Archive for the ‘Hong Kong-Macau Trip’ Category

13 – 14 Jul 2000: Hong Kong

I have just completed my assignment in Hainan Island, Mainland China. This morning, I am flying out from Hai Kou; JL and I had arranged to meet at the Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok Airport for a short 4D3N Hong Kong-Macau trip. As it was too early to check-in into Hotel Concourse, we went for a quick bite at a popular sandwich chain called Oliver’s Sandwich. This 3-star hotel (I think) is conveniently located at the heart of Kowloon, Mongkok area, next to the Prince Edward MTR Station. A perfect location for public transport user like us.

New Territories 

Our first stop is the Wong Tai Sin Temple. Wong Tai Sin was a shepherd who began following Taoism at the age of 15. At the age of 55, he is said to have reached enlightenment and gained immortality, enabling him to rescue the dying, heal the wounded and punish the evil. Built in 1921, this is the most famous Taoist shrine in Hong Kong, attracting more than 3 million visitors each year. Many of them came for a spiritual answer or request for good wealth, health and love. The celestrial communication is executed via a practice called Kau Cim. The worshipper would knee and make a wish before the main altar, then shake a bamboo cylinder until a fortune stick falls out. There are many soothsayer in the temple to interpret the message from the fortune stick.




No trip to Hong Kong will be complete without seeing and experiencing the street shopping at Temple Street and Ladies Street. These streets are always packed with people along the sidewalks and it is just fun to just observe the crowd or browse around for the latest in fashions, electronic goods and imitation of cloth labels. Mongkok is such a busy place, even at late nights. I noticed that Hong Kongers are loaded with so much energy and adrenaline that they are equally active in nocturnal hours.  




 Hong Kong Island 

 JL’s free and easy package came with a half-day city tour. The tour started at the Victoria Peak. Nothing can beat a trip up to the Peak, the highest mountain in Hong Kong Island. We are rewarded with the panoramic view of the city, the harbour and the outlying islands. It is simply breathtaking…  



 The Hong Kong skyline stretches so wide across the island that my manual camera could hardly capture the “essence” of the landscape in a single shot. We took  two overlapping pictures instead… One of the most outstanding modern architectures is the Hong Kong’s Bank of China Tower. Another spectacular building that dominates the Hong Kong’s beautiful skyline is the HSBC’s HQ.


Located at the southern part of Hong Kong Island, the Repulse Bay is renowned for its glorious views of the South China Sea. Its name comes from a 19th century battle in which the British army repulsed attacking pirates. Today, the bay is a luxurious residential area, populated with international celebrities like Jacky Chan and the rich individuals. Besides the Victoris Peak, the Repulse Bay area is the most expensive real estate in Hong Kong. It was said that the Repulse Bay is popular among the rich because of its great Feng-Shui. One great example is the building facing the bay with a hole at the centre, allowing good chi and hence abundance of wealth to pass through it.

JL and I began to fantasize owning a property here and snapped the camera furiously to create that momentarily affluence…




There is a Kwum Yam Shrine with statues of Tin Hau and Kwun Yum (Goddess of Mercy) facing the bay…These two deities are widely believed to protect the fishermen when they are fishing at the seas…



What a starking contrast to the Repulse Bay as we took a boat ride into Aberdeen. Anchored in this  typhoon shelter are many fisherfolks’ homeborne boats. We are fascinated the floating village and their style of living, expecially I saw some children playing badminton on the boats! We are told that the government is attempting to relocating them to public housing areas and in a few years’ time, perhaps this scene could soon be history… 





The famous floating seafood restaurants – Jumbo Floating Restaurant…


Lantau Island

After lunch, we continued our exploration of the Hong Kong at our own. Since we heard so much about the Giant Buddha, we decided to witness the grandness of this world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha, at 34 metres tall and weighs 250 tonnes.


At the foot of the Giant Buddha is the Po Lin Monastery.  This monastery started as a small temple constructed by three buddhists in 1924. Over the years, it has gained much popularity, as it exquisitely nestles among the mountainous and green areas of the Lantau Island.


It costs nothing to reach the Big Buddha but probably some determination and strong leg power. We start the climb with some prayers to help us to conquer the long steps. 



Almost there…



Finally, we reached the summit. The view is spectacular and we soon forgot all about the efforts and toils…  


The Giant Buddha is also known as Tian Tan Buddha, aptly named because it has a base modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.


Descending was definitely much easier…


After baking under the scorching sun for a day, we are just very glad to cool off at Pacific Place and Queensway Plaza. It was a short rest. We took a quick  bite at Delifrance before hitting out to the street again. Tonight is Friday and we wanted to soak in a “very happening” place called Lan Kwai Fong at Central.  This is perhaps Hong Kong’s most well-known night-out area, populated with many bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and “angmos” (expatriates). We felt uncomfortably “dressed-down” in this high class area with our singlets and slip-on shoes. In the end, we went for a great Hong Kong desert at Hang Fa Lau (杏花楼). JL has the famous ginger milk desert (姜撞奶) while I am faithful to my all-time favourite sesame paste (芝麻糊)…Yummy and unforgettable!


After filling our stomach, we returned back to the hotel for early turn-in. We are planning to do a day-trip in Macau tomorrow. Good Night!


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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
Hong Kong , Hong Kong,

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