Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Parrot, Pedals and Palm Trees

Strolling the boardwalk in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I spotted this scene and quickly snapped it. The parrot never moved or fluttered, he looked perfectly content perched on the bike and riding along the beach. Since I love parrots, biking and beaches, it turned out to be one of my favorite impromptu travel photos. What's your favorite unexpected travel pic?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Macanese Murals

One of the fascinating things I discovered in Macau was the seamless mix of Chinese and Portuguese culture. It shows up in every aspect of daily life but I found seeing Cantonese and Portuguese languages side by side particularly interesting. The mural above instructs on recycling in Macanese style, using both Cantonese and Portuguese. However, I guess not everything translates into both languages. The funny mural below urges dog owners to clean up after their pets but there're no Portuguese words to be found!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Inside Macau's A-Ma Temple

Spirituality laces through every aspect of Asian culture and connects areas of daily life. So I was really excited to visit the oldest and most famous temple in Macau; A-Ma Temple. Perched halfway up Barra Hill, the temple incorporates the natural landscape as well as Chinese symbolism.  A-Ma Temple attracts so many visitors that I had to wait for about 20 minutes before they filed into the entrance and I could view the gateway adorned with lions and red lanterns. The temple dates back to 1488, during the Ming Dynasty and includes six different pavilions constructed at different times.

Inside the temple, clouds of smoke from incense fill the air. Offerings, like the ones pictured above, are for sale throughout the pavilions. I didn't take many photos because I wanted to be respectful of worshipers but you can get an idea of the serenity of the temple from some of these images.

Incense represents different deities and can be burned for different purposes, such as bringing safety to a home or success in business. I quietly watched several worshipers kneel in prayer after lighting incense.

The interesting thing about A-Ma Temple is that it represents an unusual blend of Taoism, Confucianism Buddhism and Chinese folk culture all in one space.This Buddha statue surprised me after viewing traditional Taoist and folk deities but it makes perfect sense in Macau, with its mix of Asian and European culture. Mixing and blending is a hallmark of Macau culture in general.

These incense cones were my favorite, they look like beehives gently releasing sweet scents. Visiting a historic temple is an interesting way to glimpse the values and beliefs of a culture. I saw visitors from Macau and all over Asia.I felt honored to witness their sacred rituals and celebrations.