Friday, May 29, 2009

Macau Church

Apart from the many World Heritage sites & the many casinos, Macau should also be very known for its many churches... some of which are in fact, listed together under the World Heritage.

These churches do give one an impression of anything but China, or for that matter, Asia. It does feel like in a 'foreign' land!

Here's a list of the churches I saw in Macau, with some interesting information I gathered (which I think will fill the meaning behind these unique structures).

st dominics churchSt. Dominic's Church - it was here that the first Portuguese newspaper was published in China, A Abelha da China (The China Bee).

st dominics church insideThe inside of the church is much more grand with the the tall pillars & arches.

st lawrences churchSt Lawrence's Church - one of the oldest churches in Macau (built in 1560, but this building is from 1846). I love this building for where it is located, not quite surrounded by many buildings around it - making it stand tall, on its own.

st anthonys churchSt. Anthony's Church - another one of Macau's oldest church, which was initially built on bamboo & wood (1560). However, this structure is rather new - 1930, after many reconstructions.

st augustines churchSt. Augustine's Church - the church that maintains the tradition of organising the Easter Procession through the city (I wonder how the already busy & colourful streets of Macau will look during this period). :)

holy house of mercyHoly House Of Mercy - this is not a church, but was built to house social welfare organisations (and which still functions till today).

These churches plus the many other structures of both old & new that I've been seeing in Macau sure got my legs tired. Never have I walked so much on a holiday compared to that 4 days!

But of course, the pictures and memories sure are worth the walk. And, there's a bit more of Macau to come... :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Macau World Heritage

One most likely do not come to Macau for its historical past... but will most likely still bump into a few of Macau's heritage sites.

Well, it makes sense, as this is no ordinary heritage sites... but in fact, when combined together, these sites are listed under the Macau World Heritage. Yes, the Historic Centre of Macau was successfully inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2005, making it the 31st site in China to be granted this status.

Here are the many sites that makes Macau somewhat a unique China city.

1. Senado Square

senado squareIt's the heart of Macau for centuries, even till today. This place is so un-China, with its beautiful Meditarranean buildings that comes with interesting looking windows. And this is where modern & old somehow blend together (note: lots of shopping here).

2. Ruins Of St. Paul

ruins of st paulsThis magnificient blend of European and Chinese architecture is actually the facade of a burnt down church - Church Of St Paul (built in 1602-1640). But unlike any other still standing churches in Macau, this one seems to be the 'face' of Macau. Going to Macau without this photo makes one's trip incomplete.

ruins of st paul macau viewAnd walking up the stairs towards the facade, just turn back and see the view of Macau - of the old buidlings in the front, and the many new structures at the back.

3. Mount Fortress

mount fortressThis fortress built on Macao Hill is meant to be a defense to the Dutch invasion in 1622. This fort is actually just walking distance from the Ruins of St Paul, but it's not as crowded.

mount fortress viewAnd it has a more rounded and better view of the city.

mount fortress cafeBut what I like most of all is this cafe just at the foot of the fort. This rather cute old style cafe is well decorated as in the old times, with its blue-white tiles still intact.

4. Lou Kau Mansion

lou kau mansionIt may not appeal from the outside, and I myself didn't know how special this building was at first... simply passing by, and only went in on the way back when I realised what it was.

lou kau mansion furnitureIf the outside of this Chinese merchan't mansion (built in 1889) is rather bland, but the inside is totally different, and quite grand. Beautifully refurbished, this mansion carries a fair bit of antique furniture.

lou kau mansion wood carvingThe tall ceiling and wide space gives this mansion a spacious feel. Btw, this is a stationed person doing wood carving.

5. Casa Garden

casa garden entranceFor another glimpse of the homes of the rich, there is Casa Garden... the former residence of a wealthy Portuguese merchant, Manuel Pereira (built in 1770).

casa gardenToo bad that when I visited, the place was locked. But just from the exterior, one can know that this building will be another big house, and most likely beautifully restored as well (or if not yet, will definitely be when it is!).

6. Dom Pedro V Theatre

dom pedro v theatreBig tall pillars with 3 archways, each measuring 3 metres wide by 6 metres high, makes this performance centre another architectural icon in Macau.

The theatre is China's first western-style theatre. And interestingly till today, the place holds performances for the public (that is the time to actually see the inside).

7. A Ma Temple

a ma templeA-Ma Temple existed before Macau came into existence. The name Macau/ Macao is believed to derive from the Chinese A-Ma-Gau meaning 'Bay of A-Ma' - which is where A-Ma Temple is located. This temple is an exemplary representation of Chinese culture inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple folk beliefs.

a ma temple joss stickFor non Chinese, this temple would be quite an eye opener of what a small yet grand Chinese temple can look like. But even for the Chinese, the huge joss sticks with Chinese characters or the coil shaped joss sticks hanged on the ceilings make this a nice cultural view.

a ma temple chinese operaAnd if lucky, one can catch the Chinese opera, which when I went was held just in front of the temple.

8. Lilau Square

lilau squareThis area comprise the first Portuguese residential quarters in Macau. Walking in this place again feels so different from the typical China city... with a feel of walking on a foreign land - and this is Macau.

9. Moorish Barracks

moorish barracksAnother interesting building with unique architecture, this building was constructed to accommodate an Indian regiment from Goa appointed to reinforce Macau’s police force.

The unique architecture style of Mughal influences adds to the many different archictectural influences in Macau.

10. Sir Robert Ho Tung Library

sir robert ho tung libraryThis building initially built as residence for Dona Carolina Cunha (built in 1894). It was then purchased by Hong Kong businessman Sir Robert Ho Tung in 1918, as a retreat place during World War 2. He dontated the building as a library in his will in 1955.

sir robert ho tung library coutryardThis library is pretty cool - making all those new giant libraries to shame. Fist, it has a very welcoming courtyard. And the inner part of the library is quite modern - a good mix of conserving the old with modern times.

11. Leal Senado Building

leal sanado buildingJust opposite the Senando Square is Macau’s original municipal chamber. The building unique architecture includes a coutryard garden, a grand ceremonial meeting room and a carved library styled after the library of Mafra Convent in Portugal (no photos allowed in the library), plus a small chapel.

Actually what draw me to this building is the old style tiles nicely decorated on the stairs leading to the library. Plus, one gets a good view of Senado Square at the opposite!

12 & 13. Na Tcha Temple & Old City Wall

na tcha temple, old city wallThe petite temple situated just behind the Ruins of St. Paul’s is another example of 'multi cultural' & multi architectural Macau. Despite its size, this temple is really worth every shot of where size doesn't matter.

Beside it, lies a section of the Old City Wall. Apart from its time (built in 1569), this is similar to what the Portugese do in places they conquer.

Walking through the World Heritage zone in Macau sure is a long walk (took me 3 days in segments), but I think worth every moment. This walk made me appreciate Macau much more - it does show a more wholesome & different perspective of this China city, something that is much more rich & diverse in culture & architecture.

*There's many more buildings listed under the Macau World Heritage sites - including the many old & grand churches around the city. That is up next! :)

*I also passed by the Mandarin house, but like a few buildings in the heritage zone, they were closed for renovations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Venetian Macau

venetian macau ceilingHeard so much & seen so many pictures of the Venetian Macau - so it definitely was on my must see places in Macau.

I knew that i was in for some grand display of some sorts, and true to form, it was - right from the taxi stand. Just see the magnificent paintings of the ceilings on the top.

venetian mcau painted ceilingThe beautiful ceilings continue to awe visitors - from the main entrance all the way passing by the Venetian Macau casino. Yes, one is to walk through it to get to the shopping area. (Was not allowed to take any photos of the casino though).

venetian macau shoppingMore beautiful ceilings await me further on at the mall. This painting sure is a sight to behold!

venetian macau shopActually the whole shopping area is quite interesting. It's really a make up fantasy land with river canals and unique architectural shops to resemble the old buildings. Shoppers are in for a ride as well, with many shops - from middle to high end brands.

venetian macau shopppingEvery turn and corner of this huge mall is different. And one is to just continue walking in this big mall to view it all - to which i think many visitors will.

venetian macau gondolaBut of course, those wanting a different experience, one can opt for a ride on the canals through the Venetian gondola where one will glide through the 'mini town' passing by the restaurants, cafes, shops and go under the many bridges... and to top it, with the friendly gondoliers singing as well!

venetian macau food courtAnd just like all other malls, the Venetian shopping center comes with a food court - the Festivita Food Court. But the difference here - first, one eat with a good view of the surrounding buildings. And two, the food court has many different foods of Asia - which is a big plus in Macau/ China.

venetian macau performanceFinally, there's free performances all over the mall. But one is to just know when to catch them (or bump into them). This gives the feel of a big theme park - where these performers are like the 'stars' of the place, with good attention by passerby each time they perform or walk pass by!

However, for a more permanent performance (and which comes with a price that is), there is the also must-watch Zaia Cirque du Soleil. This high end street performance meet circus show is quite amazing, though it wasn't my best Cirque du Soleil performance.

Overall, the experience in the Venetian Macau is quite something... truly an experience that have set a new standard in malls in Asia. Truly, a must visit in Macau... and if I may add, an attraction to go to Macau itself).

*Besides bumping into them on the pathways of the mall, one catch a regular performance of the street performers (called the Streetmospher performers) at:
St. Mark's Square | Monday - Sunday: 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Near Shop 2709 | Monday - Sunday: 3:30pm and 8:00pm

*The Venetian Macau casino is apparently the largest in the world currently.

*There's actually many more things at the Venetian Macau - including hotel or things for the families, kids and other performances (eg invited star performances). Full details at Venetian Macau.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Taipa Museum

taipa museumI was walking through the Taipa Village and didn't really think much of the place - well, it's afterall not that highligthed compared to the other Heritage areas/ sites in Macau.

ButI followed the guidemap anyway, and then arrived on a higher level, overlooking this unique green house... which is the Taipa Museum (also known as Taipa House Museum/ Avenida Da Praia).

taipa museum lakeApart from the house, there is a lake view of the Cotai strip. Honestly, I didn't know what to see here, and was half reluctant to go down. In fact, I saw some tourists also giving this a miss. I guess, like me, they just didn't know what was in store.

taipa museum housesBut I'm glad I did go down instead and see more of these green white houses (there are 5 of them) - cos the place is really quite beautiful... something like a make up theme park, just that this is not. Instead, these are former residences for high ranking Macanese families! (yes, for the rich).

taipa museum porchThe government has taken back these houses, got them restored and made them into a museum.

taipa museum arch And I must say that they really did a good job! Standing there just makes me felt like I was in a foreign country... with its potted plants and flowers blending with the houses unique architectural designs.

I was enjoying the view of the houses from the outside, as I didn't really thought of going in - mentioned before that I'm not really a museum fan. But then, coming all the way already, and with decent museum price (MOP5), I once again 'gave in'.

taipa museum houseAnd once again, I was happy to have made the right decision. For the first house-turned-museum was a showcase of how the rich Macanese people lived - with full luxury, and quite interesting antique furnitures. There were the rather grand dining room, a study area, and even the old style bath tub.

The other house that I found interesting was also the one which gave information about the Macanese people - who apparently are the Portugese-Chinese people. Their cultures are somewhat similar to the Portugese in overseas (eg ehem, Malacca!), who have localised their culture (from language to food), yet still having the foreign influence.

Overall, this was really a unique find. I say this because I think this is actually what makes Macau different from the rest of the China cities - a very strong foreign influence, and to know that Macau has its very own unique culture.

For this, I must thank that it was all because I stayed in this area, Taipa... for hadn't I stayed here, I would most likely have not known about this & the Macanese - which to me is like not knowing Macau! :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Must Visit Hotels: Macau

A big playground with full of lights - that is Macau/ Macao, especially come evening/ night. And that is the best time to visit the hotels/ casinos there. Here are the few I managed to visit, and be impressed with.

grand lisboa macaoI think of all casinos/ hotels, the Grand Lisboa is the most interesting & 'really must see' casino. This is situated in the older casino strip, right in the heart of the city.

grand lisboa macauThis somewhat 'weird' structure, was created with one intention - to last and not fade with time. And it does well with that, gleaming all over come evening with its full lights display.

grand lisboaI find the display of lights quite spectacular and very unique - it keeps changing in colours and designs, with lots of casino designs from jackpots to the aces.

wynn macau fountain showNot to be outdone, Wynn Macau has a musical fountain display outside its hotel (from 11am - 12am, every 15 minutes). This is a free musical show, where the fountain is synchronized with the lively & upbeat music.

wynn hotel dragon showThat's not all - there's another 'show' in the hotel, where a golden dragon 'awakes' from a sphere with lots of smoke surrounding it. Though a rather short show, but I could sense the audience all glued to the star of the moment - that golden dragon. Some even threw coins to it - for good luck I'm sure.

grand emperor macauAnother 'must visit' hotel, which is popular with tourists is the Grand Emperor Hotel. The exterior of the hotel looks somewhat plain except for the big crown sign on the top.

grand emperor horse cartHowever, this is the hotel known for its changing of its guards clad in the 'traditional' English guard attire. I missed that though. However, I managed to capture the golden horse cart in front of the hotel. This simply reminds me of Disneyland!

sands macaoAnd finally another popular casino/ hotel one should visit is the Sands, with its ever changing lights on its top... Well apart from its lights, visit this for it's apparently the largest casino in Macau.

There are actually more hotels (& casinos) in Macau to see - especially with the very new ones at the Cotai Strip. And one of them, the Venetian is up next! :)