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Archive for the ‘Macau’ Category

15 Jul 2000: Macau

After our hasty breakfast at McDonald’s, we boarded the Turbo Cat from the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal at 9 am. The travel time to Macau was about 1 hr and the ride was pretty comfortable.

Back in the 16-century, the Chinese gave Portugal the right to establish a colony on Macau in exchange for clearing the region of pirates. Under Portuguese administration, Macau flourished as a trading port until the British established the Hong Kong colony in 1841. Macau was recently (in 1999) given back to China as a Special Administrative Region, allowing the Macanese to retain its autonomy.

  

   

The Ruins of St Paul

The immigration was packed as it was a Saturday. After clearing the custom, we quickly headed straight to the Ruins of St Paul. This was originally the façade of the Cathedral of St. Paul, a Portuguese cathedral built in the 17th century and dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle.

    

Built from 1582 to 1602 by the Jesuits, the St Paul Cathedral was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835. This facade was what left after that fire.

  

  

View from St Paul’s steps

  

Overlooking the ruin is the Fortaleza do Monte (or the Monte Fort). This fort was initially built in the 16th century to protect the properties of Jesuit in Macau. It also served as the first residence of the Governors of Macau.

 

    

  

Museum of Macau

The Museum of Macau was built on the hill in the 1990s. At the top of the fort, you can enjoy a panaromic view of the mainland area of Macau. The museum presents the history of the city and territory under the former Portuguese colony of Macau.

 

  

Leaving the museum, we had our late lunch at a Taiwanese eatery (strangely the choice on hindsight). Macau is known for its freshly baked Portuguese egg tarts, we grab a few from a bakery shop. Hmmm… the custard was soft and juicy with aromatic fragrance of the burnt caramel. The crust was hard enough to provide the contrasting texture. Feeling satisfied, we proceeded to our next important visit to A-Ma Temple.

A-Ma Temple

A-Ma Temple (妈阁庙) is one of the oldest and most famous shrine in Macau.  Built in 1488, the temple is dedicated to the goddess of seafarers and fishermen, Matsu (妈祖). The name Macau is believed to be derived from the name of this temple. It was said that when Portuguese sailors arrived in the 16th century and asked for the name of the place, the native were told them “A Ma Gao” (meaning Bay of A-Ma”).  The Portuguese then named the peninsula “Amagao”, or by its modern name, Macau. 

 

 

Matsu is known locally as “A-Ma” (or Tin Hau in Hong Kong). Born as Lin Moniang (林默娘) in Fujian, China around 960, the deity is a protector for seafarers and fishermen. The origin of this temple is trace to a legend.  Once, a junk sailing on the South China Sea on a clear day was suddenly caught in a tempest. Everybody thought they would not survive the storm until a young, attractive woman came forward and ordered the sea to calm down. Miraculously the storm died away and the sea became still.  When the junk arrived at the port, the woman walked up to to top of Barra Hill and ascended into heaven. The A-Ma Temple was built on the spot where she set foot on land to pay tribute to her.

 

 

Inside the courtyard, there is a stone sculpture of Chinese junk. It was said that A-Ma sailed out to sea from her native land to Macau by this junk. After coping with strong typhoon and fierce-waves, she finally reached Macao safely.

The A-Ma Temple was built by the cliff. There are winding paths around upwards the hill. Along the cliff, there are many poems and verses inscribed on stone in all scripts (regular, cursive, seal character, etc)

   

 

Except for the casinos, Macau really reminded us of Malacca, which was also a Portuguese  colony. Macau was both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and administered the country until the handover to China on 20 December 1999.

 

 

Macau is the most densely populated region in the world, with 95% of Macau’s population Chinese and another 2% is Portuguese. Its economy is driven by tourism and at least 10% of its workforce is employed in the gambling industry.

 

On the way back to the ferry terminal, JL caught sight of this lotus flower which she could not resist to take a closer look… 

   

We had a relaxing day in Macau and truly a memory walk-down (and perhaps revival) of our Malacca trip last year. After returning back to Hong Kong in the evening, we walked to Mongkok again. It was drizzling and we were wet and cold. We detected the stinky beancurd vendor from several blocks away and ate the smelly tou-fu (chau tau fu) and Barbecued dried squid (with lots of chillie sauce) as the signature memory food for our last night in Hong Kong.   

 

16 Jul 2000: Hong Kong 

We had a couple of hours to spare in the morning before going to the airport. Yes, you are right, we headed out to the street to buy some speciality local snacks (手信).  A must to bring home is the Heng Heung’s Lo Po Pang or wife biscuits(恆香老婆餅). This Chinese sweet pastry made with winter melon and almond paste has a touching story behind it. A long time ago in China, there lived a poor couple in a small village and they loved each other. Then suddenly, the husband’s father became very sick with a mysterious disease. The couple used up all of their money to treat the man’s father but he was still not well. In the end, the wife sold herself as a slave in exchange for money to buy medicine for her father-in-law. When the husband learnt about what his wife did, he made a cake filled with winter melon and with a crispy crust. His cake became so popular that he was able to earn enough money to buy his wife back.

The last 3 days had passed by swiftly and now, we are ready to be home… As the plane took off, I intuitively humed Teresa Teng’s song – Night of Hong Kong (香港之夜):

“Hong Kong , Hong Kong
和你在一起,
Hong Kong , Hong Kong,
我爱这个美丽晚上有你在我身旁…”

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