Macau, Part one.

My Chinese visa ran out this week, so I had to go down the road to Macau for a few days to get a new one. I left on Monday and spent most of the day queueing – at the hospital getting my hearing restored, waiting for two buses, near two hours waiting at the border, then as a finale the Chinese embassy, where people were actually fighting each-other to get number-tickets. I just about managed to get my application in on time.
On Wednesday I returned to pick up my passport and found I’d been given a visa for one month instead of two. After a half-hour wait I was told that two month tourist visas don’t exist but since they had accepted the application they would make an exception in my case. I’m a lucky, lucky boy.
In the meantime I got a chance to explore Macau properly for the first time. It isn’t a very well known city, probably because of its small size and lack of any famous events or exports, but there’s still nowhere like it in the world. In short it’s the Portugese equivalent of Hong Kong, only compacted into a much smaller area. From above it looks a bit like this:

On ground level things it’s a claustrophobic’s nightmare. Every inch of space on the island is crammed full of decaying apartment buildings. This is the main square:

This is a temple:

And this is a view down one of the widest main streets:

As you can see, the main vehicle of choice is the motor-scooter. I’d swear that nearly everyone there has one. You have to be very careful when crossing roads as invariably a pack of them will come at you the second the lights change. It’s fortunate that Macanese drivers are so good – I can only imagine the carnage if the sociopathic drivers on the mainland were allowed to ride them.
Aside from the apartments there is also the occasional old Portugese building to set things off. The most famous of all would be the Ruins of the Church of Saint Paul. This is all that remains of the church and college that burned down near 150 years ago. I’d say it wouldn’t look so good if there was a building behind it.

In the intervening time somebody decided to build this next to it:

Which shows an admirable contempt for tourism that we could learn from in Europe.
Old buildings always look better unpolished. This one, for example…..

…is better than this, much more unusual one:

….more Macau tomorrow.

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