Churches, Gambling, and Seasickness

The ferry to Macao yesterday reminded me of childhood trips from Copenhagen to Malmoe – row upon row of packed soft chairs on a flat floor, choppyish sea and a grey fudge of sky. Traveling with Mum and Dad is always entertaining. When we arrived Mum rushed off to change money and dad to get maps, leaving me bewildered in the middle. Mum managed to change lots although actually HK dollars turned out to be more useful than Macanese Patacas!

Macao was very different from how I’d expected. Sort of a cross between HK, Mainland China, and Southern Europe. The buildings are generally lower and scruffier, most people spoke less english (and more mandarin) than in HK, and it was fascinating having Portugese signs and street-names everywhere. The main square area with oldish buildings and the view from the fort were def my favorite.

And since we’d chosen the one day of the week when most museums are closed (Monday) we made do with the museum of the first bishop of Macao from the 16th century (highlight was his skull), the ruins of St Paul’s (Mum got very excited at some chinese characters and a picture of the VM holding a crysantheum), St Dominic’s church (Reminded me of Chinese temples with Boddhisateva statues) and the Cathedral (Dad not impressed – as usual it didn’t compare with the one in Durham). Feeling a bit churched out, we each chose a priority thing to do in MC.

Ellie: Eat an egg tart. HK’s full of them, but the ones from Macao are apparently really famous. Dad calls them custard pies which I don’t think quite does them justice. Anyway this was pretty easily resolved, and was v tasty. But overpriced.

Mum: Desperate to see the Protestant Graveyard. According to our Luxembourgish guide book this was “plus interessant qu’on l’imagine” so we spent about 2 hours trying to find it. Dad: Can’t we hurry up and find those dead prods I want to go to a casino. Mum: Yes, I’m a good Catholic me, I love to see  lots of dead protestants! Me: groan. Anyway, the guidebook turned out to be right! Non-Catholics were buried in the wild at first, then dug up when they started this graveyard around 1800. Most of them had died pretty young and of fairly nasty things which they liked to brag about at length on the tombstones. (After a long and painful disease, which he boreth very well, he took a great fall into the hold, thence followed a slow and lingering death, etc). Only after leaving did I realised I wrote an essay last year on a guy Robert Morrison who’s buried there. 


Dad: Wanted to go up the tall tower. It’s very tall. A girl laughed at me cos I was terrified of walking onto the glass floor. You could feel it sway. Someone bungee jumped past the window. We spent a hilarious 20 minutes joking about why we weren’t going to bungee jump. Apparently it’s the 10th tallest free-standing structure in the world. Or something. Expensive. 


on reflection, decided not to jump of the 360m odd tower. even with a thin elastic rope.

on reflection, decided not to jump of the 360 tower. even with thin elastic rope.

And then, Casino!!! Dad couldn’t hide his excitement (he’d picked out “the big pineapple-shaped one” to go to from when we first arrived). Mum feigned boredom “It won’t be as exciting as the protestant cemetery”. I mostly worried that I’d embarass myself by not knowing how any of the games worked. I was right to worry, as got much laughed at by professional Chinese gamblers. There was seriously a lot of money being made and lost. Tables with minimum stake 2000 HKD +… But we def got our money’s worth at the pineapple (its real name is something Lisboa) – losing 50 dollars HK in half an hour seems fair enough to me. Next casino: The Venetian.

This casino is BLOODY BIG. V impressed. Apparently it’s the biggest building in the world except for a few airports. Second floor alone contains model Venice including St Mark’s Square, several 100 metres of Grand Canal, real gondolas, fake sky, and lots and lots of shops.  Mum won 800 dollars HK on the roulette, and suddenly seemed of the opinion that casinos were a LOT more exciting that protestant graveyards. 


Pic doesn't include: CCP officials from Guangzhou gambling away millions of gov't budget in Macau casino.

Pic doesn't include: CCP officials from Guangzhou gambling away millions of gov't budget in Macau casino.

The way home was also exciting. Dad realised he’d got food poisoning, and I was horribly seasick and vomited up all my supper. Fun times.


One Response to “Churches, Gambling, and Seasickness”

  1. Dick Says:


    First :love the blog,
    Second: say hi to C&D,
    Third: I seem to remember you being quite keen on the casino in Las Vagas when we all went 🙂
    Many : I liked the idea of a grave stone with a narrative
    Many one : keep writing !

    Best from all at Sharrow lane

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