Mak­ing the most of Ma­cao

Out & About with Kids - - CONTENTS -

JANEECE KELLER spends two days in the former Por­tuguese colony of Ma­cao and finds a charm­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing des­ti­na­tion for fam­i­lies. Be­yond the bright lights, Ma­cao en­ter­tains all ages with a daily smor­gas­bord of cul­ture, his­tory, food and fun.

They were ex­pect­ing to find ‘The Las Ve­gas of Asia” – all casi­nos and bright lights. In­stead, Ma­cao turned on the charm, de­light­ing JANEECE KELLER and her fel­low trav­ellers over two days of fam­ily fun, fab­u­lous food and fas­ci­nat­ing ad­ven­tures.

An op­por­tunis­tic add-on, rather than the star of the show, our Ma­cao visit was planned as a side note to our Hong Kong stay. We were an un­likely gag­gle - two women and four girls (aged 7 to 14) - ex­plor­ing Ma­cao over two days and, how wrong our ini­tial as­sump­tions were.

I think the best way to de­scribe Ma­cao is that it’s like a well-ad­justed love child of an­ces­tral China and colo­nial Por­tu­gal - the flavours, sights and scents were unique, yet some­how fa­mil­iar and we felt im­me­di­ately wel­come.

It takes only one hour to reach Ma­cao from Hong Kong by Tur­boJet ferry, and Aussies, like most other na­tion­al­i­ties, do not re­quire a visa to stay in Ma­cao for 30 days or less. It couldn’t have been sim­pler.p

Most of the re­sorts in Ma­cao have unique fam­ily of­fer­ings and, even if you’re not an in-house guest, you can still be a part of many of these fun ex­pe­ri­ences. We based our­selves at Sher­a­ton Ma­cao - an easy de­ci­sion be­cause that’s where ‘Shrek­fast’ is hosted! If you’re trav­el­ling with kids and you have the op­por­tu­nity to have break­fast with char­ac­ters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Mada­gas­car, you just have to take it! The DreamWorks ex­pe­ri­ence is the largest out­side the US, and the cute­ness fac­tor at the buf­fet is taken to a whole new level. The panda steamed buns were by far the big­gest hit with our crew, closely fol­lowed by the ba­nana pops.

Af­ter a morn­ing out ex­plor­ing the city and get­ting a taste of ‘old Ma­cao’, we or­gan­ised day passes to Galaxy Ma­cau Re­sort. The kids loved leav­ing the adults be­hind for a few hours as they floated along the world’s long­est Sky­top Aquatic lazy river, screamed their way down the wa­ter­slides, and boo­gie boarded in the world’s largest Sky­top Wave Pool.

But it’s not the 5-star re­sorts and ho­tel glam­our that makes Ma­cao a unique fam­ily des­ti­na­tion. It’s when you ven­ture away from the glitz and the glam for a lo­cal per­spec­tive that the penin­sula comes alive.

We re­ally wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence old Ma­cao and we de­cided to ex­plore by pedi­cab. The kids, rid­ing in their own pedi­cab, were in In­sta­gram heaven – ev­ery shot guar­an­teed to get them more ‘Likes’ than the last. As my driver hauled me up the steep, cob­ble­stone streets, I loved the feel­ing of be­ing trans­ported back in time to when the Ma­canese hand-painted their street signs in Mediter­ranean blue with both Chi­nese and Por­tuguese writ­ing.

The colo­nial build­ings with their coloured fa­cades are so well main­tained that I imag­ine it won’t be too long be­fore Ma­cao’s old town has the same rep­u­ta­tion as Bo-Kap in Cape Town or the Painted Ladies of San Fran­cisco.

Se­nado Square is the his­toric heart of Ma­cao and its wave-pat­terned mo­saic paving goes all the way to the Ru­ins of St Paul’s, Ma­cao’s most fa­mous land­mark. Stand­ing on the steps at the façade of the Ru­ins of St. Paul’s you could be in Eu­rope, un­til you get a whiff of in­cense from one of the Taoist of­fer­ings that line the ad­ja­cent paths. Or un­til the kids point out that there are a group of men tak­ing their bird­cages out for a walk. “That’s some­thing we’d only see in Asia,” de­clared the teen.

And while I’m not sure the kids fully ap­pre­ci­ated the his­tory as much as the mar­kets and sou­venir stalls, they did choose St. Paul’s mag­nets as a me­mento of our trip.

Next-door to the Ru­ins of St Paul’s, an es­ca­la­tor took us into the Mu­seum of Ma­cao, lo­cated within the UNESCO World Her­itage-listed Monte Fort. The in­door high­lights were def­i­nitely the Chi­nese pup­pet ex­hibit and the recre­ation of old Ma­cao, but the real win­ner for us was the for­ti­fied rooftop ter­race with its view of the city, com­plete with 32 canons and quiet Chi­nese gar­dens.

Be­tween our Ma­canese cul­tural im­mer­sion and fun at the wa­ter­park, we ven­tured to the 233rd level of the 338m Ma­cau Tower for lunch and a chance to watch dare­dev­ils leap off the world’s high­est bungy.

The kids, rid­ing in their own pedi­cab, were in In­sta­gram heaven - ev­ery shot guar­an­teed to get them more ‘Likes’ than the last.

‘Shrek­fast’ at Sher­a­ton Ma­cao This page: Ma­cau tower Op­po­site from top: Ru­ins of St Paul’s Our pedi­cab driver in Old Ma­cao Watch­ing the pan­das have break­fast at the Panda Pav­il­lion

Chi­nese pup­pets at Mu­seum of Ma­cao

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