Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Macau

Macau is a tiny island an hours ferry journey west of Hong Kong and was under Portuguese reign till 1999 when they had to hand it back, just like we did with Hong Kong. It was ruled by Portugal for over 400 years so was expecting a schizophrenic mix of Portuguese and Chinese culture.

My plan was to get to Macau about 3:00pm potter around the streets till it got dark and then spend a few hours going round a few of the casinos trying to work out what the place was all about. However this did not happen and what with me being terrible at sticking to schedules recently didn't end up in Macau till it was dark so the plan went straight out the wind.

When I eventually got there I was greeted with a horrible concrete jungle of roads and buildings which was not the quaint little Portuguese colony I was hoping to find. Having no real clue where I was as the only map I had with me didn't have the ferry port marked on it (ehh?). So had to some how work out how to get from the ferry port to the center of the town. I first looked into getting the bus there but for some reason there was a real lack of English and everything seemed to be in Portuguese or Chinese, unsurprisingly, so I gave up on working out which public bus to get. I then look into getting a taxi there. The first driver I spoke to just said "No" he wouldn't take me, fair enough. The second taxi said he didn't know where the place I was pointing to was. The place I was pointing to way the center of town. So I am guessing the exam to be a taxi driver in Macau probably doesn't involve much more than just being aware what a taxi actually is. So I gave up on the taxi idea. I eventually worked out that one of the main casino's was within walking distance of the center of town. So ended up getting a free shuttle bus to the Lisboa casino with a bus full china men. So finally I was heading to the center of Macau even if it was quite a few hours later than planned.

By the time I eventually got to the center of Macau I was pretty tired and stairs and even slight upward gradients where really causing me a lot of bother, at one point I even had to stop for a breather on the way up to the museum of Macau. All together I must have spent just an hour walking around the main roads and tiny side streets getting a feel for the place. It's almost impossible to get lost in Macau as the giant casinos tower above everything else giving you a great point off reference. Very convenient but it did spoil the feel of the place quite a bit! The streets were this kind of Portuguese tile work nd the buildings were also very Portuguese. They only difference was that they were covered in Chinese script. Other than that I could have been walking around some Portuguese town somewhere.

I got talking to a women about my age who was working in a clothes shop in Macau and asked what i was like living in Macau. She said it was very boring and she was only here because her family lived here as she had just moved back from LA. I had been thinking how it must have been quite a boring place to live. While as a tourist it was really nice to visit. Life in Macau must be pretty dull, other than the casinos I didn't really see much else to do and you can't really class going to Casinos as a hobby or pastime. But while walking round I had wondered what it must be like living in a place like this and the conversation with the shop working only confirmed my original thoughts about it being quite dull.

After my short trek around the center using what tiny amount of energy I had left I made my way to an area where a few of the casinos where. Apart from a few twinkling lights I couldn't really be bothered in the end to spend to much time around these. I popped into one, "The Lisboa" this horrible looking 1970's mess had a bit of a look around and then headed back to the shuttle bus to make my way back to Hong Kong.

I don't really know what to say about Macau really. It wasn't that the trip there was a waste of time as it was quite an interesting place to have a look around. It was just my plan of action for the place was ruined by my poor timing and lack of planning and I felt I really didn't get a chance to see enough of the place properly to form any sort of opinion of the place.







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