In 2013 I visited Macau with two friends of mine. We stayed there for two days and engaged in intense ‘touristy’ activities, as we went to the major sights, ate local food and strolled around the busy streets of the picturesque, European-style historic centre. After so much walking we were exhausted, but we accomplished our goal: to see as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
Those two days were nice and I had a lot of fun. But I left Macau with that kind of feeling that always accompanies me whenever I visit a place for a short time. I thought we had merely caught a glimpse of the surface, but had not got deeper into the soul of the city. We had seen churches, Portuguese-style houses, temples and nice squares; casinos, alleys and skyscrapers. But it was all too quick, too much. All I could remember of Macau was an incoherent patchwork of images, like pieces of a puzzle scattered around a table.
|‘Largo do Senado’ is Macau’s main square|
So I decided to go back. This time not as a diligent tourist who engages in frantic sightseeing, but as a ‘slow’ traveller, someone who is not always in a hurry, but who can devote time to exploring the hidden sides of the city, to understanding more about its culture and society, and to meeting local people.
My original plan was to stay in Macau for at least two weeks. This would have given me plenty of time to become more familiar with the city and to make some friends. I could have gone to local markets, taken buses, bought bread from the nearby bakery, shopped at supermarkets, etc., i.e. I could have done the sort of things locals do every day.
However, my plan was soon frustrated. Macau is definitely a city worth exploring; and yet it is a city that apparently does not want to be explored.
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