We had been staying in Hong Kong for a couple days and planned to take the hour and a half ferry over to Macau for the night. When we got settled into our hotel room we naturally decided to go for a walk and check it all out.
Turns out, it’s the biggest confluence of culture I’ve really ever seen on a little island.
It is indeed like an Asian Vegas. 33 casinos in total, there is a Wynn, MGM Grand, Venetian, and Sands, which are all as glamorous and overflowing with money as those in the states. There are also many independent casinos like the Grand Lisboa—which have an addition that most US casinos don’t make as obvious—call girls. Who are out in the open waiting to be, well, called up. We had tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil show Zaia later that night at the Venetian and the casino is interestingly an exact replica of the one in Vegas, almost surreal. Across the street from the Venetian is another casino called City of Dreams where the Hard Rock hotel is located. Here, we almost got kicked out after I took a snapshot of a jeweled Michael Jackson glove they had in an elaborate case. Oops.
In addition to the Asian Vegas aspect, Macau is also strangely European. Once owned by Portugal, it was the only European colony in China…and the Portuguese certainly left their influence. During our walk around the island we had really no direction and started heading towards Senado Square and this is where is turned into WOW. Maybe it was because I was quite possibly suffering from sunstroke, or perhaps it was because I felt like I was walking through a culture vault from casinos to Buddhist temples to Asian sweet shops, but once we got here I definitely knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore…I was in Europe! With a beautiful fountain in the middle of the square and gorgeous pastel painted buildings with canopies on every corner, Senado Square is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Like fairytale pretty. From here we walked to the St. Paul’s Cathedral ruins—built in 1602, destroyed by fire in 1835—where you climb the stairs and look out over the city. When I got to the top I noticed that there was a group assembling at the bottom of the stairs that were about to perform a traditional Chinese Lion dance. Can you feel my confusion here?!
Overall, Macau is awesome and totally worth a trip off Honk Kong for a night or two. You get to feel like you are in three places at once and have a bit of a head-trip wandering through the streets of this “Monte Carlo of the Orient.”