A trip to Macao
Last year I had a chance to go to Macao in China. I went there to attend the Word Intelligence Congress (WIC 2012) and to present a paper about my MS thesis but I also had the chance to visit the city of Macao. The trip was less difficult than I expected at first.
The airports where intuitive (I had two layovers, one in Munch and another in Beijing) and the staff spoke English fluently. Things were different outside the airports. Even the hotel staff spoke poor English and they were only able to understand specific expressions or names of places. Also trying to communicate in English on the street was very difficult.
Macao was a Portuguese colony so the currency and places have Portuguese names but from my experience the population doesn’t understand them. Even though the currency is called “Patacas”, they understand only “Macau Dollars” and I was surprised to see that bank employees were not familiar with that name. The reason they use this phrase is the fact that they also have “Hong Kong Dollars”, used for gambling. On the other hand the tourism in Macao is based on the motto “a cultural experience between east and west”.
There is an old city centre with old colonial houses and churches left behind by the Portuguese. There is an old fort near the old city centre which was used to protect the city. There are some old 18th century style cannons which still point to the harbour like ancient guardians. But you should not expect an unbelievable experience when visiting the old city centre. There are only a few relevant places and it is very crowded.
I think the cultural impact is more relevant for people from Asia who did not see European cities and are not used to the old western architectural style. The Chinese part of the city with narrow streets full of small businesses is only a few minutes away from the old city centre. That part was the most significant for me because it is typical Asian. The gambling business remains the most significant part of Macao. You cannot miss that. It is everywhere and a new generation of skyscrapers is proof. Gambling is what Macao is famous for.
People from all over the Asia come to Macao to test their luck. If you walk at night you will see an ocean of lights of all colours. The most significant casino is the “Lisboa” which is a giant lotus-shaped skyscraper (the lotus is the symbol of Macao). Macao is a pretty safe place but I would not recommend walking alone at night outside of crowded places. It could be very dangerous. A Korean guy from the conference was robbed near the harbour.
I was impressed with this trip. I came across interesting people and places and it was very challenging for me to adapt so quickly. It was a very intense experience.
I want to thank iQuest for supporting me in this endeavour!