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Macau made to order
Which Macau do you most want to see? The side that’s dubbed it the Vegas of the East? Or the side that still shows signs of what was once a sleepy Portuguese stronghold? (Macau was only handed back to China in 1999). Home to about 550,000 people, Macau sees about 22 million tourists a year, 90 percent from mainland China where gambling is illegal. They come for the casinos, but there are candy-colored colonial buildings that are worth betting on too. And, despite its high-rises and superhighways, Macau is slower than Hong Kong — and slightly cheaper too. Here are six things you might want to see and do, no matter if you like things old school, or new.
For old schoolers
1. A black-and-white tiled pavement of waves, pink and yellow colonial-style buildings and the neo-classical Leal Senado (or senate building), await you at Senado Square. It’s part of Macau’s Historic Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and very pretty.
2. You can’t go inside the Ruins of St. Paul’s because all that remains of the 17th-century church is its front façade and grand stone staircase. The Baroque church caught fire twice, was rebuilt, was damaged by a typhoon, then caught fire again.
3. Macau was originally named A-Ma-Gao (or Place of A-Ma), goddess of seafarers. A-Ma Temple isMacau’s oldest Chinese temple and longest surviving building. Parts of it date back 600 years.
For new schoolers
1. The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel opened in 2007 and consists of 3000 rooms, 600 shops and 30 restaurants. Oh, and there’s 3000-plus slot machines and a gondola, too.
2. Toronto’s CN Tower let’s you walk along its outer rim 356 metres above the ground aka 123 metres higher up then the Macau Tower, but you can bungee jump off the latter, said to be the world’s highest jump, and get a fancy-shmancy commemorative tee too.
3. The House of Dancing Water is Macau’s most expensive show. The $300-million production features 77 performers and 250-plus fountains embedded in the theatre floor. Cirque du Soleil’s $200-million Zaia, which was across the road, closed in 2012.
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