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Phespirit goes to China
Macau     March 2003

Macau: the last European enclave in Asia ..... until it was handed over to China by the Portugese on the 20th December 1999. Like its larger and more illustrious neighbour, Hong Kong, it is now classified as a 'Special Administrative Region of China'. Phespirit visited Macau for a day during his time in Hong Kong, making the fifty-five minute Pearl River estuary crossing by Turbojet 'jetfoil' ferry.

With just six hours - on foot - to see as much of the territory as possible, he proceeded thus:

Arrived in Macau, negotiated immigration control, left the jetfoil terminal and headed south along the Avenida da Amizade. At the end of Amizade, by the iconic Hotel Lisboa, turned right into Avenido do Infante D. Henrique, as far as Largo do Senado.

Largo do Senado is the main square of Macau, with pastel-hued colonial buildings on every side and the yellow baroque façade of São Domingos church at the northern end. Phespirit nipped in the tourist office at number 9 to pick up a free map and a clutch of leaflets before setting off again.

Avenido do Infante D. Henrique leads on to Avenido de Almeida Ribeiro, which emerges at the west side of Macau. Turned left into Rua das Lorchas, leading on to Rua do Almirante Sérgio, running all the way down to the A-Ma Temple.

While ultra-modern Hong Kong has successfully re-invented itself as "Asia's world city", Macau remains a peeling portrait of its European influences. The A-Ma Temple, however, is a living working heritage; the name of the territory derives from A-Ma-Gau, meaning "Place of A-Ma" (A-Ma is the seafarer's goddess). Prayer halls, courtyards, engravings and shrines are built upon the rocks of a hillside where worshippers come to burn large bundles of incense, and tourists - mostly Chinese - are brought in by the bus load. If it were only possible to see one site in Macau, this would have to be the one.

Retraced steps along Rua do Almirante Sérgio and Rua das Lorchas, then continued further along Rua Visconde Paço de Arcos and Rua do Guimarães. Too far, in fact; back-tracked and cut inland to find the Jardim Luís de Camões.

Jardim Luís de Camões is a verdant garden oasis of soft breezes and shading trees. Just what Phespirit needed in the powerful heat of mid-afternoon. Adjacent is the Old Protestant Cemetery, wherein the star resident, the artist George Chinnery, lies in a tomb next the superbly named 'Sandwith B. Drinker'.

Walked a short way down Rua de Santo Antonio to find the ruined façade of São Paulo.

São Paulo was the greatest church in Macau until, in 1835, all but its stone façade burned down. Now it is just a photo opportunity. Next door is the Fortaleza do Monte, which in 1622 staved off the Dutch with a fluky cannon shot to their powder keg, and which today houses the magnificent Museum of Macau.

Began the long and ill-considered walk back to the jetfoil terminal along Rua de São Paulo, Rua da Palha, detouring to see Sé Cathedral, back into Rua de São Domingos, Rua de Pedro Nolasco da Silva, Rua do Campo, Calçada do Gaio, and all the way around the busy Estrada de Cacilhas ..... the whole time worrying that there'll be no sliproad down to the harbour.

Macanese walkabout completed, Phespirit jetfoiled back to Hong Kong.

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