The Thing about Macau is… : Macau Observation

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The Thing about Macau is… : Macau Observation

Two segregated cultures

While walking down the street, it almost felt like I was constantly bouncing two different worlds back and forth. One world with old Chinese people with their markets, electric equipment stores and outdoor food stalls, and another world with tourists attractions and fancy restaurants. Those two exist at the same place, but dodn’t mix well together. I imagined Macau as similar as Hong Kong; they both have European and Chinese influences and are bilingual countries. However the segregation in Macau was bigger than Hong Kong. It felt more extreme.

 

Back street of Macau

Back street of Macau

Cuisine

Macanese cuisine is not world’s favourite, but you won’t forget the delightful taste once you have it. It is a mixture of Cantonese and Portuguese and they create some pretty good stuff. For starters, custard tart (egg tart) is widely available in every corner of Macau. Portuguese chicken jumped high on my ‘favourite food’ list. Try to taste it from different bakeries. HK$1.5 one was excellent, but the one I paid HK$8 deserved the price. Also they surely know how to make a good quality coffee.

Portuguese Chicken in Macau

Portuguese Chicken in Macau

Casino

As the nickname ‘Las Vegas of Asia’ indicates, casino is a big part of Macau. There are 23 casinos around the islands, and no need to sit and play if you don’t want to. Casinos are clean, well managed, and actually pleasant. No smoking inside, no loud noise, and the decor was fancy. They even run free shuttles to the border gate and to the airport. It’s free for everyone, so use it if you are around.

Casinos in Macau

Currency

Do you know what kind of currency they use in Macau? Neither did I until I arrived here. Patacas, have you ever heard of such name, Patacas? Funny thing is, if you are coming or visiting from Hong Kong, you don’t need to bother exchange money because it considers as the same as patachas. Quite strange, using other country’s currency. But it’s a good change if you collect foreign money, because it is certainly a rare currency for sure.

 

Patacas

Patacas

Location, location, location

Macau is a good place to break your trip from/to Hong Kong or China. It is an interesting place to travel of course, and because of the location between Hong Kong and China, the border crossing to either country is easy. Just an hour of sailing to Macau was a delight. I was with TurboJET, and the boat ride was way beyond what I was expecting. While busy eating complementary breakfast on the leather seat, and drinking coffee with the newspaper, we were already in Macau. I think this was the very first time I wish the boat ride was longer than it was supposed to be.

After two days of exploring, I entered China. I’d never thought of the day I cross the Chinese border by foot but I did. It appeared to be a lot of people are commuting across the border, due to the amount of people at the custom. If you can walk between two countries, I guess it is doable.

I thought about a day trip to Macau when I was in Hong Kong, but I decided cross the Chinese border through Macau since I’m going there anyway, and it looked like Macau deserves more than a day trip, and it was true.

On the way to Macau with Premier Grand

On the way to Macau with Premier Grand

No English

Don’t expect to use English in Macau. All the signs are bilingual but Chinese and Portuguese. It’s easy to think Macau would be similar with Hong Kong due to the geometric and cultural similarity but no. In Hong Kong, lots of people are using English and Cantonese but seem like Macanese use only Cantonese or Portuguese. I survived with my ability to read and guess Chinese letter and few Portuguese I can recognize. Oddly enough, I didn’t meet anyone who speaks Portuguese.

 

Street signs in Macau

English sign is rare in Macau

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

9 Comments

  1. sarah says:

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  2. shannon says:

    hmm ok so if they don’t speak English in Macau why are there signs in English (last photo) contrary to what you wrote? Seems to me Cantonese, Portuguese and English are on the signs in your photo because I could read the English letters :).

    I learned something I never heard about Macau (yes I knew it existed) but had no idea what was there, or what it was like until I saw your post :).

    • Juno says:

      haha well, that was one of the only English signs I saw. It was on touristy area, so I guess it was required. But street signs and menu… everything is in Portuguese and Cantonese.

  3. Hey! I heard about your blog from my friend Lauren at Neverending Footsteps. It’s awesome to see a Korean female travel blogger out there. I lived in Seoul for two months at the beginning of my trip. I was in Macau too in September. I had their famous pork chop in a bun… and it was just uninspiring. I do love Portuguese egg tarts though! I have to check out your blog from now on. Keep up the good work!

  4. Almost nobody speaks Portuguese in Macau, mostly it’s Portuguese or Brazilian tourists. I guess they keep the bilingual signs as a tourist attraction. Aside from some historical buildings, Macau is just your average Chinese city.

    • Juno says:

      That’s why I’ve never met anyone. I see. Yeah, I guess it attracts people with all the European vibes. But after being a while in China, Macau is quite different than China though.

  5. Erica says:

    After I read about the cuisine I’m actually really interested in visiting – but I’m a fan of fusion. 😛

    • Juno says:

      You’d love it!!!!! When you are coming to Asia (Japan or otherwise) consider visiting Macau. It’s a cool place and lots of cool street arts too!

  6. Charu says:

    I actually liked Macau but agree with you that it is an odd place…it’s trying to be so independent as a SAR but it is over the top on so many aspects! I did not love the food but adored the tea ceremony and high end hotels and massage parlors. Macau’s cultural area was what I loved the most…loved Ruins of St. Paul. Nice photos, Juno!

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