Friday, December 5, 2008

Arriving @ Macau

Decided as part of my annual pilgrimage to attempt an overseas race on the 1st week of December (this time doing the Macau International Marathon), so that I wouldn't feel bad about not doing SCSM (Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon). The reason of not doing SCSM is simple. I can't function well in the local heat and humidity despite living here for all my life. :p Its not something I'm proud of but just a fact that I cannot not accept. So here I was on the 5 Dec morning, first time at the Budget Terminal, with Renohtaram, taking the Tiger Airways flight to Macau for the run cum short holiday. Btw, though the Budget Terminal is a no-frills terminal, you could still find free internet access, shops and even a fun corner where children could express their creative ideas. :)

There was a delay of about 2 hours while departing from Singapore. We landed in Macau at around 10am plus instead of 8am plus. Upon arrival, we took their cheapest public transport (public bus) at a total cost of MOP$6.40, to our hotel. It was easy to locate our hotel. After check-in, we decided to pick up our race packet from the Macau Stadium, which was just a 10 minutes walk from our hotel. The hall was rather empty, with the numbers of volunteers outnumbering the number of runners. We presented our passport for verifications before being directed to pick up the goodie bag, bib number and timing chip at another counter. We were also given the latest copy of the Distance Running magazine (Oct-Dec 2008 issue). Next, we moved to yet another counter to activate our timing chip before leaving the hall. Just before the hall, we noticed a red color finisher tee for all marathon finisher within the 5-hours cut-off time. Happy for me :) but sad for Renohtaram as he's attempting the half marathon distance.

We took the bus to the Macau island to sight-see on our own. It was not really difficult to plan based on the suggested itinerary which was available at the airport. In fact, it listed the historic centre of Macau, which comprised of 25 sites, making Macau the 31st designated World Heritage site in China. We decided that we should start from the far end of the Macau Island, then walk down south. But sometimes when you go on a trip, you have to plan for contingencies. We didn't alight at the right stop and speaking little Cantonese, found ourselves near to the Lin Zexu Memorial Museum of Macau. We paid HK$5 each (I think) to visit the 1-level museum. For those who didn't know, Lin Zexu was hailed a national hero in China for opposing the opium trade. In fact, on 3 Sep 1839, after burning the opium in Humen, Imperial Commissioner Lin made an inspection tour to Macau with the Governor. He received the Portuguese and Macau officials and declared the prohibition against opium. By winning over the Portuguese and Macau officials to ban opium and observe neutrality in the Sino-UK relations, he promptly crushed the British invaders' plot of making Macau as the stronghold of invasion and thus upheld the state sovereignty. After the short tour of the museum, we found out that Guia Fortress was just nearby. We took a bus, followed by the cheapest but shortest cable car ride (about 2 minutes and cost MOP$2.00=HK$2.00). The Guia Fortress was built between 1622 and 1638. Inside the fortress stands Guia Chapel, originally established by Clarist nuns who resided at the site before establishing the Convent of St. Clare. The chapel's elaborate frescoes depict representations of both western and Chinese themes, displaying motifs of religious and mythological inspiration that are a perfect example of Macau's multicultural dimension. Guia Lighthouse, dating from 1865, is the first modern lighthouse on the Chinese coast. This heritage site are symbols of Macau's maritime, military and missionary past.

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