Macau, Las Vegas of the East

Smoggy casino top.

Smoggy casino top.

 

We were told that Chinese people love to gamble. Macau has developed an economy for itself by becoming a gambling centre. Some of the casinos are modelled on ones found in Las Vegas, including the Venetian.

The Venetian

The Venetian

The Venetian

The Venetian

 

Our hotel was more or less across the street from the Venetian, and when Google earth filmed the ‘strip’ in December 2008, our hotel was still under construction.  It too had a casino which you had to enter in order to sit within the lobby.

This view is from the pool area of our hotel which was lovely and cool that evening.

 

Night life at the Venetian.

Night life at the Venetian.

Monochrome Macau

Here’s a selection of photos from Macau which, I thought, looked better in monochrome.  The better to show off the smog in the first two photos.

 

In the waters around Macau

In the waters around Macau

Another view from Mont Forte

Another view from Monte Fort

On Fort Monte with a view of Grand Lisboa Casino and Hotel in the northern half of Macau,

On Monte Fort with a view of the Grand Lisboa Casino and Hotel in the northern half of Macau.

 

The facade of St. Paul's with those lovely striped stairs resulting from the Black and White conversion.

The facade of St. Paul’s with those lovely striped stairs resulting from the Black and White conversion.

Senado square.

Senado square.

My partner and I decided to forego the temptation of the casinos in Taipa, and the swimming pool at the hotel, and walk into the commercial centre of Taipa. At the pharmacy below we finally found aspirin, which we had been unable to figure out how to buy since Shanghai! It wasn’t quite dark, but it was smoggy and the buildings were tall so the lights are already on. The boys??? Well, make up your own mind.

In the 'city' of Taipa in the northern half of the island which makes up the bottom half of Macau.

In the ‘city’ of Taipa in the northern half of the island which makes up the bottom half of Macau.

Macau – China – Two Systems

Zhuhai Fisher Girl

Zhuhai Fisher Girl

Our day went like this: breakfast in Zhongshan, the bus to Zhuhai for a comfort break (the worst of the whole trip?) and a visit to the Zhuhai Fisher Girl.  Back on the bus to a ferry terminal for a short ferry ride and immigration check into Macau, several tourist stops in ‘mainland’ Macau, lunch, a Buddhist temple, bus to the ‘island’ part of Macau, our hotel and a free late afternoon and evening. Map of Zhongshan and Zhuhai  here.  Scroll down the map a bit to get to Macau.

The first photo below was taken from the ferry boat, on the Macau side.  At the time, I didn’t notice that the two young men on the boats in this photo are wearing fatigues and are dressed the same.   I wonder whether they are either inspecting the boats for contraband, or are crew on the boats which patrol the coast doing their chores.

A city across the bay.

A city across the bay.

Macau was a Portuguese trading colony in the South China sea, in the same way that Hong Kong was for Britain. Macau, like Hong Kong, is a Special Administrative Area under the Chinese policy of “one country, two systems.” Portugal handed over Macau to the People’s Republic of China on December 20, 1999, but Portuguese remains the primary language with Cantonese and Mandarin also to be heard.

From the ferry terminal we took a bus to Monte Fort and its garden from which we could see the city laid out around us. The fort’s walls were lined on the inside with planters of Canna lilies.

Inside the park.

Inside the park.

Outside the park.

Outside the park.

An overhead preview of the facade of St. Paul's.

An overhead preview of the facade of St. Paul’s.

We went to visit the facade of St. Paul’s (which will feature in my next Chinese post) and then walked down the stairs in front of the ruin and on to explore the pedestrian precinct of Macau.

Below St. Paul's.

Below St. Paul’s.

Next Chinese post: Christian Macau

South China

Disclosure: the photo quality in this post is awful..

Pose for the Canadian tourists.

Pose for the Canadian tourists.

During our morning visit to the Chen Family Ancestral Temple, two lovely Chinese ladies desperately wanted their photo taken with our oldest tour member, a cheerful 82 year old man. (This happened frequently!) They also wanted him to have the pictures, so I took the photos with their camera, they emailed them to me (good reason for carrying business cards), and I then forwarded them to him. In the process, I took a portrait of them.

We had lunch in Guangzhou (Canton). The menu looks like neither a Cantonese restaurant in Canada nor what we were served as part of a bus-tour group. Both of the latter probably dumbed down for a western palate.

Menu items in Guangzhou (Canton)

Menu items in Guangzhou (Canton)

Leaving the restaurant and returning to the buses we passed a line of police motorcycles parked in the lane usually used by scooters and motorcycles in larger cities. I doubt that any rider was about to protest that they couldn’t use the lane.

Tour buses, two narrow sidewalks and police motorcycles.

Tour buses, two narrow sidewalks and police motorcycles.

After boarding the bus we drove from Guangzhou to Zhongshan to spend the night.

I snapped a few shots from the bus window as this was our first glimpse of south China’s intensive food growing. The last photo is pretty fuzzy but appears to be fish ponds inhabited by ducks. Two protein crops in one pond. I could be wrong and would love to be corrected.

Another impressive bridge.

Another impressive bridge.

Acres and acres of roadside aquaculture.

Acres and acres of roadside aquaculture.

Intensive protein farming

Intensive protein farming

Zhongshan proved to be a jumping off point for Macau but otherwise, as the next couple of Chinese posts will show, it was a quiet riverside location with unremarkable architecture but with some great opportunities for street photography. (We weren’t shown any must-see tourist attractions!)

Next Chinese post: Riverside Zhongshan.

Li River Karst Hills

 

Yangshuo near Guilin China

 

Early one morning,

just as the sun was rising,

we took a bu-us to

the  lovely River Li.

And they're off....

And they’re off….

 

 

Standing at the bow.

Standing at the bow.

 

Smog or haze?

Smog or haze?

Back story:  The previous day our tour group had debarked from its cruise on the Yangtze, visited pandas at the zoo, People’s Square, and a shopping precinct before flying  from Chongqing to Guilin and taking a 90 minute bus ride from Guilin to Yangshuo.  This made for a very long day which made some of us very cranky (not me!)  We spent the night in Yangshuo in a typical tourist hotel. The hotels pictured below are on the other side of the street from ours, with cones of Karst behind them.

 

The tourist hotel strip.

The tourist hotel strip.

 

It was quite hazy and/or smoggy on the river and the distant Karst hills were quite faint. I’ve used Lightroom to add contrast and vibrance to the river scenes.

Next Chinese posts: The Li River and Yangshuo

Chongqing Street Photography

At least one pig isn't flying.

At least one pig isn’t flying.

All flying!

All flying! But no pigs.

Giant pinwheels.

Giant pinwheels.

At the intersection of the two major streets making up this shopping precinct was a giant monument, which also shows up in the first photo in the previous post. It must have been a meeting place, because most people were scanning the swirling crowd.

Waiting for ....

Waiting for ….

I don’t recall seeing food vendors on the high-end pedestrian streets, but there must have been at least one just beyond where our bus was parked. The next two photos were taken from the bus window before we pulled away from Chongqing. The girl with the hat caught my eye and grinned.

A style of her own!

A style of her own!

At  least the garbage was in the bin!

At least the garbage was in the bin!

Next China post – Chongqing children

Conspicuous Consumption Chongqing

Ah, Mont Blanc. I still dream of owning one some day.

Ah, Mont Blanc. I still dream of owning one of you some day.

The ads and the high-end stores would have you believe that much money is being spent in China on luxury goods.  Our tour guides told us several times that Chinese people with money do like to show it off.  We found that branded goods –  at least the ones we looked at: Apple products, and cameras – were much more expensive in China.

The faded look to the buildings is because of - your guessed it - smog.

The faded look to the buildings is because of – you guessed it – smog.

I don't suppose Samsung is considered a glamourous item these days.

I don’t suppose Samsung is considered a luxury
item these days.

Classical columns and giant ads front one shopping arcade.

Classical columns and giant ads front one shopping arcade.

Another interesting side note on consumption was that we were given two opportunities for buying knock-offs, another product for which China is known.

I liked the graphics on this window.  We were inside this shopping centre because someone in our group had discovered that the washrooms were really nice!

I liked the graphics on this window. We were inside this shopping centre because someone in our group had discovered that the washrooms were really nice!

Warning: selfie below…

I have never understood the fascination with high end purses...

I have never understood the fascination with high end purses…

Next Chinese post: more from Chongqing’s high-end shopping district.