Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seeing Macau in 6 Hours

While in Hong Kong we took a side trip to Macau, something I didn’t get done when I lived in HK. In the 80”s it was still under the control of the Portuguese and it had the reputation of having a lot of gambling and sex available. Today the gambling has greatly expanded and the sex has gone underground.

Judith did visit in the 80’s and she says Macau has expanded probably at the same order of magnitude as HK has. Casinos are of the same ilk as those in Vegas, big and gaudy. And the old town of two story houses and shops, along narrow winding streets, are being crowded out to make way for new high rises.

We begin our journey by taxi to the western side of Kowloon and purchase tickets for the large hover craft, After going through passport control we board we find all seats are reserved and we find ours along the outside of the boat. The seats are cushiony fake leather with plenty of leg room. Almost are nice as sitting in business class on an airplane. The sea is calm and we scoot along the coast line observing various small islands and boats. Soon we disembark and go through customs and are quickly approached by a native tourist guide who speaks excellent English. He shows us his brochure outlining some the sites we should see within 2 hours which will end us up at the historic center of the city where we can slow down as see many things of interest.

One of first things we see is the Macau Tower which offers panoramic views of the city and has a convention center and restaurants and has added a bungee jump. In the back ground is the Sai Van Bridge which connects a couple of smaller islands that are part of Macau. These islands are where even more casinos, hotels, and resorts are being built.

Next we roll by the Kun Iam Ecumenical Center along the outer harbor. The Goddess of Kun Iam (Goddess of Mercy) is made of a special bronze. Information about Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism are available there.
We make our way up one of larger hills in the city to the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha founded in 1622 by crew and passengers of a ship which narrowly escaped capture by the Dutch. It was rebuilt is 1837.
We ended our tour at the façade of St. Lawrence church which burned up except for the front. It is one of the main tourist attractions now. Next to it is an old fort and we climb the many steps up only to find out there is an escalator on the opposite side of the hill.. We use it on the way down.

We walk to the center of the historic city where this fountain has been a main stay for many years. The architecture of the building in the background is typical of that during the colonial Portuguese rule. Note always the black and white swirls in the street of the pedestrian mall.
This last church of note we visited was St. Dominic’s Church built is 1590’s. The church has a violent past. In 1644 a Spanish military officer was murdered during mass for being against the Portuguese and in 1707 the friars locked themselves in and pelted soldiers for three days with rocks. The soldiers were sent to enforce the excommunication orders issued by the local bishop who had a dispute with the pope.
We had a relaxing, enjoyable lunch at a western style restaurant just off the square, then headed back to HK.The next morning I captured the sunrise out our hotel window.
The sun is just lighting the tallest building.


GETkristiLOVE said...

What, you didn't bungee jump this time?

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