Casinos and Cultural Heritage

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2006

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Flag of Macau  ,
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Macau. From afar, the name casts images of a slightly seedy place infiltrated by organised crime and dodgy business dealings all behind the front of Casino entertainment. Knowing what stereotypes are like, I was curious to go and see for myself and having finally figured out the Ferry timetable across the delta, this opportunity seemed to good to miss.

What I found was a little place, that seems to be fighting hard to retain its own identity and might just be succeeding. There is a far greater air of dusty history to the place than in Hong Kong, where everything is on such a grandiose scale and the mixture of Cantonese and European culture seems to me to be more closely interwoven than in Hong Kong too. The pace of life seems pretty leisurely and after a couple of weeks dashing here and there, I was very happy to slowly wander around somewhere small looking at nicknacks and intricate bits of architecture, and stopping for a leisurely beer or snack to watch the world go by.

The casinos are here, of course, but they are not in your face in the way you might expect. There is much more to Macau if you want to gently potter around for a day or two. My favourite was probably the citadel perched on top of the hill looking out to sea and the windy streets you climb to reach it. The peninsula of land and islands which make up Macau are incredibly small really, yet it definitely isn't mainland China and it definitely isn't Hong Kong. The food alone shows you this, and as I've learned on my Asian wanderings food is probably the strongest definition of culture you'll find. Mind you, if you don't like Portuguese salt cod or Indonesian Satay, you don't want to be getting too picky.

The best way to arrive in Macau is by boat and in both directions the ferry journey was fast, convenient and spectacular. What more do you want. Arriving at sunset is something I'll long remember.
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