The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone around the world in some way or another since it was first recognized almost a year ago. One only needs to read the current news reports to know that there are second and third waves of the infection sweeping through Europe and North America.
Thankfully, due in large part to the quick adoption and availability of masks, as well as the government’s decision to close the borders, Macau is currently one of the safest and healthiest countries in the world. Now that the borders have been partially opened to visitors from China, there continue to be stringent testing protocols and quarantine guidelines in place to prevent any community outbreaks from occurring. This has meant that those of us who are living here can enjoy our day-to-day lives with only minimal changes from what we were accustomed to in the past.
We need to still wear masks, and practice social distancing, but we can all be in school, go out to eat, visit our friends, and so on. However, the borders remain closed to foreigners and this has meant that many in our school community, as well as most of our teachers, cannot come and go as they used to. This has meant that we are physically cut off from our families and friends back in Canada, or elsewhere around the world. While this has been tough, it has afforded us the opportunity to form deeper connections with Macau than we might have made otherwise.
The term ‘staycation’ has become a buzzword for locals and expats alike, with hotels in the city offering amazing deals throughout the summer and beyond. When, previously, we may not have even considered staying locally, now the hotels that define Macau have become a viable and affordable destination that the whole family can enjoy.
And, while Macau is one of the smallest countries in the world at only 33 square kilometers, there are still countless streets, alleys, parks, and other surprises waiting to be discovered by those intrepid enough to venture out beyond their normal routes. These include, but are not limited to, Ilha Verde’s old monastery, Sun Yat Sen park near the Border Gate, the former army barracks and fortress on Mong Ha hill, Taipa’s old ferry pier next to the Scouts headquarters, and even a former leper colony down in Ka Ho.
The frequency and accessibility of festivals and special events should be celebrated as well. Many already enjoy the Grand Prix and the Food Festival, but there are so many more, such as the Craft Market, Lusophonia, the International Music Festival, and the Festival of Lights. There are regular exhibits at the Art Museum, as well as in a number of smaller venues, the Macau Orchestra has regular shows, hotels have themed food events, and the list goes on.
This is not to serve as a promo for Macau Tourism, but to highlight the sheer number of different activities, attractions and events that go on in this city all year round. Now that we all have the time to go check them out, we can really integrate into the local culture and see why this is such a diverse and enjoyable place to live and work.