After settling into the Holiday Hotel for my enforced sojourn in Macau, I set off to explore the neighborhood, and to try — unsuccessfully — to find an Internet cafe to let C***o know what had happened (I was scheduled to have lunch with her and some other faculty on Tuesday; fortunately, my next class wasn't until Wednesday).
If Macau's known for one thing, it's its casinos. Hong Kong residents have long flocked here to gamble (any HK film fans remember the God of Gamblers movies?), but now many mainlanders and foreigners come as well.
Local tycoon Stanley Ho had a 40-year monopoly on casinos here, but recently the scene has been opened up to deep-pocketed competitors like Vegas's Steve Wynn, who opened this gargantuan one last year.
Closer to my hotel, there were small shopping streets leading from the Lardo do Senado with food stands, electronics stores, and clothing stores like this one. I guess "Ick" means something different in Cantonese.
Many of the food stands sell these strips of dried, sweetened pork and other meats.
When you apply for a Hello Kitty Visa card, you also get a Hello Kitty rice cooker.
Many of the restaurants have tanks of fish in front, from which customers select their meal before entering.
I got an early start the next morning — even the side street where my hotel was located sees a constant flow of noisy motor scooters. I had breakfast at a Starbucks in the Lardo that I figured would be filled with toursists and Western businessmen, but turned out to be occupied largely by locals. The coffee and apple strudel were a bit pricy — about like back home — but I got to enjoy an International Herald-Tribune — the first I'd seen since my last trip abroad — as well as the song stylings of Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor.
After breakfast I spent a couple of hours in the Macau Museum, which has a terrrific series of exhibits detailing the history and distinctive culture of the territory. Nearby are the Ruins of the Church of St. Paul — essentially just the facade of the building, which was destroyed by fire in 1835 (at that time it was serving as a military barracks after the Jesuits were expelled in the 1700s).
Here's what's propping it up.
You can climb to the top from the rear and enjoy the view looking down towards the Lardo.
Not too far from the ruins is the Luis de Camoes Garden, a favorite spot for locals to play games . . .
. . . and play music on erhu and pipa.
I had lunch on this block at a little Portugese reastaurant where I got a pork dish that was just okay — or maybe I'm losing my taste for Western food.
Kun Ian Temple — a half-block from the restaurant — is said to be the most active Buddhist temple in Macau. It was quite tiny compared to the massive one I visited outside Zhuhai a couple of weekends ago.
This practitioner can't put down her cell phone even when burning incense.
Behind the temple is a cemetary this includes this high-rise mausoleum.
Next I strolled to Guia Hill, the highest point on the peninsula. By this point in the day — mid-afternoon — I was tired enough that I took a cable car to the top.
The view to the south
from the peak. In the distance is the 4.5-km. bridge to Taipa Island.
Looking north towards Zhuhai, which was where I wanted to be.
The lighthouse at the top is the oldest one on the China coast.
Just enought time for one more garden, Lou Lim Ioc, a tiny gem dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers.
I enjoyed the chance to explore Macau in greater depth, and unlike the dissatifaction I felt the previous day with the rather inchoate sense I had of the place, my wanderings made me feel like I had developed a general familiarity with at least the central part of the peninsula. But I have to admit that in the back of my mind I was counting the hours all day until 4:30, when my visa would be ready for pickup. I had some slight trepidation that there'd be a snag and I'd be exiled from China even longer; but everything worked, and I sailed through immigration and was back on the bus to the campus less than an hour after getting the visa. While I managed to make lemonade out of my predicament, I have to admit that I had a huge sense of relief to get back "home" to my campus apartment.
After my adventures in Macau, I wouldn't mind staying put for a while. But I previously made plans to go to Shenzhen and Hong Kong with C***o and R****i tomorrow and Friday, weather permitting (there's an all-campus sports event that preempts classses; but if it rains — and it was cloudy most of today — the classes will be back on). That'll mean I won't get back to blogging until the weekend, but I should have plenty to report then.