This wanderlust has been an effective family therapy for us. I’ve been writing here for a while but I forgot to mention that I work abroad (currently based in Singapore) and away from my family. Like most overseas worker, I made it a point to go back to my hometown every 6 months and spend a week or so with my family. But before that one week is over however, we were already crying; knowing it will take another 6 months or more for us to see each other again. My father also used to work overseas when I was a kid; so I know how it feels like now for my own family. Nowadays however, distance (and long distance communication) is dead and modest travel is available for everyone. So instead of just me traveling alone, my family and I decided that (if I have the resources) we will meet regularly in some nearby foreign lands and explore those places together. Parting ways at the end of those journeys however is stll difficult; but now, the sadness is eclipsed by the memories of those travel experiences . Whatever. 🙂
Anyway, I am being cheesy and talking gibberish back there. Sorry about that. It’s been a month since I took the photos in this write-up and I really don’t know what to say about this recent trip. Except maybe that I was glad my new employer announced the Chinese New Year break a bit early last year; which gave me enough time to plan on spending the week-long break in a place that’s Chinese. I could have chosen Hong Kong (which would be the easiest), but decided to see Macau instead; a small Chinese outpost known mostly as a day trip destination for most people touring Hong Kong. You can’t blame them; as Macau is generally a walkable city and most of the major sights are within walking distances from each other.
But that wouldn’t do justice to the beauty of this place. I love Asian cities especially if it has a history of colonization. Because the end product would always be a blending of cultures of sorts; confusing but exciting. Which is very much like Macau. Known as “The Vegas of China”, the city obviously comes alive at night with its megacasinos, luxury resort hotels, and shopping districts. So the word “day trip” wouldn’t be correct. 🙂 But Macau is more than that. A Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, it only became part of China in 1999; two years after the British withdrawal from Hong Kong. Remnants of colonial architecture, churches, and grand public squares give the place a tangible Mediterranean flavor; oddly picturesque and peculiar in a city that is strongly and culturally Chinese. You can walk through cobblestone lanes and hear people chatter in Cantonese; asking for directions to find streets with Portuguese names. To add to this, megacasinos and modern high-rise hotels in ambitious themes and scale appear almost every minute in districts with well-preserved Macanese architecture. I fell in love with the confusion almost immediately. 🙂 If you’re a fan of postcards, night photography, and architecture, your day trip to Macau will not be enough for you.
Needless to say, food is a part of the general travel experience. But you won’t find it here. I’m a mindless eater and a really lousy food photographer (sadly) so you just have to believe me (or anybody else who has been here) when I say that the local food here is one that you should try and experience. 🙂 Obviously, my bias has always been towards the major sights and architecture of a place; which is my way of understanding a new city. So a typical photowalk in Macau covers its 2 main islands; within any of the two you can do some exploring on foot as the major attractions are close to each other. A bus ride however is needed to get from one island to another.
The Macau Peninsula holds the Old City Center, with its 2 most popular day trip attractions: The Ruins of St. Paul’s Church and Senado Square, a grand public plaza. It is also the site of some of the earliest hotels and casinos including the Grand Lisboa, Lisboa Hotel, Wynn Macau, and MGM Hotel. Along the fringes of the peninsula are Macau Fisherman’s Wharf (a themed park) and Macau Tower with its open-air observation deck. Towards the south are the integrated islands of Taipa, Coloane, and Cotai. Taipa has well-preserved colonial houses. Coloane has Macau’s beaches, and Cotai is home to the high-rolling Cotai Strip (Macau’s version of the famous Strip in Vegas), an avenue of megacasinos, luxury hotel and shopping centers including The Venetian Macau and Galaxy Macau, as well as the recently completed City of Dreams, Studio City, and The Parisian with its Eiffel Tower replica. As much as I would like to give a description of each of these (and for fear of boring you to death), I will just allow my personal postcards below to hopefully speak of the glitz and beauty of this city. 🙂 I tried to cover as much places as I can during my 5-day stay here but missed out on the important Chinese temples and colonial churches (which speaks so much about the place’s history) because of a rain shower on the day I planned to visit them. Sorry about that.
Not surprisingly, I was able to take home more photos from this trip as compared to previous ones. Only because my family and in-laws decided on our fourth day to take a day trip to Hong Kong to do some shopping (only to find out later that most of the stores there were closed for the holidays) while I decided to stay behind and catch up with my personal photowalk. So what happened to that family bonding we were looking forward to that I was talking about earlier? And I thought Macau is supposed to be the day trip destination (and not Hong Kong). 🙂 I hate to say it, but I have to admit that the brief moment alone helped me maximize my time. Don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but I guess the travel therapy really worked. 🙂
So there you go. My two cents worth on this beautiful and quaint city (which I think deserves more than just being called a day trip destination) and my first of many other adventures I am looking forward to in days to come. Enjoy the postcards below. Stay grateful and inspired.
See you in my next post. Cheers!!! 🙂
(click on any of the images below to activate the photo carousel)