Las Vegas of East (Part 1)

Macau is an odd beast. Only a walk away from the mainland China, it feels like a China Town somewhere in the heart of Europe. Portuguese architecture, catholic churches and bilingual signs are enough to make you forget that China is not that far away. There are plenty of heritage sites, beautiful architecture, peaceful gardens and labyrinth-like streets that make Macau a very nice place for just walking around. Old architecture is starkly contrasted with casino-entertainment complex and impressive skyways and bridges. This small patch of land is full of casinos, designer shops, luxurious hotels and everything else that is designed to make you part with your money in a more or less pleasant way. As for infrastructure, there are three impressive wavy bridges connecting Manau peninsula with the Tapai island. The longest one is over 5km long. A bit surprising to see something like this in a small place such as Macau, but this is China.

Despite the fact that Macau is the densest populated area in the world, there is a sizable park on Tapai island. This is partly due to hilly terrain, but I saw signs of development there as well. Hopefully they will keep that area as it is. Unlike Chinese parks, this park is actually a forest with a few maze-like jogging paths. I spent hours in it trying to find a way out, reaching the point when I just wanted to get out of there. Macau itself is not any better from the orientation point of view. Forget Chinese grid cities, Macau is medieval Europe at its best with its narrow abruptly ending streets going in all directions with no clear plan or logic. I still have no idea about Macau’s downtown geography, it is all one big maze to me.

All in all, a surprisingly lovely city and it makes a nice place to visit even if you are not into gambling. Plus t is apparently considerably cheaper to fly to/from Macau than Hong Kong due to lower airport taxes. Unfortunately I found out this only after booking a flight ticket from Hong Kong, but I will save this information until the next time

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