Day 1: 5th of October Street+ Back

Many visitors who come to Macau today are naturally drawn to the Outer Harbour first, and probably spend most of their time there.  That’s where you’ll find the bright lights of the Amizade strip and all the monster hotels that go with it, like the Wynn, Grand Lisboa, MGM etc.  It’s also home to the Ferry Terminal and a lot of museums, such as the Art Museum, the Science Centre, the Grand Prix Museum etc.  In other words, it’s a main hub for tourists and most casual travellers probably just naturally conclude that this area has always been the main commercial and business district of Macau.  I used to think that way as well, until I saw this map from 1889.

 



As you can see, the Outer Harbour as we know it today simply didn’t exist over 100 years ago.  The city extended as far as Guia Hill and that was it, which also explains why there's a lighthouse up there.  Here's how the Outer Harbour looked as recently as 1989 and 1991.

 

 

 

For history enthusiasts and people who like old things, it's obvious that the Inner Harbour, and not the Outer Harbour, should be your first port of call.  There used to be a neat little book available at the Tourist Office that talked about this area, and in particular highlighted two of its main streets: Rua de Cinco Outubro (the 5th of October street) and Rua de Felicidade (the Street of Happiness, which I’ve already mentioned.)  It also contained a lot of information related to different restaurants, bakeries, dessert shops, snack shops, teahouses and tea dealers found in the neighbourhood.  I chose four of those restaurants from the book to be my dining choices for this trip: Cafe Nam Ping, Tai Long Fong, Mou Kei and Southwest.  For the first day, I started off with Cafe Nam Ping, located on Rua de Cinco Outubro. 
   
Rua de Cinco Outubro, the 5th of October street, was originally named Rua Nova-del Rei, modelled after a Rua Nova street in Lisbon that was a centre of Asian business and commerce.  After the tragic events of October 5th, 1910 however, when the Portuguese King Manuel I and his son, the heir to the throne, 20 year old Prince Luis Felipe, were assassinated by Republican Nationalists, the street name was changed.  Quite why the “City in the Name of God, There is None More Loyal” would choose to memorialise a regicide by naming a street after the event is unclear to me, but maybe they too were sick of the monarchy by 1910.  (Interesting side note: King Manuel’s full name was Manuel Maria Filipe Carlos Amélio Luís Miguel Rafael Gabriel Gonzaga Francisco de Assis Eugénio.  Try saying that ten times fast!  Imagine how long it would take to sign your name, you’d be there half a day!  Your driver’s license would take up five cards.)

 

 

Rua Cinco de Outubro used to be the heart of Macau’s downtown district, and probably looked a lot better 40 or 50 years ago than it does today.  Back then major industries called this street home and there were a ton of hawkers everywhere selling fruits, vegetables and other household goods.  Nowadays it looks like a lot of other streets in the area, run down and ragged, one you’d never think was ever prosperous.  Unlike Senado Square and the Street of Happiness which have been remodelled and refurbished, the 5th of October street has been left to its own devices and it shows in its odd juxtaposition of old businesses and new shops.  Viewing them side by side makes for quite the interesting contrast, like being in 1964 and 2014 at the same time. 

 

 

 

The oldest building on the 5th of October street is probably Hong Kung temple, which dates back to 1860.  Prior to land reclamation, the temple used to be right up against the Inner Harbour shoreline, which is now several hundred feet away.  Since the word "bat" in Cantonese sounds very close to Heavenly Luck, they are common fixtures in Southern Chinese temples, and two gold ones greet visitors at the entrance door. 

  

 

The main altar is quite elaborate and the side chambers pay homage to even more deities, and I'd be lying if I said I knew who any of them are.  It doesn't matter though, I'm sure all of them are very important.

 

 

 

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