“So did you play the game when you were there?” asked my cousin when I told him that I visited Macau in November. A card game, known as Makao and in other countries as Mau Mau or Uno, at least in Polish takes its name directly from the name of a former Portuguese colony in China. So yes, it was a play on words but no, I did not play it and neither tried any gambling while out there. I was only cheeky enough to jump on a shuttle bus provided by one of the casinos to get a ride to closer to the Historic Centre of Macau. I had my route already marked on the map that I picked up at the tourist information office in Hong Kong so I was ready to discover new places and take some photographs.
My trip to Macau was initially one of those “oh I might as well” since it is less than an hour away from Hong Kong by ferry and TurboJet runs a very frequent and convenient service. It can be a bit bumpy at times so keep it in mind if you normally suffer from motion sickness and do not forget your passport! It is a different country after all.
Tourism and gambling are the primary drivers of Macau’s economy and it becomes immediately obvious as soon as you leave the ferry terminal behind you. The casinos and hotels dominate the urban landscape. It looks interesting at night but during the day when the neon lights are off it is not a very pleasant view. I actually deserted my healthy eating routine to a big waffle with peanut sauce just to boost my mood. I found the gambling part of the city ugly and depressing but good things come to people who explore and indulge in local sweet snacks. In my defence though – it was a food recommendation from my friend.
As soon as I managed to find my way to the Historic Centre it was a different story. Charming narrow streets, small squares with kiosks or fountains together with churches, temples were a rich mix and a perfect blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. I was truly impressed with this cultural heritage and since I fell in love with Lisbon it is needless to add that I enjoyed my time in Macau. A coffee at St. Augustine’s Square? Pastel de nata while sitting and looking at the Ruins of St. Paul’s? Oh wow! Macau was the biggest surprise of my trip and certainly a sweet one.