A Travellerspoint blog

Cold, cold, cold.

A wintry weekend in Macau.

OK, so the temperatures never plummet to zero or below here, but the absence of heating in buildings or on transport means that when it gets cold in Hong Kong or Macau, there is nowhere to escape it, except under the bed quilts clutching a hot-water bottle.

We booked our favourite Macau hotel - the Grand Lapa - before temperatures dipped severely. Our intention was to swim in their outdoor heated pool, but that most certainly did not happen. Instead we just relaxed, ate, drank and took in a bit of culture.

We lucked out at the start of our stay, because when we checked in to the hotel, they gave us a free upgrade to a suite as they were not really busy and we are frequent visitors here.

Our suite was bigger than our flat - not that that's hard - with a sitting-room, bedroom, toilet, bathroom and two balconies.

Our cosy sitting-room.

Our cosy sitting-room.

Our even cosier bedroom.

Our even cosier bedroom.

Braving our balcony albeit briefly.

Braving our balcony albeit briefly.

View from our balcony over Fisherman's Wharf.

View from our balcony over Fisherman's Wharf.

View from our balcony over the Macau Grand Prix track.

View from our balcony over the Macau Grand Prix track.

View of the hotel.

View of the hotel.

We really made the most of our accommodation, enjoying the space and the peace and quiet. We ate that night in the hotel bar, taking in some of the live music being performed there. The beer was good, the food was just OK, nothing spectacular, except for the fantastic cod balls, which we both agreed were the best ones we have ever had - just four plates of these next visit, I think !!!!

The hotel bar.

The hotel bar.

Best cod balls ever.

Best cod balls ever.

Next day after checking out, we hit some of Macau's museums to get out of the cold. We began by visiting the Handover Gifts Museum. This museum displays the gifts given to Macau when it returned to China in 1999. There is a gift from every region of China and each gift reflects something about that region's culture or history. This is a free entry museum and it is very popular with large tour groups from China.

One of the handover gifts.

One of the handover gifts.

A second gift.

A second gift.

Gift from Tibet.

Gift from Tibet.

In the other half of the same building there was a temporary exhibition on design which was quite colourful to have a look at.

Design Exhibition.

Design Exhibition.

Design Exhibition.

Design Exhibition.

After visiting the Handover Gifts Museum, we headed to the art museum. It had exhibitions mainly connected with Chinese characters. I would imagine these were quite clever, but as we cannot read Chinese characters, they went totally over our heads.

Much more interesting for us was an exhibition about propaganda, featuring some of the art work used to 're-educate' people during the days of Chairman Mao. Typical examples run along the line of 'Ha used to enjoy looking at pictures of movie stars and dream about living in capitalistic and immoral Hong Kong. Then she studied the teachings of Mao Zedong and burnt the movie star pictures and fully embraced her richly fulfilling life within the motherland.

Clutching the little red book.

Clutching the little red book.

Dreaming of a movie star lifestyle.

Dreaming of a movie star lifestyle.

Learning the error of her ways.

Learning the error of her ways.

Dreaming of Hong Kong, but strengthening herself morally by studying the teachings of Mao.

Dreaming of Hong Kong, but strengthening herself morally by studying the teachings of Mao.

Those little red books again.

Those little red books again.

Another aspect of this museum I liked were the elegant Chinese advertisement posters which date back to around the 1930's. I think these are actually really beautiful and would not mind some on my walls at home.

Elegant poster art.

Elegant poster art.

We also took a quick look at an exhibition on Chinese weapons.

Ready for a fight.

Ready for a fight.

Then we walked through Fisherman's Wharf which was nicely decorated in preparation for welcoming in The Year of the Dog. We were pleased to see some of the ducks that had been brought out to welcome the big duck created by Dutch artist Florentine Hofmann were back out and decorated for new year.

Getting ready for New Year.

Getting ready for New Year.

Those ducks again.

Those ducks again.

Getting ready for New Year.

Getting ready for New Year.

We ate in The Talay Thai which we always like to visit as it has a lovely setting, friendly staff and good value Portuguese beer. After that we walked back to the ferry terminal, stopping to purchase some Mateus white wine before boarding. The bad weather ensured a rather bumpy journey back to chilly Hong Kong.

The Talay Thai inside....

The Talay Thai inside....

..... and out.

..... and out.

Posted by irenevt 00:24 Archived in Macau Comments (5)

Medical Maladies in Macau

A Trip to remember for all the wrong reasons.

My husband is excellent at birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmases, Valentines Days. He always has been. He will get up in the night and leave secret trails to hidden presents, or write a set of cryptic clues to work out what a present is and where it is hidden. Often his presents include weekends away or trips to the theatre or other treats. This year as part of my birthday treat he took me to Macau for two nights. It should have been wonderful except that I got more and more ill as the trip progressed and ultimately had to return home early.

Our trip started out well. We took the high speed ferry from Hong Kong to Macau and after a fairly smooth journey arrived at the Macau ferry terminal from where we boarded a shuttle to the Grand Coloane Hotel. At check in we were given a free upgrade to a sea view room. We have only ever had garden view rooms here before. The difference is simply that sea view rooms are on higher floors from which is a lovely view over Hac Sa Bay. Hac Sa is Chinese for black sands and the sand colour comes from previous volcanic activity in the area.

Our room was very comfortable with two queen size beds and a large balcony where we could sip drinks while gazing out over the sea. Coloane is the one remaining peaceful part of Macau, away from all the bright lights and casino madness.

Our room.

Our room.

Peter in our room.

Peter in our room.

Our balcony.

Our balcony.

After relaxing for a while we decided to go for a swim in the outdoor pool. This hotel has two pools: an outdoor one and an indoor one. The water was quite cold, colder than in the pool we swim in in Hong Kong, but we did not let that put us off. The outdoor pool here is not very deep. It is in two sections divided by bridges which it is possible to swim under. On our previous visit there was a crazed swimmer here swimming manically up and down, knocking everyone including small children out of his way. Fortunately, there was no sign of him on this visit. When we had swum so long we were starting to turn to blocks of ice, we headed for the indoor pool with its delightfully heated Jacuzzi - a most welcome sight.

A view of the pool from our hotel room.

A view of the pool from our hotel room.

Night swim.

Night swim.

Swimming next morning.

Swimming next morning.

Me in the jacuzzi.

Me in the jacuzzi.

The indoor pool.

The indoor pool.

Before going for our swim, we took the lift up to the roof of the hotel. There is a private restaurant for members of the Macau Golf Club up here. We are not members, so could not go in, but we could enjoy some excellent views over Hac Sa as the sun began to set.

Sunset over Hac Sa Beach.

Sunset over Hac Sa Beach.

Up on the roof.

Up on the roof.

A day time view from the roof.

A day time view from the roof.

After swimming we decided to have dinner in the Cafe Panorama. It most definitely does not have the best food in Macau, but it is a pleasant place to eat. For a couple of weeks before the trip I had been having severe pains down one side of my face more, or less following the lines of my sinuses. I had foolishly just tried to ignore them. We ordered our meal. My husband had club sandwich and I had African chicken, a spicy coconut chicken dish, that was actually invented in Macau in the 1940's. I soon discovered I was struggling to eat it with severe facial pains and an inability to chew on my left side. It was much easier just to drink the refreshingly cold beer!! After dinner I was searching our luggage for pain killers, something I very rarely use.

My African chicken.

My African chicken.

Peter's club sandwich.

Peter's club sandwich.

Next day after another swim, we set off for our second hotel, one we had never stayed in before - the Sofitel at Ponte 16. My facial pains were worse and I was starting to swell up on one side.

We took the hotel shuttle back to the Macau Ferry pier. It was too early to go to the next hotel, as check in was not until 3pm, so we walked along the waterfront to Fisherman's Wharf and had lunch in the Talay Thai - our favourite Thai restaurant in Macau and one of the few places where it is still possible to get Portuguese beer. We shared a green curry with pork, chicken cashew nuts, steam rice and superbock beers, on offer at two for the price of one. I did my best to eat, but my face and mouth were still causing me huge amounts of pain.

Fake remains at Fisherman's Wharf.

Fake remains at Fisherman's Wharf.

Me at Fisherman's Wharf.

Me at Fisherman's Wharf.

Peter at Fisherman's Wharf.

Peter at Fisherman's Wharf.

Talay Thai.

Talay Thai.

Trying to smile through the pain.

Trying to smile through the pain.

Peter with our very delicious meal.

Peter with our very delicious meal.

After the meal we walked back to the ferry pier and took the free hotel shuttle to the Sofitel. This hotel is set right in the old part of Macau on the Pearl River Delta overlooking mainland China. I was looking forward to re-exploring the old town, but sadly that was not to be. Again we were given a free upgrade, guess we lucked out in some ways on this trip. Our beautiful, comfortable room had fantastic views over the Pearl River with its fascinating constant chaos of river traffic. We went swimming in an even colder pool than the Grand Coloane's. Brrrrrr!!!

The Sofitel at Ponte 16.

The Sofitel at Ponte 16.

Our room.

Our room.

Our room.

Our room.

The pool from our room.

The pool from our room.

A passing boat.

A passing boat.

Me in the pool.

Me in the pool.

On our way to the pool we discovered the hotel had good views over inland Macau as well. After swimming, we watched the sun go down over the Pearl River - a beautiful and soothing sight.

Looking over Macau towards the Macau Tower.

Looking over Macau towards the Macau Tower.

View over Macau.

View over Macau.

Sunset over the Pearl River.

Sunset over the Pearl River.

Sunset over the Pearl River.

Sunset over the Pearl River.

Gazing into China.

Gazing into China.

Over the water into China.

Over the water into China.

That evening we went for drinks and some delicious Macau cod cakes in the Rendezvouz Bar. My face was even more swollen than before and I was starting to find it hard to speak. After a night of tossing and turning in agony, I awoke to find my face and gums so swollen I could scarcely open my eye on one side. I had had enough. I gave in and called a dentist. I was given an appointment for later that day in Hong Kong. We had to abandon plans to walk the old town; we just took a very rushed stroll to a nearby Chinese temple. I believe it was Hong Kung Temple, a 200-year-old temple dedicated to Li Lie, a Han-dynasty general. Then we headed to the ferry back home, purchasing a couple of bottles of Portuguese wine on route. One painful tooth extraction later I am finally getting back to normal.

The Rendezvous Bar.

The Rendezvous Bar.

Chinese temple.

Chinese temple.

Chinese temple.

Chinese temple.

Chinese temple.

Chinese temple.

Typical old town Macau street.

Typical old town Macau street.

Posted by irenevt 20:28 Archived in Macau Comments (2)

Coloane Island Previous visits.

Visits in the past

Since I started writing about Coloane in this blog following a very recent visit, I decided to dig out old Coloane photos and scan them in order to present a wider picture of the quiet end of Macau. After all no-one knows how long this peaceful place will survive.

When we moved to Hong Kong in 1996, Coloane and Taipa were separate islands. Now they are joined due to all the land reclamation that created the Cotai Strip. As frequent visitors to Macau, we watched this transformation take place.

Coloane was for a long time our preferred place to stay in Macau. We frequently stayed in the Pousada de Coloane which is located next to Cheoc Van Beach . Cheoc Van means Bamboo Bay. It is a golden sand beach; in contrast with Coloane's larger Hac Sa or Black Sand Beach. When we stayed in the Pousada de Coloane, we often ate in the Italian Restaurant that overlooked Cheoc Van Beach. I have forgotten the restaurant's name, but assume it must have been La Gondola Italian restaurant as this is located in the right place. It may have had a different name in the past.

Me in the Pousada de Coloane when I was young. Cheoc Van Beach behind me.

Me in the Pousada de Coloane when I was young. Cheoc Van Beach behind me.

A younger version of my husband at the Pousada de Coloane.

A younger version of my husband at the Pousada de Coloane.

Another place well worth seeing in Coloane is the lovely Coloane Village. When you get off the bus here at Eanes Square, you are very near the famous Lord Stow's Bakery which does the best Portuguese egg tarts in Macau. This is the original bakery, but now Lord Stow's is so successful they have opened shops in lots of other parts of Macau.

Coloane Village has some lovely old, narrow streets to wander through. Stroll down to the sea front and look across the water. It is not far to Mainland China. There is a lovely walkway along the waterfront. Chances are there will be fish drying in the sun down here. Make sure to visit the beautiful old Chapel of Saint Francis Xavier. There is also a lovely old library building - the Biblioteca - and some Chinese temples. There are a few restaurants here, too. We have not yet tried them.

Street in Coloane Village.

Street in Coloane Village.

Street in Coloane Village.

Street in Coloane Village.

Old Portuguese style post box.

Old Portuguese style post box.

Fish drying in the sun on the waterfront.

Fish drying in the sun on the waterfront.

The Chapel of St Francis Xavier.

The Chapel of St Francis Xavier.

Peter wandering an old village street.

Peter wandering an old village street.

Walkway along the waterfront.

Walkway along the waterfront.

The Library.

The Library.

Coloane also has a park called Seac Pai Van Park. This is nowadays best known as the home of the Giant Panda Pavillion. In 2014 President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, decided to offer a pair of giant pandas to Macao. These pandas are called Xin Xin and Kai Kai. I have not visited them yet.

We walked through Seac Pai Van Park a few years before the arrival of these pandas to get on a trail to climb up to the huge A Ma goddess statue on top of Coloane's highest mountain - Alto de Coloane.

A Ma is the founding goddess of Macau and Macau takes its name from her. She is known as the protector of sailors and seafarers. Her other names are Matsu or Tin Hau. There is a lovely old temple to A Ma on Mainland Macau. The statue of AMa is 19.99 metres high. This is to commemorate 1999 when Macau returned to Mainland China. The statue was erected in 1998. Apparently there is now a cultural village next to the statue, but I think we visited before it was built as I do not remember it at all. There is now also a shuttle bus up to the village and statue, but when we went we walked in the heat - a bit of a killer really.

A younger me walking up to the statue of A Ma.

A younger me walking up to the statue of A Ma.

My husband on the trail to the statue.

My husband on the trail to the statue.

Me in front of the statue.

Me in front of the statue.

The statue of A Ma.

The statue of A Ma.

Posted by irenevt 00:02 Archived in Macau Comments (3)

Coloane Island

A Quieter Side to Macau.

Macau can be a crazy place: crowds, traffic, heat, noise. It can feel claustrophobic and oppressive. Thankfully, for the time being, there is still part of it with greenery, nature, beaches, peace and tranquillity. That part is Coloane Island. Who knows how long this haven will survive?

We stayed on Coloane very recently - May 2017. On this occasion we spent a night in the Grand Coloane Hotel. The Grand Coloane Hotel used to be the Westin Resort and it was one of the most expensive and exclusive and poshest hotels in Macau, but that was before restrictions on building casinos were removed and Macau turned into the Las Vegas of the east with grand hotels like the Venetian, the Parisian, the Sands, Wynn etc. Nowadays the Grand Coloane is a quiet, peaceful, family orientated hotel which mercifully does not even have a casino. Instead it has got sea views, pleasant green gardens and two lovely pools.

At the moment Turbojet one of the ferry companies that operates voyages from Hong Kong to Macau, is offering a special deal to fill all the unoccupied hotel rooms in Macau; there are not many - Macau is a popular place, but on this deal by purchasing a return super class journey to Macau on Turbojet, you can have a free night in a Macau Hotel. We used this deal to stay in the Grand Coloane.

On our arrival day, the weather was dull and drizzly, but we cheered up when we saw how lovely our room was.

Our very comfortable room.

Our very comfortable room.

Despite the weather we also checked out the Grand Coloane's pools. It has an outdoor pool and an indoor pool. The outdoor pool is separated into two parts by a little island connected to the sides of the pool by some bridges. I rather like swimming pools with obstacles to swim around and under so rather liked this though on the negative side this feature takes up quite a lot of room. The indoor pool was small but pleasant enough. It also had a Jacuzzi and in the changing rooms a steam room and sauna.

The Outdoor Pool.

The Outdoor Pool.

Me at the pool.

Me at the pool.

My husband at the pool.

My husband at the pool.

Me in the indoor pool.

Me in the indoor pool.

Hubby in the Jacuzzi.

Hubby in the Jacuzzi.

This hotel also has open green areas, some of them for particular sports, and a walkway along the seafront.

Greenery around the hotel.

Greenery around the hotel.

Waterfront at the hotel.

Waterfront at the hotel.

When we checked out of the hotel, instead of taking their free bus to Cotai or the Macau ferry, we opted to stroll along the beach into Hac Sa Village. This was a pleasant walk though it was a very hot day. Hac Sa is very popular for barbecuing and picnicking. Many people take to the sea to cool down. The beach has black, volcanic sand mixed in with normal brown sand. There are several maritime themed statues along the edge of the beach.

Looking back towards the hotel.

Looking back towards the hotel.

Hac Sa Beach is a very popular place for barbecuing.

Hac Sa Beach is a very popular place for barbecuing.

Mermaid statue.

Mermaid statue.

Sea themed statues.

Sea themed statues.

The Parasol is still in fashion here.

The Parasol is still in fashion here.

Hac Sa is a pleasant place to come for a meal. For years people always raved about Fernando's Restaurant. It was so popular there was always a long, long queue outside. We tried to go a couple of times, but we really are not people who queue, so instead of waiting we always ended up next door in Hac Sa Park Restaurant. After a few visits there we got to like it. Nowadays, Fernando's is still popular but, probably due to the competition from all the new hotels, the long queues have gone. However, we still by pass it and head for Hac Sa Park Restaurant instead.

On this visit we sat in the area of the restaurant known as Norman's Pub. The walls of this are decorated with Beatles memorabilia. We had ice cold beers, cod cakes, which we both love. My husband had a club sandwich and I had baked pork chops. My chops rested on a bed of potatoes and were covered with a thick creamy cheese sauce - very tasty.

Fernando's Restaurant.

Fernando's Restaurant.

Me in Normans Bar, Hac Sa Park Restaurant.

Me in Normans Bar, Hac Sa Park Restaurant.

The fish balls are our favourite.

The fish balls are our favourite.

In addition to its beach, BBQ sites, picnic tables and restaurants, Hac Sa also has a pleasant park, a large public swimming pool and public tennis courts.

Hac Sa Park.

Hac Sa Park.

Hac Sa swimming pool.

Hac Sa swimming pool.

There are some attractive looking houses on the waterfront at the opposite end of the beach from the hotel.

Houses on the waterfront, Hac Sa

Houses on the waterfront, Hac Sa

Posted by irenevt 05:39 Archived in Macau Comments (4)

Macau

Trip to Macau

Living in Hong Kong for a long time, I have been to Macau countless times. Over the last twenty odd years I have watched it change from a Portuguese enclave to a Special Administrative Region of China. I have enjoyed its historical attractions, great food and relaxing atmosphere. I have used it as a refuse when Hong Kong was a hot bed of SARS. However, I have also been more than a little horrified by Macau's non-stop land reclamation and casinoization ( I'm making up my own words now).

Nowadays for us Macau has become a place to go swimming when our swimming pool in Hong Kong is closed (we know a hotel with an outdoor heated pool there) and a place to take in a show. I had, in my opinion, a very good page about Macau on VT, but my photos of Macau are all over the place. I doubt I could ever re-create it, so I'll just stick to describing current visits.

We visited Macau most recently on the 24th of March 2017. We stayed overnight to celebrate my husband's upcoming birthday. Our current hotel of choice is the Grand Lapa, because of its outdoor heated pool. We go through hotel phases in Macau. At one point we always stayed in the Pousada de Coloane, then the Hyatt Regency, then the Holiday Inn. Plus we have had one off stays in many many more hotels.

The Grand Lapa is a five star hotel. We are not five star hotel people. We look for deals and special offers before we go. We have stayed there three times now. On our first two stays we got free upgrades and ended up with sea facing rooms with balconies. This time we didn't, but the room was still very nice, very clean and very comfortable, so no worries there.

Our Hotel

Our Hotel

As I work on Fridays, we did not arrive in Macau until around 6.30pm on the Friday night. After check in, we went off to the hotel's pool area. It is open till 10pm. The Grand Lapa has a beautiful pool with turquoise water, fake waterfalls, a tiny pool at the end of a long slide for the children and a jacuzzi with three fake waterfalls. The gardens around the pool have many plants and flowers, grassy areas, fussball and a pool side restaurant.

At the pool.

At the pool.

Following our swim, we had worked up an appetite. The hotel has several restaurants and, at the moment, they offer a twenty percent discount to guests who charge to the room. As it was getting quite late, we ate in the hotel bar. They have live music on Friday nights so we ate, drank and listened to the entertainment.

Dinner

Dinner

It is quite hectic rushing to Macau straight from work on a Friday so after dinner I was ready for bed. Next day we were longing to go swimming again.

Back at the pool.

Back at the pool.

Back at the pool.

Back at the pool.

We checked out at 12 pm and deposited our rucksack in the left luggage across the road at the Sands Hotel. We took a walk up to Lotus Square to check on Aruna's Indian Restaurant. We had intended to have dinner there, but had heard a rumour that it had closed down. It was all shuttered up at lunch time so not looking good. We did not return in the evening to make certain it was closed. Aruna's was at one point our absolute favourite restaurant in Macau. We watched the Mainland Chinese tour groups posing non-stop with the golden lotus sculpture. This sculpture was presented to Macau by the People's Republic of China in 1999 to mark the transfer of Macau's sovereignty from Portugal to the PRC. We then returned to the Sands Hotel where we jumped on a free bus to the Parisian Hotel on the Cotai Strip, Taipa Island, where we had booked to see a show.

The Golden Lotus.

The Golden Lotus.

The Golden Lotus.

The Golden Lotus.

The Parisian is relatively new in Macau. It is a great hotel with a French theme and lots of free entertainment going on. We had a wander around and watched some of the free entertainment before heading to the Parisian Theatre to watch 'Three Phantoms'. This turned out to be a very enjoyable show with a pleasant atmosphere.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

A Fourth Phantom.

A Fourth Phantom.

The Parisian.

The Parisian.

When the show ended, we took another free bus (I still remember when you used to have to pay for transport in Macau) back to the Macau Ferry Terminal. There is a shop on the second floor there that still sells Portuguese wine. Portuguese wine used to be available all over Macau, but is now hard to find. We walked along the waterfront from the ferry terminal, complete with our newly purchased bottle of wine, until we reached Fisherman's Wharf. This is a European themed entertainment centre with a fake Colosseum, Portuguese style houses, statues, restaurants, casinos, shops and bars. In my opinion, the new roof which has been constructed to protect this area from the rain has gone a long way to destroying the atmosphere of the place.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

We ate in the Talay Thai Restaurant on the waterfront. It was our second visit here. We had an excellent green curry with pork and a chicken cashew nuts. We were pleased to see they were still doing two for one offers on their beers and that they still served Portuguese Super bock. Like the wine, Portuguese beer is now not that easy to obtain.

Talay Thai.

Talay Thai.

Talay Thai.

Talay Thai.

After a very delicious and filling dinner, we returned to the Sands to collect our rucksack and take a free bus to Taipa Ferry Terminal for departure back to Hong Kong. On our way there Macau was just starting to light up for the night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Macau at night.

Posted by irenevt 00:35 Archived in Macau Tagged food hotels pools thai macau musicals Comments (5)

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