Text and images by Jullie Yap Daza
Macau, so near and yet so far. I’m thinking of Hong Kong — so near Hong Kong, yet so far, considering the current troubles being experienced there by the establishment, protesting students and other pro-democracy elements, residents caught between the protesters and police, and tourists who must defer their visits until they can be sure that peace and order is assured and not a chancy thing, starting at the HK airport.
The ongoing demonstrations (mostly on weekends) and chief executive Carrie Lam’s hard line have kept visitors away for five months now, so for the meantime neighboring Macau seems to be the most viable alternative for travelers who just want a change of scenery. Whether they are Chinese from the mainland and other countries, whether they are Filipinos looking forward to the mere idea of getting away from Manila’s traffic jams, Macau is a pleasant option. It’s as close by as Hong Kong, and though food choices and shopping adventures may be more limited, you’ll be glad that Macau is not for gamblers only.
As these pictures prove, there’s more to Macau than the grand and grander casinos that are built to look like palaces of recreation and leisure. Even without throwing the dice, you can bet there’s enough to discover and re-discover. (For example, I discovered a boutique specializing in brassieres for teenagers who are just learning how to wear those things comfortably.)
For the better part of our brief stay in Macau, the itinerary was relaxed and spontaneous. We let our feet take us where we had not gone before, without a map or guide. A cozy Portuguese dinner with an old friend in a cozy restaurant minutes away from the casino strip was the only must-do on our schedule. The rest of the time was tailored for serendipity.