Macau, Hong Kong City - Stein Travel
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Macau

The cultural influence of Portuguese life threaded through a Chinese framework has produced a unique landscape in Macau, fused with contrast and complexity. Here Baroque churches and colonial mansions appear from the cobbled pavements interspersed with plazas and cafes. Visitors are enticed here by the lure of gambling and the glitz of its promise. Macau's attractions are exemplified in its architectural heritage. St Paul's Cathedral is one such legacy that dates back to the early 17th century. It is an Italian-designed building perched on a hilltop that is most spectacular when illuminated against a night sky. The vantage point from the Fortaleza de Monte is a good place to reflect on the defensive role it played against Dutch assault in 1622 alongside an exploration of the museum and meteorological observatory.

The classic Chinese temple of A-Ma rests at the base of Penha Hill. Its name derives from Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven, or the Honoured Mother. Myth has it that a poor girl saved the fishing vessel, on which she was travelling, from the ravages of a storm. In tribute to her this temple was built and is a place of pilgrimage for Macau's fishing community. Another temple dedicated to the power of female intervention is the Kun Iam Temple, built in honour of the Goddess of Mercy, located in the northern reaches of the peninsula. It was here in 1844 that the first trade and friendship treaty between USA and China was signed. Macau is 37 miles (60km) west of Hong Kong; ferries take around an hour to get there and leave every fifteen minutes.

Information & Facts

Language

The official languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.

Money

The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD); HK$1 is divided into 100 cents. Major banks are open from 9am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12:30pm on Saturday. Banks and moneychangers charge commission as do hotels that provide exchange services. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widely distributed. Some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.

Time

Local time is GMT +8.

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