Although Hong Kong with its high buildings was itself rather overwhelming, we did have a plan to visit another big city nearby, Macau. Macau.. the city with the highest population density in the world and with a bit of European influence since its colonial days.. recently also well-known for its casinos.. Despite a warning from a friend that there is nothing to do in Macau, except for gambling, we did decide to go check it out ourselves. We were curious about its Portuguese influence and the fact it only stayed an hour boat ride away from Hong Kong was convincing enough.
Answering the question, I believe every place on earth is worth at least 3 hours. One just has to be curious and open to see the beauty of each destination.
After an hour by boat, we took a local bus to the historic centre of Macau. The statistics must be correct, I have never been on a street so crowded in the middle of a day. For sure, we were heading to the historic centre of a city, which does mean a lot of tourists, but something was different this time. We felt it. We felt the density.. However, regardless the crowds, we found much better organisation of streets and traffic when comparing it to Hong Kong. If in Hong Kong it is not always well determined were you can cross the road and the drivers do stop really only if you actually show some willingness to risk your life.. then in Macau there were proper zebras on the floor and you could even see some drivers nodding you to pass the street. I very much appreciated this extra luxury treatment for passengers on foot, because fighting for days for our survival in traffic while pushing a stroller had been a bit exhausting.
It was not easy to move with kids on these crowded streets, but we did manage to push our way till the ruins of St. Paul´s Church. Although there is only a beautiful wall left of that 17th century Portuguese church, one can use some creativity and imagine the rest.. Beautiful artwork for sure. Today this wall is part of Unesco heritage and probably thousands and thousands of people climb up there. So did we. Pushing strollers.
Another local landmark that somehow impressed me was an old Chinese family house (Casa de Lou Kau) open to public. It had this beautiful glass vitrage.. These coloured glasses on the wall somehow charmed me.. Sometimes the tiniest detail of a place takes up the biggest space in your memory of that place.. (thought inspired by Piglet).
However, what I was the most impressed about in Macau, was its Portuguese heritage. I did not see any Portuguese or hear any spoken language around, everything seemed fully Chinese (people and the conversations), but yet you would see all the street names and many store names in Portuguese. The streets are covered with cobbled stones and some of the buildings still show tiles on their facades. The pavement and tiles are both traditional elements of Portuguese culture and architecture. And last but not least, Macau has all over the place the yummy custard tarts, the famous pastry of Portugal. I guess not enough time has passed yet to erase the influence of last 400 years in this city. Hopefully some of it is here to stay.
A day-trip to Macau is worth it! Unless you have a gambling talent, then of course you could stay until your money lasts 😉