Annie Bananie en Europe

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Tag Archives: macau

November 2018

As I was walking this morning I thought, “The only time that I liked the city that I live in now was when I didn’t live here.” Sounds pessimistic, I know, but the air this morning smelt disgustingly of grease and gloominess (was it smog?) to the point where I wanted to puke, and at that moment I couldn’t gather up any pretension to say that I liked the city. Oh well, it’s the end of November, and it’s been a tough one, but we got through it safe and sound, thanks be to God! One more month till 2019…let’s go for it!

Third time in Macau. Away from the casinos and central tourist spots, Macau has maintained its history and traditions in hidden alleys and little-known districts. The red sign with the golden words says “Back in the day” in Chinese.

Annual chrysanthemum festival (one of the locations) in Wuhan, where the flowers bloom for weeks in the autumn. Such beautiful colours!

An insect on a leaf, caught while I was taking a stroll outdoors after lunch. Little details like this remind me of how much I loved taking photos of random things, the process during which I could sharpen my senses toward the world around me.

Sumptuous buffet in Macau, courtesy of my local friend and her family. Unlimited servings of lobster, scallops (and other types of seafood), sashimi, sushi…among other varieties of delicious food – indulgent and luxurious!

Another meal in Macau: traditional dim sum (or yum cha, as we call it in Cantonese). This famous family-owned restaurant, Long Wah, is well known for its cha siu, or roasted pork (red in the center). Of course I also had to order my favourite, steamed spare ribs. You could never get too much dim sum!

Speaking of ribs, another spare ribs dish that I love very much is the garlic deep-fried spare ribs. I don’t know what the secret is to this dish, but the first time I had it in Glasgow, it was instant addiction…and it tasted even better in China!!

Movie night with the boss and the colleagues at a mini private theater. Good company, good times, good evening 😛

My company during the Macau day trip, TK (local friend) and LS (friend living in Zhuhai, which is literally right next to Macau). Bus selfie, cheese!

I love this man so much and I would go to the ends of the Earth for him – literally, because Toronto and Wuhan almost couldn’t be farther apart as they’re almost on the exact opposite side of the Earth as each other. It’s not been an easy month for him but we’re still fighting together. 明天加油!

Around Macau in 12 hours, part 2

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

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…

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.

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… 😛

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.

Delicious food!

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!

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 😉

Around Macau in 12 hours, part 1

Macau (or Macao, depending on preference) is one of the two special administrative regions of China, the other being Hong Kong. It is one of those places that is relatively close to Hong Kong, being only 70 minutes away by ferry. Yet, it never occurred to me to take a day trip to Macau when I stay in Hong Kong, until I met a friend in Glasgow who is a Macanese native, born and raised there. I had one day to spare in Hong Kong before I headed to Southeast Asia for the Christmas holidays, and not knowing what I would do in Hong Kong (again), I thought that it would finally be time for me to head over to Macau for a look. What’d you know, my friend was back in Macau for the holidays at the same time…eh! She gladly agreed to be my local guide – with a car! – and I was spared from having to look into the places that I would be able to visit in one day, hooray! So I hopped onto a ferry in the morning and sailed away from Hong Kong – off to Macau we go!

Once a Portuguese colony, Macau has preserved many cultural characteristics of Portugal, which can be seen by traits such as architecture and cuisine (and the fact that Portuguese remains as one of the official languages, in addition to Cantonese). However, if Macau is known for one thing internationally, it would be its gambling scene with revenues far exceeding those of Las Vegas – perhaps not surprisingly as it is so close to China, which is by far the largest source of its market. With only one day in Macau, I was only able to get a first taste of Macanese culture guided by my Macanese friend, and we were lucky enough to stumble across a few special events in light of the Christmas season. I certainly did visit at the perfect time!

Macau – the old and the new

One thing I noticed immediately about Macau – it was crowded! Though, somehow I felt like it was a different kind of “crowded” compared with Hong Kong, the kind that didn’t suffocate me (sorry Hong Kong). It was later that I realized that the region of Macau has the highest population density in the world (I actually read that somewhere before, but it didn’t occur to me when I was IN Macau) – WHAT! Certainly not quite expected for a small place but precisely because it is small and has a big population, the density is so high. It wasn’t so obvious when you walk through Taipa or Coloane in the far south, but when you head to the main attractions in the Macau Peninsula, such as the ruins of St. Paul’s, the crowds suddenly hit you and you’re easily lost in a sea of people.

Macau does have a new side and an old side, as apparent in its streets and façades. Understandably, the Portuguese colonization had a big influence on Macanese culture, and many remains of Portuguese rule can be seen in the European-style architecture in Macau. Additionally, the rise of the gambling scene in Macau contributed to its rapid modernization, with high-rise buildings and shiny exteriors. However, if you explore the region as a whole, you will see that there are signs of age and history – abandoned shipyards, tattered roofs, unseen alleys…

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