Thursday, December 28, 2017

Morning Heritage Walk

Staying over on the Macau Peninsula side meant it's much easier to explore the historical part of this city known not only for its gaming industry but being rich in the unique architecture style left over from over 400 years of Portuguese colonial rule.


After a quick breakfast at the Noodles & Congee corner inside Grand Lisboa Hotel, I made a slow walk up the Mount Hill and the Fortaleza do Monte (大炮台), a historical military outpost built in the 16th Century to protect against the rampant pirate activities during that time. Now the remains have been converted into a park, the site for the Museum of Macau, and the vantage point overseeing the Macau Peninsula. The weather was perfect for an easy walk up and along the way there's no lack of interesting sights, like the Club de Militar building at Avenida da Praia Grande (南灣大馬路) with the unique pink and white façade (also known for the old-school Portuguese cuisine served at the restaurant inside) and the splendid compound of the Portuguese consulate.


The path on the other side of Mount Fortress led to the Ruins of St. Paul (大三巴牌坊), the un-official symbol of old Macau now packed with tourists day and night. This time I was more interested in exploring the neighborhood surrounding the site, with the quiet streets a few blocks away lined with old buildings, cafes and souvenir shops, the historical Na Tcha Temple (哪吒廟) and the section of Old City Wall right next to the temple which dated back to mid-15th Century. Travessa da Paixao (戀愛巷) is a narrow street just a stone's throw away from the Ruins of St. Paul lined with restored houses painted with different colors - it made such a good backdrop for photos or movies.


Walking further west through the narrow alleys of the old residential neighborhood I stopped by the St. Anthony's Church, one of the oldest churches in Macau built by the earliest Portuguese missionaries of Jersuits order. I love the neoclassical design of the interior and the quiet atmosphere for those needing time for reflection, seeking sanctuary and prayers. Across the church and right behind the bus station is the Camoes Garden, the Morrison Chapel (the first protestant church in Macau built by British missionary Robert Morrison in 1800s which is currently under renovation) and Casa Garden completed with a lovely garden and fish pond in front of an old residence house built in 1770. It was a great place to be wandering about aimlessly or just sitting down and enjoy some quiet time, like those old people carrying their pet birds in the cage in the park.


I reached the coast of the old fishing village of Sa Lei Tou (沙梨頭) on the west-most side of Macau Peninsula before making my way back via the main thoroughfare of Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro (新馬路) and the landmark Largo do Senado (議事亭前地). Perhaps not as significant as it used to be, the district is still lined with ship dockyards and port facilities for seafood and goods trading with restaurants open til late to cater to those workers in the area and also the public.

Looking for a big lunch ahead I resisted the temptation of stopping by one of those traditional restaurants or café on the street of Rua Cinco de Outubro (十月初五街) (including Nam Peng Café which we went previously), but I did visit Mercearia Hei Lam Mun (喜臨門麵家), a 60-year-old shop selling all kinds of traditional Cantonese dried noodles to replenish the shrimp roe noodle stock of my own home kitchen. Now managed by its 2nd generation owner, noodles were made daily at the kitchen right behind using the same old recipes with the same ingredients and methods with minimal use of machinery - it's a pleasure going through the many flavors and shapes of noodles available at the store and the shopkeeper was patient in explaining everything and give you advice on how to cook them. Definitely not something you will see often back home with everything now made in factories by machines and available in packages on supermarket aisles only.

See, a food trip is never just about food... =)

My complete Macau travel album can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157666747548479

(Our weekend in Macau is part of the fam tour arranged by the Grand Lisboa Hotel)


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