Macau Part I: Central Macau by day and night
Macau Travel Blog› entry 267 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip:
The perfect word that i can think of for Macau is 'crossroads'. In almost every meaning, Macau is somewhere that sees a collision of East and West. From colonial cobbled streets to towering casinos, grey tower blocks to yellow Portuguese churches, Mandarin and Portuguese with English thrown in for good measure, Dim Sum, dumplings and noodles or would you prefer Heineken, Roast Dinner and McDonalds? Even the majority of the people don't quite look Chinese, but have their own specific features. All of this leads to a country full of surpises and beauty. Here are my other impressions...
As the plane descended into Macau airport, my first emotion was to go 'wow'.
After standing for a few minutes outide the airport, a bus turned up, but when i showed the driver my $20 bill, he pointed at the sign saying 'no change given'.
Boarding the next bus to come along, i noted that its route map showed it did a loop of the city, so decided to sit down and try to follow where we were on my map and then choose the correct place to get off. Macau is only a small country, but somehow we seemed to go to every section of it other than where i wanted to go! I worked out where would be the best to get off on the way back and continued to bide my time.
At last i met a friendly, helpful security guard who helped me get on another bus, that took me to the centre of town. 2 hours after setting off, i made it to the street where my hotel was on.
My day didn't really get much better when i saw what $15 (120MOP) would get me. I was informed that the room i was shown was a double and was the last one available. I protested that it only had a single bed in and was the size of a matchbox, but both they and I knew that this was about the only budget place going in town! The walls reached neither the ceiling nor the floor and were only temporary and seemed no thicker than cardboard, but at least the bed was comfortable! I did have a sink in my room, but the bathrooms themselves were located in a different postcode and i half expected there to be a shuttle bus running every 5 minutes :)
I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted and didn't want the hassle of finding somewhere to eat so ended up going to McDonalds, which was an easy option.
I made it back to the room around 6pm, just as the sun was setting and it was beginning to get a bit chilly. I was struggling to keep my eyes open, but knew if i fell asleep i wouldn't sleep all the way through, so did some crosswords to keep me awake until 9pm. At this point i tried to get some shut eye, but the light filtering in kept me awake, as did the noise. By 10.30pm i decided i needed a valium and couldn't believe that even this didn't help! Around 12.
I managed to drag myself out of bed around 11am the following day and after showering, headed out to see the sights. I have a real love of walking around places and Macau was to prove a pedestrians delight. Macau island isn't really that big and the whole country including Taipa and Coloane only adds up to 28.6km2. I set off along the narrow, hilly and often cobbled streets and didn't seem to be able to go more than 20 paces without wanting to take a photo. I was also delighted by how few people there were and it often felt that you could be alone at any time you wished. I guess thats what comes with a country only having 500,000 inhabitants!
My route took me via the yellow Church of St Augustine, which was opposite the blue Dom Pedro V Theatre and then on to the yellow Church of St Lawrence.
The next part of my trip became slightly more difficult as i decided to ascend firstly Barra Hill and then the Cathdral topped Penha Hill, which offered sweeping vistas of the country. Slightly sweaty, i made my way back down to sea level to walk around to A-Ma Temple, where countless incense coils were burning throughout the temple.
I carried on past the Church of St Dominic and up some tight cobbled streets that led to the magnificient ruins of the Church of St Paul. There is only the front of the Church left standing after the rest was destroyed in a fire, but it just looks so surreal, left stood there all on its own! Been a sucker for punishment i then climbed another hill, which led to Monte Fort and once more the views from the summit were superb. The day was drawing to a close, but i decided that i had just enough time to fit in St Anthonys Catholic Church and the Protestant Cemetery, which contains the grave of Henry John Spencer Churchill, Winstons great great Uncle! Completely shattered i headed home around 6pm for a well deserved lie down.
By 7pm i was able to rally myself to go back out and get some food. I found a tiny eatery with queues going out of the door and decided that it was as good a place as any to eat. For only 12MOP ($1.50) they served up a soup, 5 dumplings and noodles with beef, which by Macaus standards is remarkable! I realised why it was so popular. Re-energised i had a bright idea flash into my head.... why not do exactly the same walk at night as i had done in the day!!! Oh my, what a fool i am! But once i get an idea in my head, its hard to get it out, so i set off on foot on what became a 7 hour marathon! Not only did i re-visit all the sites from the day, but i also headed into the casino district to look at the flashing glizty buildings and also took a walk along the sea front to get a close up look at Kim Iam Statue.