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Sunday, March 5th, 2006

I’ve settled comfortably perfectly into my apartment in Zhuhai, a welcome change from the suffocating air of Guangzhou. I look forward to my class and living in this quaint town (by Chinese standards) for the next four weeks.
Due to visa requirements, and today being my last free day for a while, I’m off to Macau to be a tourist for a day. Macau is the oldest western stronghold in Asia, founded by the Portuguese in the first wave of Asian exploration. For me it’s just confusing. I know there are three or more languages being spoken around me at once (Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin, more?), all of which I can’t understand. I can get by reading Portuguese street signs with my Spanish background, which is refreshing in this land of Chinese characters. The confusion that Macau inspires is also what makes it so interesting.
The cultural, historical, and architectural layers present are incredible. At the lowest level Macau is old, colonial, and mysterious. One part Europe and another part pirate. On another level Macau is modern and cheesy, with fashionable condo high-rises and neon casinos; the Las Vegas of southern China. It will keep you entertained for a day, maybe two if you dabble in games of chance. In a day I witness a fashion model photo shoot in Taipa village, sampled the most amazing Portuguese chicken dish, and stumbled upon a huge, very Catholic parade that I assume marked the beginning of Lent. My feet tell me it’s time to brave the line at the border, and head back to my new home.