I have probably two more sets of photographs and reactions to Hong Kong itself to post, but this time my topic is Hong Kong’s neighbor state of Macau. When we began planning our trip, my son recommended a day trip to Macau. I had never heard of it.
Macau is the Portuguese equivalent of the British establishment of Hong Kong. Like Hong Kong it is now under the authority of China, but it has kept its own rules and borders, for the time being. One needs one’s passport to leave Hong Kong for Macau, but neither place requires a visa as mainland China does. The Macau ferry from Hong Kong is a hydrofoil (“turbojet”) boat which runs frequently and takes an hour.
Because the Portuguese power in Asia faded before the British empire, Macau did not develop the way Hong Kong has into a world economic power in the 20th century. It has based its tourism on carefully preserved history and, more recently, on casinos. Fortunately the casinos are near the ferry terminals or down the coast, and do not impinge on the historical district.
As a report of a one day visit, this description of Macau is superficial, but I hope it gives a good impression of a place worth knowing more about. It’s a place I think worth visiting again.
The Portuguese element is still strong in the bi-lingual signs, the presence of churches and the food. The streets are often narrow and motorcycles far outnumber cars. Many public areas are paved with mosaic, often waves of blue and a soft yellow, as if to represent the sea. Here is a more elaborate mosaic, set in the middle of a sidewalk.
Nearby is the church of San Lorenzo. The decoration inside is said to be worth seeing, but that white triangle in the doorway is a large paper bell which the man is hanging to indicate that a wedding is to take place. Tourists could only peek in.
While I was much taken with the Portuguese elements, one of the most famous sites on Macau is the A Ma Temple, actually two temples built into the rock on the side of a hill. The temple buildings are perched among the rock. Mosaic pavements are a connecting theme from this spot at the south of the historic district to the grand plaza near the façade of St. Paul’s.