Showing posts with label Macau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Macau. Show all posts

Friday, June 04, 2010

Macau: Guia Hill, Penha Hill, Mandarin's House and Macau off the beaten track

Macau has a lot of heritage that few tourists visit. Many of them are even UNESCO World Heritage Sites. During one of the days, we did an off the beaten track exploration of Macau. That included shopping for fresh ingredients at Macau's Red Market.

We started our morning by trekking up to Jardim Luis de Camões (Camões Garden) to watch some of the morning activities of the locals. It was quite amusing seeing a lot of exercise machines installed in a good number of open spaces in Macau (if those were in Manila, I could imagine seeing them in junk shops) because they want to encourage physical fitness among the locals.

Camões Garden is a popular recreation place especially for senior citizens. When we arrived, the senior citizens were playing some games while another group was doing their morning tai chi. As we walked down, we saw a teacher practicing some lines of Chinese opera with his student. Near the front entrance of the park, there were pet birds in really nice bamboo cages, with the owners chatting amongst themselves. We found out that many locals took their pets seriously. Imagine taking birds in cages for a walk?

After our visit to the market, we visited Guia Hill where you could find the Fortaleza da Guia 東望洋炮台, a military fort, chapel, and lighthouse complex which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Not that many tourists visit the place owing to its distance from the major tourist areas. But it's worth the visit, especially with its grand view of Macau.

One way to get up the hill is by the Guia Cable Car. They charge MOP/HK$3 per person for one way and MOP/HK$5 for return tickets. But it will also entail some walking from the cable car station to the opposite end of the hill to get to the Guia Fortress. But that of course beats going up and down the steps. You can actually take a cable car going up and walk going down the other route which is what we did.

The Guia Fort and the Capela de Nossa Senhora da Guia 聖母雪地殿教堂 were constructed between 1622 and 1638 after the Dutch had made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Macau from Portugal. The Guia Lighthouse was built between 1864 and 1865.

The next morning, we visited a newly-restored UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mandarin's House. Our coaster dropped us off at Lilau Square. Largo do Lilau, another UNESCO-inscribed site, is part of the old Christian quarter where the Portuguese first settled in Macau. The area has some interesting architecture with its Portuguese style buildings.

Near the square is the Mandarin’s House, a traditional Chinese-style compound which gives visitors a glimpse into life of aristocrat Chinese under colonial rule. The Mandarin's House is actually the residence of eminent modern Chinese thinker Zheng Guanying and his father Zheng Wenrui.

After exploring the house, the group proceeded to Penha Hill, another place offering grand views of Macau and Mainland China, especially Macau Tower. If the A-Ma Temple was where Chinese sailors paid homage before embarking on a trip, the Penha Chapel served as the pilgrimage place for Portuguese sailors before leaving for long journeys.

If you do go to Macau, and have some time to spare, you might want to include its gardens, parks and hills in your itinerary. The views are stunning. I remember visiting both Guia and Penha Hill in 2005 by foot!

I didn't expect to be in Macau twice last month. And I was quite amused of the prospect of going again this month, but plans changed. So that ends my Macau series for now. Time to talk about neighboring Hong Kong.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Macau: Grand Prix Museum honors Arsenio "Dodjie" Laurel (1962 & 1963 Macao Grand Prix champion)

Few Filipinos know that we once had a champion race car driver in the person of Arsenio "Dodjie" Laurel, a son of former president Jose P. Laurel. In fact, Dodjie Laurel was the first person two win the Macao Grand Prix consecutively in 1962 and 1963.

Could he have been the Philippines' first F1 driver? We'll never know because he died in a car crash while trying to win his third Macao Grand Prix in 1967. It is said that Philippine motorsports has not had a champion of his caliber and stature ever since.

One corner of the Grand Prix Museum, which documents the history of the Macao Grand Prix, is dedicated to Dodjie Laurel. The Lotus 22-Ford which won him the 1962 and 1962 races is on display at the museum.

Many popular F1 drivers were previous winners of the Macao Gran Prix while they were still racing F3 including Michael Schumacher (1990), David Coulthard (1991), and Ralf Schumacher (1995). Micheal Schumacher's F3 car is also in the museum.

The museum is open from from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance to the Grand Prix Museum and the adjacent Wine Museum is free.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Macau: Activities for non-gamblers at Macau's casinos and entertainment resorts

As I previously mentioned, Macau is not all about casinos. In fact, casinos and entertainment resorts such as City of Dreams, The Venetian Macao, Ponte 16 and Wynn have a lot of activities you might want to try out. Dining and shopping are a staple at all casinos and entertainment resorts.

1. City of Dreams: Steaks at Horizons, Dragon's Treasure and Hard Rock Hotel
I personally like the interior design of City of Dreams. They even have a guide to the art that you can find around the complex.

Check out the steaks at Horizons. We had a really wonderful lunch there. For starters, we were served Champagne Glazed Cold Smoked Tasmanian Salmon (with cucumber and caper salsa, beetroot puree, Ikura roe) MOP98. Then came in the soup, "Kabucha" Veloute with Herb Crusted Hokkaido Scallop (Kumquat espuma, pata negra chips) MOP128. Of course, the main dish was the Filet Mignon 8oz USA Prime MOP98. To cap off our lunch, we had Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee (delicately set creme with thin caramel crust and fresh berries) MOP65.

Dragon's Treasure at The Bubble is a really spectacular lights and sounds show at City of Dreams. After the show, we then went around Hard Rock Hotel and checked out the memorabilia wall. You'll see some Michael Jackson items there too. City of Dreams also has some really affordable shopping options, unlike most resorts which cater to the high end market. So you might want to check the shops out.

2. The Venetian Macao: Cirque de Soleil and gondola rides at the Grand Canal
I've already mentioned this in a previous post. Cirque de Soleil's Zaia is really very entertaining. And if it fits your budget, it's something you might want to consider. Ticket prices range from HK$388 to HK$788 for adults and HK$194 to HK$394 for children. VIP tickets are HK$1288. Here's information for booking online.

Another attraction here are the gondola rides at the Grand Canal. Of course, the shops at the Grand Canal are very much visited. But they're more on the higher end when compared to those at City of Dreams. The Venetian also has a lot of dining options. I heard Old Neptune serves really great Macanese food.

3. Ponte 16: MJ Gallery
We stayed at the Sofitel Macau At Ponte 16 which is a really nice hotel with a view of Mainland China. Ponte 16 is actually a redevelopment of Macau's Pier 16. In fact, the old Ponte 16 building at the end of San Ma Lo still stands as part of the development.

One of the attractions at Ponte 16 in the MJ Gallery which is home to some significant memorabilia of Michael Jackson.

Ponte 16 has several renowned restaurants that offer top-notch Cantonese cuisine, excellent Northern Chinese home-made noodles and dumplings, plus French and Mediterranean dining experiences among many others. Check out Mistral (6/F, Sofitel Macau At Ponte 16) where we had a really filling breakfast everyday.

4. Wynn Hotel: Performance Lake, Tree of Prosperity and Dragon of Fortune
Performance Lake is an outdoor dancing fountain in between Wynn and Casino Lisboa. Shows are every 15 minutes. The Tree of Prosperity and Dragon of Fortune are lights and sound shows inside Wynn Hotel.

Of course, you can enjoy the casino lights by taking a stroll around the Casino Lisboa area. The various casinos offer free shuttle services to major points around Macau and Cotai so just ask the information desk where to hop on them.

There are more activities to talk about and I'll keep on updating this post as more information comes in. Did I miss anything? Check out the MGTO website for even more activities from greyhound racing to tours on a 9-seat, chauffeur-driven replica of a 1920s English bus!

Macau: Restaurante Litoral serves the best Macanese cuisine

Have you ever tried Macanese cuisine? We all know Macau is very much Chinese. But with hundreds of years under Portuguese rule, Macau has developed a distinct cuisine that it can call its own. And the best place to savor genuine Macanese cuisine is at Restaurante Litoral.

It's a really cozy restaurant very close to the A-Ma Temple. We were served a bevy of Macanese dishes from such as Chamussa (curry beef cakes) MOP60 which is quite similar to the samosa from India where Portugal also had territories, Vinagrete de Lulas (squid with vinegar) MOP80 which is like kilawin, Croquetes de Carne (meat rolls) MOP60, Pipis a Litoral (chicken giblets a Litoral) MOP68 which is best eaten with bread dipped in its flavorful sauce, Peixe no Forno a Litoral (baked fresh fish) MOP148, and Caril de Camarao e Carne de Caranguejo (curry shrimp with crab meat) MOP158.

The highlight of the lunch was the Galinha Africana (African chicken) MOP180 which was really good. I just kept on nibbling on the juicy and spicy pieces of chicken.

We had a dessert overload after lunch. They let us try the Mousse de Chocolate (chocolate mousse), Bebinca de Leite (coconut milk custard) which was my favorite, Pudim de Ovos (egg pudding), Gelatina de Coco (coconut gelatine), Pudim de Manga (manggo pudding), Serradura Biscuit Mousse Molotov (egg yolk souffle), and Pudim de Cafe (coffee pudding).

If you care for more, there are other highly-recommended Macanese restaurants. Here's the list:

Restaurante Litoral
Rua do Almirante Sergio, 261-A, Macau
Tel. +853 28967878

A Lorcha
Rua Almirante Sergio No. 289, Macau
Tel. +853 28313193

Restaurante Escada
Rua de Se Nº 8, Macau (Leal Senado Square)
Tel. +853 28966900 / 28389229

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Macau: 360 Cafe, world's highest bungee jump by AJ Hackett and more from Macau Tower

Ever wonder where the best view of Macau can be found. It's at the Macau Tower of course, 338-meter high communications that hosts restaurants with breathtaking views of Macau and Taipa, as well as AJ Hacket's Bungy Jump, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world.

First order of the day was a trip to the up to the observation deck for a grand view of Macau. Tickets cost MOP/HK$100 for adults and MOP/HK$50 for kids aged to 11. Kids below 3 years old are free of charge.

The observation deck gives you a 360 degree view of Macau. And to make things a bit more exciting, some parts have glass floors which you can walk on and look all the way down to the street!

A few floors up is AJ Hacket Macau Tower, a must-try for thrill seekers. As I mentioned, the Bungy Jump is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world!

The Bungy Jump, which includes an exclusive t-shirt, certificate and membership card, costs MOP1,688 or US$218. The Skywalk X, which is walking around the top of the tower with a safety harness, costs MOP588 or US$76. The SkyJump, which is a controlled descent ride, costs MOP988 or US$127. Also check out the Mast Climb which is not for the faint-hearted. It costs MOP1,688 or US$218 to climb the mast of Macau Tower.

If you want to purchase the additional CD + DVD + 2 Photos bundle, the full Bungy package costs MOP2,288 or US$295. It looked really tempting but since I still couldn't smile for the photos and video, I decided to wait until a future trip when I was better. Make sure you book since you need prior reservation owing to its popularity among toursits.

If you want to have a meal with a view, check out the buffet lunch or dinner at Cafe 360. The cost of the buffet includes entrance to the tower. Lunch buffet is HK$/MOP198 for adults and HK$MOP148 for children. Dinner buffet is HK$/MOP288 and HK$/MOP188 respectively. For reservations, call (+853) 8988 8622.

The international dinner buffet had a selection so wide (Chinese, Macanese, Japanese, Indian and Western cuisine among others), we didn't know where to start! I don't even remember how many times I returned to the buffet.

Macau: Around Macau's Red Market with Chef Antonio Coelho

The Red Market 紅街市大樓 or the Mercado Almirante Lacerda is a wet market in Macau built in 1936. It's called Red Market because it is constructed out of red bricks. We got to explore the Red Market as we followed Chef Antonio Coelho move around the market to purchase the freshest ingredients for our dinner that same night at Antonio Restaurante.

Well, it's a wet market so nothing you can take home from there unless you will be able to cook when you get back home to your hotel or where you're staying. But it's interesting to visit it and walk around.

Outside the main market building is a street market with stalls that sell almost every ingredient in the Chinese kitchen. That I guess means anything and everything!

Macau: Popular Macau delicacies and top food finds (Macau pasalubong)

While Macau has so many popular delicacies to savor and take back home, there are five food finds which people can't stop raving about. A lot of tourists take them home for pasalubong. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Portuguese egg tarts 葡撻
Portuguese egg tarts are modifications of the Portuguese custard pastry called pastéis de nata. The original Macau version is a creation of Lord Stow's Café 安德魯餅店葡塔 in Coloane Island. The owner, a Briton named Andrew Stow, following the same pastel de nata recipe, baked the egg tarts using techniques in making English custard tarts. The main feature of the egg tart is a caramelized custard with a crème brûlée-like consistency inside a puff pastry case.

Aside from Lord Stow's, another popular source for the Portuguese egg tarts would be Margaret's Cafe e Nata 瑪嘉烈葡塔 which is near the Grand Lisboa. The store was quite hard to find since it's in one of the side streets. Good thing I had a photo of the egg tarts in my phone so I was able to ask locals for directions by showing the photo. When we arrived there, the line was quite long, proof that the egg tarts are much sought after. One piece is HK$/MOP7 while a box of six is HK$/MOP40. We bought two boxes, enough supply until breakfast the next day!

2. Bakkwa (jerky or dried meat) 肉干
Walking towards the Ruins of St. Paul, it's impossible to miss the stalls selling bakkwa. In fact, the vendors will try to grab your attention by talking to you in broken Filipino and offering you a free taste. These sweet or spicy preserved meats are another popular Macau delicacy you might want to take home. Price depends on the type of meat and the flavor.

3. Almond cookies 杏仁餅
Another treat you'll see while walking to the Ruins of St. Paul are almond cookies, which are also referred to as almond cakes or almond biscuits. In fact, don't be surprised if the hawkers start offering a free taste, hoping to get you to buy more.

One of the more popular stores for these yummy cookies is the Pastelaria Koi Kei. I got my box of almond cookies from a neighborhood pastelaria that was off the beaten track, somewhere near Macau's Red Market for HK$/MOP20 a box.

There are variations to the almond cakes including almond cake with yolk 蟹黃肉心杏仁餅, almond cake with sesame and peanut 芝麻花生杏仁餅, and almond cake with almond bits 杏粒杏仁餅.

4. Phoenix rolls 紫菜肉鬆鳯凰卷
Phoenix rolls are something I discovered only on this trip. While at that neighborhood pastelaria near Macau's Red Market, I decided to try everything by buying one piece of each pastry which was displayed in glass jars on the counter. And the phoenix rolls caught my fancy. Phoenix rolls are egg rolls with shredded pork and seaweed.

Phoenix rolls actually fall under the category of egg rolls 蛋餅 which includes the traditional egg roll 傳統蛋捲, and egg rolls with pork floss 肉鬆蛋捲.

5. Crunchy peanut candy 花生糖
Another popular delicacy sold on the way to the Ruins of St. Paul, these crunchy peanut candies are Macau's version of peanut brittle. Hawkers also offer as free taste at their stores.

Which is your favorite Macau delicacy?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Macau: Family travel in Macau plus top activities for children

Because Macau has always been known for its casinos, there's an impression that it's not a destination for children. You'd be surprised though there are a lot of things to do for family travel in Macau. While minors are not allowed on the casino gaming floors, there are a lot of activities for children in Macau's large entertainment complexes and resorts.

Here's a list of suggested activities for family travel in Macau as well as top activities for children when in Macau:

1. Visit the Macao Science Center 澳門科學館
With its state of the art planetarium and five floors containing 14 interactive galleries which kids (and those young at heart) will most definitely enjoy, you may want to add the Macao Science Center to your bucket list. The hands-on exhibits feature children's activities, technology, the environment, lifestyle and sports. The complex was designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei.

Tickets to the Exhibition Center cost MOP/HK$25 for adults and MOP/HK$15 for kids 11 years and below and senior citizens aged 65 and above. Children below 2 years old get in for free. Planetarium tickets cost MOP/HK$35 for ordinary shows and MOP/HK$45 for 3D shows. For kids and seniors, it's MOP/HK$20 and MOP/HK$30 respectively. They're open from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

2. Watch Zaia by Cirque de Soleil at the Venetian Macao
At the Venetian Macao, check out Cirque du Soleil's latest production called Zaia. We were wowed by the acrobatics and special effects of the whole show. And it's worth it if it fits your budget. The 90-minute production has a 75-member cast from around the world, including the Philippines.

Ticket prices range from HK$388 to HK$788 for adults and HK$194 to HK$394 for children. VIP tickets are HK$1288. Here's information for booking online.

3. Ride a gondola or visit Qube at the Venetian Macao
If Venice is elusive, try out the gondola rides at the Venetian Macao. The gondoliers will serenade you as you take a leisurely ride through the shops at the Grand Canal. The ride costs MOP/HK$108 for adults, MOP/HK$80 for kids. Unless there are four of you, you might have to share the gondola with other people unless you pay for the entire ride.

The Venetian Macao also has an innovative play zone called Qube. Open to kids aged 4 to 17, the activity center has a 9,000 square-foot children’s playground with a 6-meter-high multi-climbing facility with a free fall slide, rainbow slides, a V-Net bridge, over and under barriers, zig-zag net climbers among others. Teenagers can get on the computers to access the internet, play video games or shoot some pool.

4. Watch Dragon's Treasure (The Bubble) or visit Kids' City at City of Dreams
The Dragon’s Treasure at The Bubble, a dome-shaped theater and one of the iconic landmarks located in City of Dreams, is a spectacular 10-minute lights and sounds show. It's free of charge but you have to get tickets beforehand to watch the show which is every 30 minutes.

City of Dreams also has a children's activity center called Kids' City. With 10,000 square feet of facilities with climbers and slides, video games, a bouncy tent, a painter’s glass easel and lots more, it is said to be Macau's largest kids' attraction.

Take note though that there's a strict dresscode for kids. Children must wear long sleeve shirts, trousers and socks for protection and remove shoes and other sharp objects such as buckles, pens and badges. Kids' City is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

5. Visit the various museums of Macau
Macau has a good number of interesting museums which may be of interest to families. We visited four of them while were there. One of those museums is the Grand Prix Museum which showcases the history of the Macau Grand Prix. It also honors Filipino driver Arsenio "Dodjie" Laurel, the first person to win the Macau Grand Prix back-to-back. He died in a car crash while trying to win his third Macau Grand Prix. Entrance to the Grand Prix Museum and the adjacent Wine Museum is free. Both are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We also got to visit the Macau Museum which features the history and culture of Macau (Praceta do Museu de Macau, No. 112; Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed on Mondays; tickets cost MOP/HK$15, MOP/HK$8 for children aged 5 to 10, students and seniors aged 60 and above; free admission for children under 5 and school visits. Free entry to the public on the 15th of each month) and the Maritime Museum (Largo do Pagode da Barra, 1; Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed on Tuesdays; tickets cost MOP/HK$5 to 10 depending on day, free of charge for kids below 10 and seniors). Here's detailed information on museums in Macau.

6. Spend an afternoon at Macau Fisherman's Wharf 澳門漁人碼頭
Macau Fisherman's Wharf was the first theme park in Macau. Attractions includes East Meets West which has a 40-meter volcano called Vulcania that "erupts" every evening, Inside the volcano is the River of Fire white-water and Dragon Quest rollercoaster rides. Here's more information on Macau Fisherman's Wharf.

7. Visit Wynn Hotel to see the Performance Lake, Tree of Prosperity and Dragon of Fortune
Perfomance Lake is a dancing fountain. While the Tree of Prosperity and Dragon of Fortune are lights and sound shows.

8. Ride up to the top of Macau Tower and bungy jump your way down
Ride the elevator 223 meters up to the observation deck of the Macau Tower for a grand view of Macau. Tickets cost MOP/HK$100 for adults and MOP/HK$50 for kids aged to 11. Kids below 3 years old are free of charge. You can have buffet lunch or dinner at Cafe 360. The cost of the buffet includes entrance to the tower. Lunch buffet is HK$/MOP198 for adults and HK$MOP148 for children. Dinner buffet is HK$/MOP288 and HK$/MOP188 respectively.

For the adventurous families, check out AJ Hacket's SkyJump and Bungy Jump. The Bungy Jump is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world! Tower observation deck admission ticket plus thbe Bungy Jump costs HK$/MOP1,718. If you want to purchase the additional CD + DVD + 2 Photos bundle, the entire package would cost HK$/MOP2,298.

9. See the collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia at the MJ Gallery at Ponte 16
Few people know that a lot of Michael Jackson memorabilia found its way to Macau at the MJ Gallery at Ponte 16. Entrance to the gallery is free.

Significant items in the collection are the white rhinestone glove worn by MJ for his moonwalk debut in 1983 as he performed what was known to be one of recent history’s greatest songs Billie Jean, the Zombie suit worn by MJ for Thriller on MTV, a pair of crystal socks made by Bill Whitten and worn by MJ for his Victory Tour in 1984, the RIAA platinum record award for Bad signed by MJ, bearing his handwritten words "Thanx All My Love, 1998. Michael Jackson," and the We Are The World collection, which includes a signed poster by MJ and other musicians, and the 3x Platinum RIAA Award for the LP among many others.

10. Walk around the Historic Centre of Macao
There's so much to see and do in the old center of Macau. Experience the sights, sounds, scents and flavors of old Macau by walking around its historic center.
Related Posts with Thumbnails