September 29, 2008

Meow space in Macau

Seeing the 3D cat sculpture on our local beach reminded me of our feline encounter in Macau. Taipa Island, where we were staying, has a little Sunday morning market. They make quite a big thing of it in adverts and posters for it, but in reality it is a very small collection of stalls.

The nicest of them by far was 'Meow space'.


The artist, whose name we didn't catch, takes her own photographs of cats, and then hand-makes cat merchandise. When we were walking around mainland Macau on our way to Penha Church, we came across her studio and shop.


In the background, you can see the trademark cats she has painted on the wall opposite the shop. We'd spotted these in several places in Macau, and hadn't twigged that they were her calling card.

You can find the Meow Space website at

September 12, 2008

Awesome photos of Macau on Flickr. Not mine.

I thought I had taken some pretty good photos of Macau, most of which I've now uploaded to Flickr. Then I saw this collection by The Scalpel Master on Flickr...

Flickr pictures of Macau

September 10, 2008

The skull in the Holy House of Mercy

One of the landmarks in Macau's Senado Square is the Holy House of Mercy. (Not to be confused with one of our favourite bands, The Sisters Of Mercy)


We've never paid it much attention, and even when I spotted that there was a museum around the back, we had no burning desire to see it. Until, of course, I found out that the skull of the founding Bishop was on display there! Well, you know us, whether it is an ossuary in the Czech Republic, a severed hand in Budapest or mummified monks in Rome, we can never resist the public display of holy bones and body parts.

You enter the Holy House of Mercy around the side through the Travessa Da Miseriacórdia, and pay at the top of a set of stairs. The first room includes a display of old religious paraphernalia, but it is the main room which features the skull. The room is set out like a board-room, with the main table roped off, and underneath a portrait of the original owner sits the skull of Bishop Belchior Carneiro.


He was the first Bishop of Macau and in 1569 he founded the Holy House of Mercy to take in waifs, strays and fallen women.


I took a couple of pictures of the skull, and the museum guard came rushing in. I thought he was going to tell me off for using the camera, but instead he threw wide open the doors to the balcony and said in very broken English "Pictures! Pictures!" and practically pushed me outside.

The balcony itself was beautifully decorated and laid out, but the main thing was that it commanded an excellent view down upon Senado Square, and was probably the best location on Macau to get photos of this central space.



At the foot of the stairs there was a statue of the Bishop. Whether it was actually modeled on the skull or not wasn't mentioned...


September 08, 2008

Casino-a-go-go. And singing Camels.

Macau's main attraction, and main source of revenue, is gambling. We visited a few of the casinos whilst we were there. Not to spend big bucks you understand - we are past masters at making $20HKD (about €2) last half-hour on a fruit machine.

We had a fun evening at the Grand Lisboa. This is a distinctive building shaped like a lotus flower that you can see from virtually every vantage point on Macau. Up close it appears to be covered with shimmering flashing lights, but from a distance this in fact form a giant building-sized video screen which shows cartoon clips of gambling chips and fruit machine reels.


We got to see some of the "entertainment" as well. Every ten minutes or so, the bar in the middle of the casino floor filled up with men, and onto the stage emerged a troupe of girls for the most unenthusiastic and  least sexy cabaret 'exotic' dancing I have ever witnessed. The nadir was a routine to Europe's "The Final Countdown" with the girls dressed in tail-equipped cat suits, with fake lion roars over-dubbed onto the music.

We were in a cocktail bar on the mezzanine floor, which had its own cabaret duo who were pretty special. When he was crooning "Careless Whisper", he was so off key that we were wincing in advance of the high notes, because you knew how painfully off pitch they were going to be.

We also paid a brief visit to the MGM Grand casino. One thing that was interesting for us is that if you were going to set up a casino to attract Brits, then obviously one of the key revenue streams would be to ply the punters with booze. Not so in China. The MGM Grand only had one bar area - and we couldn't get in because we didn't meet the dress code!

On Taipa Island, rather than the Macau mainland, we visited the Crown Casino. This was much more old-fashioned than the new Vegas-style casinos. It was mostly card and dic games, not fruit machines, and instead of having one big open floor, the games were each in their own small rooms.

The fourth casino we tried out was the Wynn.


We actually preferred this over all of them. The decoration was rather more tasteful, and we found a great little bar - the Cinnebar.



You got to sit outside by a small pond equipped with turtle fountains, it was really comfy and beautifully lit. They also did a mean mojito - plus a special guava mojito which we didn't attempt, but which sounded intriguing.


One of the images you often see in Macau tour guides is of two statues of camels who appear to be singing or gargling. We never knew where they were, but it turned out they were in the Cinnebar courtyard within Wynn, so as well as sipping some of the best mojitos we'd had in a long while, we got to see a landmark too!


Another "special" feature of the Wynn is the water display. Every 15 minutes the water feature outside the hotel erupts into a fountain of lights, water and fire, and loud music pumps out of concealed speakers.




A lemon tree of our own

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