Did I mention that my vacation to Hong Kong included a daytrip to the lovely Macau? It’s just a short ferry ride away to another stamp in the ol’ passport. I was a little hesitant to go after an acquaintance said Macau was the Vegas of Asia, with nothing to offer but huge casinos. BUT! She couldn’t have been more wrong — true, Macau had a ton of gaudy casinos, but it also had a super interesting mix of colonial Portuguese and modern Chinese culture, as well as some beautiful cathedrals and ruins. There was so much to do and see I could have easily spent more than just the day I had there.

Just outside the ferry terminal, several men were waiting with their pedi-cabs offering cheap rickshaw tours of the island. It was a really fun, cheap way to get around the island. Plus, he had some interesting commentary on the changes in Macau over the years, from a laid-back Portuguese colony to a Chinese territory dominated by gambling and high taxes. He was really nostalgic for the Macau of ten years ago, before Chinese rule.

The last two are from A-Ma Temple, built in the 15th Century to commemorate the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. Those hanging cone-shaped coils are actually incense spirals that can burn as long as ten days. While we were there, we got caught in a brief shower, and the mixed scent of smoke and fresh rain was wonderful.

Senado Square

The technicolor pastel city of my dreams

St. Dominic’s Church

Ruins of St. Paul’s Jesuit college and cathedral

Hác Sá Beach on Coloane island is known for its black sand. Although Lonely Planet hailed it as Macau’s most popular beach, there was almost nobody there. Just lots of trash. Womp womp.

The guidebook also said the Venetian Macau is the largest casino in the world, so it’s clearly where I had to spend the evening after the sun went down. Even on a Monday night, it was pretty busy, and the lowest blackjack table started at about $70US. I stuck to the slots, where I lost about a buck before I decided it wasn’t for me. But still super fun!

Macau: it’s not just casinos! (and the casinos are pretty fun anyway)