Friday, November 22, 2013

Hungry In Macau

Having hopped around some of the sights in Macau (Fortaleza do Monte, the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, a Buddhist temple, and the Grand Lisboa casino), Pipkin and Domo found themselves rather peckish so they followed the crowd at chow-time.

If the crowd doesn't point you to food, this guy will!
It really is that simple. Find a crowd, and you'll find food. There are a few things that you must try in Macau. If you're a meat-eater like Domo, there's a wide variety of chewy jerky meats:

And if you're a cookie and biscuit lover, then of course you must hit the bakeries in Macau for a tin of cookies. Pipkin's favourite are these almond cookies, which you can see bakers molding in the shop.

The number one thing you must, must, MUST eat in Macau, are Portuguese egg tarts! Unlike Cantonese egg tarts, Portuguese egg tarts have a flakier pastry and the custard has a bruleed top. (Chef Jimmy visited Captain Holly a while back and they baked Hong Kong style egg tarts. Recipe here.)

These are wonderful when warm. Sooo, so tasty, and so, so flaky!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Places of Worship

Macau is not a very big territory, and almost all of it is dense, urban development. It's just over 29 square km (about 11 square miles) and it packs a lot of interesting buildings in a small, walkable space. There are signs in Portuguese, Chinese and English to guide you around. Pipkin and Domo decided to just wander the streets and see where it took them. There is a lot to take in without following a herd of tourists. Pipkin and Domo happened upon this lovely alleyway with only a couple tourists taking photos - a rare treat to find such solitude in the most densely populated region in the world!

The Portuguese colonized Macau in the 1500s and Macau remained under Portuguese authority until 1999. As a result, a lot of the buildings in Macau have a European influence. There are colourful exteriors, shutters on the windows and cobblestone walkways. This alleyway led up to the facade of what remains of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Before they visited the ruins of St. Paul's, they visited this small, humble Buddhist temple behind St. Paul's. This is Na Tcha Temple, built in homage to Na Tcha, a teen folk hero who saved his village and is worshipped as a god of protection. Currently the temple is under repair, but behind the metal fencing the temple is not much bigger than what you see. A long time ago, this temple would have been dwarfed by the adjacent Catholic church.

A peaceful spot in front of Na Tcha Temple, behind St. Paul's Cathedral. Grand Lisboa faces off in the background.
To this day, St. Paul's ruins overshadows this little temple. The Buddhists didn't build this temple in 1888 to compete with the Catholics, rather its existence next to the church reflected Macau's harmonious community relations and multicultural identity. Today, this photo reveals three different types of worship - Buddhism, Catholicism, and Capitalism!

The ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral is a much bigger tourist draw, and it's one of Macau's most famous landmarks. Built from 1582-1602, all that remains after a fire during a typhoon in 1835 is the stone facade and the crypts. The stone facade was carved by Japanese Christians who were exiled from their homeland. Its details include carvings of Jesuit images with Asian themes, like Christians trampling over dragons.

Heading down the 66 steps from the Cathedral Pipkin and Domo were drawn into the packed streets of central Macau...where they went in search of Portuguese Egg Tarts!

Monday, November 4, 2013


So, the thing about Chinese cuisine is...there's not a whole lot of raw veggie action going on. When Pipkin saw this rabbit in Macau he hoped she'd be willing to share some of her carrot.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

TurboJetsetting to Macau

Feelin' like a gangsta in the lobby of the Grand Lisboa
For the weekend, Pipkin and Domo joined the TurboJetset crowd and sailed to Macau by hydrofoil. Macau is a former Portuguese colony made up of two islands just 60 km southwest of Hong Kong. Pipkin was excited to see the mix of Asian and European architecture. Domo was psyched to do a little gambling. Macau is known as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient", and when the major American hotels and casinos began operations in Macau a few years ago, Macau became bigger for gambling than Las Vegas.

Armed with his lucky labbit's foot (four of them! That's even luckier!) Domo went to Grand Lisboa, easily recognised in Macau as the tallest building. He tried his hand at Pai Gow, Mah Jong and Fan Tan before hitting the blackjack and poker tables. Sorry for the lack of photos, but photography on the casino floor is forbidden. To sum up, let's just say Pipkin's feet are not so lucky, and Macau's economy is in better shape than it was before they arrived on the island.

A little to the right...
Domo was disappointed to lose, but his spirits lifted when Pipkin took him to Fortaleza do Monte, a fort built in the early 1600s by the Jesuits to defend Macau.

A plan started to form in Domo's mind.

But nothing came of his plan. Curses! You just can't trust centuries old ordnance.

Friday, November 1, 2013

DingDing! Upper Deck to Happy Valley

A fun way to see Hong Kong is to ride on one of its famous DingDing* trams. Hong Kong runs double decker trams exclusively on its tramway system, and for a small sum of money, you can climb aboard the upper deck, sit back and watch the city go by.

It's not only a great way to people watch, but getting on a tram will allow you to see the various neighborhoods of Hong Kong, from the modern glass and concrete skyscrapers of the financial district, the ritzy designer shops in the shopping mecca of Causeway Bay, the energy of the race track (you can see the horses race from the tram!) to densely packed residential apartments and street level open air markets.

Trams run frequently during peak hours. You'll only have to wait 90 seconds before the next one comes by. So load up your Octopus Card and give yourself a couple hours to go back and forth from Shau Kei Wan to Kennedy Town. Look! Here comes the next tram...

*Residents of Hong Kong call the trams "DingDing" after the double bell sound that warns pedestrians of a tram's approach.

Set Sail For Treasure Island!

Domo promised Pipkin that today they would head out in search of pirate treasure! Pipkin was really looking forward to a fun day of adventure, but the weather was all grey and rainy.

Domo wasn't too upset. He had just the thing to cheer Pip up.

Sometimes a little southern hip hop and Crunky chocolate is just the thing to turn that frown upside down.

They watched the scenery go by from inside the ferry, and after nearly an hour, they arrived on Cheung Chau island (Cantonese for "Long Island"), where famed pirate Cheung Po Tsai hid his treasures in a cave.

For the most part, Cheung Chau island is a fishing village with residences, and its narrow laneways limit traffic to bicycles, walking, and specially designed little fire trucks and ambulances. The ferry from Central drops you off at a main terminal on Cheung Chau island, and you have to take a smaller boat to the other side of the island to get to the pirate cave. Pipkin and Domo checked out the modern day treasures of Cheung Chau - seafood!

A short water taxi ride later, Pipkin and Domo arrived at Cheung Po Tsai's pirate cave.

Pretty nice view for a pirate cave! You can see how big a bay of water Cheung Po Tsai had near by for his 600+ pirate ships. He had a pirate crew of over 50,000. These islands can hide a lot of booty.

Good thing Pip and Domo are small enough to crawl in here. (Entrance is between the rocks on the left.)

It's pretty dark down there, but cavernous! Lots of treasures could have been held down there. Sadly, it's too dark for pictures, and Pip and Domo aren't going to tell you what things they took out of the cave. You'll just have to visit yourself. You might even find some pirates, hanging out at the other end of the cave.