Thursday, November 24, 2005

Macau: Taipa and Coloane, the islands south of Macau

Today, one would no longer feel that Taipa and Coloane were once islands separated from the Macau peninsula since three long causeways now link Taipa to the mainland while Coloane has virtually been connected to Taipa by reclamation projects which would host a new casino district of Macau. But the good thing about it is the old settlements in both islands still exude the rustic charm of small colonial villages.

I'm writing this last part here in Manila. It took quite a while since I was dead tired when I got back. I had to rush to class in UP straight from the airport in Clark. Traffic was bad so I missed my first class. Just imagine the stress that met me when I arrived. The slow traffic and incessant honking of horns really drove down the point... welcome back to your chaotic country! I had to do stuff after class so to make the long story short, I got home at about 4 a.m. The sleep I got the next day wasn't enough either so it was just today that I've recovered in a way.

Anyway, I overslept on Tuesday. Who wouldn't after exerting so much physical effort the previous days? I was supposed to meet brod Phil at the park below my hotel at 9 a.m. but he ended up knocking on my door since I was sound asleep. Hehe! Since I had already packed my things, all I needed to do was to get dressed. So after rushing down, it was off for a drive around Taipa and Coloane before proceeding to the airport.

The southernmost of the two islands, Coloane, was still forested. I hope they keep it that way. It is said that pirates hid in the caves of Coloane, waiting for ships filled with cargo to pass by for them to raid. Coloane Village is the main settlement of the island and that is where the St. Francis Xavier Chapel is located.

We had breakfast at a cafe near the church. Then it was off for a drive around old Taipa Village. We didn't have time to stop over anymore but the place had also been preserved and restored. Around the church, the Igreja de Na. Sra. do Carmo, were several mint green Portuguese homes which had been converted into museums. The shop houses around the town market had also been spruced up in order to attract the tourists.

I really hope the mayors of our own cities learn from the Macau example. It's never to late for Mayor Atienza to convert the Escolta, Sta. Cruz and Binondo areas into a San Ma Lo since many of the art deco builings in the area still stand. All we can do is hope that their eyes are opened to the reality that the ordinary foreign tourist comes to see the local culture and heritage of a country they visit more than anything else. Thus, if we want to attract this billion dollar industry, we should know our market and invest big time to attract it.
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