Think Macau, and everyone thinks Casinos, some may think the Ah-Mah Temple or Portuguese food and colonial history. When I first visited the Portuguese colony of Macau some 33 years ago I stayed at a very run-down but historic Bella Vista hotel on the Macau Peninsula. I could look out from the balcony while sipping my Vinho Verde at two green mountainous islands in the distance, Taipa and beyond it Coloane. Both were technically part of Macau since the nineteenth century. But getting there was a pain as they were only linked to the peninsula by an occasional ferry or a fishing boat. Now you can fly to Cotai (i.e. Coloane-Taipa) from a number of regional East Asian Airports or take a ferry from Hong Kong. You can also get to Cotai by one of three bridges from crowded and busy peninsula Macau. Alas the two islands are now one and the flat land created between them is a new Vegas dominated by massive casinos and their reconstructions of Venice and Paris. But tucked away from these economically important venues and their empty shopping malls and restaurants are the nineteenth century remnants of the Portuguese Eastern Empire.
Every now and then I come across a little gem, and this was one of those moments.
This museum was originally a government Municipal Council and stands by an attractive square surrounded by a maze of wonderful buildings which are restaurants, shops and bars. The pace of life much slower than peninsula Macau. If the museum’s setting and structure is interesting from outside, just wait until you go inside. On the ground floor is the exposed archaeological excavation of the building. While its exhibits chronicle the story of the two islands (now one) from prehistoric times to the present day. The finds outline the Pearl River Delta and its long relationship with Southeast Asia and beyond with some fascinating artefacts. Finds are clearly labelled in Chinese, Portuguese and English and cover a range of themes with an education zone.
The First floor takes us to the cosmopolitan modern and contemporary history of the islands; Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese. This really is my favourite small museum in the region, so far.
Museum Information: https://www.taipavillagemacau.com/directory/museum-of-taipa-and-coloane-history/
Location: Old Taipa Town Centre.
Address: Rua Correai da Silva, Taipa, Macau, Macau SAR, China.
Admission: 5 MOP, 2 MOP for Groups or Students and Free on Sundays.
Opening Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm Tuesdays-Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
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Hailing from Mombasa, Kenya. Cliff's research interests began in 1982 when while working in “the Gulf” when he first travelled Asia following the routes of the epic voyages of the Fifteenth century Chinese admiral Zheng He. He later graduated with a BA(Hons) in Geography with Asian Studies in Northern Ireland. After a career in tourism Cliff became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). He returned to historical research in 2001 on a variety of themes leading to an exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society on the Bombay Africans (2007) and is regarded as the world specialist on the subject. Cliff was Honorary Research Assistant to Royal Holloway's Geography Department (2011-2014) and Visiting Research Assistant to Dalian Maritime University, China (2011-2015). He was researcher-curator on the Bait-Jelmood Museum, Qatar (2013-2016) and research-curator for the National Museum of Qatar, specialising in the Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean (2016-2018). He is presently distance-working on the African collection of the Museum of Anthropology at Vancouver, Canada. Since 2016 Pereira is Visiting Research Assistant at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He describes himself as a historical geographer and his life interest in Zheng He has led to talks and lectures on the subject in China, Malaysia, Canada, the UK and on the cruise liner Silver Muse. He has numerous papers and chapters in publications around the world.