Monday, November 17, 2008

Three Macaus

On Saturday I took the fast cat over to Macau - or at least two of the three Macaus.

The first Macau, and for me the main draw, was the old Portuguese settlement with churches, some ruined like St Paul's above, barracks, offices clubs, forts and the like. The connections with Europe go an awful long way back - 1557 according to my guide book.

And it was a major early trading base with the whole of south east Asia, connecting countries like Japan Indonesia and India. It was also a base for the Jesuits who took a significant role in the settlement, including one of the order firing the cannon that saw off an invasion of Dutch!

It was at a Portuguese restaurant I stopped for lunch - Afonso III - where had some lovely sardines.

Increasingly though the old Macau is being lost within the second city. Just as if we humans were to disappear our cities would soon be lost within the undergrowth, so the colonial buildings are islands within the Chinese city it really is:

The streets were packed with shoppers and tourists buying foods and gifts that meant nothing to me. They were also crowds in front of the huge screen in the main square following the Grand Prix that was being held here this weekend.

There is a third Macau, one which left me cold. For its a great gambling centre and there are these huge casinos that intrude on the sky line and suck money out of those that come over.


Katinka said...

(giggling over the lunch of "lovely sardines"!)

I had no idea that Macau had so many different cultural roots!

The Old Macau definitely sounds intriguing. It's sad though that this part of their history is being swallowed up by commercialism...

JP said...

It was a great lunch!! Maybe the best I had all the time I was in Hong Kong.

I think they do appreciate it - there were local couples having their wedding photos taken at pretty much every one of the old buildings.