After a successful architectural design project on a proposed building in Colorado, I got a two week break from work. I grabbed that chance to treat my family to a five day tour of Macau. My wife, two daughters and my only sister were my travel companions during my tour of Asia. Traveling to Macau was a side trip from our tour of Hong Kong Disneyland which we all enjoyed. This beautiful region in China is very small but so rich in wonderful attractions, commercial areas and a long line of five star casino hotels. I find this part of China very magical. We all got totally captured by its beautiful atmosphere and the interesting mix of Europe and Asian influence in one place.
The once Portuguese colonized region can be reached by ferry from Hong Kong. We passed thru a long line of queues at the immigration counter and after clearing out we boarded a free bus ride to get to the House of the Dancing Water. We were able to witness an excellent spectacle in water from this circular theater. The show is created by the famous Franco Dragone of the Cirque de Soleil fame. The magic of the water is absolutely unique and the arena seats have an excellent view. The show used beautiful music, talented performers, and an impressive storyline. The stunning acrobatic show in water and in air is just amazing. The technique alone was breath taking. Within seconds, the whole thing changed from a deep sea into a stage. It appears like the actors walk in the water surface. The sensational jumps from the top of the theater into the basin were simply superb and can not be described in words. It is a beautiful grand spectacle where everything is excessive. It was truly phenomenal. We were delighted from beginning to end. VIP tickets cost double. Our Class A ticket includes a spirited drink, bottle of water and a chocolate bar.
The Historic Centre of Macau has lots of cultural flavor and the special part here is the mix of European and Chinese connections. It is evident on the buildings, the small streets, the Chinese/Portuguese road signs, the restaurants and the people. We got there on a Saturday and it was quite full it was fun to stroll around to take pictures and go people watching. There were lots of nice shops with souvenirs, clothes, food and snacks. Rehabilitated by the government and made pretty it is actually the only non casino attraction in Macau. The main square near the post is a popular meeting place of the Filipinos who work there. The specialty stores sell delicious food and drinks. The only walking street in Macau is home to the famous Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The ruins which is located on a small hill in the historical center is composed mainly of the front façade of the old church. It is a prominent landmark of the city. Built in the 16th century the church was formerly built of timber and granite façade. On 1835 the timber part burned and only the façade remained standing up to this day. We climbed the steps to get to the wall. It is also possible to reach the back side of the faced by stairs.
From across the old church is the street with a beautiful fountain at the center of the square, the Largo do Senado (Senate Square). We felt like being transported into another era as we explored this colonial winding street. Near the square there are several branded stores, small cafes and restaurants. We walk thru food stalls that gives free taste or samples of their product. I especially loved the freshly baked egg tarts. It was so nice to walk around and mingle with the locals. This piece of Portugal in China is well sprawled out with brightly colored buildings, paved flooring, old churches, and a beautiful central area which extends up to its surrounding streets. Towards the end of the street we learned about the region’s colorful past at the Macau Museum. Situated right inside the old fortress, the museum succeeds in explaining the relation between Western and Chinese civilization without sounding biased. For that alone the museum is to be praised. Various crafts and architectural features are brilliantly presented. The top floor holds an entire exhibit about the founder of the region, Dr. Sun Yat See. An interactive, clear and even photogenic museum that is suitable for children and adults, a visit here is highly recommended.
Tasting the cream puffs, Macau’s sweet cakes, and cooked sliced meat made our tour of Dasanba Street gastronomically appealing. Located within the proximity of the church ruins, the whole area is well preserved and beautifully restored complying with its Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site title. The colonial buildings, dozens of old churches, the cobblestone paths, Portuguese street names, Portuguese inspired establishments leaves a lasting impression of Portuguese legacy of sovereignty. The atmosphere exudes a European and at the same time exudes east. The constant movement of thousands of people through the narrow streets, the amount of light and color, diversity of shops, restaurants and other establishments give the street a spectacular life. We enjoyed shopping and window shopping as well as eating in one of its many restaurants. We took lots of family pictures along the colonial buildings that are all worth the visit. While walking along the steep slopes of the hill within this area we found the A-Ma Temple (Ma Kok Miu). It is a very clean monastery and a great photo subject with the very large white A-Ma statue that is really worth seeing. Although we did not pray we lighted incense sticks and were allowed to see old carvings on the boat in a wall where we can wish for financial success. The oldest and beautiful temple is worth visiting.
The next day we visited an impressively beautiful lighthouse and castle; The Guia Fortress. It is situated on a mountain in the middle of the city and is home to a castle. The castle is only partially accessible, but we enjoyed the southern part of the photogenic lighthouse. In addition, the facility houses an old church and a nice viewing platform. It has good views over the old town unfortunately the high rise buildings obstructed most of the scenery. This military structure played an important role in the defense of the territory against the Dutch attacks in the past. The battlements with their guns are very interesting. Everything within this charming fortress is impeccably maintained and treated. The best way to get there is by riding a small gondola which costs 3 MOP back and forth. We also tried the short cable car ride that links the garden to the fortress.
Afterwards we head next to the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center which has thrills that are only for the brave. We were thrilled to the fullest as we tried the sky walk. We got strapped on a harness which is connected by ropes on a round revolving bar at the top. We walked in groups of four with a guide who takes our pictures too as we conquer our fear of heights. It was really fun to kick a short familiarization phase as we got closer to the edge take a seat and looked down into the depths. Another daring adventure was the bungee jump. We watched in awe as a fellow American bravely took the freefall from the 233 meter high building. The whole attraction is well organized and I highly recommend it. We got a commemorative shirt and a cd of the pictures they took from the skywalk.
Macau is the ultimate thrill and fun in Asia. I am looking forward to going back there again.