On Sunday, we took a day trip to Macau, one of China’s Special Administrative Regions. (The other is Hong Kong.) Ruled by Portugal from 1557 to 1999, it retains a unique blend of these two very different cultures. Public signs are in both Chinese and Portuguese. (And sometimes English too, hooray!)
Compared to mainland China, religion is much more visible–there’s a sizable Catholic population and people freely participate in a blend of Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and ancestor worship.
We spent most of our time at the A-Ma Temple, dedicated to a goddess of the sea. The temple is still very actively used. In addition to a few tourists milling though, numerous people were at the altars to pray, light incense, and leave gifts of food and money.
In all, it was a pretty intense travel day. From our home, we traveled: one hour by city bus to Gongbei (the Macau border crossing), one hour winding through Chinese/Macanese immigration and customs lines, 20 minutes by shuttlebus to the waterfront area of Macau, and an hour walking to get to the sights. Then we needed to stop for a meal and give Simon a little break at a playground, before finally getting to wander around and look at stuff, just in time to turn around to repeat the travel process to go home. Family day trips to Macau are going to be tough due to a certain someone’s nap schedule and the resulting crankiness when naps are missed. I think Simon and I will just have to leave Joel home next time.