Off to Macau

My parents visited me this week, and so we all decided to go to a little family trip on Saturday. Our destination? Macau. Macau is another specially administrated region in China, just like Hong Kong. But Macau is different in the sense that it was a Portuguese colony for nearly 500 years. From the early 1500’s up until 1999, Macau was handed back to the Chinese government. Similarly to Hong Kong, we heard that Macau had been clearly influenced by colonial culture, as even today, you can find at least 10000 Portuguese people living there. Macau is known mostly for one thing. Its casinos. In fact, Macau is the only Chinese city where gambling is legal. There are more than 36 casinos located in Macau. Macau is considered the gambling center of all Asia and it is true that it has surpassed Las Vegas in gambling revenues for quite a while. Specifically, Macau receives more than 30 million mainland Chinese tourists every year. But there is a catch. Mainland Chinese people can often only visit Macau twice a year at most, even though Macau residents can freely travel to mainland China. Macau is very interesting itself. Nevertheless, I would argue that getting there from Hong Kong is even more interesting.

Up until a year ago, the fastest way to get to Macau was by ferry which takes forty to fifty minutes to get there. Otherwise, you had to travel through mainland China for 4-5 hours. Yet, last year a spectacular new bridge that connects Hong Kong and Macau was built after 9 years of construction. The bridge cost an astronomical 19 BILLION dollars and it stretches a jaw-dropping 34 miles! Before getting on the bus that would cross the bridge, we had to go through the Hong Kong customs since we were technically leaving the country. Then the bridge ride began. I was quite surprised to realize that part of the bridge turns into an underwater tunnel that is roughly 4 miles long! After traversing the bridge for nearly 50 minutes, we finally arrived at our destination! Unfortunately, we had to again go through customs since we were technically entering a new country. After we were done with all the bureaucracy, we finally met our tour guide who would then show us around the city. His name is Mario and he is one of the few Portuguese people left in Macau.

To be continued…

Hong Kong – Macau Bridge (Source: archinect.com)

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