Sunday, April 15, 2012

Winter Escape 2012: Hong Kong and Macau, China

Street View of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a city of tall buildings. Apparently, the rich and famous live on the top of the mountains, away from the crowds. We boarded the Peak Tram that took us, as close to the residential area as possible, to the top of the mountain area. It was a 10-minute very steep climb up. On arrival at the top we walked into a large building complex that consists of viewing areas, an outside area for strolling around as well as a variety of restaurants, coffee shops and a multitude of souvenir shops. Our view from the top was hampered by a battle grey sky as the fog enveloped Hong Kong. The views are probably quite dramatic on a bright sunny day. We took the long, winding bus ride down to the city.

The serenity of the HK Jockey Club amidst the tall structures
Our Michael's friend, Derrick took us on a long, long walkabout on the streets of Hong Kong. We saw markets, different kinds of shops along with the usual large shopping malls. We rode the city tram to the mid-levels. This is a series of escalators that takes you to the very top of the residential areas. It was fun riding up the escalators, but it was a sheer challenge coming down the stairs. In the evening, Derrick and his wife, Emily treated us to a sumptuous Buddhist vegetarian meal at one of their favourite restaurants. It was a memorable and very pleasant gastronomical experience. Hong Kong is a busy, bustling city with crowds and crowds of people everywhere. It is a city for shopping and more shopping.

Modern day Macau

Our visit to Macau was memorable. It is a 1.5-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong. We took a private tour of the city where we saw the standing Buddha overlooking the sea with a brief photo stop at the communications tower. We spent most of our time exploring the ruins of St. Paul’s enclave in the Old City.

Macau: St. Paul's Enclave in the Old City

The preserved wall of St. Paul’s Church stands tall on top of the hill. We walked around this historic area observing the Portuguese heyday of the past. They ruled Macau from the mid 15th century until the handover to China in 1999. It is remarkable to notice the continued presence of the Portuguese in Macau. The streets and the architecture of Macau are typically Portuguese. Before we left Macau we briefly dropped by the Wynn's Casino to people-watch the gamblers; it was part of our tour.

On our ferry ride back to Hong Kong we reflected on the historical Portuguese conquests of Melaka, Malaysia and Macau, China that occurred during the 15th century and their lasting, lingering impact on the people of these countries.

On our return to Hong Kong, we prepared for our long trip back home to Toronto.

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