Macau is currently quite well-known as Las Vegas of the East — although, given how much more money is involved here, maybe Las Vegas should be the Macau of the West. Anyway, gambling. Not what we’re here for. But through a relative’s friend that does go to Macau on the regular exactly for that, we scored a free night’s stay at a swaaaanky hotel (with a casino attached that we just ignored), along with the fast ferry tickets. Yay, free trip!
What interests me far, far more though is Macau’s history relating to Portugal. Macau originated as a trading port established by the Portuguese, who were later given the land by China in a far less acriminous manner than the UK with Hong Kong — the Portuguese first considered Macau a colony, but later a “Chinese city under Portuguese administration” prior to returning it back to China in 1999. Like Hong Kong, Macau essentially acts as a country in all but name, with its own flag, passport, currency (Macau pataca, pegged at HK$0.97 but used interchangeably), and legal system. Portuguese is still an official language alongside Cantonese, and bilingual signs here seem so weird to me, especially in particularly Hong Kong-looking areas! Even bus routes are in Chinese and Portuguese, with no English. (Though finding someone that speaks Portuguese another matter — you’re far more likely to find English speakers.)