Friday, September 19, 2014

Touring Macau

Macau is the other Special Administrative Region of China (formerly colonized by the Portuguese), and as such, you don't need a visa to visit it. It's only an hour by hydrofoil to get there, and it's Asia's version of Vegas, with huge casinos and lots of nightlife. 

All signs around town are in Portuguese, Chinese, and English.

The view from the Macau harbor.

Macau is fascinating because it's got a lot of Portuguese influence, which you can see in the food and the architecture. We tried the local Macanese food for lunch. I had a Portuguese fish stew, which was delicious, with tomato broth, and Mike tried lemon pepper chicken, which he happily discovered, was served with french fries.

Macanese food for lunch!

St. Paul's Cathedral, or what's left of it.
The Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral is Macau's most iconic landmark. It's actually quite large and impressive, and crowded, even on a Thursday late afternoon!

Only the facade is left standing, but the foundation is still there, and you can walk into it, where they have the bones of various devotees and laymen enshrined. Honestly, it was a little off putting (for me) to see human bones lying behind glass, along with the chanting music they play. But perhaps for religious types, it's reverential. 

There's also some Catholic artifacts and art housed here, and it's interesting to see the blend of East and West on religious pieces.

Another shot of St. Paul's, up close.

We hiked up to the Fortaleza do Monte, which is a fortress built in the 1600s. Good little workout for the thighs, and totally worth it.

Beginning of the staircase path to the fortress.

The entryway to the fortress, as seen from above.

Cannon hole in the fortress wall.

The Macau Museum is at the top of the fortress, filled with information on Macau's history as an important Chinese port, to its eventual takeover by the Portuguese, and then finally, its return to China. One thing I love about Chinese museums - they build full scale replicas of streets, houses, and even waterways, to give you a "real life" experience. 

A Macanese street, with examples of Portugese influenced architecture.

We wandered around the streets of Macau a bit afterwards, trying out local delicacies and shopping.

A busy night scene in Macau.

But we couldn't leave without a visit to the Grand Prix museum. Macau is famous for the Macau Grand Prix, a car and motorcycle street race held every year in November. Mike made me promise we would return one year to watch it.

Mike by the Michael Schumacher exhibit.

We played on some race simulators where we got to drive Porsches, Lamborghinis, Audis and F1 cars, and I have to admit, it was really fun. So I wouldn't mind checking out an F1 race. Guess I'll be seeing you again in the future, Macau!

At Sideways driving club in Hong Kong.