Sunday, May 28, 2006

Macau Day Trip

Macau is a former Portugese colony near Hong Kong. It was given back to China in 1999, two years after Hong Kong was given back by the British. The Portugese colonized Macau in the 16th century as a unique outpost in the Far East for trading. Hong Kong's rise lead to Macau decline as the deeper waters around Hong Kong attracted larger ships and thus trade prospered in Hong Kong. Macau is now famous for its casinos (said to rival the monetary pull of Vegas) and its unique Portugese/Chinese culture.

Macanese cuisine is a blend of Portugese-Mediterranean and Chinese Cantonese influence. Some of the Med culture can stil be found in its small fishing villages where the pace is slower than the surrounding parts of China.

To me, I really never had a picture of what Macau was, as for one thing it doesn't make it into the world media stage very often. I do know that they host the Macau Grand Prix for a smaller category car racing series and I also remember that some simple computer games were based on the Macau GP. Because it's not a huge financial center like Hong Kong, it gets dwarfed on the world stage. But, that was some of the allure of going there... finding out what Macau's all about.

Regional map showing Hong Kong and Macau on the left

Boarding the Macau Ferry at Hong Kong. It costs about $20 for a one-way 45 minute journey on a jetfoil. The ferry terminal was very much like a mini airport with gates and boarding passes and everything.

Upper Deck on the ferry. Looks like a plane too.

Abandon Ship Procedure. First time seeing a card like this and good to know that safety is important here.

The Macau Ferry clipping along the Pearl River Delta at a healthy pace

Arriving in Macau by going under one of the many bridges in this small territory. There are 2 islands linked to the main Macay peninsula. They're all connected by fancy bridges, paid for by the casinos.

One of the ferries

Estrada do Reservatorio (Promenade along the Reservoir), very active in the evening time.

A free exercise machine on the promenade. There were others like this along the path with adults and kids on them. Great way to work out.

How nice, a designated bathroom for dogs.

A street dating back to the colonial days

A moto-cop on a Yamaha FZ6. Note the Portugese "Policia" marking.

A lively street corner with many locals and tourists

I was hitting a few of the big tourists spots, then planned to get dinner before heading back to Hong Kong. Heading to the Ruinas de Sao Paulo, then the Largo do Senado.

A food vendor on a street corner. It looked so tempting and I know we're warned against eating anything from the street, but what the heck, looked like she was deep-frying the meats in front of you, so that should kill everything, right? Hopefully the oil's been changed recently. They had one of my favorite meats there, Chicken Gizzards. I know, I know, most of you think that's gross, but I've also loved it. I had three gizzard kebabs, so tasty!! And I'm not sick, yeah!

On the road to the Ruins of St. Paul

Lots of local Chinese shops selling food, candy, jewellery, etc.

Sweat Meats. I bought a packet of Wild Boar meat. Was thinking of Asterix and Obelix. Tasted really good.

Ruinas de Sao Paulo. This is what remains of huge cathedral built by the Portugese a couple hundred years ago. It caught fire and they managed to save the facade. It's supported by steel beams in the back.

Lots of intricate details with statues of monks and angels.

World Cup Fever!! Awesome ad by adidas where this young kid gets to pick the top 10 players in the world to play in his imaginary game. Watch the TV ads all of June during the games. Really captures the spirit of football.

Largo do Senado. The center of Macau. It's characterized by it's wavy brick design and important colonial buildings in the square. Very beautiful area.

A side street off of Largo do Senado

Two-wheelers are the best bet to get around this tiny territory. All though I did see a fair amount of souped-up cars??

Walking around I saw this old house perched on a little ledge with spot lights. Something about it is just appealing.

Macau Tower. Trying to create a symbol for the new Macau. It's taller than the Eiffel Tower and has a revolving restaurant on the top with a glass bottom.

Another house from yesteryears...

Look, someone has my other car! I had a beautiful red BMW just like this one for most of my college years. Sadly, she got rear-ended pretty badly, but now she's in San Diego starting a new life.

I had dinner at Henri's Galley, an old time seaside restaurant. The mood was fitting for some wine, so I had a small bottle and ending up inhaling it down as I was getting late for the return ferry. Made the walk back interesting...

A Yamaha Racing scooter...

Sweet! Imagine going for rides around the island on this jalopy.

A Macau casino. This one was a floating kind in the bay.

The beautiful Ponte de Amizade (Friendship Bridge)

100 Macau Patacas, similar value to Hong Kong dollars. They have the Largo do Senado as the background.

I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to Macau. It was greaty fun. I think two full days are needed to explore the rest of the islands and really get a feel for the place.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hong Kong Part III

Pictures from the second visit to Hong Kong on the way back home.

My room at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong. I loved the corner view, but I wasn't in a corner room. And everyone room has a corner view. You'll understand in the below picture.

L-R: Conrad Hilton, Shangri-La Hotel, Swire Group (owners of Cathay) and the JW Marriott. It was zig-zagged all the way around giving each room a corner view. Very cool.

I loved the layout of my room. They took a small space and made it appear huge.

The Foreign Correspondents Club - a very old gentleman's club and still only to members only, a very British thing.

Lan Kwai Fong - the busy bar street, filled with ex-pats and locals. Didn't hang around here much. I was off to find a quieter place...

Look! I drove my car to Hong Kong. Someone with the exact same color scheme as mine: Indigo Blue, White Roof, Mirrors, Wheels and Bonnet Stripes. But no driving lamps. I was actually at the little place on the left, Bohemia, a very chilled live jazz bar.

I was walking around the next day through Hong Kong's interconnected buildings (you can walk between 10 or 12 complexes without touching the ground, really helpful in the rain) and I followed my nose to this smelly fruit, the Durian. This was in a super market that was cramped into the side of a building, with very narrow aisles. They had most of the products that you find here.

Awesome! A Ducati MH900evoluzione in store front. Now, if they had some guy's clothes in there, I might have bought something cause it certainly caught my attention.

L-R: IFC2, Four Seasons Hotel and IFC1. IFC2 is the tallest building in Hong Kong and with the heavy fog during April/May the people in top floors must not be getting a good view. How cool to see a building reach up into the clouds. I was thinking of the movie, The Fifth Element, with it's massively tall skyscrapers.

Central Plaza, another landmark in Hong Kong's skyline, surrounded by apartment buildings and again, lots of greenery.

Even their roadways incorporated lots of trees and greenery. Makes it look less like a concrete-jungle and more like a jungle-jungle.

A smaller fruit market, also selling bric-a-brac. The constrast in the items you can buy was really vivid. Right next door to this market is a mall with Prada, Gucci, Armani and the sort.

One of my favorite fruits: Mangostein. You squeeze the hard skin until it cracks and remove the semi-solid flesh inside and gobble it down. So tasty. I bought like a dozen and just had them for a snack.

Catching the tram...

Taking a Tram Ride across Hong Kong in the upper deck

Part 2

Taking the Star Ferry across Hong Kong Harbour to Kowloon, the mainland. It costs HK$2.2, which is about $0.30 and it's the best bang-for-your-buck tourist thing to do as you get an awesome view of the skyline, plus you get to experience the heavily trafficked waters of Hong Kong. Smaller boats have to yield for bigger ones.

My ferry boat was built in 1958! A long standing tradition in Hong Kong.

A daytime cloudy view of Hong Kong's famous skyline.

They've built a Avenue of Stars, something like Hollywood's Walk of Stars to celebrate Hong Kong Cinema.

Tourists on the avenue

I was looking for one of my favorite actors; Jackie Chan. I used to watch his movies when I was a kid, even the ones in Chinese with the funny English voice overs.

This guy was just floating along in his little boat near the shore. Seemed strange in these busy waters.

Ad for Cathay Pacific being chosen Airline of the Year

And of course... good old Bruce.