One post wasn’t enough to showcase my appreciation for Macau, even though I only had one day to explore the place, so here’s the follow-up detailing the different regions of Macau that I visited during my stay and of course, food!
When we talk about Macau, we refer to the agglomeration of three areas that make up the entire region, namely Macau Peninsula, Taipa, and Coloane, the latter two formerly being individual islands before land reclamation connected the two. Because my friend had a car when I visited, I was able to see all three areas. I had thought that that was possible within a day without a car, and while it certainly was doable with buses and taxis, it wouldn’t have been so convenient. Thanks again, my Macanese friend 😉
Macau Peninsula is where you would find most tourist attractions of Macau, such as the ruins of St. Paul’s, A-Ma Temple, the Macau Tower, and Mount Fortress. And as I mentioned in the previous post, as the region with the world’s highest population density, Macau Peninsula was crowded! Walking through the streets of the peninsula, you notice many traces of Portuguese-style architecture, while traditional Chinese history and culture are preserved at the same time. Also, if you’re anywhere near the centre of activity, you can’t miss Casino Lisboa, perhaps the most prominent casino on the peninsula. You might even be lucky and win a few hands…
Portuguese-style architecture on Macau Peninsula
Egg waffle booth!
Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Statues symbolizing friendship between China and Portugal
On Mount Fortress
View of Macau from the top of Mount Fortress
View of Casino Lisboa from the top of Mount Fortress
Taipa and Coloane
Then again, if you’re in Macau to gamble, you’d probably head over to Taipa, where the Cotai strip is located. This is where some of the biggest casinos are found, including the two that we visited, The Venetian Macau and Galaxy Macau. Aside from the glamourous casino scene, which I wasn’t so interested in, Taipa is a quaint little place with some rural areas, narrow streets, and old buildings. As a result, the contrast between the old and the modern is particularly obvious in Taipa.
Streets of Taipa village
A casino in the Cotai Strip
Pastel colours in Coloane
View from Coloane
Marsh in Taipa
As for Coloane, it is almost the polar opposite of Macau Peninusula – quiet, spacious, and surrounded by nature. In addition to Coloane village, where again the pastel colours of the Portuguese-style adorn the houses, there are several beaches and resort areas that would make good vacation spots during the summer. Apparently there are also some really nice hiking trails around the area 😀 I feel like Coloane would be an ideal place for a retreat, away from the noise and crowds of the big city so that you can just enjoy some tranquility and serenity with yourself ^_^
A-Ma Cultural Village
One thing that I learned about Macanese culture during this trip is the connection between Macau and its patron goddess, Mazu or “A-Ma”. Some stories say that the name “Macau” is derived from the Cantonese pronunciation of “A-Ma Temple”, which is “maa gok miu”. Macau vs. “maa gok”…yes, I see why one would make that connection. On Coloane, there is a hill on top of which is situated the A-Ma Cultural Village. Here you find the tallest statue of the goddess A-Ma in the world, and a palace complex name Tin Hau palace, dedicated to A-Ma (Tin Hau is another name for the goddess). Normally I would have liked to hike leisurely up to the top of the hill but that day, I was quite glad that a car took us up, taking a fraction of the amount of time it would have taken had we chosen to walk… 😛
Tin Hau Palace
Tin Hau Palace
Tallest statue of A-Ma in the world
Toss a coin for luck?
Stone carvings at Tin Hau Palace
Main gate of Tin Hau Palace
Stone carvings at Tin Hau Palace
The palace complex itself was quite big and rather impressive. You would never think that there is such a massive structure on a hill if you were just walking around in Coloane. I especially enjoyed looking at stone carvings on the columns that guard the main gate of the palace, so delicate and full of detail. Things like this make me marvel at the way people create art and the amount of time that it must have taken to turn an ordinary pillar of stone into something spectacular like these carvings. I am genuinely awed.
OK, now we get to my favourite part – FOOD! Food in Macau is nothing short of varies and delicious. First up, you can’t miss the pastéis de nata, which is a Portuguese egg tart that tastes similar to the regular Chinese egg tart but…somewhat different. I can’t really pinpoint the difference though…hmm. The one we had was from a shop in Coloane and wow it was OH-SO-GOOD, better than I remembered it to be. Another specialty is the pork chop sandwich with pineapple bun. As if the normal pork chop sandwich wasn’t enough, we just had to get the one with the good ol’ Chinese pineapple bun…oh, how indulgent!
Pork chop sandwich with pineapple bun
Pato de cabidela, blood duck
Calamari with red onions
Pastéis de nata, Portuguese egg tarts
Caldo verde, kale soup
Bolinhos de bacalhau, salted codfish balls
For dinner, my friend’s family brought me to a local Portuguese restaurant for some Portuguese-Macanese food. I’m not sure if it was Portuguese cuisine with Macanese influence, or Macanese cuisine with Portuguese influence, but it’s all the same. In the photos above, you see the dishes that my friend’s parents ordered because as locals, they certainly knew what was best. Kale soup, garlic clams, bacalhau (grilled or mashed), calamari with onions, blood duck, sardines…knowing how much I love food, I was super happy to have been able to try so many new dishes, each so tasty too! I’d have to say my favourites of the day were the pastéis de nata, the bolinhos de bacalhau (salted codfish in the shape of a ball), and garlic clams 😀
So this, ladies and gentlemen, is Macau. I hope that my two posts, including the previous one, has given you a more comprehensive impression of Macau as being not only a gambler’s paradise, but a destination for anyone who loves urban exploration, culture and tradition, architecture, and food. While Macau might not be on most people’s travel lists and Hong Kong is its much more popular neighbour, next time you decide to plan a stay in Hong Kong, why not make a stop in Macau? It’s yours to discover 😉