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Category Archives: Macau
I’ve long been writing about how much Macau has changed since I first stepped ashore here in the 1980s. One place that has resisted change, however, is the island of Coloane. Not that Coloane has escaped completely unscathed, especially since it was joined to the island of Taipa in order to create reclaimed land that’s now home to mega resorts, shopping malls and casinos. You can, however, escape Macau’s sensory overload in Coloane.
Coloane remains the green lungs of the fast-growing city, home to beaches, hiking trails, a park with resident pandas, and a low-key village famous for its al-fresco restaurants. This article I wrote for travel2next.com, called Coloane Macau–Old-World Charm, extols the island’s virtues and explains why I’ve long found it ideal for a weekend escape.
I feel sorry for day-trippers arriving in Macau by ferry from Hong Kong without a clue what to do. True, there was a time when Macau was smaller (literally so, before reclamation filled in the Outer Harbour and created Cotai with its many resorts and casinos) and just striking out toward the old town would bring you to its historic center with its slow pace of life and cafes. There was only one museum (The Maritime Museum), and the dozen or so casinos in town were hidden away in hotels.
Nowadays traffic congests streets, there’s continual construction of new hotels, casinos and shopping malls, and there are so many different destinations vying for your time that you have to be very focused to concentrate on the places or subjects that interest you. My interest lies in history, as well as neighborhoods, food and other aspects of travel that root me in the here and now, so my favorite haunts are the older neighborhoods in the historic center of Macau, concentrated mostly on Penha Peninsula and around the ruins of St. Paul.
This article I wrote for travel2next, Macau Map and Walking Tour of Penha
Peninsula, takes in Macau’s oldest temple, a Chinese mansion that I consider an absolute must-see, churches, historic squares and other favorite spots on a walk from A-Ma Temple to Senado Square. My second walking tour for travel2next, A Walk Around St. Paul’s Ruins, takes readers from Senado Square to the Ruins of St. Paul’s and Camoes Garden, with many stops in between.
Back in the days when the Portuguese still ruled over Macau, nightlife consisted of a few cafes and hotel bars. You certainly weren’t going to get into any trouble, unless, of course, you gambled in one of its dozen or so casinos.
Today, Macau has more bars and clubs than you could ever hope to visit in three nights, which may not seem like much compared to nearby Hong Kong but which is constantly evolving. I recently had the opportunity to check out some of the newer places, which I describe in this article, Macau Rocks from Dusk ‘Til Dawn, published in the March 2015 issue of Global Traveler with my own photos (the photos shown here are also mine).
In addition to new bars inside and out casinos, there are also shows. The number and quality don’t rival those in Las Vegas, with, perhaps, one exception. The House of Dancing Water is the largest water-based show in the world, performed on a gigantic pool that has ascending and descending platforms and featuring 80 acrobats, gymnasts, divers, trapeze artists and other talented performers. Because many of them disappear into the water, everything has to work to technical perfection; 36 scuba divers await underwater to assist them. I’ve seen the show twice and still marvel that everything works without a hitch.
I’ve been going to Macau regularly since the mid-1980s, and with the exception, perhaps, of Berlin, Macau has changed more than any other city I know. I used to go there to escape the rigors of Hong Kong’s relentless buzz, to kick around its hilly back streets, to eat well on far less money than what it cost in Hong Kong.
I describe what Macau was like and what it has become in Experience
Macau’s Dual Heritage, which was published in the April 2014 issue of Global Traveler. It’s a story of what’s been lost in Macau’s rush to become the biggest gambling mecca of the world, but also of what cultural treasures remain.