In both Macau and Hong Kong most people live in small, cramped apartments. Few people can have the luxury of having a big pet so caged birds or pet fish are popular. It is a common practice in both places to take your pet bird out for a walk to give it a bit of fresh air. People also take their bird cage to the nearest park and hang it on a tree for a while for the same reason. The caged birds in the photos are taking the air in the lovely Luis de Camoes Park.
This park is called after Portugal's national poet. One of the park's main attractions is the grotto where the famous poet worked on his epic poem, Os Lusíadas, while he was living in Macau. At the entrance to the grotto there is a small bust, commemorating Camoes and his poem.
At the entrance to the garden there is a fountain with an abstract bronze statue, called the Embrace. This statue symbolizes the ties of friendship between Portugal and China.
The park is across the road from the lovely St Anthony's Church and right next door to the fascinating Protestant cemetery.
I love this cemetery because the inscriptions on the grave stones are so informative revealing that the people buried there fell off the crow's nest of a ship, or fell down an open trap door on a ship at night during a terrible storm, or died of a tropical fever. Some relatives of Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer are even buried here.
At Chinese New Year many animal decorations will be placed around the streets, shopping malls, hotels etc representing the animal whose year it is changing to. This decoration must be from 2005 the last year of the rooster.
During the lion dance and dragon dance ceremonies fire crackers are lit. These make an incredible deafening sound like multiple gun shots. They are supposed to drive away bad luck and evil spirits. Fire crackers are allowed in Macau but banned in Hong Kong (though you can still hear them from time to time). As well as being very loud, they are also a fire hazard and quite terrifying.
Lion dancing started more than a thousand years ago. The lion is seen as a protector able to drive away evil spirits. This is why many Chinese temples and palaces have lion statues guarding their entrances. A lion dance is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity, therefore, it is often performed on special occasons, such as festivals, weddings, the opening of a new business and at Chinese New Year.
Performances normally involve two dancers. One is hidden under the head of the costume; the other is under the tail. The dance is accompanied by the sound of a drum, cymbals and gong. The loud noise drives away bad luck and evil spirits. Performances are often very acrobatic involving balancing on ropes or jumping from stand to stand. The dancer under the head also potrays the emotions of the lion by making its head and eyes move.
We have been lucky enough to spend several Chinese New years in Macau. During one when we were staying at the Hyatt Hotel on Taipa, we brought the new year in with fire crackers, dragon dancing and lion dancing.
Dragon Dancing started in China during the Han Dynasty. The emperors of Ancient China considered themselves to be dragons. The dragon represents supernatural power, goodness, fertility and dignity. Dragon dances are a common feature of Chinese New Year celebrations to usher in good luck.
With the Portuguese present in Macau from the 16th century until 1999, one would expect a huge diversity in architectural styles, similar to Hong Kong. In truth, Macau rapidly lost its prestige and importance as Hong Kong’s fortunes improved, leaving it a bit neglected in the 19th and 20th centuries. There is a heavy emphasis on Mannerist and Baroque buildings in Macau, marking the heyday of the colony in the 16th and 17th centuries. You can also find a several good examples of both neo-Renaissance and neo-Classical architecture, although there isn’t really a section of the city that stands out in terms of these particular paradigms. Sadly, there aren’t a whole lot of examples of the futurist style of the Fascist area, although there is one prominent building in the Largo do Senado. Modern architecture appears to be dominated by the garish and ugly constructions for casinos, which help to add to Macau’s reputation as a sleazy gambling city.
In addition to azulejos, Macau’s Portuguese feel is enhanced by calçadas, or the typically Portuguese cobblestone streets. As in Lisbon, it is quite easy to find examples of black and white patterns all around the city. In the area near the Cathedral, there is a good example of a ship made out of black tiles on a white background. Most of the patterns that are found around the city are geometric ones, rather than actual images, but it is still a good idea to keep your eyes to the ground to look out for something interesting!
In addition to Mannerist and Baroque architecture and calçadas (cobblestone streets), azulejos are a typically Portuguese art form that has been very successfully exported to Macau. Azulejos are found most easily in the area near the Cathedral and Dominican church, although there are examples elsewhere in the city. The thing that is a bit surprising (or perhaps not), is that the azulejos are largely in keeping with the Portuguese tradition. I’m not an expert on Portuguese or Chinese art, but what struck me is that there is little to no Chinese influence on this particular art form. It seems surprising, given that Chinese artists are famous for their pottery and glazing, but perhaps this was one particular aspect of Portuguese culture that did not pass on to the local inhabitants.
I noticed that there were many stores selling these one foot by one foot pieces of meat. It looked like beef jerky, but about a centimeter thick. Depending on how big you want the pieces, the store clerk would cut the pieces with a pair of scissors. There were many of these merchants and all were doing brisk business. I'm not sure if this is a Macau specialty, but I've not seen this anywhere else. Some of the different types were spicy, garlic, lamb, beef, etc
Saw this illustration as display inside the Macau Museum. Seeing those games, we can really trace some of our own sets of games from the Chinese. We have a modified games like that here in the Philippines.
I wonder if children in Macau still play those stuff. Filipino children still do.
Although it's likely to be a slight disadvantage... it's better just to spend in HKD so dun bother with changing Macau dollars because I was told you can't get it changed back to your home currency as Macau dollars are only accepted in Macau?
How true is this?
Macau has very beautiful cobbled streets. The government has made great efforts in preserving this as seen in the main picture where men are repairing even a small patch of ruined tiles.
My mom used to tell me...she has not seen a small patch of earth here...all tiles!
If in the Philippines we have the "jeepneys" ... in Thailand, they have the "tuk-tuk" ... in Cambodia, the "bicycles" ... in Macau, the king is the "scooters"! They are everywhere so be careful when crossing the street.
Small altars outside the homes and shops are a common sight. You'll see flowers, sometimes fruits and incense being offered here. Macau is rich in culture where Christianity and Buddhism co-exist in harmony.
In ancient times the wives of fishermen went into a cave (Gua) for praying for happy returns of their husbands. It was here where the A-MA legends was founded. The Goddess A-Ma (Mother, Who Is Honoured) granted Her name to this island-place by a miraculous legend.
According to the A-Ma legend, there was a beautiful but poor girl, named Lin/Tin. She managed to save the small vessel of a poor fisherman during a fearfully storm. Ships of some rich sailors had refused to take the girl onboard so the poor fisherman picked up the girl. While all rich sailors lost their ships, and their lives, the poor fisherman got ashore safely, and the girl at once got transformed into a goddess, engulfing in a ray of light. A temple was built by the grateful fisherman in the cave where the beautification eventuated, dedicated to Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven, protectress of seafarers.
People still pay honour and respect to the Mother, Who Is Honoured, and dedicated a huge image to the legendary A-MA. Even the A-MA has been confused with the Bodhisattva Quan Yin, the Goddess Kannon/Kwan Yin, and the famous KUN IAM from Macau ...
Believe it or not, my picture is from a little statue I got from my brother!