Macau is often referred to as Vegas of the East. It’s reputation as the gamblers’ paradise is well-earned as gigantic casinos sit imposingly on land reclaimed from the sea, with more and more expansion happening all the time. Today, Macau claims to take more money from gamblers than Las Vegas, and the rapid expansion from an increasing number of overseas casinos would seem to be evidence of that claim. But there is, of course, more to Macau than just blackjack tables, restaurants, shows, and fake Venetian canals.
Wandering the colorfully painted back streets of Macau today you’re sure to come across echoes of its Portuguese colonial past. In St Lazarus Quarter the streets look strikingly similar to those you might see in Europe. From Catholic churches, to grand old schools, there are many fine examples of Portuguese architecture with roots going back to the 16th century when China gave Portugal the right to settle in Macau in exchange for clearing the area of pirates.
In Europe these beautiful cobbled back streets would be alive with cafes, restaurants, and bars. They would be busy and lively to wander along with music and laughter stretching into the small hours. However, here the roads are quiet and orderly, a reminder perhaps that while these historic streets are indeed the real deal, you are, nonetheless, a very long way from Europe and for that matter, Vegas too.