City of luck & fortune

City of luck & fortune

Macau Magic

City of luck & fortune

The countdown to reach my ‘ultimate destination’, which I had yearned to visit over the years, began the moment I stepped into a ferry at the Hong Kong Airport. Macau, the city of fortune and luck, was just an hour away. 

The narrow yet beautiful lanes, skyscrapers, people riding bicycles and the pleasant weather set the mood for my five-day stay. The beautiful view of the charming city skyline and of Pearl River Delta engulfed me when I entered my room at Hotel Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16.

My tour of Macau, the special administrative region of China, kickstarted with a visit to the greyhound races and the popular casino Grand Lisboa. A trip to Macau is inconsequential without a visit to its casinos. These casinos offer the widest range of games in the world, including baccarat, blackjack, roulette, boule, big and small, fan-tan and other hundreds of most glittering array of slot machines anywhere. Nightlife in Macau is famous for its variety, its frantic pace and constant change.

 For late night revellers in the city, bars along the Avenida Sun Yat Sen, near the Kun Lam statue, are a must-visit. As for food lovers, Macau offers a stunning variety of distinctive cuisine, with influences from Cantonese, Portuguese, Indian and even Malay cooking.

Religious side

After hitting the casinos, I decided to explore the cultural side of the city. I visited the picturesque A-Ma Temple, located on the south-western tip of the Macau Peninsula. Its prayer pavillions on four levels are dedicated to the Taoist goddess A-Ma and the Buddhist goddess of mercy or Kun lam. 

My next stop was Macau Museum, which is home to a large number of valuable exhibits demonstrating the way of life and cultures of the various communities in the city. The museum is housed in the Mount Fortress built by Jesuits in the early 17th century. The next visit was to the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral, which is the facade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602-40, destroyed by fire in 1835, and the ruins of St Paul’s College, which stood adjacent to the church. As a whole, the old Church of Mater Dei, St Paul’s College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and formed what can be perceived as the Macau’s acropolis. 

The evenings provided much relief, as I spent time exploring outlets and joints at the Senado Square. The square is paved with a wave-patterned stone mosaic created especially by experts from Portugal. I also made quick stops at Guia Fortress, the oldest western style light house on the Chinese coast, which was built in 1622-38, the Grand Prix Museum and the Wine Museum. 

Having seen every aspect of the city, I decided to head to the islands of Taipa and Cotai, which resembled the countryside with beaches, ancestral Chinese villages and hills with nature trails. Once considered far from the city, when they were accessible only by small ferries, the islands have developed into integrated suburbs.

Centre of art

However, the best experience was the visit to the House of Dancing Water at the City of Dreams Resorts. The two-and-a-half-hour breathtaking water-based performance was created and directed by Franco Dragone.

The show drew its creative inspiration from the roots of Chinese culture, particularly the seven emotions derived from classical Confucian beliefs, and is the most extravagant production ever staged in Asia. I was stunned when I found out that over 700 performers, musicians and acrobats had auditioned from across five continents and trained for two years in Belgium before the show. 

Macau is a living representation of a co-existence between historic architecture and  urban landscape that includes streetscapes and piazzas such as Barra Square, Lilau Square, St Augustine’s Square, Senado Square, Cathedral Square, St Dominic’s Square and the Company of Jesus Square. 

I witnessed an artful blend of cultures between classic Portuguese architecture and traditional Chinese design and European style. I noticed that Macau has not only inspired architecture of different traditions, but has preserved and maintained an extraordinary number of its buildings too, making them a part of everyday life. Hence, within a short distance, one can find Taoist temples from the Ming Dynasty and baroque churches from the 18th century, hilltop fortresses, the oldest European theatre in Asia, and the first western lighthouse, colonial palaces and Chinese courtyards. 

As I boarded my flight at Hong Kong Airport, back to India, Macau was lingering in my mind.

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