Monthly Archives: August 2013

Macau – Day 1

We started our day with breakfast from McDonald’s in Hong Kong’s international airport.

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I had the Grilled Chicken Twisty Pasta, which cost me HK$ 22.50 and it was my worst breakfast ever.  I did not expect it to have some sort of soup, which tasted weird (like water with a little salt, pepper and other spices). The chicken was tender, but had an aftertaste. Perhaps that’s really how it is, but for me, it’s so bad that I barely touched it.

From the airport, we rode a bus to the ferry to get to Macau and from Macau’s pier, rode a taxi that took us to the Royal Hotel.  Our room was not yet ready so we decided to explore its neighboring attractions.

Guia Fortress
Guia Fortress was our first stop as it was just walking distance from the Royal Hotel.

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This is a historical military fort, chapel and lighthouse complex and a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the Historic Center of Macau.

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Honestly, I was disappointed with the fortress, since I was expecting something grand. The chapel was also small (picture-taking is not allowed inside) and the lighthouse was too simplistic (Batanes lighthouses captivated me so much, thus the high expectations.)

These photos were taken from the ground level of the lighthouse.

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And these flora were taken in and around Guia Fortress too.  Isn’t the “dragon” so cute?

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Afterwards, we headed to the city center for lunch. We really had no idea where to dine so we just walked and walked (sorry, my friend and I are both geographically challenged, though I find this one of the joys of traveling as it makes me discover places that I might have ignored if I rigorously follow certain travel guides).

While walking rather aimlessly, we passed by Grand Lisboa and Casino Lisboa.  Grand Lisboa is the tallest building in Macau and the 118th tallest building in the world by architectural structure.

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Estabelecimento de Comidas “Ving Sing”
Finally, we reached a row of restaurants, but we had difficulty choosing where to dine since all the restaurants had Chinese characters so we didn’t know their cuisine.  We finally settled for one that had pictures of what’s on their menu on their wall.  After being seated, we were pleasantly surprised to be offered an English menu.

Here’s a list of our order:

1 Noodles of Beef Brisket in Soup MOP 40
1 Deep Fried Spare Ribs with Spicy Salt MOP 60
2 Coke MOP 20

I believe there’s 10% service charge so our total bill amounted to MOP 131.50 (about US$ 17 for two people). By the way, 1 MOP (Macau Pataca) is equivalent to 1 HK$ (Hong Kong Dollar).  Also, you can use HK$ in Macau, but you cannot use MOP in Hong Kong.

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Our food was good, especially the spare ribs, which was not spicy at all despite its name.

Jardim do San Francisco
After lunch, we opted to go back to our hotel to check-in. On our way there, we passed by this garden. Note the plants that form 2-0-1-3.

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Then it was time to rest at the Royal Hotel (I will make a separate post about our stay here).

Macau Tower
After freshening up, we decided to go to Macau Tower.  Entrance fee is at HK$/MOP 100.

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This tower is 338 m (1,109 ft) in height from the ground level to the highest point and is touted to have the best view of Macau.  It also offers various activities e.g. Skywalking and bungee jumping.  We wanted to try it, but it was so expensive at MOP 2,688 per person (over USD 300!) for a bungee jump.

Macau Tower was lovely, though it was too foggy so the afternoon view was not remarkable. Below are photos taken from the ground floor/lobby of the tower.  Just look at the stuffed panda bungee jumping!

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These photos were taken from the observation deck.

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I was hoping to catch the sunset, but did not, since we were on the side where the sun does not set, but we stayed there until night time for a night view.

While waiting, we decided to have some snacks  of soft-served ice cream, Macau’s famous egg tart, and cinnamon roll from the Tower Delicatessen.

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Come night time, this view greeted us:

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Isn’t it lovely?

Here are collages of more night shots taken from Macau Tower’s viewing deck.

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Here’s my parting shot of Macau Tower taken before I boarded the bus that would take us to our next stop.

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Along Cotai Strip
Afterwards, we headed to Cotai Strip, which is where the newer hotels and casinos of Macau are located.  This reminded me of my tour of Las Vegas last year.

First, we visited the City of Dreams, where I got fascinated with a mermaid show.

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These are random shots taken from the same hotel.

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Did you notice how the dragon changed colors?

Outside the hotel was this view, which is one of my favorites from this set.

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We passed by these scenery on our way to Venetian Macau.

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Note how the buildings’ color changed from blue to red to a combination of both in the above collage.

The next set of photos all feature the Venetian Macau.  Too bad we missed the start of the show and saw only the finale, but I was not really disappointed since I watched the same show last year in Las Vegas.

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People milled around the guy in white (lower left on the above collage) since he seemed to be floating about a feet from the ground.  With his painted face and all-white ensemble, he looked like a statue, and it was funny to see people poke him to see if he’s real and watch surprise register on their faces when he fluttered his lases or winked at them.

Here’s a photo of Venetian Macau’s trademark:  the gondola

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These photos were taken inside the Venetian Macau.  We were told that this resort and casino complex is the sixth-largest building in the world by floor area.  It is also the largest casino in the world and the largest single structure hotel building in Asia.

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Next stop:  The Galaxy Macau.

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Did you notice the faint streaks of light emitted by the bell-shaped structure with the reddish hue  in two of the photos?  These bell-shaped structures are called cupolas and there are 6 of these at the top of the two towers of Galaxy Macau.  All 6 are covered in 24-carat gold – enough to cover 87 football pitches!  According to its official website, the same gold-leaf cupolas feature a laser show system that projects laser beams into the sky every 15 minutes.  It is claimed to be the largest laser shows in the world and is visible across Macau.

We were here quick as we feared that the scheduled shuttle would leave us so we had no time to linger, and failed to see its famed Fortune Diamond, which is located in the main lobby (we entered via the bus lobby).  This is a mammoth three-meter gem that rises from behind a waterfall.

At the bus lobby, we saw their Wishing Crystals, which is a series of giant crystals that float above a pool of water. The crystals have advanced motion sensor technology that triggers special visual effects when guests walk near the crystals. When all the crystals are activated, good luck symbols flash from the crystals and reflect in the water.  Amazing!

There’s a rendition on the cupola too (the purple one in the collage).

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After taking photos, we headed back to the bus stop where we were almost left behind since a guard stopped my friend who had a cup of beverage with her.  Turned out its now allowed on buses.

With tired feet and aching muscles, we headed back to the Royal Hotel and called it a night, eager for more adventure on Day 2 of our Macau trip.

Three-Dimensional Miniature Quilled Pot and Flowers

My first attempt at 3-D quilling.

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The pot is quilled. So are the flowers, with the green and dark blue ones made using the fringe technique. I glued each flower on sticks then carefully arranged them. I used dark blue, light blue and white sand to cover the base of the sticks and give weight to this entire creation. The leaves are craft-punched using Martha Stewart Craft Punch – Frond.

Almost Heaven

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I found the above photo while I was backing up my online accounts/photos to my external hard drive. Isn’t it such a beauty?

All the photos in this post were taken while onboard the plane on my first trip from Manila to Hong Kong in October 2010. Thanks to my window seat, I was able to enjoy the view and take these snapshots.

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Looking at these also brought back memories of my first digital camera, which was a Canon Ixus 70 that I bought on my first bonus and 13th month pay in my current company. It was also on this trip that I decided to buy a better camera since despite Mira (I did mention here that I name all my gadgets, didn’t I?) being a good camera as evidenced by this set of photos, she cannot take good night shots.

Here’s another favorite, which a friend aptly captioned, “A glimpse of heaven on Earth.”

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Los Angeles: Palms Thai Restaurant

I have low tolerance for anything spicy so I’m not really a fan of Thai cuisine. In 2008, my company sent me to Bangkok, Thailand for a convention and food-wise, that was one of my unhappiest trips. All our meals were provided for by the organizers and I had to make do with sandwiches and fruits since everything else was spicy.

The newspaper and magazine clippings/reviews hanging on Palms Thai Restaurant’s walls are a testament to how popular the place is, and I could only hope the raves are true as my tummy was already rumbling long before we arrived in the restaurant since we just finished walking for almost an hour along Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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This meal was a treat from our very nice host family who happens to be Palms’ frequent costumers so we let them choose our food.

We had Thai Iced Tea for our drinks, Spicy Seafood Soup, and Papaya Salad.
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There were Pad Thai, Shrimp Cakes, and Beef Sa-Tae too.

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The tea tasted more like milk than tea and reminded me of bubble tea sans the tapioca pearls. I tasted the soup and though it was not too spicy, I only had at most three spoonfuls.  Their Papaya Salad was really good. I liked their Beef Sa-Tae and Pad Thai (though the latter was of course too spicy for me so I only ate a little), while the Shrimp Cakes were my favorite.

We were told that the place is also famous for its Elvis impersonation but since this is only available at night, we missed it so I just took a photo of Elvis’ statue. At their parking space, there were also paintings of celebrities, but since we were in a rush, I managed to get just the photo of Barbra Streisand.

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For more information about Palms Thai Restaurant, please visit its official website.

Taal, Batangas: Nuestra Señora de Caysasay

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Our Lady of Caysasay is a celebrated 17th century image of the Immaculate Conception. It was canonically crowned in 1954 and was later given the title the “Queen of the Archdiose of Lipa.

It is said that a man named Juan Maningcad found this while he was casting his net in the nearby Pansipit River, as depicted in a painting near the entrance of the church.

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Translation: Juan Maningcad and the Virgin Mary in Pansipit River

I found the Church very simple from the outside.

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Its ceiling though is very pretty.

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Here’s a collage of what else is inside the church:

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Going back to the Our Lady of Caysasay’s history, some believe that she saved the town during Taal volcano’s eruptions.  There were also many accounts of the miracles she performed and her apparitions.

After looking at the church, we decided to go to the Sta. Lucia Wells where locals say the Lady’s reflection was seen.  This well was about a five-minute walk from the church. Getting here was not hard since there were a lot of tour guides in the church. What I found fascinating was that the “tour guides” were all children. I chose the one who who was the least pushy (some would tug at my hand or incessantly plead that I take him/her).

As we walked from the church to the well, my eleven-year old guide Michelle shared stories of how in olden times, the statue would momentarily disappear from the church, get sighted at the well, then again reappear at the church.  I also got to know her better. She’s the eldest in a family of 5 and augments her parents’ income with her earnings from being a guide. She does go to school, but stopped for a year to help her family.

At the well, Michelle pointed these out: the beautifully carved stone dome made of coral stone with carvings of the Lady, and the healing spring.

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Beside it was a gated statue of the Lady. Michelle told me to light a candle and make a wish, saying many have done so and returned to share how their wishes came true. I was brought up a Catholic, but over the years, I’ve become a non-practicing one. I’ve become quite the skeptic too so I wasn’t really buying it, but she was so earnest in asking me to make a wish that I relented. “Sige na ate, mag wish ka kasi nakikinig talaga siya. Maniwala ka lang. Tapos magdasal ka.  Balik ka rito ha kung nagkatotoo na wish mo.” (Go on, make a wish because she does listen. Just believe, then pray. Then come back when your wish came true).  Still unbelieving but with hope in my heart, I lighted the candle, closed my eyes and just for the fun of it, made not one but two wishes.

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Three weeks later, my first wish came true. I shrugged it off as a mere coincidence, but about four months after, my second wish came true. Though I’m still a little skeptical about it, I promised to myself that when I come back to Manila, I will revisit the church and well and light a candle. But this time, it is not to wish, but to give thanks.

I will end this post by sharing a photo of Michelle who not only guided me to the well that day but, in all innocence, asked me to believe and taught me a thing or two about faith.

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