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Travelogue : Mesmerising Macau

Travelogue : Mesmerising Macau
Highlights

The charm of the city is captivating. The artful blending of cultures is revealed in the visual ambience of classic Portuguese architecture, with a...

The charm of the city is captivating. The artful blending of cultures is revealed in the visual ambience of classic Portuguese architecture, with a subtle mix of traditional Chinese design and European style. In contrast is the glamorous nightlife of the rapidly emerging gaming and entertainment hub

Vijaya Pratap

I was told that Hong Kong's skylines is one of the most beautiful and I shouldn't miss it while landing. But I missed it. I slept through the whole flight and beyond. The midnight flight I took from Hyderabad was the culprit. But it landed me at the Hong Kong airport at a comfortable hour (thanks to the time difference ) and there I was, in the Turbo Jet ( Ferry to Macau). After a smooth sail of 50 minutes, I arrived at my destination, the beautiful city, Macau.

A ten minute ride into the centre of the city, I was in for a pleasant surprise. Amidst the charming historic quarter, blending with the classical architecture of its surroundings, the elegant fa�ade of 'Sofitel- Macau at Ponte 16', greeted me. As I checked in, I was totally bowled over by the grandeur of the luxury French hotel. Located within a walking distance to the UNESCO world heritage sites, the hotel is a glamorous mix of classic and modern styles. The view from my room on the 13th floor was a big bonus! The picturesque waterfront with anchored boats on one side and the blue and inviting pool on the other�.. can't ask for more!

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Macau is a city where 'Two Worlds' merge; European and Chinese, heritage and modernity. Over history, Macau has been an important gateway though which western civilisation entered China. For hundreds of years, this piece of land has nurtured a symbiosis of cultural exchange, shaping the unique identity of Macau. The charm of the city is captivating. The artful blending of cultures is revealed in the visual ambience of classic Portuguese architecture, with a subtle mix of traditional Chinese design and European style. In contrast is the glamorous nightlife of the rapidly emerging gaming and entertainment hub.

Macau's main square is paved with wave patterned stone mosaic, created especially by experts from Portugal, which extends from Senado Square to St. Paul's. The Square that has been a civic hub for centuries, is now pedestrianised and contains an elegant fountain, trees, benches, caf�s and space for public events. At one end of the Square is the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau and opposite is the Holy House of Mercy, dating from the 16th century and the oldest western charity institution in China.

The bustling Senado Square, with its old world charm, transported me to another time frame. The setting was old but the people were modern. I saw gold shops bursting with women on shopping sprees. The pawn shops where the practice of mortgaging follows the Chinese tradition, and the counter of the shop is typically higher than the average person for security.

good2In over four centuries Macau has not only inspired architecture of different traditions, it has preserved and maintained an extra ordinary number of its buildings making them part of everyday. As a result, within a short distance, you can find Taoist temples from the Ming dynasty and Baroque churches from the 18th century; hilltop fortresses from the 17th century and classic China Coast shop houses ; the oldest European theatre in Asia and the first Western light house; colonial palaces and Chinese courtyards.

I had the most memorable dining experience in Macau. When the Portuguese arrived in Asia, they brought food stuffs and cooking ideas from their settlements in Africa, South America and India, as well as from their home country. These were combined and adapted by the local Chinese to create a truly International cuisine. You will find this interesting fare in restaurants, to suit every taste and budget. In the pastry shops, one can get the best of cakes and cookies. Traditional Chinese delicacies like dried meats, mushrooms, shrimp, scallops etc are found in many shops. The aroma spreads across and these shops can't be missed.

Macau is a place that can make life slow down and make you look inwards. Fully satiated, I left the fascinating place, only to come back home, with rich memories. This time, I was wide awake and enjoyed the splendid skyline of Hong Kong!

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