Macau, China


Today I remember when I was far across the globe in Macau, which is technically classified by China as a "Special administrative region."  Macau is often called the "Las Vegas" of Asia for their luxury hotels and vibrant casinos, but it is even more than Vegas is.  Boasting the world's largest gaming revenue, the hotels light up at night full of dynamic and energetic colors welcoming all the worlds gamblers.  For me, it was incredibly exciting despite not being much of a gambler.  Much like Vegas however, the shows, streets, and thrilling nightlife kept me just as happy as all of the ones there to play.

To get here was quite easy (albeit a little scary), especially if you are visiting or staying in Hong Kong.  There is a "fast ferry" or "water jet" that goes between the two bustling cities quite often, and is exactly as it is called, fast, traveling upwards of fifty mph on the water.  Be prepared for a bumpy and rough ride tearing through an inlet off the South China Sea, many get sick.

Fun Fact: With a population of 650,900 living in an area of approximately twelve square miles, Macau is the most densely populated region in the world.  The Chinese government reacquired Macau in 1999 after over 400 years of Portuguese rule.  This event also marked the end of the Portuguese Empire and European colonialism in Asia as a whole.

Helpful Hint: Bring your walking shoes and ask for maps, maps, and more maps.  This is a walking city, and you can see everything you want to on foot for the most part.  Check out the Historic centre, the ruins of St. Paul's cathedral (dating back to the 1600s), the Macau museum, and (if your budget abides) the famous House of Dancing Water.  If you can, go to the Macau tower, which was technically modeled after New Zealand's Sky Tower, but you might think it looks an awful lot like the Space Needle.


Condado Beach, Puerto Rico

Today I remember back to my brief but wonderful time in PR.  Condado Beach is a pedestrian-first community, a mere seven minute drive from Old San Juan packed with beach front restaurants, and a safe corridor of shopping and fun.  I stopped off here on my way to the US Virgin Islands while moving, momentarily thinking I should have just moved here instead.

Puerto Rico would later be known to me as the "city," where you go to get amenities and the comforts of home, coming from the little islands to the East.  This place wasn't very exciting during the day, decent beaches, fun waves, and shops that were just okay.  When the sun went down however, this town turned into a lively and bustling city full of cultural excitement and wonder.  The beaches would fill with volleyball enthusiasts, and the streets with runners, skaters, and bikers.  In regards to Puerto Rico, this town is a middle to upper class community with casinos, nightclubs, and bars, set to be the "Miami Beach" of Puerto Rico, remaining one of the top tourist destinations in the province.

Fun Fact: Condado began its process of urbanization in 1908 by two Americans, Hernan and Sosthenes, also known as the Behn Brothers. The area made it to the streetcar line to Old San Juan, which was a big deal at the time. Its growth and development was catapulted by this, and ended up attracting well known tycoons such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, who ended up building a home here.

Helpful Hint: As much as you probably want to, don't bring the kids here, this isn't a town made for families or children.  The surf is way too rough, the nightlife way too loud, and the options limited.  This is an adult only, active, and loud area (mostly), and it is best to come here as a couple and not as a family (or solo!).  If you have some bucks to spend, stay at the historic and luxurious Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, converted from the late Vanderbilt's old 1919 timely summer Mansion.  There is also an amazing burger joint a block off the beach called "Buns Burger Shop," get a shake, you deserve it.  

Roatan, Honduras

Today I remember my time down in Central America, in the wonderful country of Honduras. Located about forty miles off the coast of La Ceiba near the northern part of the country, Roatan is a quaint getaway and diving mecca.  The island is located along the Mesoamerican barrier reef, the second largest reef in the world, and home to the Roatan Marine Park.  Divers from all around the world come here to experience the incredible visibility, amazing diverse marine life, and the extra laid back atmosphere.  

Fun Fact: The majority of the population of Roatán originated from the Cayman Islands. The settlers arrived in the 1830s shortly after Britain abolished slavery in 1838, and were mostly former slaves.

Helpful Hint: There are two safe and fun places you should look into when researching your visit to Roatan, West End and West Bay.  West bay is for tourists, with luxurious resorts and restaurants, while West End is a quiet diver community.  West end is the place to be if you are coming to dive, with more than eighteen dive shops in only a few blocks of town.  There are local bars and restaurants, as well as "dive resorts" and will make for a much more personal and relaxing experience.  Make sure you stop in to Sundowners on the beach and order a Salva Vida!