Seeing China in a Different Light: Macau

THE diplomatic ties between China and the Philippines have suffered continuous blows in recent years because of unresolved disputes on sea territories. And even with the somewhat friendlier approach of President Rodrigo Duterte, the future is still unclear.

But while I personally hope—want even—that what is ours will be ours, perhaps we can also consider the example our President has set: To see China in a different, more positive light. After all, we share a deeper connection with the Chinese, whom many are our very own ancestors. It just undisputedly shows in our race and our culture.

In an impersonal level, there is also an overlooked aspect that can definitely help rebuild the relationship between the two nations. Tourism. This I discovered a few years back when I represented The Manila Times in a media familiarization tour to China sponsored by Cathay Pacific.

In partnership with Shenzhen-based tour operator Century Holiday, the Hong Kong-based airline tries to bridge the growing gap by promoting two of China’s countless tourist destinations. One is already established, the second, just emerging.

Let’s start with Macau and see what awaits us there:

Hop-on-hop-off Macau

Just like Hong Kong, Macau is one of China’s two Special Administrative Regions having been colonized by Portugal from the early 16th century up until 1999. Portugese influences is still prominent in the city and this is best seen aboard an open-top, hop-on-hop-off bus.

From the ferry where the bus ride began, the first sight to behold is the Macau Fisherman’s Wharf, the largest leisure and entertainment complex in the peninsula inspired by different ports of the world. Following this is the Macau Science Center, which features planetariums and an exhibition center.

The statue of the Goddess of Mercy
Truly awesome is the 21-meter Kun Lam Statue known as the Goddess of Mercy. According to the onboard tour guide, the statue “combines the traditional Buddhist culture with the European style of sculpture.”

Macau Tower, the 10th tallest building in the world
The bus then finds the Macau Tower, the 10th tallest tower in the world that offers various activities. Lucky visitors might get to the chance to witness a live 300-meter bungee jump at any given moment.

From modern Macau icon, a historical site comes next with the Temple of A-Ma. Also called the A-Ma-Gau (Place of A-Ma), the tour guide revealed that it is from the site’s name that the word “Macau” originated.

The Hotel Lisboa Macau is likened to a pineapple
Other stops include the Wynn Macau and the Hotel Lisboa Macau, which are two of the most famous casinos in the peninsula, as well as Ponte No. 16, a hotel and casino where Asia’s first Michael Jackson Gallery is found.

Ponte No. 16, a hotel and casino where Asia’s first Michael Jackson Gallery is found
At each destination, tourists can hop off the bus to explore the site and its nearby attractions. They can hop on again at the next available sightseeing bus to complete the tour.

Macau Centro Sidetrip

Chinese and Portuguese cultures converge at the Historic Center of Macau
Also make sure to visit Macau Centro, or the Historic Center of Macau, where Chinese and Portuguese cultures best converge. It has been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for successfully preserving Chinese and Portuguese influences for more than four centuries.

The Ruins of St. Paul is sure to take you back in time
There, churches and temples co-exist with one another like the St. Augustine’s Church and the A-ma Temple. It is also a place for the old and new as establishments selling traditional cuisine still thrive among the retail district of current international brands.

Other popular spots include the Ruins of St. Paul, and the Senado Square where a sizeable Filipino community assembles every weekend.

If coming from the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), Macau is easily accessible via ferry.

Until next time Macau
This author went to Zhuhai, China for The Manila Times in a media familiarization trip organized by Cathay Pacific in 2014. This story was lifted from the article published for the Philippine broadsheet. 


Seeing China in a Different Light: Zhuhai

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