel was just right across the bus station but it took me more than 10 minutes to locate it. People in Macau, unlike in Hongkong, cannot speak English nor do they understand, so again foreigners get to practice their sígn language skills. :) My hostel was on the 3rd floor, small dorm room w/ 4 beds @ 60 HKD a night. Not bad at all since the room was so clean, w/ TV and Aircon only to be used at night, free internet at the lobby and free kìtchen use. The best thìng about it? I was the only occupant in the room! I hurriedly dropped off my things too excited to see macau's famous Ruins of Sao Paulo Church w/c was 3blocks away from the hostel. Macau has been a colony of Portugal for hundreds of years and a trading port for spices in the East.
Largo de Senado, they covered up the fountain and replaced it with this giant xmas tree.
This explains why Macau has most of its buildings with the Portuguese architecture rather than Chinese. And everything, streets, shop signs, buildings etc..always have a portuguese translation together w/ the chinese characters
As i approched the .'Lagro de Senado', the first thing i looked for was the water fountain (which was a famous subject for photo enthusiasts in Macau)yet found it to be replaced by a giant christmas tree and a stage. :(
The city center was swarming with people just coming in and out of interconnected main roads. Modern Shops occupy most of the age old Portuguese buildings in the area, creating a feeling of 'EAST MEETS WEST'. In each street corner is an old sign post which points to the tourist attractions that may be found on the street. Really helpful, considering the language barrier between most tourists and locals in Macau.
Finding the Ruins of Sao Paulo never a problem. Youll know when you're close when you start to see locals with scissors and candied pork or beef follow you around asking you to taste then buy their local specialty. Several bakeshops selling candied peanuts and almond cookies also occupy the old buildings leading to the ruins.
The remaining facade of the ruins looked typical of an old cathedral, and I honestly, wasnt so amazed since back home (IloiloCity), we have a cathedral in every district in the city. They arent as old but there are some in our neighboring towns which are as old, 'whole', and are still being used for Christian services. The Sao Paulo ruins though, is situated on top of a mound, giving it a commanding stand amid the surrounding structures.Ive always wonderd what was behind the facade: a stair case going up to the upper ruins for visitors to peep through the brick cathedral opennings, and a flat ground with the cathedral's outline was encased and preserved. Further beyond, a small staircase led me to the small church museum, where some of the sacred relics from the church were displayed. Another room opposite from the museum led me to the Crypt, where bone remains of fiars were laid to rest.
Beside the Ruins is the MountFortress where the Museum of Macau was located.
Souvineir shops in Rue de So Paulo. They sell the tastiest almond cookies ever!
With the 10 HKD entrance fee, I enjoyed touring the 3-floor museum which showcased Macau's history as well as Chinese treasures from different dynasties. A good view of Macau's residential district can also be seen on top of the fortress. Tall and old crammed buildings stand side by side making it impossible to see the narrow streets typical of Chinese residential roads. Short of cultural places to see at the area, i found myself sitting in one of the benches in Lagro de Senado for the next 2 hours, eating newly roasted chestnuts which were conveniently sold on the sidewalks. It seemed that the locals too found pleasure in just hanging out in the Senado as all the benches were all packed despite the fading daylight sun.