17 December 2007

bem-vindo a macau

a row of pretty colonial buildings off macau's largo do senado.

for 329 years the portuguese ruled macau, a tiny 28.6 sq kilometer peninsula-plus-2 islands located an hour west of hong kong via boat. this oldest and last european colony in china was formally handed back to the prc in 1999, and is now a popular gambling destination for millions of mainland chinese. the area's namesake is the still-existing templo de a-ma, which was built in 1448 to honor the goddess of seafarers and fisherman. back in the day, when the hairy foreigners asked the locals the region's name, they replied, "a-ma-gao" (bay of a-ma), which the euros translated as "macau".

nice to see evidence of local efforts to preserve colonial buildings... even if only the facades remain.

since i forgot to bring my passport, i did a dry run to hong kong's macau ferry terminal before returning 90 mins later for the real deal. smart guy. but after a 1-hour cruise on the south china sea, macau's weird port came into view. colorful portuguese colonial buildings sat alongside a strange small volcano-theme park thing, which, in turn, was dwarfed by the atrocious, huge flower-shaped grand lisboa casino/hotel tower.

snapped while walking down one of macau's many narrow alleys.

wary of the local bicycle tour guides and not wanting to pay for a taxi, i hopped onto a #10a bus, about 30% sure it would take me to largo do senado, macau's main square. the copious carbon dioxide inhaled during my twenty minute, forty-cent ride got me naseous, but the bus did indeed take me to the central plaza, whose undulating black and white polished cobblestones reminded me of the sidewalks that run along the beaches of another former portuguese colony, brazil.

facade of macau's sao paulo church.

from the plaza i walked up a modest slope that curved to the left, exposing the impressive sao paulo cathedral- or, rather, its facade. once the largest church in asia, it burned in the 1800s.

awfully yummy eggy flaky pastry.

i spent the next 3 hours walking along the winding, narrow streets, eating delicious portuguese egg pastries and some kind of dead animal jerky, snapping photos and admiring the mix of chinese and portuguese cultures. i like reading signs that say "farmacia chinesa kam cheong yong".

needing to keep my trip short and sweet, shortly after 17:00 i found more signs for bus #10a and made my way back to the ferry and to kowloon. i'm spending tonight relaxing at the hotel before leaving for jesusland in the am.


koream manicurist said...

you need some cuticle cream.

matt said...

that ain't all the grooming i need...

the crowd gets bigger by the minute, chanting, "disaster ass... disaster ass... DISASTER ASS!!" and then i wake up, frightened and ashamed...