No final do século 19 viajar da Europa para o Oriente era uma autêntica aventura que no mínimo durava mais de dois meses. Veja-se o exemplo do percurso que um turista na época tinha de fazer, tendo como partida Southampton, em Inglaterra, e como destino Shangai, na China.
P&O steamer, Southampton para Alexandria - 14 dias
Egyptian transit, por comboio, de Alexandria ao Suez - 2 dias
P&O steamer, Suez para Point de Galle, Ceilão - 21 dias
P&O steamer, Point de Galle para Hong Kong - 17 dias
P&O steamer, Hong Kong para Shanghai - 7 dias
Total: 61 dias.
Pintura de William John Huggins em 1834
The barque ‚Sylph‘, belonging to Mr. Alexander Robertson off the Macao, China
O clipper Sylph - na imagem acima frente e Macau em 1834 - foi construído em 1831 na região de Calcutá para um mercador parsi de nome Rustomjee Cowasjee. Seria depois comprado pela empresa sedeada em Hong Kong, a Jardine Matheson, para o transporte de ópio entre os portos do Oriente. Em 1833 estabeleceu um recorde de velocidade na viagem entre Calcutá e Macau, com o tempo de 17 dias e 17 horas. Afundou-se numa viagem a caminho de Singapura em 1849.
Anúncio de 1832 publicado no The Canton Register:
‘M/s Canton & Macau Passage Boats’ operate the Sylph, the Union (both for six passengers) and the St George (4 passengers). Macau Agent – Markwick & Lane, Canton Agent – Robert Edwards. Rates – 1st passenger Canton to Lintin / Macau $30; Canton to Lintin / Macau via Kap Sing Mun $35. Additional passengers $5. “Gentlemen are advised that their baggage will be searched on arriving at or departing from Canton”
Excertos de um diário - parte de uma viagem de um estrangeiro, de Cantão a Macau, em 1835 e publicado nesse ano no "The Chinese Repository".
Visits to Macao are often made by the residents in Canton. The passage boats, viz: Union, Sylph and St George, in comparison with the inside chop-boats of the last century afford strong inducements to try a change of air and place. By circular it is announced that 'the' Union will leave for Kumsiug moon and Macao tomorrow at 5 pm precisely. (...)
Walks about Macao:
Praya Grande; Bishop's walk; bathing in the great ocean; groupers and sole fish; awful havoc made by the late gale; unroofed houses; beggars; ride to the barrier; the Manila and Java ponies; an Arabian horse; Chinese horsemanship.
Saturday, August 15th
The extent of the settlement is less than three miles in length and one in breadth; its topography; how obtained by the Portuguese; its early history; character of the first adventurers; inner harbor; Typa; Green island.
Monday, August 17th
Population Portuguese say from 4600 a 4700 of these 2600 a 2700 are females 800 a 900 are slaves and 300 are soldiers.
Chinese population 30,000; education; great want of good schools; the newspaper; lack of enterprise and the causes of it; masquerade; a Caffre with a Jews harp; vespers.
Thursday, August 20th:
Government of Macao its precarious footing; its relation to the Chinese and foreign powers not well defined; advantages of being independent of the Chinese and of maintaining amicable feelings towards foreigners; the governor; judge; senate; the king of England's commissioners.
Monday, August 24th:
The public buildings are old and decayed and some of them are in ruins; Forts and churches are numerous and a numerous clergy is connected with the former; The college of St Joseph has seen its best days; the British museum is defunct and the cave of Camoens deserted.
The aviary and humerous llogart are not to be forgotten nevertheless the lions are soon exhaust and Macao after all is a dull place not so to me; I shall start for Canton early Monday morning."