Tourists hardly notice them. They’re easy to miss. However, they’re an integral part of life in Macau (and Hong Kong, too).
Street altars and shrines are carefully placed throughout the city. We spotted them next to homes, stores and in alleyways—anywhere a person might want to pause and say a prayer.
It was the aroma that first caught our attention. Sticks of incense were lit by the living to communicate with the other world. The combination of the sight and smell of the pungent smoke must help those beyond this dimension receive the fervent prayers.
Though we never saw two altars or shrines that were alike, they shared similarities. All featured a container that held either a few sticks of incense or fistfuls. A red rectangular plaque with Chinese characters typically hung on the wall directly behind the vessel. Cups of tea, various fruit and even bottles of liquor were frequently placed next to the shrines. We wondered if the spirits appreciated some of the offerings more than others.