Monday, November 10, 2014

Macau: Asia's Las Vegas (3 Countries in 3 Days Part 3)

Macau, also spelled Macao, is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong, which is about 64 kilometers to the east, and it is also bordered by Guangdong Province to the north and the South China Sea to the east and south.

A former Portuguese colony, Macau was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal by the Ming Dynasty as a trading port. The Portuguese administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony of the Portuguese empire. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.

Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the PRC's Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in many international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty.

Fisherman's Wharf
Interesting Facts about Macau:
  1. With an estimated population of around 624,000 living in an area of 31.3 km2 (12.1 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.
  2. Macau is one of the world's richest cities, with the highest GDP per capita by purchasing power parity as of 2013, according to the World Bank.
  3. It become the world's largest gambilng centre in 2006, with the economy heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, as well as manufacturing.
  4. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expentancy in the world. Moreover, it is one of only a few regions in Asia with a "Very High Human Development Index", rangking 25th as of 2011.
From Hong Kong to Macau we use TurboJET, the recognized leader in the Hong Kong-Macau high-speed passenger transportation industry. For ticket price, you can check on TurboJET website. It took 2 hours to reach Macau. Our first destination was The Macau Fisherman's Wharf, located at Freguesia da Sé in Macau Peninsula, near the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier. Visitor attractions: Tang Dynasty Fortress, East Meets West (Vulcania, Aladdin's Fort, Aqua Romanis, Roman Amphitheatre "Colloseum"), Legend Wharf "Vasco da Gama Waterworld".

View from Macau Tower
Our next destination is Macau TowerThe tower measures 338 m (1,109 ft) in height from ground level to the highest point. An observation deck with panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim. It offers the best view of Macau and in recent years has been used for a variety of adventurous activities. At 233 meters, the Macau Tower's tethered "skyjump" and Bungee jump by AJ Hackett from the tower's outer rim, is the second highest commercial skyjump in the world, after Vegas' Stratosphere skyjump at 260 meters. The tower was created by the architecture firm of Craig Craig Moller. Besides being used for observation and entertainment, the tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting.

Ruins of St. Paul
Then we moved to the Ruins of St. Paul, one of Macau;s best kown landmarks. The ruins including of what was originally St. Paul's College and the Cathedral of St. Paul also known as "Mater Dei", a 17th-century Portuguese cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. Built from 1602 to 1640 by the Jesuits, the cathedral was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia at the time, and the royalty of Europe vied with each other to bestow upon the cathedral the best gifts. With the decline in importance of Macau, which was overtaken as the main port for the Pearl River Delta by Hong Kong, the cathedral's fortunes similarly ebbed, and it was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon on the 26 January 1835. 

Unfortunately, we don't have enough time to visit The Venetian and Largo do Senado (Senado Square) because we need to go back to Hong Kong before 3pm. We still have something to do in Hong Kong, in our last night there. Ladies Market! Yes, it is one of the most well-known street markets in Hong Kong, where various kinds of products are available for cheap prices (not just for women, as its name suggests). We're looking for marchandise as a gift for our friends in Indonesia.

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