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Macau

Macau is a Portugese colony about 40 miles west of Hong Kong, just off the coast of China.  I got there in about an hour via a jet-powered sea catamaran. Macau is scheduled to be handed back to the Chinese in December of 1999 and when I was there a great deal of construction was underway to celebrate the handover (or "hangover" as my guide kept saying).  Statues such as this one and a large building for the ceremony were being rushed to completion.

One priority that the Chinese have said they will work on is getting the gangs under control. The Triad is known for car-bombing its enemies but has promised to be a kinder, gentler gang in the future.

This is the most famous landmark in Macau, the church of St. Stevens.  It's all that's left of the church which was built in 15-something and burned down in 18-something. They decided to leave it as is, but added some support at the back so it wouldn't fall over.

Macau is also known for (the Hong Kong people say only for) its casinos. I watched them play Baccarat and another card game that I had no idea what the rules were. I then promptly lost HKD$100 (about US$12) in the slot machines and left.

This stretch of water separates Macau from mainland China and technically China owns the barbed wire fence, so I'm half in China and half in Macau. Luckily, nobody seemed to care.  The Chinese government runs several shops right on the border selling Chinese goods. I bought a hand-carved jade set of 3 Wise Men (Long Life, Prosperity and Good Luck) at a shop and bargained to a better price than the guide got for the same pieces the week before!