Fun facts: Macau

Water/lightshow at the Wynn

The name of Macau is another of those funny mistakes. The modern day name of Macau, or Macao, derives from the name of a temple on coast where the Portuguese landed. On asking the name of the place to the native people, they replied “媽閣” (Māgé or Maa1 Gok3) which is what we still use to refer to Macau today.

Macau was known in the past as “Haojing (濠鏡, literally “Oyster Mirror”) or Jinghai (鏡海, literally “Mirror Sea”)“, which I did not know, but now it makes sense that ‘Macau’ never really translated to the Chinese name, “澳門” (Àomén or Ou3 Mun4).

Initially I did think it was just as Portuguese thing, but never did I think it could have been the result of a mistake. The Chinese name for Macau today means “inlet gates”, as Macau is a peninsula — literally acting as ‘gates’ to the inlet as it were.

When we were in Macau in 2013, if we had simply swum across a river we would have been in China. Illegally, but in China. It was somewhat tempting, I have to admit…