Before the ‘handover’ of Hong Kong back to China, Brits could stay and work in the colony as long as they wished, visa-free. After the handover, Brits found that they (like all the other non-Chinese) had to get a time-restricted visa. This normally required that the visa holder had to pass in and out of immigration to start the clock on the new visa. The cheapest way to do this was to take a day trip by jetfoil to Macau on the opposite bank of the Pearl River Delta. Not much of a hardship, as Macau is a completely different enclave – very Mediteranean, a bit ramshackle and sleazy, but a fascinating place that has preserved its heritage better than Hong Kong.

The jetfoil departs from the ferry terminal (owned by ‘Sir’ Stanley Ho) in Kennedy Town on Hong Kong Island. ‘Sir’ Stanley also owns the original casino in Macau.

That's Sir Stan's red stripey ferry terminal on the headland

The jetfoil passes under the original 2.6km Macau-Taipa Bridge joining the nearest island to the mainland

The view of the newer from Taipa. Air pollution in the PRD is ever present

It's compulsory for every visitor to Macau to have their photo taken in front of St Paul's cathedral facade

It takes unspeakable talent to get a photo of St Paul's without another tourist hogging the limelight - lovely drain grill!

My battered old copy of the Lonely Planet describes the Bela Vista Hotel as 'Macau's equivalent to Singapore's Raffles' which is a bit of an overstatement. Nonetheless, the Bela Vista was a standout building overlooking the harbour.

You can see more articles on the Bela Vista and Macau here

The view from the Bela Vista balcony

Tiffin at the Bela Vista

These streets (photographed in the mid-80s) were 'shabby-chic' before the term was even invented

For a long time, the favoured means of transport around the Portuguese enclave was by Mini Moke. They were cheap and fun. Curiously, Macau drives on the English side of the road unlike China or Portugal. The pataca is unofficially linked 1-for-1 with the HK$...for the convenience of the HKers wishing to throw away money in Stanley Ho's casinos.

It also used to be compulsory to drive around the streets as if partaking in the Macau F3 Grand Prix

Don't leave your camera behind

The smell of joss - probably the thing you'll miss the most when you leave Asia

Being much smaller than Hong Kong, trees are grown from the smallest of balconies

I'm not sure that relic is stable enough to lean on, sir

An article on Macau’s current atractions can be found here.


12 responses to “Macau

    • Thanks for the inspiration. I’m a bit concerned that readers might get trapped in a time-space vortex clicking back and forwards between our Macau sites. Could be a worse place to be caught…

    • Sir Stanley took money from me on the ferries, but not at his place. The latest Wikipedia article on Macau says that the place has been cleaned of corruption and vice…does that leave any business standing in Macau?

  1. there has been gambling in macau forever. in 1907 there were 20 legalized fan-tan establishments alone and the hotel central on san ma lo had casinos on each floor and that opened about 1930. what stanley ho managed to do was persuade the macau government to give him exclutivity on gaming through stdm. the first one to open was in the hotel estoril and the floating palace, later the lisboa and the rest… is history.

    • Thanks Patricia. I haven’t visited Macau now for 7-8 years, from what I read, the changes are enormous.

  2. brings back memories of the macau marathon in 84, i can remember coming back over the bridge (after about 24 miles), i looked up the slope from the bottom of the brideg and it looked like a cliff, I thought my legs were going to drop off, at the end they gave you a drink and a mars bar, I bit into the mars bar and after 26 miles of running I was still dehydrated, my mouth stuck together, brings backl a lot of memories, thankyou

    • I used to do the 1/2 marathons and 10kms around HK and the NT. Tsing Ma Bridge and the Chek Lap Kok runway were two of them. Driving over the Tsing Ma Bridge, you don’t even notice the rise and fall, running it is a completely different experience. I don’t envy you running over the Macau bridge, it looks like a runner’s horror!

  3. I guess Macau drives on the left because the first cars there were probably imported from Hong Kong. And by the way, the pataca is not exactly worth one Hong Kong dollar. Its vale is set a few cents lower so that anyone paying in HK$ is giving a few cents extra.

    • So to all intents and purposes, it’s a ‘onefer’, but I take your point that it isn’t ‘linked’ in an official sense.

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