November 13th, 2009 – by: lamoore
The Macau Tower
Yesterday, JT and I headed to the island of Macau, about an hour's ferry ride outside of Hong Kong. It was a nice ride over there and since it is a special administrative region of China like Hong Kong, we had to fill out immigration papers and get our passport stamped to enter. We arrived and boarded the free shuttles to the hotels/casinos to get the heart of town. Once a small Portuguese colony, Macau was handed back over to the Chinese and is transforming into the Las Vegas of the East. It has a lot of the same hotels--the MGM Grand, Wynn, Sands, Venetian, Hard Rock Hotel, etc. After reaching downtown we headed off to the A-Ma temple. It was a little farther away than we expected at first, but we got in a good walk and beautiful views of the water and Macau tower.
When we finally arrived, the area was suddenly bustling with people. The temple was built on a series of stairs and alive with energy. Once again, incense, altars, golden shrines, and people bowing filled the temple. It was fun to wander around the temple-it was built on so many different levels and had a lot to explore. We then headed down to the downtown area, walking admist the shops, scooters, cars, and chaos of Macau (not too much different than Hong Kong). We passed by some gutted fish, which filled the air with a rank odor (oh the things you see in China). We arrived at the downtown area and followed the well marked signs to the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. We we arrived I suddenly felt I was back in Europe. The facade of the cathedral is the only thing left standing, but high on a hill, it is beautiful.
The Las Vegas of China
We snapped some photos, wandered around the cathedral, and then it was back to the busy streets. We past by the nastiest looking meat jerky shops, one after another. They were handing out samples and the streets were alive with people eating jerky and the smell of meat was everywhere! We finally made it past into the Largo do Senado, another area of town with black and white cobblestone that resembled Europe more than Asia. Macau is an interesting mix of West and East, way more than Hong Kong. We wandered into a church there and it was almost strange to see the familiar Catholic images-pews, candles, paintings, and the altar. I was overcome how similar our practices were to the Buddhist faith. While they light incense, we light candles, while they bow before their shrines, we bow before the altar.
Maybe we aren't so different after all. We also wandered into the Leal Senado (Senate building)-again more European-before heading to grab some food. We ate dinner at a great Portugese restaurant called Fernando's. JT had eaten there the last time he was in Macau and was so excited to go back. It was a charming little restaurant off the beaten path (we took a taxi to a small part of the island), but had great food, and filled up quickly. The food was great-we had Portugese salad, the best tasting sangria, and I ordered cod for my main dish. Although it was swimming in a little too much olive oil for my taste, it was absolutely delicious! JT ordered beef with an egg on top, and fries. The restaurant also has an outdoor section, foosball, and just a lot of charm. We spent awhile looking at a wall filled with money from all over the world. We then headed back to the Venetian Hotel and Casino, which looked identical to the one in Vegas (lobby, casino, canal shops, St. Mark's Square, and all). It was fun to wander around and remember the fun trip we had at that hotel in Vegas with our 6 other best friends. We then took the shuttle back to the ferry, and before we new it we were back in Hong Kong with new memories and a few more stamps in our passports.