Friday, October 31, 2014

A View of Macau's Coloane Island

Macao is a peninsula with two islands connected by land fill bridges. Yes, two islands. So you know where this is headed. Taipa is the island north of Macao but Coloane, the southernmost island, really grabbed me. I've never met an island that I didn't love and Coloane is no exception. Check out the green landscape and Maco's highest point, Alto de Coloane. The island offers a striking contrast to bustling, densely populated and developed Macao. What captured me were the ocean views, quiet beaches and salty air. With tiled paths and Portuguese shops,Coloane really reflects Macao's European influences, even though the Portuguese didn't occupy the island until 1864. Coloane's sea caves and heavily forested hills made it a favorite pirate hangout for most of the 19th century. I don't know about the pirates but I'd gladly hole up in Coloane's hills, as long as I have beach access!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Traditional Chinese Culture in Macau

I'm still absorbing the whirlwind of sights, sounds and tastes that encompass the allure of Macao. It is unlike anyplace that I've experienced before and I think it will take a little time for me to completely translate my perspective. When I think about what stood out, it's definitely the unusual blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. I experienced them separately and together in the special Macanese style, beginning with a stunning Chinese cultural dinner at the Sheraton Macao, Cotai Central. It started with the Qin dynasty warrior pictured above. There were two of them, silently guarding the the dining room.

And why would a room need guarding you ask? I thought the same thing until I walked into this; a spectacle of sumptuous red fabrics, orchids and fine china, complete with a stage.

A six-course feast awaited us, starting with slices of sucking pig, marinated cucumber and wasabi-infused jellyfish, pictured above. The dishes represented traditional Chinese cuisine with touches of Macanese innovation.

Before I could become totally enthralled with the food, the stage throbbed with music, announcing another cultural presentation. These Olympic trained wrestlers demonstrated traditional Chinese acrobatics.

I was excited by the brilliance of the mask changing dancer and thrilled when she revealed her face. As a woman, she represents change in a centuries old tradition of men passing down the dance technique.

The drummers throbbed with drama and energy. You can here a brief clip of their traditional Chinese song below. This extravaganza was just my first introduction to Macao culture so you can imagine the adventures to come. Stay tuned for posts on Macao history, cuisine and landmarks!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Next Stop: Macau

I'm not a huge fan of Las Vegas but I'm excited to be traveling to Macao, Asia's answer to Vegas and the world's largest casino mecca. Perched on the Southeastern coast of China, Macao is a peninsula that offers much more than gambling. I'm most interested in  Macao's unusual  blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. It was a Portuguese colony until 1999, when it was released back to China and became a Special Administrative Region. The Portuguese legacy is everywhere, from the Unesco World Heritage Cite of the Historic Centre of Macao, including the 16th century St. Paul's or Sao Paulo ruins, pictured above, to the egg tarts and golden codfish drenched in coconut milk and saffron, that typify Macanese cuisine. I'll be exploring Macao's cuisine and history as well as the highlights of Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, the sponsor of my media trip. Please stay tuned for posts and pix!