On our second day in Hong Kong, we rode the ferry to Macau. Macau was initially settled by the Portuguese and handed back to China in 1999. It's home to a very interesting blend of cultures and styles. There are areas of town full of small European type streets lined with shops and restaurants on either side. Macau is also one of the top gaming destinations in the world. It's the Vegas of Asia. The City of Dreams section of Macau is home to a Hard Rock casino and hotel and The Venetian. The Venetian in Macau is much, much larger than in Vegas and the casino floor is one of the largest in the world. In the older section of town, you will find a Wynn and MGM Grand as well.
Our first stop on our tour was The Church of Sao Francisco Xavier. He's the Portuguese missionary who brought Christianity to the island.
This is the outside of the church:
And a few shots from inside:
After vising the church, we headed down a few blocks to Lord Stow's Bakery to eat their famous Egg Tarts:
As I mentioned before, we saw a lot of European and Portuguese architecture throughout Macau:
Our next stop was the Macau Tower which is much like the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. Part of our tour took us to the top floors which offered great views of the island. They also have glass floors you can stand on and look down to the street 1000 feet below.
They offer activities on the top floor, one of which being bungee jumping. It's the world's tallest bungee jump and longest free fall. We got a few shots of guys jumping.
This is from the ground looking up. You'll probably need to click the photo and look at it at the original size. The guy's just a speck:
Our next stop was the A-Ma temple. This temple is located just off the shore of where Francis Xavier landed and is one of the oldest temples on the island. Just before you get to the temple, you walk past these shop keepers selling incense and other items to be used in prayer at the temple. The shop keepers were just yelling at us and the others in the tour group in Chinese. Our guide told us they were competing with each other to get us to buy from their shop.
They have a tradition where, if you pay the fee, they light and toss large firecrackers into a pot to ward off evil spirits. It's a form of prayer and it's extremely loud. I took some pictures, but it was just a big cloud of smoke, so nothing really exciting. Kind of one of those things you need to experience to appreciate.
We got there right after Chinese New Year, so there were decorations like this all over the place.
This was painted on a wall. I don't really know what's going on, but it was interesting.
Some traditional Chinese Architecture:
The next stop was the Macau Museum. We were very limited on time so I didn't get many photos. Here are a few:
This was on a cannon:
Our tour ended at the Ruins of St Paul. The rest of the church was built in the late 16th century and destroyed by fire in 1835 (yes, I had to get those dates from Wikipedia). The original facade is all that stands.
After the tour, we were given a tour of a casino and stuff before we could board the shuttle to head home. The tour guide was a member of the casino staff and she hardly spoke English. It was supposed to be a chance to see more historical artifacts, but in reality, most of them were recreations and it was a thinly veiled attempt to sell us on the casino and hotel.
The nice thing about Macau is the shuttle service. We were able to get a shuttle back to the ferry docs from the older section of town. We didn't want to head back to Hong Kong too early because I wanted to check out the Hard Rock while we were there. We caught another shuttle at the ferry terminal to the City of Dreams. Here we are representing at the Hard Rock:
Overall, we really, really liked Macau. It's very interesting to see the European and Chinese styles clash in such a way. The City of Dreams section of town was like Vegas, but it was much, much nicer. The whole presentation seemed a lot more classy and the streets were extremely clean (no pamphlets littered with naked women and phone numbers for escort services, for instance). I wish we had known they had a Cirque du Soleil show at the Venetian or we would have probably booked a night at the hotel and gone to see it. In any case, a trip to Macau is strongly recommended. Our tour was pretty cheap and it provided all the transportation we really needed (aside from the shuttle service to the City of Dreams).