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July2, Tuesday.  Our destination this morning was Macau.  We walked to the ferry terminal and took a one hour hydrofoil trip over to the island.  Most of its modern existence Macau was under Portuguese rule - 450 years; then was transferred over to the the Chinese in December 1999.  Although its heritage is as a trade city, today the city relies on gambling and tourists for its economic base.  It is obvious that China and Hong Kong have left this island behind economically in moving forward in the millennium. 
 







 



We took a taxi into the Old Town and started our explorations in Sanmalo.  The historic town square, Largo Do Senado is an interesting mix of pastel Baroque buildings mixed with modern retail stores. Black and white tiles pave the street in a traditional Portuguese wave pattern. We pass the Senate, Leal Senado, first then move on toward the whitewashed Santa Casa da Misericordia (House of Charity). The square is anchored by the church of Sao Domingos. This is reputed to be the most beautiful church on Macau. It was founded as a convent by the Spanish friars in 1587 until the Portuguese banned convents and it became the repository for sacred art of the period.   Fortunately there was a wedding in process so we were able to peak at the interior where the cream and white nave leads toward the delicately carved alter.




 

We spent time walking through the Old Town enjoying the small shops and watching the masses of school children pouring into the narrow streets.  Macau is a furniture center for the region both antique and new pieces - it is where people go to get cheaper deals on furnishings.




We walked on toward Monte Hill. It is here that the Jesuits built Forte Monte early in the 17th Century.  The Portuguese fought back the Dutch in 1622 at the fort and then proceeded to remove the Jesuits from the fort so that the Macau governors could then use the Fort for residence and offices until 1835 when a fire destroyed the complex.


Beautifully situated in Monte Hill and on the Fort grounds is the Museum of Macau. The building itself is a work of art surrounded by a very lovely park area.


 

From Monte Hill, we were able to see the site of Sao Paulo, Church of St Paul, built by the Jesuits between 1602-1627.  The church also was burned in 1835 such that its stairway and facade are all that remains of the building. Behind the facade are the excavated crypt of the church founder, Alessandro Valignano. The church also served as one of the first western-style universities in China.





Leaving this area of the island, we headed toward the Inner Harbor and walked the Rua do Almirante Sergio until we arrived at our lunch spot, Litoral.  This is a Portuguese- Macau restaurant that specializes in good local dishes with little pretense. After finishing our desert pudding it started to rain and then pour.  We waited out the showers while wandering south toward the Maritime Musuem.   Next to the museum is the Ma Kok temple, known as A-Ma, which is thought to be the oldest building in Macau, Ming Dynastry (1368-1644).  The temple and its pavilions are wedged into the side of the hill among the boulders. 


 

The brief reprieve from rain caught up with us as we started walking back toward town. Our wanderings took us to Penha Hill, the Beverly Hills of Macau.  The pastel pink homes with large yards and massive gates had great views of the city and islands.  From here we wandered back down to the other side of the island where we caught a good view of the new Macau Tower, 1,115 ft, built by Stanley Ho (major casino, landowner and promoter on Macau) as a tourist attraction with observation desk and rotating restaurant. We finally hailed a cab and returned to the ferry terminal for our return trip. Although our rain gear keep us dry, it is so hot wearing it that we were soaked anyway.

Upon returning to Hong Kong, we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon where we walked along the waterfront and then headed over to the Peninsula Hotel for an afternoon drink. 

 



Dinner this evening was at Vong's, designer dining of French-Asia fusion.  Located in our hotel, the view overlooked the harbor and Central Hong Kong.  Everything was designed including the food which was excellent.



Needing a bit more exercise, we chose a night visit to Victoria Peak.  Hong Kong is spectacular at night. 

 

On July 3ed we went to Happy Valley and Stanley

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