Making a Backpacker Out of My Mother: Hong Kong – Macau (2/4)

Hong Kong and Macau are both Special Administrative Regions of China, but coming from either place to the other gives one a cultural jolt because of just how contrasting they are, without really being too different.

When we arrived in Macau, we saw signs written in three languages instead of the usual Chinese and English (the third being Portuguese). Macau of course used to be a colony of Portugal so this shouldn’t be shocking. It wasn’t. But it was a pleasant surprise, and it heightened our wanderlust – that which is the fountainhead of vigor and passion; executioner of lassitude and apathy.

Tourists with their bagageiros.

In Macau, buses and taxis are the major modes of public transport, as opposed to Hong Kong which, aside from those two, also rely heavily on its MTR (mass transit railway) and ferries. Also, good ol’ coins are used instead of something like an octopus card. In its bus fare collection scheme, honesty really proves to be the best policy – both efficient and effective.

Where honesty is the policy

THEN, there is the architecture. If not for the Chinese signs, I certainly wouldn’t think I was in Chinese territory. Largo de Senado, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a testament to this. Aside from buildings like Leal Senado and the Post Office within it, Portuguese influence is also evident in the Square’s pavement, a wave-pattered mosaic of stones, similar to those found in Lisbon and other Portuguese colonies such as Brazil.

Largo de Senado / Senado Square and its Portuguese pavement

Post Office in Senado Square, Macau

Leal Senado Building, the most outstanding example of Portuguese architecture in Macau

Macau is a very pedestrian-friendly place. It also does not hurt that some touristy places are within walking distance of each other, giving you a chance to go into streets and alleys and peek into the Macanese life. The residential areas look more Chinese, providing a different perspective of the region. Also notice the street signs. Charming.

Into Macau

Macau street sign

More street signs

Macau residential area

St Augustine’s Church

Macau Tower

One of the many benches lining a street in Macau.

First glimpse at St Paul Ruins

St Paul Ruins

Going back to Senado Square

Macanese finger food

The famous egg tart of Macau

Stand alone street sign in Macau

A-Ma Temple

At A-Ma Temple

At A-Ma Temple

Macau lives on two things – tourism and casinos -and we weren’t about to skip the latter. No, we didn’t gamble our hard-earned money. We just visited Cotai strip where The Venetian is located. There are other nearby hotels and casinos but due to time and energy constraints (wanderlust could only take us so far), we zeroed in on the most famous. The place is huuuuuuge (the photo below is only the side of the hotel). Everything glitters and the sky is ALWAYS blue (in the area where the gondolas are). Yes, it’s a sky-painted ceiling. How can it not make you smile?

Taipa District

The Venetian Macau

Inside The Venetian

Inside The Venetian

Inside The Venetian

Maybe next time.

At The Venetian, the sky is always blue

Dinner at The Venetian… Foodcourt

When we finally got to the casino area, I was underwhelmed. That’s it? I was expecting to enter into an Alfred Hitchcock set – dark, mysterious, tense. I expected Mafia, or at least Clark Gable-ish men in suits and with cigars. OR something like Vegas – crowded, rambunctious, high-strung.

O Reality, how you disenchant.

Casino at The Venetian

Casino at The Venetian

Of course, it wasn’t long before I was admonished about taking these photos.


See our complete itinerary and budget, Day 1, Day 3 and Day 4.

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