A labyrinth of food and much more

15 10 2012

Besides Coloane Village, another place in Macau that I would surely find many happy moments exploring in is Taipa Village. In the shadow of the new at the not so far away Cotai Strip, and closer to Macau Peninsula, the village is on the island of the same name. In it is not only that meeting of east and west to discover, but also several well preserved colonial era buildings centered on the Avenida da Praia and also at Carmel Square. It is also a world where one can lose oneself, wandering the streets and finding little bits of not just the old world, but also some rather delectable treats – one famous one being the famed Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chop Bun, to indulge oneself in. Although not comprehensive, the following are seven things that one must do to discover that bit of old Macau in Taipa:

Taipa Village as seen off the reflection of a convex traffic mirror.

The new world of the Cotai Strip looms over old Taipa.

The streets of Taipa offer a fascinating insight into life in older Macau.

As the group of bloggers were to discover.


Old World Discoveries

Taipa is rich in the old world, including several well preserved buildings from the colonial era centered in the Praia area. On the heights above the Praia is a delightful little square with some excellent examples of public and religious architecture including Taipa Library and the Church of Our Lady of Carmel. Below this on the Avenida da Praia, there are also a row of five very pretty houses from the colonial period – beautifully preserved as the Taipa Houses-Museum. In each house, visitors are offered a look back in time into the colonial life with the first furnished much as it would have been during the colonial era, as well as Portuguese traditions, and into traditional industries.

(1) Carmel Square

Taipa Library at Carmel Square (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Church of Our Lady of Carmel, Carmel Square built in 1885 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


(2) Avenida da Praia and the Taipa Houses Museum

The Taipa Houses Museum, a row of 5 colonial heritage houses along the Avenida da Praia (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Ai Sakura at the Avenida da Praia.

Taipa Houses Museum.

The Taipa Houses Museum offers a peek into an old world.

A child’s toy at the Taipa Houses Museum.

Admission to Taipa-Houses Museum (Closed on Mondays):
MOP/HKD5 per adult
FREE for visitors under 12 yrs old and above 65 years old
FREE admission on every Tuesdays.


Food Glorious Food

Taipa is also well known for its food and snacks with a host of well established eating places that offer Cantonese, Macanese and Portuguese cuisine including the O Manuel Portuguese Restaurant. There are also several food discoveries to be made, and besides the famous Pork Chop Bun there is also the famous Taipa Food Street,Rua do Cunha, lined with confectioneries and snack shops to discover, and not to forget, another must try are the Birds Nest Egg Tarts from San Hou Lei a little eatery on the Rua do Regedor.

(3) Rua do Cunha (Taipa Food Street)

The writing on the wall of a confectionery at one end of the famous Taipa Food Street (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Almond cookies in the works at Taipa Food Street (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Valyn seen along the Food Street.

More Almond Cookies!

The Food Street offers lots of snacks to satisfy any craving!

Taipa Food Street (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


(4) San Hou Lei – Bird’s Nest Egg Tarts

Bird’s Nest Egg Tarts!


(5) O Manuel Portuguese Restaurant

Sardine at O Manuel Portuguese Restaurant.

And lots of meat!

(6) Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chop Bun


Object of desire … can’t leave Taipa without sinking one’s mouth into one of these! The famous Tai Lei Loi Kei Pork Chop Bun.

Tai Lei Loi Kei in Taipa.


Roaming the Streets

One thing that I would certainly do when I do return to Macau is to roam the streets of Taipa (as well as Coloane and the area around Senado Square) just to get lost and find what Macau is truly all about. On the evidence of that little bit of time when I did actually get lost as the group walked ahead while I waited for Chun See who had paid a visit to the gents was that there was a wonderful labyrinth of lanes and alleyways – each with a unique charm and certainly one to discover and to photograph.

(7) Getting lost

The streets of Taipa make it a wonderful place to roam around …

… and get lost in …

Street scene.

The streets offer lots of little discoveries.

There’s lots of colour ….

The streets also offer a peek into life in the old world ….

… through its labyrinth of alleyways.

Village street (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A shady tree lined road in Taipa Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Street sign.

Street scene.

Another street scene.

More street scenes …. (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Houses (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

More houses (leading up to Taipa Food Street) (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A shuttered shop.

A sidewalk in Taipa.


The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to discovering Taipa:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Taipa
Museums (including Taipa Houses-Museum
Taipa Food Street on Wikipedia
O Manuel Portuguese Restaurant on HK Magazine
San Hou Lei on Macau24.com
Tai Lei Loi Kei on metropolasia.com


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Colours of Macau

14 10 2012

Having revelled in the many contrasts that gives Macau a unique flavour, and finding gold and happiness as well as having taken flights of fancy in the tiny territory, getting high up in Sky before getting wet in a dream, I must say that Macau is a lot more than just that blend of east and west and of old and new that the initial impressions I had of the territory had given me. A territory that I would certainly want to get lost in just to have a deeper appreciation of its unique culture, its wonderful mix of old in the new, and most certainly the delectable treats one seems to find in almost every corner, the impression that a four day trip courtesy of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and Tiger Airways has left on me is one of the celebration of colour that is what makes the territory what it is – a celebration that is certainly a much more colourful one that what I have attempted to capture through the lens:

Colours of old Macau

Colours of a shop window on the streets of old Macau.

Colours of celebration at the ruins of St. Paul’s (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Green of the entrance to an apartment block in old Taipa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Green of a soda bottle in a Portuguese restaurant in old Taipa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Colours of almond cookies on the streets of old Macau.

Colours of almond cookies on Taipa’s food street.

Colours overhead at Taipa’s food street.

Colours of old Taipa.

Gold of fried wan tons at Wong Chi Kei in Senado Square.

Red and gold of ‘jerky’ displays on the streets of old Macau.

The glow of red lanterns at Tak Seng On Pawnshop in old Macau.

Red and gold of lighted candles flickering in St. Dominic’s Church.

Red of the A-Ma Temple in old Macau.

Red of plastic drink crates in Taipa Village.

Colours of a toy store along Taipa’s food street.

Gold in pastel shades on the streets of old Macau.

The light gold of columns of a colonial building in Taipa.

Gold of a door in old Coloane.

Light gold of a window at the Moorish Barracks in old Macau.

Colours of new Macau

A golden dragon in the City of Dreams (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The gold of luxury goods in the CIty of Dreams.

The gold of The Venetian Macao (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The gold of lychee wood fire at the Jade Dragon in the City of Dreams.

The gold of chair coverings at the Macau Tower Convention Centre (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Gold, white and black of a queue of taxis at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Red and gold of the new world at the City of Dreams.

The golden glow of the amphitheatre at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Macau Sands in the background (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Dark gold of of a ceiling decoration in the City of Dreams.

Blood red of a scene at The House of Dancing Water.

Silver of ice cubes at Sky 21 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Red and gold of corks at the Macau Wine Museum (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The colours of an annual celebration of fireworks.

Colours of the sunset over the Cotai Strip.

Colours of a glorious sunrise over the Friendship Bridge (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to Macau’s colours:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Gold that certainly needs guarding

11 10 2012

It was right on the last day that we found it, coming away with bagfuls of what must surely have been a very precious commodity that we had two of our toughest ladies, Valyn and Yiwei, to stand guard over it.

Pure gold that required two of our toughest ladies to stand guard over! (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The commodity has to be nothing short of pure gold – many come from near and wide, descending on a humble village away from the bustle of Macau’s bright lights and fluid streets just for it, or rather a taste of it. The golden item, is nothing less than the most sought after piece of pastry in the territory, a Lord Stow’s egg tart, smooth and creamy custard given a tinge of gold when baked in a pastry cup.

Gold in a pastry cup, Lord Stow’s Egg Tarts (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The egg tarts or pastéis de nata (pastel de nata, singular), is what certainly draws the crowds to the sleepy village, Coloane Village, which is as far away as one can get in the tiny 29 square kilometres that is Macau. The village takes its name from the island, the southernmost of two main islands beyond the Macau Peninsula – an island that is sometimes referred to as Macau’s countryside. It was for long a neglected part of the former Portuguese colony, becoming a hotbed of pirate activity until the problem was eventually dealt with by the Portuguese in 1910.

Coloane Village is a sleepy village that seems far removed from the bright lights of the nearby Cotai Strip (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The village, as is the bakery, is a curious place. Seemingly out of touch with the glitz and glamour of the integrated resorts sprouting up not so far away on the Cotai Strip – a piece of reclaimed land which has connected the Coloane Island to its northern counterpart, Taipa Island, it (and what is found in it), must be a wonderful example perhaps of how east and west has blended during the rule of the territory’s former masters.

Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane Village – it is not just in the bakery, but in the entire village where east has blended well with the west (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

At the heart of Coloane Village is a little piece of Portugal, the Eduardo Marques Square (Largo da Eduardo Marques). The square takes its name from the Portuguese governor Eduardo Marques who oversaw the victory over the pirates. This is in fact commemorated in the square in the form of a monument which stands at one end of it. It is at the opposite end however, that the attention of the visitor will be drawn to – the yellow of the baroque façade of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier is one that will certainly not be missed.

A monument in the Largo da Eduardo Marques to commemorate the defeat of the pirates in 1910 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Eduardo Marques Square is also known for its food outlets which apparently are a must-try (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The yellow baroque façade of the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier at the other end of the square.

The yellow chapel, built in 1928, is definitely one that should not be missed. Besides containing some of the most sacred Catholic relics found in Asia (at one time it also housed relics of St. Francis Xavier – the missionary who is attributed bringing the faith to Asia), it does also contain a rather interesting religious painting. On the painting there is an image of a woman bearing the likeness of the Chiness Goddess of Mercy, Kun Iam or Kuan Yin, carrying a child, which is in very much a similar fashion as a very popular Catholic depiction of the Mother and Child. This surely is a wonderful example of how well east and west have blended here.

The Chapel of St. Francis Xavier was built in 1928 and once housed some relics of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary who is attributed with bringing the Catholic faith to Asia.

The Chapel of St. Francis Xavier is where many important Catholic relics are found (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

An example of east and west meeting inside the chapel – a painting with the likeness of Kum Iam carrying a child shown in a popular pose used by Catholics to depict Mother and Child.

The peace and calm that is the sanctuary of the chapel (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The narrow lanes that took us through to the main square, the Largo Presidente António Ramalho Eanes, where gold was to be discovered, are equally captivating. Full of colour and interesting details, the streets are ones that I would, if I had another opportunity, like to spend perhaps a whole day exploring. There certainly is much more in the sleepy little village than the golden coloured pastries. Time I didn’t have, and with the egg tarts calling, it was to Lord Stow’s Bakery for our final stop at the village before we were to have lunch.

A colourful narrow lane in Coloane Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A village shop (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The area around Largo Presidente António Ramalho Eanes is certainly worth exploring (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Largo Presidente António Ramalho Eanes is also where the bus stop is (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Another shop found in the narrow lanes of Coloane.

That Lord Stow’s is as curious as the village is, there is no doubt. The bakery, is the brainchild of an English pharmacist (yes you read right!), the late Andrew Stow (whose ex-wife serves a slightly sweeter version of the popular pastry at Margaret’s Café in downtown Macau). He started the little bakery in 1989, perfecting his recipe using his skills as a pharmacist, achieving phenomenal success very quickly – with the bakery itself becoming a tourist draw. Many tourists make it a point to head to the bakery to pack the tarts, which are sold for MOP/HKD8 per piece, MOP/HKD45 for a box of 6, or MOP/HKD90 for a box of 12, before heading home.

Gold production (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Curiosity aside, the bakery does make that egg tart that is certain to give one a ‘love at first bite’ experience and certainly with a taste that is no less than divine – well worth that pilgrimage to Coloane just to worship it. That together with the desire to explore the narrow lanes of the charming little part of Macau and the rest of the island (which does seem well worth exploring), will make it my first, and also last stop the next time I am in Macau.

An extremely happy customer (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Look how much this one bought! (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

More expressions of happiness (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Worship (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to finding gold:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Coloane Village (MGTO site)
More on Coloane Island (MGTO site)
Lord Stow’s Bakery


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Minus 8 degrees Celcius in Macau

7 10 2012

In between sky and water there has to be ice and fire. At least that was how it did seem on the second half of the third day of a Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) sponsored trip to the former Portuguese territory.

A different side of Macau. A frozen replica of the A-Ma Temple at the CotaiExpo.

The afternoon had started high in the sky with lunch at Sky 21, and before we found ourselves immersed in the lychee wood fire of the Jade Dragon for a quick dinner before the spectacle of The House of Dancing Water, there was still time to be led by Venetian canals, and to explore the frozen world that with temperatures of minus eight degrees Celcius, certainly seemed far removed from the heat of the Macanese summer.

The passage to the frozen world took us by the canals of Venice brought to Macau by the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel.

We even had an accordionist to entertain us along the way.

The frozen world was that of Ice World 2012, this year’s edition of highly popular display of ice carvings which was at the tail end of a four month run that ended on 16 September 2012, held at CotaiExpo within the Venetian Macao. For this edition, the 18,000 square foot ice hall was divided into ten zones with the works of 50 of the best ice sculptors on display. Among the eye-catching ice sculptures were replicas of many recognisable landmarks included several large scale ones that included Tiananmen, the A-Ma Temple, the Petronas Towers, and even Singapore’s tourism symbol, the Merlion.

At the entrance to the frozen world in which temperatures are maintained at -8 degrees C.

An ice sculpture of Tiananmen.

The recognisable Merlion.

Sculpture at the entrance.

Another sculpture at the entrance.

Pandas close to the entrance.

There were also several interesting sculptures, which being the year of the dragon, included several that incorporated the mythical beast such as a Dragon Boat and a Double Dragon Slide. It was on the slide where several of us were able to revisit our lost childhoods and where one did find out that ice wasn’t as slippery as one might have imagined (Ai Sakura got stuck on the slide not just once but in all three of her attempts to slide).

Dragons made an appearance.

Down the slide I went …

Someone did manage getting stuck on the slide.

Other notable sculptures were a 100 metre Magic Ice Maze, which amazingly, was constructed out of 1,000 blocks of coloured ice; and a piano that could actually be played! The four month run of what was the second edition of the ice sculpture exhibition attracted some 176,000 visitors … and certainly is another surprise packed into the 29 square kilometres that is Macau. Tickets to Ice World 2012 were sponsored by The Venetian Macao.

The Magic Ice Maze.

The ice piano that could be played on.


More photographs


All photographs in this post were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 which Panasonic Singapore kindly lent to all ten bloggers for the trip to Macau. The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to being put on ice:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
The Venetian Macao
CotaiExpo


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Wet in the City of Dreams

26 09 2012

My recent four day sojourn in Macau was one that provided me with a deeper appreciation of the very compact territory, and what it has to offer the visitor, which certainly is a lot more than I had imagined. I was fascinated by every bit of the territory that I got to experience, a territory which is a world not just where east and west have blended well together, but also where the new world and the old seem have found an equilibrium. Among the different experiences that I did have over the four days, one certainly stands out from an entertainment perspective. It is also one which perhaps showcases how east and west, as well as old and new, have managed to come together to provide not only a harmonious outcome – but one that will surely mesmerise. It was one that I must say captured my imagination, and one found not on the absorbing streets, but off them in the new world in which dreams must surely made in – the very aptly named City of Dreams.

What surely must be a dream in the City of Dreams.

The House of Dancing Water blends influences from East and West with 80 performers representing some 25 countries.

It is at the City of Dreams, Melco Crown Entertainment’s integrated entertainment resort on the Cotai Strip, that one of the most stunning theatre productions I have been fortunate to witness, takes to the stage. The production is Franco Dragone’s The House of Dancing Water, which goes beyond the description of the word ‘stunning’ and possible synonyms in a sentence. In fact, the production provides audiences with an experience which words can not sufficiently describe. That it plays to packed houses show after show since it made its debut two years ago on 16 September 2010, with some 1.5 million having watched the show during the period, is testament to how well it has been received and continues to be received.

Shanghai born ballerina Faye Leung takes on the leading role of the Princess.

The show has played to packed audiences since it opened in September 2010. More than 1.5 million have watched the spectacular show since then.

The House of Dancing Water is a production that is certainly like no other that I have watched. It combines on a water stage, 270 degrees around which the audience is seated, an explosion of dance, theatre, music, swimming, diving and acrobatics, part of which goes into some very daring stunts that go beyond simple circus acts. That, together with the stunningly dramatic visual effects that is provided by projections, movement, elaborate costumes, lighting and props, as well as some 239 water fountains (some of which go as high up as 18 metres), makes it a show that has to be not just watched but also to marvel at, even with a storyline which can be said to be rather clichéd. The storyline is intended to take the audience on a roller-coaster ride of human emotions, culminating in the triumph of good over evil. It is perhaps the manner in which that storyline is delivered that renders it secondary.

239 fountains are used to propel jets of water as high up as 18 metres in the air (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Dance and water combine to provide a dramatic effect.

The storyline revolves around the well told story of the triumph of good over evil. One of the ‘evil’ characters takes the form of the Dark Queen, played by Ana Arroyo.

Very elaborate costumes are used – up to 400 in total. Some like the ones seen here weight up to 2 kilogrammes.

The performance combines dance, theatre, music, swimming, diving and acrobatics with effects provided by water, movement, lighting and and daring stunts that go beyond simple circus acts.

East and West meet on water.

The efforts of the performers in going through their routines on stage is certainly one that is challenging both technically as well as being physically demanding, and that alone justified the generous applause that they received at the end of the show. The roles require the artists, 80 in total from 25 different countries, not just to be dancers, but also swimmers, divers, acrobats and stuntmen in constant motion. The stunts that are performed are spectacular and certainly not without peril, and has some fly through the air, seemingly with the greatest of ease, which the loudest ‘oohs and aahs’ from the audience seemed to be reserved for. One scene has performers launched into somersaults from swings, while another performers hurtle through the air Evel Knievel style on motorcycles (motorcycle which we were to learn that are changed every six months) 15 metres above stage. All of this does make for an extremely dynamic show, one that left me breathless in my seat trying to keep up with all that was happening on stage.

The performers go through technically challenging and physically demanding routines. Many stunts are also performed at height.

One of the scenes has performers hurtling through the air, launched by giant swings.

Another highlight is a scene which see motorcycle jumps Evel Knievel style.

The motorcycles go as high up as 15 metres in the air.

Special motorcycles are used which are replaced every six months.

Having been completely enthralled by what I witnessed on stage, there was a treat that awaited the group of bloggers I was in – a tour backstage scheduled for the morning after we watched the show. It was through the backstage tour from which I received a much better appreciation of what does go behind the scenes to make the show what it is. The production must be one that has to be appreciated not just for what we see on stage, but also in what does go on behind the scenes. The coordination effort alone is a monumental one that involves not just the 80 performers, but also another 160 crew members from 35 different nationalities working behind the scenes. That everything does seem to go according to clockwork show after show must surely be a marvellous achievement.

The male leading role of the Stranger is played by Jesko von den Steinen.


The grace of Faye Leung as the Princess.

The clown in the show – Lago the Dark Queen’s Fenelon Minister.

The performer who plays Wabo the Wiseman is also a contortionist.

An expression of joy at the moment that love triumphs over hate.

The theatre as seen during the ‘backstage’ tour (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

At the centre of the purpose-built theatre is the huge pool. The pool, which contains some 3.7 million gallons or 17 million litres of very clean water (we were told it is kept a lot cleaner than any other commercial pools), or that contained by more than 5 Olympic sized swimming pools, serves as the stage. In the pool 11 hydraulically operated ten-ton elevators are moved up a metre and down 7 metres, allowing it to be converted from an aquatic stage to a dry one – a perforated non-slip metal floor allows water to rapidly be drained away. Some 36 scuba divers are deployed to assist with underwater work with 20 providing support (and assistance to the performers) during the show, including during a seemingly perilous scene where a cage containing one of the main characters, The Princess, is lowered into the pool. In this case, divers assist no only to open the cage to help the performer out, but are also on standby with a spare breathing apparatus should anything untoward happen.

Looking into the depths of the 3.7 million gallon pool – which has a depth of some 8 metres – some 36 scuba divers work in the depths with up to 20 deployed to provide support during the show (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The entry and exit point for divers and performers below the seating – different colour lighting is used to identify each quadrant to allow cast and crew to know where they are (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The red quadrant (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Divers provide assistance to performers in circumstances such as this where a performer is lowered into the depths inside a cage.

The stage as seen ‘backstage’ (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The flooring of the stage at the top of hydraulic elevators is perforated to allow water to drain quickly (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

From the depths of the pool, we were taken to the heights above the stage, first to the fourth level, some 17 metres above. It is from a 360 degree catwalk at this level that the scenery props and the artists are lowered from and raised to, an effort that requires the use of the 40 rigging winches found on the catwalk. Just looking down from the catwalk to the pool level is enough to give the same effect that standing on the glass floor at the top of Macau Tower gave, and that was only level four … there was still level 8 to go up to, but not before a look at the dressing rooms. In the dressing rooms we could have a closer look at some of the 400 costumes that are used including one that weighs 2 kilogrammes. It is no wonder that the artists have such well toned bodies! An amazing fact we learned was that over 15,000 pieces of Swarovski crystals are used in the costumes! We also had an appreciation of the effort made in the selection of textiles for the costumes – neoprene is used to keep its shape and withstand the effects of the water.

A view of the stage, pool and seating from the catwalk 17 metres up (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A scene during which the cage is hoisted up to the catwalk level – a retractable platform allows performers to get in and out of such props safely.

The cage being raised.

A close examination of a mask in the dressing room.

The view from level 8 provides an appreciation of the scale of the 2000 seat theatre and the efforts that have gone into setting up the USD 250 million production. The purpose-built theatre was designed by the Pei Partnership in collaboration with Franco Dragone’s team. At level 8, 40 metres above the stage, we see the world that the performer sees descending and more … a foldable platform below us – some 24.5 metres above the stage can be seen. That is where another highlight of the show – a high dive that takes place close to the end of it, is made from. It certainly does take nerves of steel to take a dive from that high! Level 8 is also where the bungee cords are suspended from and stored under lock and key – safety certainly is paramount in production where much can possibly go wrong.

The view from 40 metres above the stage from level 8 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

One interesting fact that was shared on the elevator ride down to the last stop, the Control Booth, was that the elevators were equipped with mirrors and did not have cameras in them as they served as changing rooms for the artists as they moved from one routine to the next. The Control Booth is certainly an amazing place, and it is through the mess of the computers which control just about everything mechanical, the cables that run to them and the numerous monitors, and the technicians and crew, that the stage director, a lady we were told, sees that everything is as well executed and coordinated as can be. The director who is often required to make on the spot decisions and has the authority to call a performance off if need to has to remain in her seat throughout the length of entire 85 minute performance during which it is impossible even to have a comfort break.

Inside the Control Booth.

The view through the window of the huge Control Booth where operations are coordinated (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The view that the director sees.

One of the observations I did make during the backstage tour was that was picked up by the omy reporter, Rui Long (see Exclusive: To the backstage of a breathtaking water-based show! was that there were so many things that could have gone wrong during the performance which made me appreciate how well-coordinated and executed everything was. I also noted the physically demands that each performance placed on the artists and was surprised to learn that the roles are each played by a single performer for every one of the shows (under most circumstances). The show does usually play 5 days a week and twice a day on most days (the performers do get a two week break every two months), which makes the effort of the performance and the performers a truly remarkable one in a remarkable show that when in Macau, should not be missed! More information on the show can be found at the show’s website.

The show requires its cast members to be multi-disciplined.


The opportunity to watch the amazing show and also go on the backstage tour was made possible by the City of Dreams for which I am eternally grateful, as I am to the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) for the sponsorship of the trip which included the 3 night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and to Tiger Airways for the sponsorship of flights, an on-board meal and check-in baggage allowances.


About The House of Dancing Water:

A dramatic scene from the show (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

‘The House of Dancing Water’, the centerpiece of City of Dreams envisioned by Mr. Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, is a production by Franco Dragone Entertainment Group at City of Dreams, personally created and directed by Mr. Franco Dragone. This over HKD 2 billion (over USD250 million) breathtaking water-based show which draws creative inspiration from Chinese culture particularly on the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs, is destined to be the most extravagant live production ever seen in Asia.

Mr. Franco Dragone toured China exploring the country’s cultural and artistic history as inspiration for The House of Dancing Water, the world’s largest water show, and was drawn to China’s deep story-telling heritage within its art and particularly the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs before deciding on an epic spectacular love story that transcends time and space.

The show, set at City of Dreams’ awe-inspiring ‘Dancing Water Theater’, begins in the coast of Coloane, a Fisherman travelling with his boat enjoys his journey. Suddenly, a mysterious energy from the water creates a terrible whirlpool, grabs the fisherman and pulls him to a place and a time of legends…He cannot realize what is happening at this very moment within a lengthy time. He observes, lost and intrigued… when a storm brings a survivor from a shipwreck, a Stranger to this magical kingdom. The young brave Stranger encounters and falls in love with a beautiful Princess who was thrown into a cage by her evil stepmother, the Dark Queen. Without hesitating, the Fisherman decides to help the Stranger to fight against to the Dark Queen and rescue the Princess. With his help, the Stranger & the Princess defeat the Dark Queen and the Fisherman obtains an unexpected reward.

‘The House of Dancing Water’ will take audiences on an awe-inspiring journey through the heights and depths of human emotions from the abyss of Sadness and Anger, to the heights of Desire and the summit of Joy, between the cliffs of Fear to a glorious resolution where Love triumphs over Hate and its sinister forces.

This spectacular water-based show takes physical performance to its ultimate limits through combat, wit, creativity, incredible expertise and agility. Experience a magical journey, that transcends even time, as Mr. Franco Dragone transports us on a theatrical masterpiece of incredible artistry, outstanding physical performance and special effects in the most spectacular show that Asia has ever seen.

Another scene from the show.


Links to getting wet:

Getting there:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Dreaming:

The House of Dancing Water
City of Dreams

Interpreting Dreams:

The Cast
About Franco Dragone
About Franco Dragone Entertainment
About City of Dreams


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Macau: a celebration of contrasts

24 09 2012

Having spent a amazing four days in Macau courtesy of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and Tiger Airways, I was able to see for myself the wonderment that is packed into the 29 square kilometres of the tiny former Portuguese territory. It is for me a world certainly worth exploring, a world which is more than just that unique blend of east and west we have come to expect, but also a fascinating world where two other worlds, the glitzy new world has collided with the charming old world. With the two now forced into a tight embrace, it is in the compact territory where contrasts, and as one might see it the contradiction of new with old, are as apparent as black and white, black and white as is how it looks to me:


The celebration of the new world:

A scene from Franco Dragone’s The House of Dancing Water playing at the City of Dreams.

The Outer Harbour with the Friendship Bridge and the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf at the break of day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf at the break of day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Breakfast at the Café Bela Vista in the Grand Lapa Macau (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Roman Amphitheatre at Fisherman’s Wharf (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Daybreak over the Roman Amphitheatre (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho as seen from Sky 21.

Bottles behind a frosted glass counter, Sky 21.

A new arrival embracing the arrival of the new day in the new world.


Windows into the old world:

The window into an unseen side of Macau – the quays at the Inner Harbour (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A window from the past … louvered windows seen at the Taipa Houses-Museum, which is housed in a set of charming old colonial houses at Taipa Village.

Fish being dried in the sun.

A street named happiness, the Rua da Felicidade.

An almond cookie maker on the street of happiness.

Almond cookie samples to be offered to passers-by near the ruins of St. Paul’s.

A street food vendor.

A side street near the street of happiness.

Shutters of an old shop (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Street scene.

Barra Square.

East meets West and old meets new: A western couple leaving the A-Ma Temple.

A fortune teller at the A-Ma Temple.

An archway under a building along an old street of Macau.

A car workshop in an old shophouse.

A female worker at an old building being refurbished.

Disused pellets by the quayside at the Inner Harbour.

Where two worlds are made to collide: the bow of a ship peeks out at the Inner Harbour.

Coloane Village scene (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A square in Coloane Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The writing on the wall in Taipa Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Useful Links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Wild rides and flights of fancy

23 09 2012

Where the second day of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) sponsored trip was all about the pursuit of happiness, the third seemed to be about the celebration of life. The morning started with a visit to the Tourism Activities Centre, where drinking and driving is very much celebrated. The centre, located at Rua Luis Gonzaga Gomes, is run by the MGTO and houses two museums which take a look at two interesting sides of the former Portuguese territory: one celebrates the appreciation of wine and its place in Portuguese culture; and the other celebrates the Macau Grand Prix, a famous street race which will see its 59th edition held later this year.

The third day seemed to be about the celebration of life, which fellow blogger Valyn seemed to be doing at the Wine Museum (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

I found the Wine Museum, our first stop is, even without the wine tasting session that came at the end of the visit, quite absorbing. A series of panels leads visitors through the origins of wine making and the spread of it through Europe and the rest of the world, bringing visitors into a mock-up of a wine cellar. The cellar is where an exhibition which has on display various implements, traditional and more modern, that is used through the wine-making process. One implement that couldn’t be missed seemed to resemble a medieval torture device – with a large wooden screw like extension. Much to my disappointment, it turned out that it had a less than sinister application, that of a wine press.

Traditional implements used in wine making are on display (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A wine storage jar (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Not quite a medieval torture device … a wine press on display (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The part of the cellar must surely have had everyone’s attention was the part that was kept under lock and key. On the racks of the dusty bottles that the area contains some 359 bottles of special collection wines, including a Madeira wine that dates back to 1815! The 359 is among some 1115 Portuguese and 28 Chinese wines in the museum’s collection! An area which many found fascinating was one with many colourful and unique looking costumes – traditional dress of the various regions of Portugal, on display, including one rather interesting outfit that is made from straw!

Prized bottles of wine. The Wine Museum has a number of bottles of collection wine including a 1815 vintage Madeira.

The Wine Museum also features mannequins in various regional dress.

That it was early in the day, did not prevent some of us from taking a few sips at the tasting session which came right at the end of the visit. One that we tried that must have had quite a lot of appeal was a Port on the evidence of the number of bottles the group bought at the shop immediately after the session.

We had an opportunity to do some wine tasting (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Valyn tasting a Port.

Straight after having a drink, it was time for us to get behind the wheel of a Formula 3 (F3) car to have a feel of a street circuit that has sometimes been referred to as the Monaco of the East. It wasn’t surprising to see most of us, including myself, spending more time in the safety barriers than doing actual driving … good fun, only because it wasn’t in a real car (of course), but in a simulator at the Macau Grand Prix Museum. The museum, which opened in 1993 for the 40th anniversary of the event, which goes all the way back to 1954 when three Portuguese residents of Macau, Fernando de Macedo Pinto, Carlos da Silva and Paulo Antas organised the first Macau Grand Prix (Macau GP).

Kaika coolly showing how to manoeuvre a F3 car with one hand (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The winners of the race on the simulator: Valyn, Leo and Yiwei (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Even if not for the chance to drink and drive (I don’t of course support combining the two), the visit to the museum was very enjoyable. Stepping into it I was immediately took me back to halcyon days (as the first main exhibit did suggest it was taking us to), days which for me were ones associated with the pre Formula 1 editions of the Singapore GP which I had the good fortune of watching on the muddy slopes at Old Upper Thomson Road with my father back at the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s.

An exhibit that takes the visitor back to halcyon days … a red Triumph TR2 driven by the winner of the inaugural Macau Grand Prix, Eduardo de Carvalho (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Ai Sakura did find out that life can often be lonely at the top (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The exhibit is that of a a red Triumph TR2, the car driven by the winner of the inaugural race in 1954, Eduardo de Carvalho. The museum has also assembled a display of cars (some purchased, some donated and some on loan) that were used through the history of the race, which since 1983 features a F3 race. These include several F3 cars used by drivers who have moved on to illustrious careers in F1, including that of the late Ayrton Senna (the 1983 race winner), Michael Schumacher (winner in 1990), and one driver I have been a fan of through much of his career, David Coulthard (winner in 1991). Speaking of race winners, those from Singapore may also be interested to find the name of a driver who hailed from Singapore, Chan Lye-Choon, among the names listed on the roll of winners. He won the race in 1958 with a Aston Martin DB35.

The car driven by David Coulthard, a Ralt RT35-Honda/Mugen, in winning the 1992 edition of the race. The Reynard 903-Volkswagen/Spies driven by the illustrious Michael Schumacher during his victorious 1991 race is seen further back (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Several other F3 cars used over the years are also on display … (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

One from Teddy Yip’s Theodore Racing team (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5)..

The museum does also have a display of vintage cars (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).
.

We were quick to leave our wrecks on street circuit behind, as we headed to our next destination – a magical world in which we would be taken not on, by in by what can be described as flights of fancy. The flights of fancy, colourful butterflies, were to be found at a specially created Butterfly Pavilion, set up in a world that in itself seems like a very magical one, the MGM Macau. The Butterfly Pavilion is part of ‘The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention’, taking place in the MGM Macau’s visually stunning Grande Praça, a square set inside the MGM complex which opened in 2007. With a glass ceiling some 25 metres above through which light is most beautifully cast into the space, the Grande Praça, surrounded by façades inspired European architecture, has got to get my vote as the most strikingly beautiful atria that I have seen.

Not one we left behind … an exhibit of a rescue vehicle and crew in action (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Impressions of the Grande Praça.

The Grande Praça of MGM Macau dressed up for The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

‘The Magic of Butterfly Reinvention’ which opened in May this year and will be on until the end of October this year, has been put up in collaboration with US based Stephen Stefanou from Design Solutions. While the Butterfly Pavilion is very much the focal point, stepping into the Grande Praça does in itself seem like stepping into a fantasy world with giant pinwheel trees, willow-vine sculptures and giant butterflies. The pavilion draws inspiration from the late multi-disciplined inventor and designer Buckminster Fuller’s concept of the geodesic dome, measuring 7.8 metres in diameter, and serving as the butterfly habitat. It is in the habitat where one is taken on a flight of fancy, interacting with mesmerising flutters of colours – the flights of fancy that are some 130 species of butterflies which have been imported from Malaysia, South America, Africa and China.

The Buckminster Fuller inspired geodesic dome which serves as a temporary habitat, the Butterfly Pavilion (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Giant pinwheels on the pinwheel tree.

There are a total of some 130 species that visitors can interact with in the Butterfly Pavilion (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The visit not only allowed us to immerse ourselves in the fanciful flights of the beautiful winged creatures, creatures that spend only fleeting moments in colouring our world, but also to hear from Dr. Victor Wu, a butterfly expert and guest consultant. He had much to share on the lives of the butterflies. An especially interesting part of the visit involved the a look at the Incubation Room. In the room imported pupae are incubated in carefully controlled conditions and I managed to for the first time in my life, see pupae of moths and butterflies. A huge thrill was seeing butterflies which are newly emerged, with wings too soft to fly, hanging from some of the pupae.

Yiwei with a flight of fancy.

Chun See of Good Morning Yesterday with Dr. Walter Wu (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A newly emerged butterfly among the pupae in the incubator.

Leaving the flights of fancy and the Grande Praça behind, there was time before we left for lunch, to be taken by Ms. Vanessa Estorninho of MGM on another flight of fancy. This was in or I should say, through, the opulence of the very exclusive private lobby where VIPs have access through private elevators to the MGM’s Grand Suites and Villas all of which is housed in a separate tower. That certainly was an eye-opener and one that set the tone for the lunch on a high that was to follow.

Through the MGM Macau VIP Lobby (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Goodbye MGM! Leo the Lion says goodbye – seen from the back window of the bus (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Fanciful Links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Tourism Activities Centre
Macau Grand Prix
MGM Macau
Butterfly Pavilion


Admission Information:

Macau Wine Museum:
Opens: Daily 10 am to 6 pm except Tuesdays
Admission: MOP/HKD15 per adult (inclusive of wine tasting), MOP/HKD5 for visitor age 11 to 18 years old **
(FREE for visitors age 10 & below and above 60 yrs old)

Macau Grand Prix Museum:
Opens: Daily 10 am to 6 pm except Tuesdays)
Admission: MOP/HKD10 per adult, MOP/HKD5 for visitor age 11 to 18 years old **
(FREE for visitors age 10 & below and above 60 yrs old)

** Joint admission ticket @ MOP/HKD20 for Wine Museum + Grand Prix Museum

Butterfly Pavilion:
Opens: Daily 10 am to 10 pm until 31 October 2012
Admission is free.


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






In pursuit of happiness on the streets of old Macau

20 09 2012

Much of the second day of our trip to Macau seemed to be spent in the pursuit of happiness. Happiness, not as one might imagine, found in the brightly lit gaming rooms that one can’t really get far away from in the territory, but rather found in and around the narrow streets and back lanes of old Macau, streets and back lanes that given more time, are ones that I certainly would want find myself getting lost in.

A dance of joy at the foot of the steps leading up to the iconic ruins of St. Paul’s, one of the many pockets of happiness that awaited us on the second day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Scrambling around the streets late on what was a muggy Sunday morning, it didn’t take long to find ourselves dripping in perspiration and it did seem for a while, that that was the last thing that would lead us to any form of happiness. We had found ourselves involved in a Mini Macau Amazing Race, split into five teams of two, wandering around seemingly aimlessly seeking answers which were to be found in the narrow streets in and around Senado Square.

Have GPS will race … not that it helped … as my team was the last to arrive (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

We did in the course of the race, stumble upon happiness. We found that in the name of a street – Rua da Felicidade or 福隆新街,which translates to the Street of Happiness. The name has its origins in a seedy past, one that was associated with the pleasures of the flesh. The street is today (along with the narrow streets around it), where pleasures are still to be found, in indulgences that some would say are no less sinful. This we had to leave for a little later with the little matter of having first to finish the race.

The pursuit of happiness brought us to a street called ‘happiness’, the Rua da Felicidade / 福隆新街 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Being paired with a very able partner in Kaika, of The Cosplay Chronicles fame, somehow wasn’t enough. Arriving drenched in the morning’s exertions at the pit stop, we were to hear the dreaded ‘you are the last team to arrive’. Looking back, we had perhaps spent a little too much time on happiness, in search of what one might call a purveyor of happiness that eluded us. We did find some momentary happiness at the end point though. That came in the form of what has to be one of the simple pleasures of Macau – a Portuguese Egg Tart or Pastel de Nata as some refer to it. The Macau favourite was one that came from Margaret’s Café (玛嘉烈蛋挞), tucked away in what seemed like an obscure alley not far from the Grand Lisboa Hotel, which served as the end point.

A jump of joy in front of St. Dominic’s Church, one of the stops along the race route … I was paired up with Kaika of The Cosplay Chronicles for the race (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Happiness at the pit stop – found after having an egg tart (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Margaret’s Café (玛嘉烈蛋挞) is tucked away in what seemed like an obscure alley not far from the Grand Lisboa Hotel (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The scene that greeted us at Margaret’s Café, might have had fuelled some delusions some of us might have had that the large crowd that was present was there to cheer our efforts. It was however clear that they had come for the rich creamy custard filled flaky pastry cases that can only be described as a little piece of heaven. There was just a queue that was in evidence, with tables laid on the outside all filled up, many were seen, egg tarts in hand, standing around in the alleyway. The café had been one of the many pockets of happiness surprising us in the labyrinth of streets of the race route and looking back at it, the race certainly was an well thought of means devised by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) to help get us acquainted the streets in and around Senado Square and what they have to offer.

There was a large crowd at the café when we arrived (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Those who could not find seats did not seem to mind having their egg tarts standing (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

With the newly acquired local knowledge fresh in our heads, a number of us decided to use the free time we had after the race to embark on a quest to seek out the pockets of happiness we now knew the streets had to offer. Retracing our steps back to the street called happiness, we sought out Cheong Kei Noodle House (Loja Sopa Da Fita Cheong Kei or 祥记面食专家) and the famed shrimp roe noodles we were made aware of. Undeterred by the queue that had formed when we arrived, we patiently waited for the reward that awaited us, shrimp roe noodles of which we each had one (we realised that the portions served were small enough), sharing a bowl of wan ton soup, and what seemed like house specialities fish skin salad and fish balls deep fried with a coating of rice that resembled balls of Fererro Rocher. The shrimp roe noodles, noodles sprinkled with dried shrimp roe on top, made an interesting eat and turned out to be quite a happy treat. The fish balls and wan ton were too, but I think the jury was out on the fish skin which if anything was rich, as I learned from the ladies with us, in collagen.

The queue to get into Cheong Kei did not deter us (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Fish Skin Salad, a specialty – the jury seemed to be out on this (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Fererro Rocher balls? Deep fried fish balls coated with rice (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

What we came for, happiness in a serving of shrimp roe noodles (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

… which Ai Sakura seemed to find (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Feeling happy from the exercise of gluttony at Cheong Kei, there was more happiness to be sought. We decided to find it in some sweet delights that Macau does have an abundance of – desserts! We headed to the Leitaria I Son (義順牛奶公司) along San Ma Lo (新馬路 / Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro), known to many who visit Hong Kong as the Yee Shun Milk Company. The dessert shop, which I understand originated in Macau, offers a range of smooth and creamy steamed milk puddings with a variety of toppings, all of which would probably require several trips to Macau to have a complete taste of. We shared a few different bowls – a plain milk pudding, as well as one each with ginger, lotus seeds and red beans. The ginger was quite an interesting experience, and if you are fond of having a cup of strong ginger tea we find at the sarabat stalls in Singapore, it is something you certainly will like – which I did. Seeing the expression on the face of one in the group, Rui Long, the omy.sg representative, as she had a taste of it also told me that ginger wasn’t everyone’s bowl of milk pudding. I did however find, and I think many would agree with me, that the bowl with the red beans topping came closest to happiness in a bowl – red beans seemed to best complement the joy of milk pudding.

The search for more happiness took us into Leitaria I Son (義順牛奶公司) along San Ma Lo (新馬路 / Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro), known to many who visit Hong Kong as the Yee Shun Milk Company and famous for their steamed milk puddings.

Happiness found in bowls of steamed milk pudding at I Son … just so good! (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

It was at this point that some decided to head to the shops in Senado Square in search of the happiness that shopping does bring. A few headed back to the starting point of the morning’s race, Ponte 16, to visit the MJ Gallery and MJ Café there. The gallery, the only one in Asia devoted to the late ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson (MJ), is where MJ fans will take great delight in the 40 well-known pieces of MJ memorabilia on display. This includes the iconic white rhinestone glove which he wore worn during his first moonwalk performance which was televised during Motown’s 25th Anniversary in 1983, and also a fedora hat and crystal socks worn during his Victory Tour in 1984. MJ was certainly a big part of the generation I am in and I was quite happy to see that he has fans in the young bloggers who came along. One big fan we were to discover amongst us was Rui Long, who I must say did an excellent impression of MJ next to a life-sized standee of MJ doing the legendary moonwalk.

Some headed back to Ponte 16 to visit the MJ Gallery.

Paying homage to the late ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson at the MJ Gallery at Ponte 16 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The MJ Café at Ponte 16.

The time tunnel at the MJ Gallery captures the key milestones of MJ’s legendary career (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Rui Long during a perfect impression of MJ.



The MJ Gallery features 40 items of MJ memorabilia including some iconic items such as the white rhinestone studded glove he wore during his legendary moonwalk performance televised during Motown’s 25th Anniversary in 1983 (photographs taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

I decided next to head on my own in an attempt to discover the heart of old Macau, starting with the A-Ma Temple (媽閣廟) which is thought to be at the origins of the Portuguese given name of its former colony. The temple, I will write on in part of another post, which dedicated to the Taoist protector of fishermen, the goddess of the sea, Mazu or Matsu (妈祖 / 媽祖), serves as the starting point of any heritage trail through the streets of old Macau. It is also a stone’s throw from Lilau Square, the heart of the first Portuguese settlement. It was at the square where peeking through a window of a convenience kiosk, I spotted Yiwei, of Foodeology fame, seemingly in a state of happiness peeking (quite coincidentally) through a window at the opposite side of the kiosk.

The A-Ma Temple (媽閣廟) is at the origin of the Portuguese given name for Macau.

Having spent a little more time that I thought at the A-Ma Temple, the Moorish Barracks along the way and at Lilau Square, and perhaps a little distracted by the sweet smile at the other end of the kiosk, I abandoned thoughts of continuing with my trek through old Macau. I decided on heading back to Senado Square where I would find the larger part of the group, with the promise of a raid on more places of culinary happiness later that evening.

The joy that accompanied the surprise through a window of a kiosk at Lilau Square.

I found the group close to the steps leading up to the ruins of St. Paul’s, looking for happiness in the many shops selling Macanese / Cantonese confectionery and biscuits found in the streets leading up to the ruins. It is at these shops that Macau favourites such as boxes of almond cookies fly off the racks like hot cakes, and where another favourite, what I is best described as sweet barbequed meat or 肉乾, referred to locally as jerky (or in Singapore as ‘bak kwa’ or ‘long yuk’), is displayed in folded sheets as large as a piece of A4 sized paper– something I would certainly would have found happiness in as a child!

The streets below the ruins of St. Paul’s are littered with shops offering happiness in the many local snacks and confectioneries.

Sweet BBQ Meat a.k.a. jerky or 肉乾 is displayed in A4 sized sheets.

A shop assistant with a flat basket of a local favourite, almond cookies.

Ai Sakura finding happiness in a confectionery shop.

Tired from what was a long day out, it was then time to seek the dose of happiness at one of Macau’s food institutions – one we found out about during the race, Wong Chi Kei Noodle House (黃枝記麵家) in Senado Square. Wong Chi Kei has been in business some for some 66 years, having started in 1946. Set in an old shophouse in Senado Square, the wait to get into the restaurant, popular with locals and visitors, proved to be well worth it. The noodles and the soup in which they were served can be described as nothing less than a bowl of great happiness! As with any visit to the region, I had to have a bowl of beef brisket noodles. I thoroughly enjoyed and would if I could, return for more. The wan ton noodles and crab congee are apparently among the favourites here, as is the shrimp roe noodles, which served in larger portions with a generous helping of wan ton, was received well by those who did try it.

A happy customer leaving Wong Chi Kei Noodle House (黃枝記麵家) in Senado Square, a local institution.

The verdict was that the shrimp roe noodles at Wong Chi Kei brought happiness to those who tried it.

Leo of Spin or Bin Music must be wondering how Ai Sakura is going to eat all that!

Another house specialty is the crab congee.

Before we were prepared to call it a day, there was still one last bit of happiness we had to seek. We headed back to the dessert shop that had eluded Kaika and me during the race, Hang Heong Un (Loja De Doces Hang Heong Un / 杏香园雪糕甜品屋), in which their walnut cream desserts are said to bring pure joy. I decided on ordering something that would cool me down instead, it having been a hot day – a cold water chestnut based dessert. That did bring pure joy to me, certainly an excellent way to bring what I must say was a very successful pursuit of happiness through the streets of Macau to a very happy conclusion.

Last stop for finding happiness was Hang Heong Un (Loja De Doces Hang Heong Un / 杏香园雪糕甜品屋) off the street of happiness.

A refreshing bowl of water chestnut based dessert – a perfect way to end a happy day.


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Links to Happiness:

Getting there
Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Pockets of ‘yum’:
Margaret’s Café
Cheong Kei Noodle House
Leitaria I Son
Wong Chi Kei
Hang Heong Un

Happy places:
Suggested Walking Tour of Macau
Rua da Felicadade
Senado Square
Ruins of St. Paul’s
St. Dominic’s Church
A-Ma Temple
Lilau Square
MJ Gallery at Ponte 16


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.


Video of Mini Macau Amazing Race as captured by the crew of omy.sg:






Dances in Macau’s night sky

17 09 2012

Fireworks have to be one of the best gifts that the Middle Kingdom has given us. A show does always seem to bring out a celebratory mood on any occasion – even when there is no occasion … the explosive burst of colours is in itself a celebration. I for one have long held a fascination for fireworks since my youthful days watching them from the window of my flat in Toa Payoh. And now in my second childhood (perhaps third or fourth), displays still captivate me and I often chase them whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Fireworks displays never fail to put audiences in a celebratory mood.

I found myself not having to chase one of my more recent encounters … being a participant on a trip to Macau that I had the good fortune of being on. The trip, sponsored and hosted by the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO), coincided with the annual celebration of fireworks – the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, which this year is in its 24th edition. That it was hosted by the MGTO, also meant that the group I was in, were able to watch the pyrotechnic displays from a comfortable position and unobstructed position in a reserved area at the Macau Tower Outdoor Plaza.

The judges for the contest seated at the Outdoor Plaza.

Entertainment at the Outdoor Plaza in between the two displays.

This year’s edition of the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest sees 10 teams attempting to outdo each other in painting the night sky over the Pearl River Estuary between the Macau Peninsula and Taipa Island, each in a choreographed show of pyrotechnic bursts accompanied by music. Taking place over a period of some five weeks from September to early October, the 24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest sees the displays of two teams on each of the Saturdays in September, and that of the last two on 1 October, China’s National Day, in a contest that sees the participation of teams from Korea; Thailand; Taiwan, China; United States; Portugal; France; Japan; Australia; Italy and Mainland China. This annual contest is supported and sponsored by the MGTO with a subsidy given to the participating teams for fireworks. This year sees the participation of teams from France and Italy for the first time, and boasts several well-established names in pyrotechnic displays including the Australian company which was responsible for the fireworks during the opening and closing of Sydney 2000.

Four of the bloggers in the group: (from L to R) Valyn, Joey, Chun See and Yiwei.

After a short ceremony at the Outdoor Plaza, the contest got underway. Featuring two teams on opening evening, the Korean team represented by Woori Fireworks Inc and the team from Thailand, Thailand Fireworks, the audience which also included guests to a BBQ Dinner Buffet which is served to coincide with fireworks nights, was treated to two wondrous 14 minute long shows which saw the colourful bursts dancing to music the teams had specially selected for their respective shows. The displays by the two teams were certainly well planned and choreographed and despite not having a remote release for it, I decided to attempt using the Lumix DMC-GF5 camera that Panasonic had kindly provided for our use during the trip to capture some stills of the displays using the self-timer, the results of which are seen in the sequences of photographs below. The sequence by the Korean team was a little more dynamic and alternated between large and small bursts and capturing them did prove quite a challenge, whereas the Thai display I thought had prettier and subtler combinations of fireworks with lengthier pauses in between – which presented another set of challenges, particularly in anticipating when the bursts would start.

On the way back to the hotel … the bloggers, and even the bus, were in an exuberant and colourful mood!

Although exhausted from what was a very long day (plus the fact that I only got two hours of sleep due to packing at the very last minute for the trip), I must say that enjoyed watching and trying to photograph the two displays, the likes of which I have only got to see up close and unobstructed on very few occasions before … an occasion that will certainly long be remembered …


Performance by Woori Fireworks Inc of Korea










Performance by Thailand Fireworks












The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights have been sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included. The visit to the Macau Tower for the 24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest was also made possible by Macau Tower.

All photographs of fireworks in this post were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 camera.


Useful links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Macau Tower
24th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.









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