Adventures of a teenage author...

This is Marta, author of the Darkwoods series and of Marta's Blog. I created this blog specifically for blogging about my 2015 study abroad adventures in Europe, but it's becoming the blog for all my travels. I hope you enjoy all the pictures and stories!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Macau--The Ruins of St. Paul

Historically speaking, the Far East has been a religiously complex place. The area was extremely international, hosting a profitable trade economy that imported goods from many different countries. The people who imported these goods also brought their home religion with them, and, for the most part, were well-received. This was especially true in China; traditional Chinese religions or philosophies never claimed to be exclusive, so the Chinese were historically open to incorporating foreign religions into their own religion.

In the 1600's, the Jesuit order (an order of monks famous for their mission and educational work--they founded a load of colleges) were very present in the Far East, and Macau was the center of their operations. (They weren't the first Europeans there, however, contrary to that article--Marco Polo was there long before the Jesuits were founded). 

Central to Macau was the beautiful Church of St. Paul.

St. Paul (seriously, Blogger, fix your formatting issues with the new template!) was built in the 16th century, but caught fire 3 different times and was not rebuilt after the last time. I remember chatting with a professor who said that it was built by Japanese Christians escaping persecution from persecution in Japan, but all I could find related to that was this article, which just says the cathedral holds their relics. 

This is definitely one of the most famous single spots in Macau, and we visited here first. 

First, the ruins are located on the Rua de Ressurreicao, or the Street of the Resurrection. In order to get there, we first had to walk down the Rua de Ressurreicao. 

Simple, right?

Not really. 

(Seriously, why does it hyperlink whenever I hit "enter" after a photo?! Blogger!!)Macau is the single most crowded place on the planet. Of the regions in the world (not cities, but regions), it has the highest population density of the entire world, with more than 21,000 people per square kilometer. As if that wasn't bad enough, because we were there during Chinese New Year, people were here on vacation. (See, in Shenyang, they tell us that people go home for Chinese New Year. Clearly, people also meet up with their families to go on vacation.) In 2019, over the two weeks of Chinese New Year, more than 1 million people visited! To top it off, we didn't notice any subways, so everyone is packed together on the streets above ground. 

It took us something like 45 minutes to walk the Rua de Ressurreicao. 

(Holy smokes, Blogger, you're just turning all the pictures into hyperlinks?! Knock it off!)

Once we got there, though, we had a great time enjoying the beautiful ruins. 

It's hard to tell, but right above the square door are the words "Mater Dei", which means "Mother of God". This intrigued me because the first Christians to reach the Far East were actually Nestorian Christians, who--if I'm remembering Professor Finnigan's lectures correctly--did not call Mary the mother of God, but just called her the "Mother of Christ". The simple version, if I remember correctly, is that during the 4th century, Church Fathers were debating whether to call Mary "Mother of God" (theotokos) or "Mother of Man" (something I can't remember). Nestorius decided to solve the problem by just calling her "Mother of Christ", which was a problem because that didn't address the real question of Christ's human-divine nature. Nestorius was exiled to the east of the Roman Empire, and his teachings eventually worked their way into the Orient long before even Marco Polo. Anyway, long story short, this is definitely not a Nestorian church.


These are windows into the archaeological parts of the church. I think these were the pillars that supported the walls before they burned down. 

Underneath the ruins is the crypt and the Museum of Sacred Art. This had paintings and statues, of course, but it also held items such as engraved communion chalices, clerical garments, and other items that are both used and beautiful. I remember a few coming from other parts of Asia. 

However, I only took one picture:

I should have done this sooner... but if I remember correctly, this is a statue of St. Augustine. I have no idea which church he's holding... it looks nothing like St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, but it does look a little like Notre Dame. Maybe it's the the Lisbon Cathedral? I don't remember.

ARE YOU KIDDING, BLOGGER! When I tried to center all my photos, it just completely rearranged everything I'd written!

(And now it won't let me log into my YouTube account so I can insert the video I took of this post when it was all jumbled up.)

Anyway, that was St. Paul's Cathedral in Macau. If you want to visit China, but you don't want to go through the process of getting the tourist's 10-year visa, you can definitely visit Macau and see St. Paul's (because Macau doesn't require visas). It was well worth the visit. 

The next place we went to was... not a church. 

Macau--The Bus Tour

First off, the bus tour!

Okay, it wasn't really a bus tour. We got on one of those hop on, hop off buses that covered most of the city. But I did have some fun snapping pictures from the upper deck!

Warning in advance, though: I'm writing this more than a year after I visited, and since we didn't set foot in any of these buildings, I only vaguely remember what they were. I tried to do some extra internet searching to refresh my memory, but as it turns out, some of these are hard to find. If I could find the place, I linked to it in the caption; if not... well, you can go there yourself and correct me if I'm wrong!

This, if I remember correctly, was a food court. But look at those buildings! They could be from the 17th century Caribbean. 

I think this was a shopping center... I definitely remember this being similar to something in Portsmouth, where it used to be a place of massive industrial shipping but is now a place of leisure. 

Interestingly enough Macau is named after a goddess, but it isn't this goddess. This is the Kun Iam Statue, and the woman is one of the goddesses of mercy. Interestingly, according to one reviewer at TripAdvisor (the second one if you scroll down), her name is also spelled Guan Yin or Kwan Yin (that "k" is Cantonese and not Mandarin). 
Macau is cut in half by the ocean. There are several massive bridges that connect the two parts. 

This is a temple to A Ma, the goddess of fishermen and sailors, and it is probably who Macau is named after. I remember the automated tour guide saying something like this: the Portuguese tried to ask what the area was called, and the locals thought they were asking who the goddess was, so the names got confused. 

The temple from the back. I just love the Portuguese building in front of the Chinese temple.

A few of the bridges spanning the two parts of Macau.

We got a bit of rain. Still, these clouds were lovely.

Yeah, no, I don't remember what this is.

A statue of the leader of the first Portuguese settlers. 

This is so Macau. 

As I was adding these pictures, I realized something else: Google photos dated all my pictures by US time, and the dates in the US changed while we were in Macau. So the photos at the end were actually the first photos, time-wise. But I'm not going to rearrange them now--Blogspot just updated to a new layout that is getting right under my skin.

See you in the next post!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Macau--China's Las Vegas!

First off, here are the answers!















Thanks to its founding, Macau is a very historical city. Thanks to it being an SAR, it is basically Las Vegas in China. It is the only place in China where gambling is legal. They have their own currency and their own flag.

A historical site that we did not make it to (because it was crowded!!!!!) was the Moorish Barracks (because Macau was a very international city), but we did have a tour of the city and make it to two different places. Check those out in the upcoming posts!

Macau is still a very international city, and as a reference to its history, signs are still written in both Portuguese and Chinese. The blog Stained Glass Travel has a nice piece about the history of parts of Macau, but one of their pictures caught my eye:

These two names are not exactly the same. To be crystal, sparklingly clear, I know almost nothing about Chinese characters (I haven't even learned the characters for my own name), but I recognized that second character as the number 3, which does not show up in the Portuguese name. I pestered my Chinese friend for help explaining it; she explained that the last character is the word jie, which means "street", the second-to-last one means "right", and the first three are the name Da San Ba. Apparently, the Chinese name comes from the Chinese name for memorial gates and the church at the end of that road.

There's no real point to this paragraph, except to comment that translations are complex things.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Portugal or China?

Because I work in China, I get two weeks off for Chinese New Year. My dear friend Adrienne came out to east Asia to visit me for those two weeks! Our main destination was South Korea, but prior to visiting South Korea, we agreed we needed to see a Chinese city during Chinese New Year.

For most Chinese cities, Americans need a visitor's visa; however, there are places called Special Administrative Regions (SAR's) that have different rules. Some of them have more requirements for visas, but some of them have less. For one city called Macau, the Chinese equivalent of Las Vegas, Americans do not need any visas.

Macau is in the southern part of China... which, historically, hasn't really been part of China for very long (well, not compared to the length of Chinese history, anyway). The city was originally founded as a trading colony by the Portuguese... and the moment I set foot there, I was stunned by the similarities between Macau and Lisbon.

Just for fun...

Look at the next pictures, and see if you can guess whether it comes from A) Macau, or B) Lisbon. Answers will be in the next post!

  1. First, the street scenes:

Have fun guessing!