Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Weekend in Hong Kong & Macau

We looked around for a little trip to take with our friends Peter and Pam.  Hong Kong won!  Overall we had a lovely time - the hovering clouds and bouts of rain just slowed us down a little bit.

John and I had visited Hong Kong back in 1999, not long before the handover from Britain to China.  At that time, the locals were a bit worried about what would happen.  But we found the still vibrant, bustling city we knew before - just more Chinese signs, more ex-pats and even more traffic!  The shopping was not as bargain-priced as I remember, but I don't need too much more Chinese stuff anyway...

We arrived in the evening, so we checked into our hotel with a view on the harbor, then headed up to Hollywood Road, the popular shopping and eating district.  Fu Lu Shou (Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity) greeted us on the street.

John found the biggest Fire Hydrant ever...

And we found a British Pub to share some Belgian Beer:

We decided to go local for dinner - searched and found a place for Dim Sum.  I didn't get any photos inside..because it was a bit scary. They put us in a little table in the back, next to the loo.  We closed our eyes and ordered, got fabulous handmade dumplings and wantons, and beer with pop-tops!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that we love to attend Mass wherever we are.  We found the Hong Kong Cathedral, a beautiful Victorian church with Irish priests, a Filipino choir, and a largely ex-pat community. 

A beautiful sea shell holy water font and a gong for .... ??

 Outside was this grotto where nearly everyone stopped to offer a Hail Mary:

A couple of things we saw on an afternoon walk:

(I hope you can tell, that is a statue, complete with boombox and bag of chips)

I just thought the subtitle was pretty funny...

Although it was cloudy during the day, we went up to the Peak and found stunning night views of the city:

We went up to the Peak to join other friends from Singapore who happened to be in Hong Kong for the evening... always amazed a how small the world is!  (we forgot to got the photo... :(  )

Monday morning was set for a little ferry ride over to Lamma Island, where we were told there are no cars, nice paths for walking, and fresh seafood restaurants:

We headed up through the village ( a surprising number of expats live there and commute every day) and found a few of these doggy-litter-boxes:

Views from the heights:

And a greeting as we came along another little village (for my nephew, the graffiti artist):

  Our hike led us to the last village with its temple, fish markets and restuarants and ???

Fresh seafood, anyone?

Views from our trip back

Despite Hong Kong being a bustling city, there are parks and nature all over the place.  The photos are all grey because of the overcast weather.  I can imagine the beauty in the sunshine!

A little champagne at the end of a busy day...

On Tuesday, John and I took a trip to see Macau.  While Hong Kong has a British heritage, Macua was Portugese, so we wanted to see the difference.  This iconic wall is from the ruins of St. Paul's Church, built in the 1500s and ruined by fire several times.  Only the facade is left.

To the right where the trees are is the Fortaleza do Monte, a 16th century fort that now houses a great city museum. It really helped us understand the city and its role in history.

Of course the most famous bit about Macua now is the gambling.  As we came into port on the ferry, it looked a bit like Las Vegas or Atlantic City.  Big, bright casinos looming above .  We got this shot of a golden casino from the fort on top of the hill:

Very cool block-paved streets and crowds:

Okay, now this guy was advertising a sushi bar...I think his head is a sea urchin, but he is dressed as a Formula One racedrive, in honor of the Macau race coming up the next weekend. Makes you want to go to the restaurant, right?

Loved the black and white cobblestones and the colonial buildings:

Parks and monuments in the middle of the city:

An old city wall hidden behind a "newer" colonial archway:

Walking back to the ferry we came again to the casino area.  My camera doesn't capture the bright golden sheen of the flame-shaped casino in the background, but the contrast between it and the local apartment building was striking:

 Love this...a Chinese medicine shop that shares the store with designer handbags:

And gold shops... the big one in the middle there is a 6-inch wide pig, with little baby pigs hanging on.  Wouldn't you love that as a souvenir from the black jack tables??

And these are out the back door of a casino, a place to burn offerings to the gods, I guess for good luck? 

Waiting for the ferry back into Hong Kong (passport control and all)

And everywhere we looked we saw construction...but notice that all the scaffolding is made of bamboo...

I wish my photos were a bit better but you get the idea.  It is a fun city with lots of vibe!!