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Cheap Accommodation in Macau – Mission Impossible?

Once I met a Dutch guy who had flown to Macau on a visa run, planning to stay there for a few days or weeks. He believed that Macau was much cheaper than neighbouring Hong Kong , the latter being known as one of the world’s most densely populated cities as well as a major global financial hub. It didn’t take him long to realise that he had made a mistake. The first thing he did upon arriving in Macau was, of course, to look for a cheap hostel. Little did he know that Macau has no hostels!  To his surprise he could find no cheap accommodation and had no choice but to spent around HKD400 for one night at a hotel. Macau turned out to be so expensive that on his second day he moved to Hong Kong. Despite having heard his story, I did not learn the lesson. I still believed I would find a hostel. After all, I had been to hostels in small cities like Triest, Krakow, Salzburg. How could Macau, whose GDP depends entirely on tourism , have no hostels? Probably, the guy should have

Macau Protestors Force Chief Executive to Withdraw Controversial Bill

On May 29 Cui Shi'an (崔世安, Chui Sai On in Cantonese), the Chief Executive of Macau Special Administrative Region, announced his decision to scrap a controversial bill that would have allowed him to receive 70% of his salary until he found a new job and that would have granted him immunity from prosecution during his tenure. Furthermore, it would have granted high pensions to officials after leaving their posts. The bill had angered many Macau residents , who accused Cui of trying to " selfishly enrich himself " (私心自肥, literally " fatten himself ").  The bill proposal sparked an unprecedented wave of political protests among the population. Activist groups organised a demonstration in front of the Legislative Assembly, and around 20,000 people took part in the rally on May 26 . This was the biggest popular movement since Macau was handed over to the PRC in 1999. Members of Macau Conscience  (澳門良心) , one of the major activist organisations involved in th

Tap Seac Square In Macau

Cultural Institute on Tap Seac Square Macau is a city famous for its casinos . Many tourists go there mainly to gamble either large or small sums. I have met people who have gone to Macau with the expectation that there would be nothing to see except for casinos, and so they actually did not see anything because they didn't know what to look for. However, Macau not only has a beautiful city centre full of Portuguese colonial buildings, but it also has many hidden treasures that are quite far away from the main tourist attractions, and therefore most people never get to see. One of them is Tap Seac Square (塔石廣場; Praça do Tap Seac). Tap Seac Square is located about 15-20 minutes from Senado Square, Macau's main square. If you don't want to walk, you can take many bus lines to get there: 2, 2A, 4, 5, 7, 7A, 8, 8A, 9, 9A, 12, 16, 18, 18A, 19, 22, 25, 25X, 28C, N2. When you board a bus, you have to pay 2.3 Macau patacas (they also accept 2.3 Hong Kong dollars)

Why Macau Is Much More Than Just A City Of Gambling

Last Friday I travelled again to Macau , and I have to say that I am more and more intrigued by this city. Unfortunately, the former Portuguese colony is mainly known to the outside world for its casinos . But in fact, it is a place with a surprisingly rich history and culture. A few weeks ago I heard a German guy talking on the phone with his parents. They asked him how he liked Macau, and he said something like, "Macau is famous for its casinos. Someone told us that there are many old buildings, but we were tired of old buildings, we've already seen enough of them in China, so we just went gambling."  A Malaysian guy I talked to last week, said something similar: "There is nothing to see in Macau, only casinos."

Hong Kong Journalists Denied Entry to Macau Ahead of Xi Jinping's Visit

On December 20 Xi Jinping , the president of the People's Republic of China (PRC), will visit the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty of the former Portuguese colony.   But while the Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will attend the ceremony in Macau, Hong Kong journalists have already been denied entry to the neighbouring region.  As the newspaper Apple Daily reported, yesterday  one of its journalists was denied entry into Macau.  According to the paper, on December 12 the journalist took a ferry to Macau. After his arrival at the ferry station he went to the Immigration Hall, where the police prevented him from entering Macau.  Public security officers took him to an examination room and asked for the purpose of his visit. The journalist replied he was there for an interview - without specifying whether he was the interviewer or the interviewee.  The officers checked his

Nice Flats, High Prices - Airbnb in Macau

Since I could find no hostels in Macau , I decided to use Airbnb, which is a more expensive, but interesting alternative, as you can live with locals (or long-term residents), explore the neighbourhood and see how flats look like. But once again Macau proved to be less convenient than Hong Kong. The cheapest accommodation I found in Macau was HKD 279 (around 30 euros). This wasn't the price for a room, but for a sofa bed in the living room. In Hong Kong, you can find a single room with private bathroom for HKD 264, or a single room for HKD 202. However, the location was good: Rua da Ribeira do Patane, just about 10 to 15 minutes on foot from Senado Square . The HKD 279 bed was available only for three nights, so I decided to book this bed for two nights and then move to a nearby flat. I rented a single room for about HKD 383 (around 40 euros) per night. The price for these two flats for four nights, including Airbnb fees, was about HKD 1,600 (circa 180 euros). With HKD 1,7

Stuck In Macau For One Night

Senado Square On Friday I decided to go to Macau , a city which in my opinion - as I wrote in the past - is one of Asia's most charming travel destinations. I was planning on staying there for just one day, taking a walk in the afternoon and later meeting an old friend of mine, before returning to Hong Kong at around 11 p.m. The original idea was to take a ferry in the morning, but because I slept miserably the previous night I ended up leaving home at 3 p.m. The weather was hot and humid, the sky grey. Around one hour later I arrived at the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. After buying a ticket and going through the immigration control, I joined the unavoidable long queue largely consisting of mainland Chinese tourists: young and old, fancy and sporty, all invariably holding shopping bags with names of fashion or food brands written on them.  Riding a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau may seem like an enjoyable and relaxing experience - to those who ha

Rua Da Felicidade - Macau's "Street of Happiness"

Located in the historic centre of Macau , only a few minutes’ walk from Senado Square , there is a street whose traditional Chinese-style buildings and romantic name seem to take one back to a long-gone colonial era, in which the society of old China mingled with the cosmopolitan, busy lifestyle of the former European enclaves in the Far East. Lined with two-storey, grey brick Chinese houses with conspicuous red windows and doors, decorations and inscriptions that recount old legends, the street is a remarkable example of the mix of traditional Chinese architecture and Western patterns. Here the visitor feels as if time had stood still, and is finally able to imagine, far away from the modern casinos and shopping malls, how life might have looked like for ordinary people in old Macau.

Forbidden Vocabulary - How China Censors Taiwan and Hong Kong-related Words

According to Taiwanese media reports, China's Xinhua News Agency released a list of " forbidden words " related to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong . Although recent reports have brought this topic to the attention of the Taiwanese public, an article listing Xinhua's guidelines had already appeared in November 2015 on China 's state-owned website People's Daily . The "forbidden words on Xinhua News Agency's news reports" (新華社新聞報道中的禁用詞) are divided up into 5 sections, the fourth of which is entitled: "Forbidden words touching upon our national territory, sovereignty , Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan". 

Four Days in Macau

In 2013 I visited Macau with two friends of mine. We stayed there for two days and engaged in intense ‘touristy’ activities, as we went to the major sights, ate local food and strolled around the busy streets of the picturesque, European-style historic centre. After so much walking we were exhausted, but we accomplished our goal: to see as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Those two days were nice and I had a lot of fun. But I left Macau with that kind of feeling that always accompanies me whenever I visit a place for a short time. I thought we had merely caught a glimpse of the surface, but had not got deeper into the soul of the city. We had seen churches, Portuguese-style houses, temples and nice squares; casinos, alleys and skyscrapers. But it was all too quick, too much. All I could remember of Macau was an incoherent patchwork of images, like pieces of a puzzle scattered around a table.

Where to Stay in Macau - Apartment in Coloane

A few months ago I went with two friends to Macau. As I explained in my earlier post , Macau has much more to offer than just casinos, and I recommend to anyone who stays in Hong Kong for a while to pay a visit to the former Portuguese colony. In my previous post I forgot to mention where I and my friends stayed, so I'd like to share this information now because it might prove useful to travellers. Instead of booking a room in a hostel or hotel, we decided to rent an apartment for one night. This is not the cheapest option, but for one or two nights it's certainly affordable. Moreover, we could see how an average apartment looks like and also live there as if we were local people. We used a website called  airbnb.com, where you can find flats or rooms to let. The apartment was located in Coloane, in the southern part of Macau. On the map (see below) Coloane looks pretty far away from the most interesting parts of Macau, but remember that Macau is small. In fact, we

Treason, Secession, Armed Rebellion, Subversion And State Secrets – China’s Paranoia Takes Hold Of Hong Kong

On its 18th birthday, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) received an unwelcome gift from the Beijing authorities: a new sweeping national security law which, despite not applying directly to Hong Kong , is likely to raise pressure on the government of the former British colony to enact its own national security legislation. According to the controversial Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law , the HKSAR "shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets". When the first Chief Executive of the HKSAR, the pro-Beijing magnate Tung Chee-hwa , tried to enact such laws, about half a million Hongkongers took to the streets . Popular anger ultimately led to his resignation in 2005. On July 1st, 1997, the British colony of Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China. The televised ceremony was watched by millions of people all ov

San Va Hospedaria - Budget Accommodation In Macau

Several years ago I wrote a post about how difficult it is to find budget accommodation in Macau . Indeed, I was planning on spending a few months in the former Portuguese colony, and I believed it should be cheaper than neighbouring Hong Kong. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite looking like a small, sleepy town, Macau is more expensive than Hong Kong. The only budget accommodation I found was San Va Hospedaria , which is an old-style guesthouse.  It is located in an old building on the beautiful  Rua da Felicidade , about which I wrote a post years ago. San Va was originally a private club house built in 1870s. In the 1930s it was turned into a guesthouse catering to merchants and workers from mainland China. San Va became famous when Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-wai chose it as the location for some of the scenes of the film 2046.   San Va has maintained the flair of old Macau. However, if you decide to give it a try, you must know that this

Luis De Camoes Square In Macau

I am always stunned by how many nice buildings and little corners there are in Macau, the former Portuguese colony that looks like a piece of southern Europe transplanted into Asia.  A few days ago I was strolling around in Macau's city centre when suddenly I spotted from afar a church at the end of a side alley. I decided to walk up to that street, without knowing that it would lead me to a beautiful small square named after the Portuguese writer Luis de Camoes. Here are some picture of my short walk. 

Chemistry, or A Brief Encounter in Macau

On Sunday, exhausted from my first day in Macau , I went to sleep at around 2 am (relatively early by my standards). I planned to wake up at 10 am. Eight hours sleep would be sufficient, I thought. I felt weak, dehydrated, and had a headache, probably the result of too much walking and too little drinking. As I put my head on the pillow, I immediately drifted off. At 10 am the alarm clock rang. It went on for half an hour until it stopped. I felt as if I couldn’t move, I had neither the energy to get up, nor to perform the simple task of grabbing the bottle of water inside my bag to quench the thirst that made my throat burn. I was aware that I was sleeping too long, but my limbs simply would not obey my brain's commands. All of a sudden, I heard a noise, so loud and persistent that I could not ignore it. I slowly came round and realised someone was trying to open the apartment door. Repeated sighs and the nervous tinkling of the key resounded from the staircase, tokens of

China Abolishes Work Permits For Taiwanese Citizens In Attempt To Foster Pro-Unification Sentiment

(Image by DrRandomFactor via Wikimedia Commons ) On August 3rd the State Council of the People's Republic of China (PRC) announced the Communist government's decision to abolish the "Work Permit For Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Employees On The Mainland" (台港澳人員在內地就業許可). Residents of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau will no longer be required to apply for permits to work in mainland China and will be able to seek employment without having to go through complex bureaucratic procedures. The move is part of China's carrot and stick approach towards Taiwan, which Beijing considers an integral part of its territory despite the fact that the PRC never exercised de jure or de facto control over the island. China claims that it will use force to bring about unification if all peaceful options are exhausted. At the same time, it tries to co-opt Taiwanese citizens using its status as an economic powerhouse. Taiwanese people working in China face pressur

Hong Kong Must Follow Xi Jinping Thought, Promote Patriotism, Says China-Hong Kong Liaison Office

The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (via Wikimedia Commons) In an article published on Chinese state-run news outlet People's Daily on June 28, the Liaison Office of Chinese central government in Hong Kong argued that Xi Jinping Thought  must be applied to the former British colony in order to promote nationalism and solve Hong Kong's "long-term problems". The op-ed quotes a speech that Xi Jinping gave during a visit to Hong Kong in the summer of 2017 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the handover. "As a special administrative area under the direct jurisdiction of the Central People's Government, Hong Kong has since the day of the handover once again become part of the nation's system of government," Xi had said.  According to the Liaison Office , Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is "the most recent outcome of Chi

Are the Himalayas Taiwan's Highest Mountains?

“What is  Taiwan ’s highest mountain?” This seemingly harmless question has caused a public controversy in Taiwan, a country where geography and politics are deeply  entwined.   On June 11, Chen Qineng ( 陳啟能 ), a lawmaker of the  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) , asked  Eric Chu  ( 朱立倫 ), the incumbent mayor of New Taipei City and Chairman of the  Guomindang , an apparently simple question: “What is  Taiwan ’s highest mountain?” “Taiwan’s highest mountain is  Yushan ,” answered Eric Chu. “But according to the Constitution," he added, "the country’s highest mountains are the  Himalayas .”   Chen Qineng’s question was not trivial. Its purpose was to make Eric Chu reveal his view on the controversial issue of  Taiwan’s sovereignty . Taiwan is officially known as the  Republic of China (ROC) , a state that in theory still claims to be the legitimate government of China.     Chen insisted. “We are talking about the Republic of China on Taiwan.”  Eric Chu reaff

'Taiwan Will Not Bow To Pressure,' Taipei Government Says After China Forces Airlines To Drop Taiwan From Websites

The government in Taipei has expressed its determination to stand up to China after 44 airlines  bowed to pressure from Beijing and stopped listing Taiwan as a separate country.  On July 25 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) newspaper  People's Daily announced that American Airlines, United, Delta, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific as well as forty other airlines had complied with a request filed by the Civil Aviation Administration of China  on April 25 to list Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as part of Chinese territory.    Embed from Getty Images American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson told the BBC that the company was implementing changes to address China 's request. "Air travel is global business, and we abide by the rules in countries where we operate," she stated. In a written statement Cathay Pacific explained that as an airline registered and based in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) it

Hong Kong Pro-Independence Party Faces Ban In Controversial Application of Societies Ordinance

A Hong Kong pro-independence party may be outlawed if it fails to meet a government request to explain within 21 days why it should not be banned.  The Hong Kong National Party (香港民族黨, HKNP) was founded  on March 28, 2016, by Andy Chan Ho-tin (陳浩天), who was then a 26-year-old engineering and business administration student at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU). Although the Party did not have more than 50 members, its formation angered the central government in Beijing.  A spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council  told state-run Xinhua that the newly established pro-independence party harmed "national sovereignty and security, as well as Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," and that it violated the Constitution, the Basic Law and relevant regulations.    Embed from Getty Images On July 17 Chan disclosed that two police inspectors went to his home early that morning and handed him a thick pile of documents th