Zhuhai & Macau

November 14

There are two bus stations close together in Guangzhou, we were directed to one, only to find out we needed to go to the other.  Climbing up, over and down pedestrian overpasses made crossing busy streets safe and gave us some exercise before spending two and a half hours on the bus to Zhuhai.

We left Guangzhou crossing over the famed Pearl River.

From the bus station in Zhuhai, we walked to the Gongbei Palace Hotel (link to Trip Advisor page).  We checked out one room which was not attached to the main building and rejected it.  A look into a more expensive room in the main building gave us rooms which "would do" for the night.  If we were staying longer in Zhuhai, we would have looked elsewhere.  The hotel looked and felt tired.  The lack of facilities and  service indicated it might be a candidate for demolition.

We parked our bags and went out walking. 

 

Down at the waters edge, where the mouth of the Pearl River meets the South China Sea we could see the river's silt in the waves that washed in below us.   Our eyes followed the wide promenade that stretched for a great distance, seemingly from the Macau border to the tall buildings of Zhuhai city.   We walked along part of it and then turned inland in search of a pijiu (beer).

                               

                             

We found a little back alley where the locals go, hidden behind the neon lights and higher priced stores.  Here the pijiu was cheap, the napkins came off toilet paper rolls and the plastic cups were reused (so we sipped from the bottle).

Moving around the back streets we came across a couple of markets, one for household goods and the other for farm products. Eventually we found ourselves  back in the neon glow, out on the busy, wide streets. 

Dinner was at a very large restaurant directly across the street from our hotel.   The menu was a little hard to understand.  Our waitress took us back to the kitchen where the day's catch and fresh produce was washed, sorted and stacked in almost grocery store fashion.   We pointed to things we like and she wrote them down. 

We were thinking a stir fry or something would be made with our selections, we had no idea with each finger pointed, with each nod and smile, with each jotting of her pencil we were ordering a separate dish.   We couldn't miss the shocked stares from people sitting near by as plate after plate after plate was brought to our table of four.   The vegetable dishes were fresh, crisp and delicious, but we left the table before finishing.

Beggars were waiting outside the door.  Had we known, we would have asked to have the last of the plates wrapped up to go.

We stopped at a little store to purchase some bottled water.  We kept our hands in our pockets as little ones were continually sent back to us from parents who waited on the side lines.   As soon as we stepped onto the hotel's property in the parking lot,  they stopped hovering around us and returned to the restaurant side of the street.

      

November 15

The walk to the border was even shorter than we anticipated.   We left China rather reluctantly.   It had been a superb trip from Beijing through Datong and Xi'an where we were able to see the monuments of history ... the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall,  Hanging Monastery, Yungang Caves and the Terracotta Warriors; our relaxing float down the Yangtze and our memorable experiences travelling by train and bus with the people of China;  our cherished days in the Miao villages of Shidong and Xijang, the Dong villages of Zhaoxing and Xia'ge and then our time with Alan around Yangshuo.  

It seemed impossible that we could have done so much in such a short time ... and reflecting back as we left Mainland China that the time went all to quickly. 

As we passed through the border into Macau, the city sprung up before us.  It didn't look anything like this back in 1557 when Portugal was given this peninsula and gathering of islands in thanks for chasing out the pirate scoundrels who had been creating havoc on the South China Sea. 

After the establishment of Hong Kong with the British and Chinese, Macau lost its importance and it's lustre. 

In 1999, the Sino-Portuguese Pact returned Macau to the Chinese  and was designated a Special Administrative Region (like Hong Kong) which means until 2049 it is connected to China in matters of defence and foreign affairs, but otherwise rules itself.

We caught the bus to Largo do Senado (Senate Square).  It's paved in a mosaic wave pattern like that of Lisbon's Rossio Square. 

The historic centre, the old city of Macau dating back 450+ years, spans eight squares, holding twenty-two historic buildings, one of which is the remains of the first western-style university in the Far East.   Macau's historic centre was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005, making it the 31st site in China to be granted this status.

Saint Dominic's Church was built in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests in honour of their patron saint and today is stands like a jewel at the top of Largo do Senado.   This church also has the distinction of being the publishing site of Macau's first Portuguese newspaper.

Down a side street we found the Sandwich Expert.  Wait staff gave us an order form which had sections for each element of a sandwich  - the choices for bread, dressing, meat, vegetables, side dish.  The orderer checks off one or two in each section, passes it back to the waiter and a few minutes later the fresh made sandwich arrives at the table.  Very nice and reasonably priced for Macau.

The Formula 3 Grand Prix was in town and there were no places at the inn(s) so we went over to the ferry terminal and stowed our luggage in one of their numerous lockers.

There is so much to see in Macau but only being able to make it a day trip meant we had to make some decisions.  We decided to go out to Coloane Island, so we left the tall glass buildings behind and rode the crowded bus out to the islands.

The bus stop on Coloane was right across the street from a little restaurant which serves the famed Portuguese egg-custard tart.

Sherrie and Terry had eaten their first such tart in Belem, Portugal at the pastry shop where these delicacies were first made (outside the convent where they originated) and  sold in 1837.

After wandering the streets we came out to the water.  A little further along we came to the Chapel of St Francis Xavier.

Built in the baroque-style in 1928, the chapel became home to the remains of 26 foreign (including Japanese) catholic priests who were crucified in Nagasaki in 1597 and some Japanese Christians killed in the Shimabara Rebellion in 1637.  For a short time after 1978 this unassuming chapel was also the temporary home of a bone from the arm of St. Francis Xavier.

The little square in front of the chapel displayed the traditional wave mosaic as well as a monument to commemorate the Portuguese victory over the pirates. 

Another statue stands proudly at the entrance to the square's open-sided restaurant ... a statue of the man who served us our beer.

We didn't linger too long, we still had to get a bus back into town,  make our way to the ferry terminal and catch a boat to Kowloon.

We watched the sunset out the back window of the standing-room-only bus.  Our timing at the terminal was close.  We bought our tickets with only ten minutes left in which to grab our backpacks from the storage lockers and hustle to get onto the catamaran. 

Angela and Sherrie did not do well on the boat but shook it off quickly once we landed in Kowloon.   We had secure reservations and took a taxi to the Stanford Hotel.

Our rooms were lovely.  The most luxurious we have had on this trip ... and the most expensive.   Macau's Grand Prix was also filling hotels in Kowloon.

The room had a "V" shaped window protruding out into the sparkling city lights.  Standing in the tip of the window we could photograph each other in our adjoining rooms. (Silly but fun.)

It had been a long day of travel and sightseeing and we had a full day planned for tomorrow to experience Kowloon and Hong Kong.

  
click here to continue to November 16 and to Hong Kong & Kowloon  ... 

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