Updated: Nov 24, 2018
Macau as a destination is visited typically either as an accompaniment trip to Hong Kong or as a place for mere casino indulgence. When I first told my friends that I was headed to Macau on leisure, for a month, they didn't think I would have much to do. I agree, one doesn't necessarily need a month to explore the region, but I wanted to witness the Chinese new year as well.
There are no direct flights from where I traveled (Bangalore, India). The travel was quite exhausting due to the connecting flight that was involved. When I landed at the airport, was pleasantly surprised to find fewer people along with the duty officers. Most nationalities get to stay and visit Macau for a minimum of 30 days without any visa hassles. So, the whole process of getting there was effortless.
Here's the official website of Macao Immigration for more travel related information.
Macau is under the Special administrative region of China (SAR), and it’s divided into three major areas; Macau, Taipa, and Coloane. Each part has something different to offer. While Coloane and Taipa with its Cotai strip have the best Casinos, Shopping Malls & Luxury Hotels to offer, Macau, on the other hand, provides a splendid spread of cultural infusion of Chinese and Portuguese. Exchanging of pleasantries is still a foreign concept here, I’m not sure if it's the language barrier or mere shyness but don’t confuse that with rudeness. If you are a solo traveler, be prepared to help yourself on occasions. While I stayed at a friend’s place in Macao, there are quite a few options for accommodations ranging from $300 a night at a luxury hotel to a more affordable $50 a night at a budget hotel.
The best way to explore the city is by walking. However, there are two significant forms of public transportation, one being the taxi and the other being buses. There are no metros or trains available, and quite frankly the need for its existence don’t surface either. The bus fare is inexpensive and conducive to ease the travel as they are available every 6-8 minutes in each direction that you intend to travel. The taxis, on the other hand, are available at a wave on the street and is a lot less puzzling to the driver when you have a Cantonese/Mandarin translation of the place you wish to visit.
Wandering around the city, you’ll notice that the substantial part of the populace is that of Macanese, you will find yourself not stared at during your stay. Just a quick glance perhaps and then they get on with their lives. Majority of the people here don’t speak English, but you will always find a way to get by as there will be someone who understands the basics of English language and help you with it.
Macau, formerly a Portuguese territory
until 1999, has influences of culture that ingress beyond the beautiful architecture; It has found a way to gain entree into the spread of distinctive cuisine and lifestyle. What I found far more interesting than the quaint shopping and the casino spendings was the perfect blend of two cultures. The cozy & edgy vibe of the area, the random pop of color in a dull pedestrial, the artistically carved cobblestone pavements and the harmonious integration of people on the narrow lanes are quite the visual treats.
I visited Macau during February, and luckily enough witnessed the Chinese new year. It is one of its kind. The stores were closed for business while the squares roared with people. The roads lit up to the brightly colored lanterns and mandarin decorated trees. I was excited to take in some fabulous display of fireworks and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of cultural traditions.
The cafes and bars found on the squares
here are surprisingly tiny and exquisite. I spent an entire day reading a book in a cafe and observing the people pass. You also find plenty of patisseries to indulge in for your sugar cravings. The favorite amongst the local is Egg Tart, sawdust pudding, and croissants. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks seemed to have carved their popularity amidst the younger folks.
What appeared to me as a cultural shock was the idea of Chinese cuisine that is served and endeavored in India. Of course, I knew it would be different in Macau, but the disparity in its difference is comical. After initial resistance, I seemed to take a great deal of liking to the authentic Chinese Cuisine. The cuisine that I enjoyed the most had to be Portuguese. With their in-house wine and seafood sustenance, it is a feast. Besides Chinese & Portuguese kitchen, there are other gamuts of cuisines one can dive into from Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Singaporean. I visited a couple of Bazaar (Markets), food street and a vintage store. To be honest, the market wasn't as eventful, but the vibe and the local artist's work was worth a visit. The exploration of the vintage store proved to be amusing. I got to witness the clothing style and accessories over the period of years and ended up purchasing a select jacket and silver jewelry. There are quite a few museums and holy places to visit depending on your interests, and I was told that the trip is incomplete without touring these three iconic spots. One, The Ruins of St Paul's Church on Santo Antonia. Second, the gorgeous gold Kun Iam statue along the Avenida Dr and the A-Ma Temple, one of the oldest temple in Sao Lourenco.
To all my fellow travelers, in my splendid month's travel to Macau, I’ve probably indulged in the gambling twice, but I’ve come to love and live the bewildered fusion, sparkling legacy, and quirky influences the most. What's your take? For more pictures, follow me on Instagram @flohwithme or find it in the below link, https://youtu.be/Zj_moy7nQHo
Travel Related information
Visa for Indians : Not required
Duration : 30 days
Purpose : Tourism
Travel : By Air
Currency : Macanese Pataca (MOP)
Picture Credits : @flohwithme