Visiting Xin Xin and Kai Kai

xin-xin

In a simulated indoor garden, Xin Xin munched on bamboo leaves. She seemed unfazed by the crowd, albeit small at 10 in the morning.

kai-kai

Outside, Kai Kai is the same, although he seemed more playful than his friend.

We took the 26A bus from just across Hotel Lisboa to the Seac Pai Van Park in Coloane to visit a pair of pandas from Chengdu.  Set in the southernmost island, we’ve never been to this part of Macau, and thought we’d visit the city and spend a few hours in the park.  We started early and arrived at the park before it opened, so we hopped on another bus that dropped us off at the Coloane Village Square.

coloane

At 9 in the morning, the village was half awake.  We explored a bit of the area but didn’t reach the village center.

seafront

Right next to the square, however, as you walk toward the sea front promenade is Lord Stowe’s Bakery.

lord's-stowe

We walked in, bought ourselves a piece of their famous Portuguese egg tart

lord-stowe's-egg-tart

and devoured it while waiting for the bus to take us back to the park.

Nestled against the hillside with Alto do Coloane serving as backdrop, Seac Pai Van Park is designed around the terrain.

panda-pavilion

Found within the park is the Giant Panda Pavilion, the pair’s new home, simulating their natural habitat.

kai-kai-2

The multifunctional park, once a farm, is now considered as the largest natural green belt of Macau.

aviary

Besides the pavilion, the park has a mini zoo that houses a few animals from macaques to deers, a walkthrough aviary that has a few rare birds,

Flamingoes

and a pond with a few flamingos and other waterfowl.

pond

The 20-hectare lot is easy to explore in just a few hours. If you are into flora and fauna, this place may disappoint, but for the price (MOP$10) and the pandas, the park is worth the morning.

The village, I believe, though, is worth exploring… on my next visit.

But while in Macau check out the many good eats this island has to offer here, here, here and here.

Useful Info:

Seac Pai Van Park
Estrada de Seac Pai Van
Transport:  21A, 26A, 50
Hours:  9am-6pm (Tues-Sun); Aviary: 9am-5pm (Tues-Sun)
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So We’re Back in Macau

For one reason and one reason only – Franco Dragone’s spectacular water-based show staged in an almost circular theater they call “theater-in-the-round”.

As we entered, we were instantly drawn to the magnificent center stage where the acrobatic stunts, beautiful lighting and creative use of water takes place.

The House of Dancing Waters is the centerpiece of the newest integrated resort in Macau – City of Dreams.

It tells of a princess and how a handsome, brave stranger tries to save her kingdom and free her from the clutches of her cruel stepmother. Of course they fall in love in the process.

Typical Cinderella story of sort but you forgive the mushy storyline for the outstanding performance and theatrical artistry.

The stage shifts from aquatic to solid dry floor with the help of 8 ten-ton elevators.

Colorful fountains surround the princess and the stranger

Installed and cleverly used on stage were more than 200 automated fountains.

Clever use of water spray and lights to create snow.

And the most spectacular, as far as I’m concerned, was the motorcycle stunts.

One could not help but admire these daredevils for their preciseness as they do their stunts in a small and confined stage.  I cringe as I watch them fly into the air, one after the other, sometimes at the same time even – I can only imagine how fatal a mistake could be.  This alone is worth the effort and the price.

Believe you me, this show will not disappoint.  Running since September 2010, this impressive water show is worth the trip to Macau.

Different hotel packages of nearby hotels are available or if budget is a concern, you may opt for cheaper hotels outside the complex,

there are free shuttles every 15 minutes plying the downtown Macau-Taipa route.   The shuttle stopped just outside our hotel.

Before or after the show, make it a point to have dinner at Beijing Kitchen, just outside the theater.  Good food guaranteed.  We enjoyed a splendid dinner of Fried Pigeons and Baby Cabbage in Duck Broth.

A Must See

Cirque du Soleil.  Oh yes, O Manel was part of the lure but this 90-minute mega production was one major reason why I found my way back to Macau.  The award winning creation that began with a group of street performers in Quebec is known the world over for its innovative shows.  Zaia – the one staged at The Venetian Resort in Macau – is wall-to-wall with breathtaking aerial acrobatics, entrancing special effects and fluid dance and movements, that captivated me from the moment the stage lit up.

So to The Venetian we went just for this.  And while we were there, we might as well explore the much talked about Resort-Hotel that supposedly played a crucial role in transforming this once rural part of Macau – even sleepier than old Macau towns – into one of the biggest tourist destination in Asia.  It is home to Asia’s largest casino with 1,000 slot machines and over 600 gaming tables bustling 24/7.

Never a dull moment, The Venetian is filled to the brim with activities at every turn.

As one enters, one gets transported to lavishness, owing to its décor.  The resort boasts of 19 remarkable restaurants but because we were pressed for time, we settled for the food court, which in itself had quite an interesting selection.

We also found ourselves wandering around, browsing through boutiques and brand name outlets along the Grand Canal Shoppes.

The Venetian sits on Cotai strip, a 5.2 km section of reclaimed land that now links the 2 former islands of Coloane and Taipa in the Pearl River Delta just across from Peninsular Macau.

Getting There:

Complimentary Venetian shuttle buses depart throughout the day from the Macau Ferry Terminal, Border Get and Lotus Ferry Terminal to the Venetian Macau Hotel – Resort.   Sands Casino also provides shuttle buses between the 2 hotels.  For a more up to date schedule, click here.

Other useful information:

Book Cirque du Soleil online here.

Scenic Sunday

Making Good Use of Downtime

We were at the sea area in front of the Macau Tower early to catch the Annual Macau Fireworks Display contest.

Early birds have its drawback… a long wait.  Its reward however outweighs it inconvenience.  Securing good front row seats afforded great captures of the fireworks and these series of shots of the Sai Van Bridge as the sun sets.

Once considered remote from Peninsular Macau, when they were accessible only by small ferries, the islands of Taipa and Coloane have developed as integrated suburbs since being linked to the mainland by 3 bridges.

One of them is Sai Van Bridge, opened in January of 2005.  It is the first cable-stayed bridge in Macau.  The double deck bridge has 6 lanes in the upper deck and 4 at the lower deck.

More of the fireworks in upcoming posts.  For more scenes from around the world click image below.

Scenic Sunday

The Ruins of St. Paul’s (Ruínas de São Paulo)

The sixty-eight granite steps from the square will lead you to a façade of what was once the greatest cathedral in Macau.  Built from 1582-1602 by the Jesuits, the remains of St. Paul’s Cathedral was the largest Catholic Church in Asia at the time.

It is a fine example of Macau’s unique characteristic as a city of Europeans, Chinese and other Asian exchange.  Ruined by fire twice, ravaging the other buildings and destroying the church ad almost all the complex.  From 1990 – 1995 work was carried out to restore the back of the church, turning it into a museum.

Regarded today as the symbol of Macau, St. Paul’s ruins was considered the core area when the historical center of Macau was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2005.  It is today one of Macau’s most famous landmark where music performances are held regularly.

If you enjoyed these sepia scenes, click image below for more.

Oh Manuel!

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get it. – W. Somerset Maughem

Reservations were made and off we went to Taipa to lunch.  Those with insider knowledge or Macanese connections will head to Taipa for some great culinary experience.  Tucked away in a quiet street just on the edge of Taipa Village is one of Macau’s best-kept secret, a homey, welcoming hole in a wall called O’ Manel or more formally known as Manuel Cozinha Portuguesa.  Manuel Pena, a Portuguese and his Chinese wife owns this tiny restaurant that serves fantastic Portuguese food.

In his restaurant, Manuel waits on tables himself, supervises the preparation of the dishes and does the cooking himself, sometimes with the help of his wife.  There are no menus only a blackboard; in it written are the specialties for the day.

Clockwise:  menu board; Manuel Pena and his Pata Negra; Caramel Creme; Roasted Suckling Pig; one order of Pata Negra, sliced.

For starters, we had slices of Pata Negra (or jamon iberico in Spain), a favorite since I first tried it in Seville years ago.  So memorable this Pata Negra was during my first visit to this restaurant some 3 years back, I came back with that in mind.  Fresh fish and shellfish are found on virtually every Portuguese menu and it is not surprising that we were served Garlic Prawns and a wonderfully citrus Clams in lemon sauce with a hint of coriander.  Roast suckling pigs, popular in the north of Portugal came highly recommended.  We were ecstatic that it was perfectly roasted with skin that crackled so loud we ordered one more.

We washed all these down with a glass or two of this lovely Portuguese Merlot and capped this splendid meal with a most typical Portuguese dessert, Caramel Cream.  Mmmm…  overindulged, most definitely.

The restaurant when we entered

In less than thirty minutes

This small casual restaurant with its limited number of tables fills up quickly so book ahead.

Manuel Cozinha Portuguesa
Rua de Femão Mendes Pinto, N90 R/C
Taipa, Macau
For reservations call:  (853) 28827571 or 28825811