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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Hong Kong: Day 22 - A Day in Macau

When you are in Hong Kong, it's easy to visit Macau as a day tour. The reason is a ferry connection with departures at every 15 minutes. I really wanted to go there to meet a friend, I hadn't seen in a long time. We were also interested in the attractions of the city, which are much more than the famous casinos. The Historic Center of Macau is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site

So, we started in the morning from our hotel, the Butterfly on Hollywood, and walked past the Western Market to the nearby Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal. We were happy when we saw the ticket machine. Then we realised, that you only can use it if you possess a local credit card. The queue in front of some phones that we had ignored mainly was actually the second part of a line, that later leads to the Ticket Counter.

After standing in queues a lot the day before, we were on the verge of having a nervous breakdown (at least my friend). Still, we entered the line and finally arrived at the counter an hour later. It was a bit of a problem, as we were told that the next empty seats are available only in the afternoon. But then, he got an opening on a ferry at noon and, of course, we grabbed that. However, the next free seats for a return ferry were past midnight, but that was okay for us.  

Later, we happily returned to the check-in and immigration was really quick. We only needed to fill out a departure card and then, when we returned a new arrival card, which we got there (however, don't forget your passport!). I really like travelling by boat, and the ferry was modern and quite comfortable. An hour later we already arrived at the Outer Harbour in Macau.

If you don't have private transport, you can take a taxi from the ferry terminal and then walk through the city. But my friend had offered to pick us up there, which we gladly accepted. Unfortunately, I didn't find a Wi-Fi-signal to text her about our arrival. We had talked about a meeting point when we were still in Hong Kong and eventually found each other. It was great to see her again, after so many years. She brought us to the Monte Fort, built between 1617 and 1626, where we enjoyed the view and the walkthrough Macau's history.

Just a few steps away was the Macao Museum with displays of Macao's history and culture, including popular arts and traditions. It is a modern museum with plenty to see.

Next up was a real highlight, also just a few steps away, the Ruins of St. Paul, which are part of the World Heritage. It is a stunning site.

We walked down through the crowded (it was a Saturday) pedestrian zone, towards the beautiful Senado Square and had lunch at a nearby restaurant. My friend eventually showed us the tourist information at the Senado Square, where we got a map and guided us to the Cathedral before she had to leave. 

It was too late already to visit the A-Ma Temple, but due to our new scheduled return to Hong Kong, we still had a lot of time for sightseeing. We thought about going parts of the "Footsteps into the Historic Center"-walk, that the tourist office suggests. But then we opted for another suggested walk, the "The Marriage of East and West in St. Anthony´s Parish"-walk.  So, we returned to the Ruins of St. Paul and also visited the small but interesting Na Tcha Temple.


Next, we came to the St. Anthony's Church and then to the Camoes Garden, where we relaxed a bit. We were asked by two students if we might like to answer a questionnaire about religion and stress. We didn't really expect that, but we gladly helped, as we weren't exactly in a rush and the bench in the park was somewhat comfortable...

Eventually, we walked further to the north and came to the Lin Kai Temple, which was kind of inhabited by a restaurant. It was already dark when we reached the next temple, the Kun Lam Temple. Unfortunately, it was already closed, but it looked attractive from outside too. 

We had more luck when we arrived next at the Lou Lim Loc Garden, which still was open. It was a pleasant surprise and looked fantastic and peaceful in the evening. I sat a while at the pond just to relax a bit (and rest my feet!). We also were surprised by a big orchid exhibition there, with so many beautiful blossoms. We actually stayed there, until they closed. Should you ever go there, you can also visit the Macao Tea Culture House in the garden.

From the garden, we walked pretty much straight to the southwest, in the hope of getting to casinos, which eventually worked out. On the way, we came past the Tap Seac Square with the beautiful buildings of the Archives of Macao, the Cultural Institute and the Macao Central Library. 

Eventually, we came to the Grand Lisboa Casino, which is really grand. We were not planning on losing money there but admired the sheer vastness and the architecture from the outside.

There was still time, so we decided, to walk back to the ferry terminal and follow (more or less) the "A Legacy of Arts and Culture"-walk to get there. The museums on the way, like the Macao Science Center and the Macao Museum of Art were, of course, closed already. But the Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre was pretty impressive from the outside too, as it is a big statue. 

The setting of the statue is really great, and it was really different to the large figures we visited in Kurume, Japan or in Keelung, Taiwan.

Our last stop was the Macau Fisherman´s Wharf, which is already close to the ferry. There, we took a look at the replicas of some European architecture and had a late dinner at the seafront, which was delicious. Eventually, we walked back to the ferry and were soon again in Hong Kong, where it was just a short walk to the hotel.

I really liked Macau and its diversity of modern and old. Actually, you can spend easily another sightseeing day there. We didn't even get to visit Macau's Coloane Island, which is home to attractions like the A-Ma Cultural Village

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