Macau: Am I in China or Portugal?
I had three whole days off. I had forgotten how precious three days off in a row could be. With working overtime and taking on two extra projects, I desperately needed a break. We decided to go to Macau!
Macau is only a 60-90 minute ferry ride from Shenzhen, which is about the same distance Hong Kong is from Shenzhen. Macau is similar to Hong Kong since it is also a “Special Administrative Region” in China. This means China says Macau and Hong Kong are part of China, but they have their own rules and currency. So, we grabbed our passports and “left” China for Macau!
Macau is amazing, despite being the Las Vegas of Asia and being the most densely populated place in the world. Casinos make more money in Macau than they do in Las Vegas. It’s crazy. However, we steered clear of the glitzy modern buildings and instead wandered the UNESCO World Heritage areas.
Macau belonged to Portugal until 1999, so many of the streets reflect the same colonial style that we saw in San Cristobal, Mexico and Cartagena, Colombia. I loved seeing signs in both Portuguese and Chinese. Portuguese is similar to Spanish, so it was refreshing to be able to read street signs again.
Traveling again felt like going home. I know I’ve only been working again for four months, but its amazing how quickly I’ve fallen into old routines of always having something to do. It was refreshing to just wander around with complete disregard to the time again.
The food in Macau is amazing. The first night, we went to a well-known Portuguese restaurant where I tried bacalhau, a salt-preserved cod dish that was amazing despite having too much oil.
Another favorite restaurant was the Cat Cave Cafe. We stopped here for an afternoon pick-me-up and discovered that this cafe was home to eight adorable cats! We lingered here for a long time and filled our camera with adorable cat pictures.
As per usual, we hunted through Macau for vegetarian restaurants. Our favorite was Veggie Macau. My vegan pasta had nutritional yeast. They had vegan brownies. I was beyond thrilled. We both love vegetarian restaurants because they have food you can’t find anywhere else. Every vegetarian restaurant is completely different. It’s always a joy to find one.
Next to Veggie Macau is the Christian cemetery. In China, if you belong to the communist party, you can’t be religious. As a result, hardly any churches, temples or mosques exist in Shenzhen. Conversely, the Portuguese brought Christianity with them, so we saw a plethora of churches for the first time in months.
We also visited all of the forts and pretty much all of the museums. I had so much fun exploring the city.
As we wandered the coastline, we discovered a crazy structure. It reminded me of a tower from Lord of the Rings. As we explored it we discovered that it was falling down! The tiles on the side of the towers were falling off and the pilings under the towers were askew. We surmised that a typhoon probably hit it and caused irreparable damage. We promptly ran back to shore and carried on our walk.
Macau is pretty easy for most nationalities to visit. Americans don’t need a visa if they stay for less than a month. On the other hand, to visit China, Americans need to get a visa from a Chinese Consulate before they go to China, a process that takes about 5 days and costs $140 per person. No wonder we saw more tourists in Macau.
For our next trip, we are going to Tokyo in October. If you’ve been to Japan, I’d love any recommendations for things to do or eat while we are there!