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Where are you going next?

 Africa86 votes
76.11%
 South America3 votes
2.65%
 Europe3 votes
2.65%
 Eastern Asia5 votes
4.42%
 Carribean9 votes
7.96%
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1.77%
total votes: 113
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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live!" -- Thoreau

307--China: Macau--Ruins, Casinos & Forts
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 21 2005 - 08:00 PST
cherie writes: Flashback: January 2005
Located on the Pearl River Delta in the Guangdong province, Macau has been a “Special Administrative Region” of China since December 20, 1999. (Basically “SAR” means that the people of Macau aren’t bound by China’s socialist economic system.) Macau is 60-kilometers west of Hong Kong and boasts a population of 465,000 people that call themselves Macanese.

The Portuguese colonized Macau in the 16th century by renting the land from the Chinese. China was happy to oblige on one condition: the Portuguese rid the area of those nasty pirates!

Walking around Macau it’s hard to believe you’re in China. There are numerous open air plazas flanked by baroque cathedrals and colonial mansions. Macau is most famous for the Ruins of St. Paul which was a Jesuit church built from 1602 to 1637. St. Paul’s Cathedral was destroyed in 1835 by a typhoon. The entire structure was razed except the picturesque façade.

Later Scott, Margaret and I visited Monte Fort, built in the 17th century to defend Macau against intruders. We sat on a cannon that was only used once in 1627 against Dutch invaders.

Macau has its own currency called the Pataca, but most stores also accept the Hong Kong dollar. Most residents speak Cantonese (88%), but Macau’s official languages are Chinese and Portuguese.

Even though technically Macau is a part of China, you still have to clear customs and immigration to enter. In addition to the regular visa requirements, Scott, Margaret and I had to go through a Thermal Image Scanner to detect if we had a fever. No sick people allowed in Macau! The Thermal Image Scanners were installed to protect Macau against the spread of SARS. (If we had a fever, we would have been redirected to a nurse who would have questioned us about SARS.) The scanner measured the amount of infrared radiation each of us emitted. Luckily, all three of us were within acceptable limits! Otherwise we would have been sent back to Hong Kong the way we came—via a Hydrofoil Ferry.

Once inside Macau, Scott, Margaret and I opted to travel the streets on a tricycle rickshaw called a pedicab. When our pedicab driver broke a sweat, our collective conscious took over and we decided to walk the charming cobble stone streets ourselves. We got fabulously lost, and enjoyed every minute of it. Macau isn’t very big, so we didn’t worry. Instead, we feasted on freshly baked almond cookies and donated money to one of Macau’s famous casinos. More sophisticated than the loud neon casinos of Las Vegas, Macau casinos actually have a dress code. They also let you to play games that you’ll never see the likes of in Las Vegas--like fan-tan and dai-siu.

As of January 2005, Macau had 17 casinos (14 were operated by the same guy named Stanley Ho.) Recently opened was the Sands Macau, and in late 2006 Steve Wynn will open the new Wynn Macau. Scott and I cheered while Margaret won money! Fish balls for everyone tonight! What a way to end a day in Macau.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Cherie, Scott and Margaret by the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral which was devastated by a typhoon in 1835.

Cherie, Scott and Margaret by the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral which was devastated by a typhoon in 1835.

Ruins of St. Paul which was a Jesuit church built from 1602 to 1637.

Ruins of St. Paul which was a Jesuit church built from 1602 to 1637.

A view from the façade of the church that was razed by a typhoon in 1835.

A view from the façade of the church that was razed by a typhoon in 1835.

The remaining front wall of St Paul's Church is called: Sam Ba Sing Tzik.

The remaining front wall of St Paul's Church is called: Sam Ba Sing Tzik.

Cherie and Margaret in front of the remains of the Jesuit church.  St. Paul's façade has become an icon and a must-see for tourists visiting Macau.

Cherie and Margaret in front of the remains of the Jesuit church. St. Paul's façade has become an icon and a must-see for tourists visiting Macau.

Cherie and Margaret up close and personal.

Cherie and Margaret up close and personal.

There are a variety of ways to get around in Macau, we chose the pedicab.

There are a variety of ways to get around in Macau, we chose the pedicab.

Margaret was curious what this Macanese lady was knitting.

Margaret was curious what this Macanese lady was knitting.

Scott and Margaret exploring Macau.

Scott and Margaret exploring Macau.

Anyone want a fish-ball for lunch?

Anyone want a fish-ball for lunch?

I prefer a crepe.

I prefer a crepe.

Hung out to dry.

Hung out to dry.

Margaret by a cannon at Monte Fort.  It only fired a massive projectile once against the Dutch in 1627.

Margaret by a cannon at Monte Fort. It only fired a massive projectile once against the Dutch in 1627.

Cherie and Scott.

Cherie and Scott.

Exploring the old fort with twin smiles.

Exploring the old fort with twin smiles.

A view of the ruins of St. Paul's Church from Monte Fort.

A view of the ruins of St. Paul's Church from Monte Fort.

Margaret rests at a shady square in Macau.

Margaret rests at a shady square in Macau.

Scott holds up his drink--kiwi juice.

Scott holds up his drink--kiwi juice.

A statue in the square.

A statue in the square.

Meat jerky.

Meat jerky.

Wild and beautiful kites.

Wild and beautiful kites.

This is a Macau advertisement for a product called: Relaxaderm.  But the model doesn't look very relaxed!

This is a Macau advertisement for a product called: Relaxaderm. But the model doesn't look very relaxed!

A pharmacy in Macau.  These drugs are found in nature, not in a scientist's lab.

A pharmacy in Macau. These drugs are found in nature, not in a scientist's lab.

Guess what is in each jar.

Guess what is in each jar.

Patients buy their pharmaceutical drugs according to weight.

Patients buy their pharmaceutical drugs according to weight.

Colorful towels.

Colorful towels.

You can smell those almond cookies down every cobble-stone alley.

You can smell those almond cookies down every cobble-stone alley.

As the sun decends, Scott, Margaret and I share a bottle of wine while meandering down the streets of Macau.

As the sun decends, Scott, Margaret and I share a bottle of wine while meandering down the streets of Macau.

What do you want for dinner?

What do you want for dinner?

Lobster?  Me, too!

Lobster? Me, too!