Mesmerized by Macau

The Ruins of St. Paul, Macau's famous heritage landmark

The Ruins of St. Paul, Macau’s famous heritage landmark

I still dream of Macau.

Up until I had history class in high school I had little awareness that such a place thrived in East Asia. That until the penultimate turn of the previous century it was under Portuguese rule for over 400 years. That now, much like Hong Kong (an hour by ferry away) it is China’s SAR (Special Administrative Region). This colorful backdrop probably paved the way for the modern-day grandiose and allure of the city.

Yes, ply the tourist route and hit all the heritage corners — The Ruins of St. Paul, Senado Square, St. Lawrence’s Church, A-Ma Temple, Taipa Houses, et al. Even do the bungee up in Macau Tower if you must. I’ll be saving the day tour for later (though I must extol the virtues of pasteis de nataegg tarts— which is probably Macau’s best specialty, best bought and eaten near the Ruins’ steps).

For now I’ll breeze through and tell you what I appreciate most about Macau: nightfall.

It is at dawn when the city lights up and takes on a different, exciting vibe. The cold air is more pronounced; the people, both local and foreign, stride in fashionable gear. The narrow streets fill up with crowds in search of a delicious supper. And must I leave out the CASINOS?

Arguably Macau’s milking cow of an industry, casinos emerge with a life of their own and loom ever higher and brighter at night. It is as if you are thrust into a different world, where you succumb to intoxicating pleasure and there seems to no turning back.

In full disclosure: I have no gambling habits to speak of, just a blatant obsession with all places modern and glamorous! I’ve never been to the insides of casino hotels before this, so I definitely had a blast shuffling in and out. Mind you, there’s more to it than gambling and haute living, part and parcel of these five-star hotels are the most fashionable shopping arcades, theaters, restaurants and food courts, and recreational/lifestyle areas. The luxurious interiors of these hotspots for me are already worth checking out, and can get blissfully lost into. So many hallways and passages, it’s like I’m Alice in one hyperactive wonderland! Adding to the convenience are free shuttle buses which can take you from one casino destination to the next, so I bet by two days you can say you’ve explored the Vegas of the East!

The following is a photoset of what I deem Macau’s very own Sunset Strip:

The Venetian Macau strip, with a bit of City of Dreams on the side

The Venetian Macau strip, with a bit of City of Dreams on the left

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At the heart of Macau Peninsula, the legendary Grand Lisboa (casino czar Stanley Ho’s flagship)

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The Wynn Macau (where I played a bit of slot machine, but unfortunately)

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My favorite lobby entertainment exhibit: Wynn’s Dragon of Fortune

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The MGM Grand Macau, making you feel a million dollar Vegas

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The Galaxy Macau (which hosts other hotels like Banyan Tree and Okura), my favorite among all so far

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Galaxy‘s lobby showcase, Fortune Diamond, beckoning me to come back on our last day there

Our last visit took the full maximum of two days only, short but sweet. Here’s hoping I return for more and get lost all over again.

Nós nos encontraremos mais uma vez, meu amor…

the Marina Bay Sands, and why I’m here

the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort complex, Singapore

This was one of the first sights that triggered my penchant for traveling — the spectacular Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore. Encompassing the Helix Bridge, The Sands Hotel, and the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum, these provide an ultra-modern backdrop against The Lion City’s skyline. I remember seeing it on photo when it was launched, and wishing I could see it before my eyes.

[Two trips later (and another one in the works), it still never ceases to amaze me! 🙂 ]

In other words… Hey everyone! Welcome to my first ever travel blog, Free At Leisure. I cannot wait to share my adventures (erstwhile or otherwise) and let you seize the world through this happy portal. Come on board!

-Ellie