China (HK & Macau)


In China I visited Hong Kong and Macau, as places where cultures meet fascinate me (I also wanted to see China's "one country, two systems" principle in action). Former British and Portuguese colonies respectively, Hong Kong and Macau are currently China's two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) which retain their capitalist economic and political systems, having their own governments, multi-party elections, legal systems, police forces, currencies and separate customs territory. From my experience the two cities looked no different than any capitalist country.

Hong Kong was fantastic, a really vibrant, dynamic and colorful place that was a delight to explore. The obvious first destination is Victoria Peak, accessible by funicular. At night, Victoria Harbour seen from the Peak is out of this world, with all the skyscrapers and lights. Just amazing. By day, Hong Kong is a great place to explore, take in the culture, stop in random shops, cafes and restaurants and take countless pictures (start with Central, the heart of Hong Kong island). Everything you need to see is easily accessible by Metro.

The Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and its Avenue of (Hong Kong film) Stars is a great place to check out Victoria Harbour. On Lantau Island I saw the Tian Tan Buddha, the 34 metre tall bronze statue accessible by an enjoyable cable car ride and located in a splendid mountain area. On Kowloon Island I visited the HK Science Museum which hosted an interesting exhibit on China's space program and the HK Space Museum which was a bit dated and in need of upgrading.

Macau, the most densely populated region in the world (about 22,000 persons per sqkm), was different and I can't really say it was as enjoyable as Hong Kong. There were some interesting sights for sure, but the place's main attraction was clear: Macau is currently the world's top Casino Market, larger than Las Vegas in the US. The Casinos were indeed huge and the light shows and everything provided some good photo opportunities. The territory's main tourist spot, the Macau Peninsula, had some interesting sights, including the ruins of the 16th century St. Paul's Cathedral, the Grand Prix Museum and the Macau Tower. The influence of Portugese culture and the billingual signs in Chinese and Portugese were pretty cool, but there's nothing more to do in Macau after one day unless gambling is your thing.

One interesting thing to note is that banknotes in both Hong Kong and Macau are issued by commercial banks and not by the central monetary authority; thus, you'll see different types of notes in circulation which is kind of cool.

- Hong Kong entry on Wikipedia
- Hong Kong entry on Wikivoyage
- Macau entry on Wikipedia
- Macau entry on Wikivoyage

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China

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