From a ferry ride from Hong Kong airport to the shuttle ride to the hotel, the perception one harbours about this erstwhile Portugese colony is one which would match a rich man’s glitzy slot machine fantasy. Often pitched as the Las Vegas of Asia, Macau is exactly that, and much more. A unique coupling of the architectural remnants of its colonial past and a Hollywood-esque touch of the present adds to the charm of the destination.
Start from the contemporised elegance of the past. Walk along the streets of Old Macau to soak in everything ‘modern’, housed beautifully in pastel coloured buildings. The Senado Square keeps intact historical influences and mixes it with a flavour of high street. Unlike big labels that you will find in the shopping centers inside hotel complexes, you can explore the area to indulge in mini shops, departmental stores and quaint eateries.
Go for Colourmix and Bonjour cosmetic stores that are located a few kilometres apart in this complex. If you are a stickler for eye makeup, try out the latter as it sells a plethora of styling options. You can take your pick from anime-inspired faux lashes, mascaras or lash curlers. If you are the adventurous kind, choose from a variety of pop coloured hair sprays. At Colourmix, pick up perfume miniatures from labels like Burberry and Versace.
But, bargaining is a task on the streets. Roadside shops that sell scarves, umbrellas and handbags, have vendors who are iffy about bringing down prices. So, don’t always expect your Sarojini tricks to work here.
Amid stores stacked with wardrobe, food and beauty staples, is a stately bookstore called Livraria Portuguesa on Rua De S Domingos. The place diffuses a whiff of old-world charm that only bookstores can possess.
Apart from historical texts, popular novels and fashion magazines from all over the world, it also sells knick-knack souvenirs. At many other souvenir shops, a must-pick are the little plastic reminders of Macanese casino culture — gift packs of poker chips, cards and palm-sized dice and mini roulette wheels to take back home.
A walk spanning a couple of kilometeres from the bookstore will take you to Ruins of St Paul’s. The surviving façade of the cathedral is symbolic of the rich cultural and architectural past that amalgamates the East and the West, that Macau has come to be known for.
Eat, indulge, unwind
The Cotai Strip is dotted with hotels that personify luxury at its best. The newest being Sheraton Macao Hotel, the largest hotel in Macau, with almost 4,000 rooms in its two towers. Right next door to the picturesque Venetian, this new addition to the Sands Cotai Central complex boasts of Shine Spa for indulgent grooming and restaurants — Bene, Xin and Feast for foodie delight. Take a free shuttle bus from the airport to reach the complex. Visit Sheratonmacau.com for more information.
The writer’s trip was sponsored by Sheraton Macau