Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it." -Willy Wonka

Post by: Beth

During both my mom's visit and Raja's family's visit, we made trips to Macau, the other "Special Administrative Region" of the People's Republic of China. Largely developed by the Portugese in the 16th century, it's now a very busy city, boasting a large trade industry and plenty of tourism! There's much to see and do in the area, and between the two family visits, we hit both the tourism and historical highlights.

For a historical highlight, the best part was the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, which is one of Macau's most famous landmarks. Built from 1582 to 1602 by the Jesuit priesthood, the Cathedral was the largest Christian church in Asia at the time. In 1835, it was largely destroyed by a fire caused by a typhoon, and all the remained was the southern facade of the cathedral along with the grand staircase of 66 stairs leading to the facade. Restoration and conservation work has since taken place, and visitors to Macau can walk the remains and visit the crypt underground.

We also took a look around what's known as the "Old Protestant Cemetery." Established by the British East India Company in 1821, this cemetery was created in response to a lack of burial sites for Protestants in the Roman Catholic Portuguese colony. It is the last resting place of the artist George Chinnery, missionaries Robert Morrison and Rev. Samuel Dyer, Royal Navy Captain Henry John Spencer-Churchill (son of the 5th Duke of Marlborough and great-great-grand-uncle of Winston Churchill) and US Naval Lieutenant Joseph Harod Adams (grandson of the second president of the United States, John Adams, and nephew of the sixth, John Quincy Adams).

Much of Macau's tourism is driven by the casinos that dominate the skylines of several islands in the Macau region. Even if you don't love gambling, the casinos are impressive to look at. Mom really wanted to see the Venetian casino and hotel, which is HUGE. Full of shops, restaurants, food courts, candy stores, and plenty of casino games, it's easy to get lost in the endless supply of things to see and do in this one building!

Inside the Venetian:

One of my favorite parts of each trip to Macau was "The Bubble Show." There's a 30-meter dome in one of the casinos on Cotai Island, and inside it, a show described as a "10-minute immersive multimedia experience combining high-definition video content, a sweeping musical score by Klaus Badelt, over 29,000 theatrical LED lights, and a variety of sensory effects to create a stirring multimedia extravaganza." It follows the story of the Dragon Pearl and its mysterious powers as experienced by each of the four Dragon Kings. It's really hard to describe in words, but it's a bit awe-inspiring, and one of the coolest experiences. Smoke, water, lights, fog, and various other elements are used to create these cool sensory effects and make it feel like you are falling into a hole, swimming towards the surface of water, or being breathed on by dragons. Very cool! The show is REALLY fast-paced, so it's almost impossible to capture many pictures during the dragons' chase of the pearl, but between me and Mom, we caught a few that are at least publish-able. :)

These lamps emerge from the ceiling of the dome, dip down into the audience, and use a combination of water and lights to make neat illusions and shapes:

All of the "streamer-like" things you see coming from the lamp are actually lines of water that circle down from the lamps!

Through laser lights, the show creates constant images and illusions... You feel like something is right in front of you and you can touch it, and then it changes shape or colors right before your eyes:

Here is one of the four dragons that race around after the Pearl of Wisdom. It was REALLY hard to get shots of these because they move incredibly quickly around the dome, but Mom managed to capture this one:

Their chase takes them through beautiful underwater scenes:

From the historical sites, to "The Bubble Show," to the casinos, Macau follows suit and really does offer something for everyone. Combine all this with a fun ferry ride from island to island, and it's a great way to spend the day! :)

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