Having been told that I should definitely visit Macau given its proximity to Hong Kong, I booked accommodation for a day in Macau and a ferry ticket. The ferry takes approximately one hour from Kowloon so you can get there in pretty much no time.
According to wikipedia, Macau was given back definitively to the Chinese as a S.A.R in 1999 after agreeing on it a few years before. Located around 60 km from Hong Kong, it lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering with the Guangdong province in China. The economy depends mainly on gambling and tourism. Yes, gambling.
Arriving to Macau and getting a visa for Europeans is just a matter of going through immigration and getting your passport stamped. We are allowed to stay for 90 days in this tiny territory which happens to be one with the highest density in the world.
Apparently the main influx of tourists to Macau come from mainland China, people who come here to gamble on the different casinos in the area. For this reason, outside the port there are many free buses that take you directly to your hotel, hotel/casino or even to the casino itself. You can even use these even if you are not using the hotels and don’t want to walk to where you are going.
Having taken one of these buses, I drop everything, and wash some of my clothes, as this was very much needed, and then, let’s go and see what’s on offer on this town.
Starting to wander around when the sun was getting low, I get to see the enormous casino area. A place full of huge buildings with shiny banners and lots of (chinese) people queueing to get in. Buildings that look spectacular during sunset (and later in the evening) you get to see what feels like Las Vegas (never been).
A few shots here and there and I get to see Macau Tower at sunset, which looks absolutely gorgeous (澳門旅遊塔會展娛樂中心). The tower measures 338 m and has an observation point where you can do high adrenalin activities (no, not having time to go up, and probably not having balls of steel to try bungee jumping off it)
Now, if you walk into the old town of Macau it simply looks surreal, as it looks you are in a southern portuguese city, or even a spanish one. I felt at some points I was in the Sierpes Street in Seville.
Except that everything is in Chinese and it’s full of Chinese people, although you see some people of Portuguese origin here and there. There are Chinese street markets and food vendors everywhere. One thing that I tried here again (tried it in Hong Kong) was the grilled octopus.
What these guys do is grill a piece of octopus and then they put it through a machine which basically flattens and shreds it so you wan eat it. In my opinion it’s a bit too dry but quite tasty.
Another street vendor that caught my attention was this place where they have a multitude of different foods in front of you, so you grab a dish and put everything you want in it, then hand it to the vendor who would boil it all and serve you with either spicy or non-spicy food (So I found out thanks to a local who spoke English and was telling me about it).
To be honest, it was quite tasty, but it all felt a bit weird not knowing what the hell I was eating, really.
On my way back, I had to go again through the casino area so I used the opportunity to take some good night shots with my camera, of the different casinos and the Macau tower against the sea water (gotta love the reflection shots).
Things that I learned here:
- Chinese spit everywhere, no mater their gender.
- Chinese mixed with portuguese is weird.
- You can use your hair dryer to dry your laundry, but gotta be careful ;-)
Surreal. It looks way too artificial, although the portuguese touch is quite nice.
Probably not, unless you want to gamble like there’s no tomorrow.