Monday, April 19, 2010

Macau on my mind

This post might look out-of-place in a wedding blog, but read on and find out why instead of just a simple trip, this turned out to be wedding-related too. :-)

Just weeks ago, I packed my bags and for a few days, treated my senses to the lovely Chinese-Portugese city that is Macau.

A cousin of mine who currently works in Hongkong graciously helped me tour Macau and some areas of Hongkong I had never been to before.

On my first night, she took me to a Lebanese Restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong, which I learned was the hottest night spot in Hongkong. After dinner, we had fondue at the nearby Haagen Daaz Cafe, fortunate enough to snag a table by the window -- so we could people-watch. As we enjoyed our fondue and exchanged notes about life and love, there was a commotion of sorts outside the cafe. At first, we thought that a famous movie star was causing all that fuss. Then we realized what it was -- an actual proposal was taking place! A woman in a dark blue gown had an enormous bouquet on her arm, and a man (who I presumed was her boyfriend) was kneeling beside her, presenting her with a ring in a box. Cameras started clicking outside and although I wanted to capture the moment, my camera just couldn't get a right angle. So, my heart took a picture to remember that night. I do remember though my fondue with much fondness...Slurp.

Different ice cream flavors, fresh fruits, mallows, cheesecake and danish cookies with your choice of milk or white chocolate. Yummmmeeee.
The next day, my cousin and I rode the ever-so-efficient metrorail system (MTR) and made our way to the Temple of The Ten Thousand Buddhas atop a hill. It was a steep climb but the view was worth it.

After spending an hour or two at the nearby Ikea outlet store, we headed back to Kowloon and lined up to experience the famous high tea at the Peninsula. The line was already quite long when we arrived -- about 30 heads were waiting to be seated. While we made ourselves full with scones, pastries, finger sandwiches and rose tea, we giggled as we counted three brides coming and going at the lobby, scrutinizing their gowns and bouquets, deciding on which bride looked the best. :-)

High tea at the Peninsula is a great way to spend the afternoon after sight-seeing and shopping.

I still think the Peninsula Manila lobby is so much more magnificent, isn't it?
The next day, we hopped on a ferry to take us from Hongkong to Macau. It was a Sunday so the lines were quite long, even at the immigration counters as you enter Macau. After the 45-minute boat ride, off we went to check in at the newly opened Hard Rock Hotel. I liked the casual vibe of the hotel, with memorabilia from music legends, and hotel personnel wearing leather jackets instead of stiff suits. :-)

The Hard Rock Hotel reception area.

After checking in and a quick lunch, we headed straight to Macau's tourist spots. At Senado Square, we walked through the shop-lined streets on the way to the famous Ruins of St. Paul's, and got our souvenir photos at one of the first churches erected in Macau by the Jesuits.
Might as well blend in with the tourists. :-p

The steps of St. Paul's, from another point of view.

It was while we were going down the steps that I realized how happy I was being in Macau, momentarily forgetting I was in an Asian city and not in Europe.

What do we have here? An engagement photo shoot! Just look at those pretty pink buildings!

If the couple above was having a casual shoot that day, just look at the couple below who really dressed up. This was across the Haagen Daaz store in Macau this time. What is it with Haagen Daaz and wedding proposals and engagement shoots? :-P

Couldn't resist taking photos of these pretties. They were blooming everywhere! Pansies, I think.

And here's the finale --- an actual bride and groom having their photos taken beside the Macau Cathedral!
Near another church, St. Anthony's (sometimes referred to as the Church of Flowers since a lot of weddings are held there), was a quaint little piece of earth called Casa Garden, which was once the residence of a wealthy Portugese merchant. It would have been a beautiful venue for a wedding reception, wouldn't it?
And it was here where I met my furry Macanese friends!

After all that walking (and eating at the famous A lorcha restaurant), we headed back to Cotai and toured our neighbor hotel, The Venetian.

Here I am listening to the gondoliers serenading their passengers.

The next day, right after we checked out of the hotel, we hailed a taxi to take us to the Houses of Taipa -- five historical houses which used to be where the government officers used to reside. One of the houses is often utilized as a reception hall. We just weren't able to take photos of the interiors because they were still closed at that time. Just look at those pretty houses all in a row:
A few steps from the Taipa Houses is the Church of Our Lady of Carmel. Is there a law in Macau that churches should be painted yellow? :-P
Two gardens just steps away from the Church. Great for photos.

And now, for one of the highlights of my Macau visit (no, I was so not interested in any of the casinos)...
The Church of St. Dominic at Senado Square. Ignoring this church was virtually impossible. I couldn't take my eyes off the butter yellow and white frontage and the delicate cake-like interiors laced with white balconies. Can I get married again --- here? :-) It was a picture-perfect chapel. Only two columns of pews sandwiched the main aisle, just enough for a hundred guests or so. Half the time during the mass (which was in Portugese), I couldn't help but stare at the ceiling, the altar, the statues, wondering what the requirements are for foreigners marrying in Macau...haha.
The facade of St. Dominic's

One of the statues.

The Martha Stewart-esque ceiling. :-)

The altar.

Just lovely. Pure loveliness.

The balcony area.
I swear, my photography skills (or the lack of it) does not do justice in capturing the beauty of this church. These are times I miss my baby sister and her DSLR. :-( The trip was so quick, I wasn't even able to taste an authentic Macanese egg tart. But at least I took a photo. :-) See you again soon, Macau! Now, for that egg tart...

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