Thursday, February 12, 2009

Macau Intro

Spent Wednesday in Macau and just now got the photos onto my computer. Macau is a small island off Hong Kong/China that used to be a Portuguese colony (from late 1600s until Dec 1999). Now it is a Special Administrative Region in China, the other being Hong Kong. Among other things this means that it has its own currency (same exchange as the HK dollar - perhaps they're pegged?), its own legal system, and its own customs regulations, meaning we didn't need visas to get in. That's China across the water in the last pic - my very first view of China!!
We met in Sheung Wan at 10am to take the Turbojet ferry, which takes a little under an hour, for around $150HKD each way (depending on the time of day). We were going to walk around since we had a guide book's walking tour map, but it was very sunny and hot so instead we got a 5-hour bus tour for $100HKD each at the Macau ferry terminal. Goldfield travel - the salesman in the terminal was really annoying but the bus driver was very nice and let us determine our itinerary, so all in all it was the right thing to do.
There are Portuguese influences in the older parts of town, so you see European-style buildings and churches, and all the signs are in both languages. Cars there even have two license plates! There was also a great statue near the St. Paul's ruins of a Portuguese boy and Chinese girl, symbolizing the relationship between the two cultures. There was also a large statue in the water on one wide of the island that looked a bit like those huge stone gates in Lord of the Rings in either side of that river. From some angles the statue looks like two separate columns but from others the columns connect at the top forming an arch between the two civilizations - very nice.

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