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Macau: Charming mix of landmarks, lights

Vela Andapita

The Jakarta Post

Macau  /  Fri, April 19, 2019  /  11:41 am
Macau: Charming mix of landmarks, lights

Landmark: Built in the 1600s, St. Paul's Church was burned during a typhoon in 1835, leaving only the beautiful granite facade and 68-stone step staircase. The Ruins of St. Paul's, as it is known today, is one of Macau’s best-known landmarks. (JP/Vela Andapita)

The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) recently invited The Jakarta Post on a six-day trip to Macau, visiting a number of its iconic tourist attractions on the Macau Peninsula as well as the islands of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane.

 

It was a fine day back in the early 1500s when the first Portuguese sailors landed near A-Ma temple on the southern shoreline of China.

They asked the name of the place, and the locals answered “A ma gao”, which means the place of A Ma the Goddess of Seafarers. The Portuguese adopted the name and later, under the authority of the Chinese emperor, used the area as a port and established a city there.

The name gradually changed to Macau or Macao, as it is now known.

Fast forward to the 21st century, the A-Ma temple is now one out of 22 monuments included in the Historic Center of Macau list. UNESCO inscribed the list as a World Heritage Site in 2005.

The temple was built in 1488 and is still being used as a house of worship. It contains a variety of pavilions that welcome observers of various beliefs: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, among others.

Sea goddess temple: A Ma temple is Macau’s oldest temple, built in 1488 to commemorate the sacred sea goddess who blesses fishermen. The temple still functions as a house of worship.Sea goddess temple: A Ma temple is Macau’s oldest temple, built in 1488 to commemorate the sacred sea goddess who blesses fishermen. The temple still functions as a house of worship. (JP/Vela Andapita)

As you walk your way from the A-Ma temple to the northern part of the Macau Peninsula, numerous beautifully preserved buildings and monuments displaying a fusion of cultures from East and West are a sight to behold. One example is a row of European pastel colored neo-classical buildings blended with Chinese ornamentation and vibrant colors.

In Senado Square, churches and temples stand close to each other, reflecting Macau’s multicultural identity and religious freedom.

The 19th century Na Tcha temple is just a stone’s throw from the 16th century St. Dominic’s and “Mater Dei” churches, which was destroyed by fire in 1835 and is currently known as the ruins of St. Paul’s College.

Take your time in the square as it is packed with various stores and a lot of Instagrammable spots. To enhance your experience, rent a Chinese traditional long dress called the Qi Pao from a place named Qi Yuan.

The 338-meter tall Macau Tower offers plenty of memorable experiences, from a sumptuous romantic dinner in Macau’s highest 360-degree revolving restaurant to daring sports like a tower climb, skywalk and taking the world’s highest bungy jump (233 meters).

360 degrees dinner: Macau Tower’s restaurant rotates fully every one-and-a-half hours, which is a truly unique and romantic experience.360 degrees dinner: Macau Tower’s restaurant rotates fully every one-and-a-half hours, which is a truly unique and romantic experience. (JP/Vela Andapita)

A seafood platter costs MOP 520 (US$64.34) per person. The adrenaline-fueled adventures, meanwhile, ranges from MOP 888 for a skywalk to MOP 3,588 for a bungy jump.

The next day, you can start your journey from Macau’s southernmost island, Coloane. It is a quiet coastal village that offers serenity and an array of Portuguese dishes that would amuse your palate.

Take a bite into Macau’s past through the signature Portuguese egg tart at Lord Stow’s Bakery, which is located near St. Francis Xavier’s Chapel. One delicate egg tart only costs MOP 10.

Founded by Englishman Andrew Stow in 1989, the bakery started the egg tart trend that spread across Macau.

Iconic tart: Portuguese egg tart from Lord Stow’s Bakery is a must-try delicacy on Coloane Island. Iconic tart: Portuguese egg tart from Lord Stow’s Bakery is a must-try delicacy on Coloane Island. (JP/Vela Andapita)

For lunch, try a restaurant named Miramar that offers only Portuguese food with an assortment of cheese, codfish, olive oil, wine and beer from Portugal breweries.

Miramar, only a 10-minute drive from Coloane Town Square, offers a balcony dining area overlooking Hac Sa Beach. The restaurant’s signature dishes include octopus salad, clams cooked in cheese sauce, and rice and seafood cooked in sour thick broth.

For the best shopping and nightlife experience, you can head to Cotai, reclaimed land between the islands of Coloane and Taipa. Cotai boasts a number of top-class hotels and fancy malls.

Take the Venetian and the Parisian Macao hotels and shopping malls for example.

A gondola ride down the canals inside the Venetian will take its passengers to the beauty of San Luca and Marco Polo in Venezia. Venetian ambience gets stronger as the gondolier serenades while rowing the boat.

You will get a taste of Paris as you explore the other side of the property. There is an Eiffel Tower replica towering at 162 meters, or half of the real one’s height.

Visitors can ride elevators to reach the tower’s observation deck on the seventh and 37th floors to take pictures with the Eiffel Tower in the background or simply to enjoy Macau’s scenery from up above.

Night lights: At night, Macau is drenched in sparkling lights. High-rise buildings, like the famous Grand Lisboa, welcome tourists with various world-class entertainment.Night lights: At night, Macau is drenched in sparkling lights. High-rise buildings, like the famous Grand Lisboa, welcome tourists with various world-class entertainment. (JP/Vela Andapita)

However, if you are craving for a more adventurous experience, then Studio City and Broadway are the answers.

Studio City offers various exciting shows and facilities for adrenaline junkies. One of its shows, Elēkrŏn, features dramatic, dangerous and daredevil circus acts involving acrobatics, parkour and pyrotechnics.

You may also want to take a ride on Studio City’s Golden Reel, the world’s first and Asia’s highest figure-8 Ferris wheel.

 

Macau at a glance

There are approximately 600,000 people living in Macau, 90 percent of whom are ethnic Chinese who speak Cantonese. Macau’s official currency is the pataca, with one US dollar equal to roughly eight patacas. However, using the Hong Kong dollar is acceptable.

Located in a subtropical climate zone, Macau has a moderate weather throughout the year with the average temperature ranging from 20 to 26 degrees Celsius. October to December is the best time to visit Macau, as its autumns are warmth with low humidity.

 

-- (The Parisian Macao./-)

Parisian Gourmet Festival 2019

The Parisian Macao celebrates French cuisine, wine and entertainment at its second Parisian Gourmet Festival, which runs until June 9.

The festival takes place at the Eiffel Tower’s observation deck from Wednesdays to Sundays.

Visitors can enjoy an extensive selection of French cuisine and beverages while glancing at the stunning views of Taipa and the Cotai strip with live music being played throughout the evening. The culinary highlights include freshly shucked oysters, flambéed skewers and a selection of wine and champagne.