Sunday, November 28, 2010

六龍 - Macau

-- 6 --

Mong Kok, Kowloon

Today, Macau. I don't have a firm plan, but as the peninsula is wicked, wicked small and the islands uninteresting for my purposes, I should be able to see a decent amount. First ferry from TST is in an hour; let's boogie.

Nearly all of the intel on this trip was done through Wikitravel, which has now served me well on two continents. Thoroughly approved.

I didn't find the Kowloon ferry pier correctly, so here I am sitting off Central pier, knocking back breakfast, having gone across as the only white dude on the lower deck of the Star (because that was what I had exact change for). Same water either way.

321. Original wing chung school is still by Shoestring Travel. It's historically noteworthy, even if modern MMA seems to universally look down on it as a less effective style.

322. Christmas comes early to Harbour City.

323. Same denomination, different designs. Hong Kong does not issue any denomination larger than $10 (which is both printed on plastic and struck as coins) through its central monetary authority. Banks print their own bills as bearer notes; I've seen HBSC, Standard Chartered (both shown here), and Bank of China, but just these in the same denomination at the same time. I'm a fan of the Fed as opposed to anarchy (seriously, look up the Panic of 1907 to see why we need that kind of thing), but perhaps our currency would look nicer if banks could print their own, and maybe the banks wouldn't act like such assholes if there was the pressure on them of underwriting the medium of exchange.

324. Tug dragging a dredging barge.

325. Tramp freighter plodding east.

A note about hydrofoils: they are fast, but there's a tradeoff in a lack of lateral stability when not underway. Sitting in the pier, we're pitching worse than I've felt since that storm crossing to Denmark. Once the ship's underway, though, we'll be out of the water, problem solved.

326. Boats in the harbor while hiking between piers.

327. Shipping in the harbor as the ferry gets underway.

328. Container ship inbound to Kowloon.

329. The Pellas, "out of Monrovia". Liberia, the Delaware of ship registries.

330. The butt end of Maersk Altair as we bank right to avoid it.

331. Unloaded freighter, riding so high its screws are almost out of the water.

332. Island and barge loading containers. That this is necessary usually means that the vessel in question draws too much water to be loaded in the harbor.

333. Cool rock formation.

334. Resort around a headland. Friday morning, so the beaches are empty.

335. Rocky shore. Coming from New England, it's so weird not to see glacier damage.

336. Road up into the interior.

337. More rocks calving into the water. There's like zero soil depth on these islands.

338. Shek Pik and dam from the sea.

339. The very southwest tip of Lantau.

340. Not an optical illusion; the sea really is that green color, and the sky really is that yellow-brown.

341. Empty tanker at anchor.

342. Small fishing boat running its nets.

343. Pylon thingy with steps, coming in to Macau.

344. Breakwaters and ships off shore.

345. Yellow marker and city far behind it.

346. Bridge linking down to Cotai.

347. The pier, as we come in.


After dodging half a dozen touts, I'm running free, yeah.

348. Vestigial official language. About 1% of the population speaks any Portuguese at all, but it's still required by law on all signs.

349. Old stonework building on the harbor.

350. Casino side.

351. Gate and mopeds.

352. Street view; the barriers are up because the GP is going through the streets here next weekend.

353. Old houses on the Fishermen's Wharf.

354. View up the Rua de Malaca. Nice composition, and I also find the Portuguese translation of the "massage" place (bottom of the blue sign) simply hilarious.

355. End of the street; hotel and erosion wall.

356. Side of the Casa Real casino.

357. Artificial hill thingy over Fishermen's Wharf.

358. Public sculpture on a traffic island.

So far, at least one plan has been epic fail. I'll explain.

I collect coins. And I collect them the real way, not the pussy way by paying real money for mint sets and shit: I go to other countries, buy stuff with cash, and decirculate whatever out of my change I don't have yet. This turn on the HK side has been mostly about picking up the extremely rare coins with QEII on them as much as I can, but Macau was supposed to give me a new denomination, and it just aint there. I got out 500 patacas in order to grind them into change, got a beer and some dried apricots for lunch from a minimart, and got back pataca bills and HKD in change....and I don't know enough Cantonese to go "no, bitch, give me YOUR CCP-tolerated play money". Sucks. Must work harder. At least the beer is different.

359. The flag flies from an observation station.

360. Frieze on the side of a hotel.

361. "Itchy for creation"? Get a checkup, and use condoms when you go to the sauna!

362. Southeast Asia really is behind on graffiti. (If a Westerner came all the way out here to write this, though, they need to be disappeared to the PRC's camps in the western desert posthaste.)

363. Now you know the answer.

364. Inside the GP Museum.

Portuguese really is extinct here; going in the building, I asked after the museum in Iberian (ok, ok, "museo" not "museu", but the pronunciation's almost identical), and the guard answered in English. If Hong Kong is a Scotland-level pretend country, Macau is more like Northern Ireland.

365. Side view of a recent Honda -- they actually race that Mugen stuff.

366. Into the cockpit, same car.

367. They race tourers here too.

368. Mercedes 16V = DO WANT.

369. Ayrton Senna's #3. If you need this explained, no explanation may be enough.

370. Tourer-style from the early days.

371. The course, looking south.

372. Under the hood of Joe Ramos' Toyota.

373. Slate for 372.

374. Some of Teddy Yip's old burners.

375. Dave Purley's #1, before people decided engines needed fairings.

376. Slate for 374.

377. Arsenio Laurel's double-winning car, with his Camwreckers badge, from before the race went completely pro.

378. An Austin Princess used by the governor. This thing is like a frickin minibus.

379. Wine cart in the neighboring wine museum.

In comparison to the GP museum, the wine museum kind of sucks. I wanted some info and history on winemaking in Macau, and I got a poorly lit ad for the Douro.

380. White and red grapes chucked in the press together.

381. Stills.

382. Still and "serpentinho" for separation. Much better than "worm".

383. Wine guild robes and region guide.

384. Rack of Portuguese wines.

Though the museum sucks for tourists, there is actually a sound reason for doing this big ad for Portuguese wine producers. Wine is huge business in HK as a status symbol, because the climate here kills it immediately on arrival. A wine collection here means you have the money to build and run a completely climate-controlled winecellar to keep it in; us temperate dwellers who can just throw it in the garage or in the basement just can't relate. Accordingly, if Hong Kongers drink Portuguese wines, they will pay a stupid premium for them, because ALL wine gets a stupid premium in HK, and the production chain will make bank. Simple.

385. Payoff! This is a free museum, but it's 10 patacoes a glass (about $1.50), and I couldn't find the ticket seller. Oh well; I'm a beerdrinker anyway, and there's no shortage of that.

386. Chinese from the region will lulz at the name of this apartment house, given the city it's in.

387. Towers towards the waterfront.

388. Grandstand under construction.

389. How you get to be the most densely-populated place on earth: highrise apartment blocks rise out of a luxury restaurant.

390. When you have as many brothels as Macau does, eventually you are going to use every single goddamned name there is.

391. Golden tower of the Grand Lisboa.

392. Golden bulge of the atrium. This building was clearly designed by Master P.

393. Light sculptures out towards the lakefront.

394. The man and the gift; Dr. Stanley Ho and a priceless ancient bronze sculpture.

When you have as much money as Dr. Ho raked in, you can buy some pretty ridiculous stuff. A small sample follows.

395. One of the world's larger emeralds; this is about the square frontage dimensions of a matchbox.

396. Ridiculous detail in a giant two-toned sculpture.

397. Peacocks with golden tails.

398. A lot of this is built onto rather than carved into the tusk, but a lot of it isn't.

399. Staircase in the lobby.

400. Wooden sculpture carved from a stump, leaving much of the rootmass intact.

401. Remember those ridiculous jade dragon boats from Beijing? Dr. Ho had one too, but his is made completely of solid gold.

402. Immense, detailed, single-block jade; huge, ridiculous, solid-gold. There is a theme at play here.

403. This, also, started life as a single piece of jade.

After this, I was set to go in. However, there was a sign by the metal detectors: no hats - no cameras - no weapons. Three in a row! What do I win? Since I suspected that the answer to that was going to be "a free taxi ride, courtesy of the policia", I decided not to test my luck.

404. The original Lisboa across the street.

405. View across the piazza where I stopped to write these up. It's shots like this that make people say Macau is like being in (southern) Europe. This, of course, is baloney; all the real parts of this city are Cantonese, much like Hong Kong and its surrounding districts. Ok, maybe 'normative' would be better than 'real'; all this stuff actually exists and is an inextricable part of Macau as it is today. However, this is a Chinese city with Portuguese influence to varying levels in varying places, much as Hong Kong is a Chinese city with English influence to varying levels in varying places, rather than a Portuguese city transported to the Pearl delta.

I still have to find the ruins, then likely get some Macanese food if I can, and decide whether it's worth waiting till things light up, or if I want to head back to HK early. This is a wicked small island, and most of the remaining tourist attractions either confiscate your hat or give you the clap. There's no shortage of betting in HK, and I'm staying in the Portland for crying out loud, but there is other stuff to do.

406. Mosaic on the path. There's a lot of these on the sidewalks downtown, but it can be tough to shoot them due to the foot traffic.

Macau Recipes = win. Not only did I get a nice lunch (of stuff of the like I've never seen on a normal Cantonese menu), I got pataca coins in change. Everybody profits!

This restaurant is actually four in one; Portuguese on the first floor, Chinese on the second, Macanese on the third floor, and Japanese (though closed at the time) on the fourth. This is neat from a symbolism perspective, as Macanese cooking is a fusion of Cantonese with Portuguese elements, and Japanese cooking isn't totally unaffected by the elements presented on the lower floors. They can think all they want that they invented tempura, but it's not going to change the reality.

407. Street out of the piazza.

408. More colonial architecture.

409. Classic facade.

410. The ruins of St. Paul's. Sic transit gloria mundi.

411. A closer view on Da San Po.

412. Intercultural peace sculpture in the plaza before the church.

413. Chinese temple and highrise.

414. Ruins from the side.

415. "The towers of steel stand proud/Cathedrals of a new age/Let all with greed come worship/At the Altar of the Gods". I can't be the first Saxon fan to show up here and shoot this. Well, maybe so after all; knowledge of Solid Ball of Rock is neither common nor correlated at the high level with an enhanced awareness of one's surroundings, but the lyric still selfsuggests when you show up at a ruined church and see it framing a ridiculous highrise casino from a particular angle.

416. Original dedication (Mary as Mater Dei) on the facade. The plaques inside make it sound like the Swamp Castle of churches.

417. Slate saying as much.

418. View out from inside.

419. Foundations going down to the crypt areas.

420. Museum of Sacred Art; the bloodiness (blurred out by the exposure) of the Christ at left should not be surprising for those familiar with Mexican religious art.

421. St. Augustine with a model of the church bearing his name here.

422. St. Michael with sword and scales.

423. Silver frame used to carry statues of the Virgin in processions.

424. Martyrdom of the Japanese Christians at the start of the Tokugawa shogunate. This was the place the Jesuits came to Japan from, and a lot more successful in the exporting-Catholicism business.

425. Non-maintained slate for 424.

426. Renovated crypt.

427. Remains recovered in the excavation/re-presentation of the church. There are 'sacred space' warnings outside, and the atmosphere, at least as I was going through, was respectful.

428. Street, coming up out of the crypts.

429. Row of houses over the church site wall.

430. Statue of Padre Ricci, the leader of the first Jesuit mission to Macau. You wouldn't know it, would you?

Fortress and Macau Museum

431. Greenery along the fortress wall.

432. Somebody's dog has just no patience.

433. Greenery and a view towards the center.

434. Battlements rise over the park area.

435. To the west, over the city to the mountains on the Chinese side.

436. Lookout tower on the fortress.

437. Cannon at the end of the Rua dos Artilheiros.

438. Forge marking, same gun.

439. Battlements and more cannon.

440. View south, commanded by the Grand Lisboa.

While checking the directions on the above, I found out that Google's map of Macau is among their more incorrect/out of phase. For fun, try swapping between the map and satellite views when zoomed in on the city to the 500-foot level. Watch for large nets of roads that according to the map view are out in the ocean -- Macau keeps building themselves more land, and the default map view can't keep up.

441. Injunctive plaque em Português.

442. Arms over the gate to the museum precincts.

443. Shrine alcove inside.

444. Garden and the side of the museum.

445. More of the end of the garden.

446. Banyan by the museum.

447. Inside; replica scapulars in a nice parallel introduction to Portuguese and Chinese culture to where they were introduced to each other at Macau.

448. Portuguese arms on the other side of the corridor.

449. Christian artifacts. There were more actual pieces, as opposed to replicas, on the Portuguese side.

450. Stone Age pottery from the Pearl Delta area.

451. This is cool; writeup of the first known lapidary lathe. I LIKE MACHINES OK BUZZ OFF.

452. More pottery fragments.

453. Porcelain from the time of first contact.

454. Old maps of the far east.

455. Porcelain bowl showing Euro influence.

456. What Macau used to look like. Those four lower islands are now a single landmass thanks to extensive fill and reclamation, necessary because there was nowhere left to put more casinos. Not kidding. This is why there are no photos from Cotai; there is nothing except megacasinos until gou get way, way down in Coloane.

457. Implements and silk routes by land...

458. ...and by water.

459. Porcelain in several styles.

460. ((cut))

461. Showing the roots of different nations' words for tea (茶). The Portuguese and nations they contacted use the Cantonese pronunciation, while the Dutch and nations they introduced the drink to use the Fukinese pronunciation.

462. 3500 years of Chinese money. From shell, hoe, and knife money to 1911; pretty impressive.

463. Artifacts of the Jesuits.

464. Replica armillaries exchanged between Europeans and the court astronomers at Beijing; there's a message here about science being a common language and a foundation for cooperation and synergy that a lot of idiots are going to blow right past.

465. Silver house markers.

466. Bombard in a lion carriage with a lot of frame shake.

467. Derry's Walls in reverse. For reference visavis 468.

468. Same writeup in English; a look at the original shows that the battlecry probably translates better as "For St. James! GITTUM!", but you can't really put that in a museum exhibit.

469. Restored confessional.

470. Badly framed prayer books in Chinese and Portuguese.

471. Night fishing scene. This was nearly as dark as the Stavkirke in Norway, but low-light mode, as long as you don't shake the camera to death, cures many ills.

472. Old post box.

473. Fireworks industry materials. This, like most of the traditional industries (dough figures, incense, matches) mentioned in this area of the museum, is basically extinct in the Macau of today.

474. Bridal sedan chair, with the mandatory "não tocar" sign.

475. Gambling utensils; the end of the museum and its centerpiece view of modern Macau.

Done with the museum, time to explore the way back.

476. West across the strait.

477. City view.

478. South to the Macau Tower. This is wicked south on Cotai, but tall enough to get into the skyline this far north. Accordingly, I don't need to hop a casino bus to get down south and take some closer pictures of it.

479. Cool architecture on everyday buildings.

480. Highrise beyond the battlements park.

481. City framed by a gunport.

482. Taking aim.

This isn't bound to any particular cannon on this wall. The Grand Lisboa is so damn big, you can frame this shot with any of the gun emplacements on the south wall.

483. Forge markings on the caisson.

484. Roof garden by the exit.

485. Looking down at the shrine.

486. Cool metalwork and shadows on the road down. I didn't really know where I was going, but being large in stature gives you a great deal of freedom in the "let's walk in a random direction in a strange city and hope to get where we need to" direction.

487. Empty backstreet, almost like a movie set. This was so quiet as to be actively silent, which just added to the sense of unreality.

488. Down a pedestrian avenue.

489. Graffiti and old houses. There's a lot more uneffaced graffiti here than in Hong Kong; different culture, maybe. The tags here, though, in color and style really match in well with their surroundings. This is an artist who just hasn't gotten out of his/her scribbling phase yet.

490. San Lazaro, a street away.

The one huge difference between Macau and Hong Kong, that I've noticed, is that there's music here. Live music; drums working a beat over an engineering shop, piano and sax out of the building to the right here as I walked down towards the church. It would be racist to connect this to their respective colonial administrators -- and maybe sectarian as well -- but hey, what the hell, I shot a lot of swastikas at Ngong Ping, get out the brush and the tar bucket.

491. San Lazaro up close.

492. Mosaic where the foot/moped path crosses the car street.

493. Footbridge over a major road. The color and depth of scenery is on a par with, if not better than, Kowloon.

494. Commercial buildings and German-style parking sign.

495. Cineatro Macau on São Francisco garden.

496. Fountain sculpture in the garden. As late as the 1930s, this place was allegedly just off the waterfront. Looking south, I can't see anything obviously older than mid-'50s, so maybe so.

497. Cool old highrises over the garden.

Mission Pataca has gone success; between lunch, museum, and a can of coffee at the critical 8.20 price point, I now lack only the rare 20a and 10P coins, and I hit on a 2P, which is also on the rares list. If you want to collect, go inland of the casinos and/or buy stuff, like museum tickets, from the government. They're required by law to transact in MOP, while in many other places it's a crapshoot to get back patacas rather than HKD.

Probably getting on time to head back; I'll see how long till dusk, and if I can get a pork chop roll closer to the piers.

498. Globe thingy on the China Plaza building.

499. Macau, old and new.

500. The seats in the grandstand, in this light, are as golden as the tower behind them.

On the lintel over the entrance to the Golden Sauna, to the left of the name, there stands the legend "Mundo de Adultos" (because "Mundo de Putas" would have been insulting to the help or something). How is this translated into English on the right doorpost? You guessed it: "Sex Shop". I don't know whether I want to cry, throw up, or stab somebody. The feats of Shakespeare, of Yeats, and of Eliot, doing what they did with the toolset at their disposal, should be counted against other nations as the poetic equivalent of building a cathedral by yelling at a gang of retarded monkeys.

501. The Diamond Casino. I can't explain the windmill either (Antwerp diamond traders' market? De Beers? no fuckin clue), but I'm sure it's on Wikipedia. (It's not.)

502. Cool street-straddling arch.

503. Nice little park by the Rio.

To-do list is fairly short; a Macau Beer cap (they capped the bottle for me at lunch, boo), a pork chop roll (it'd be like going to Berlin and getting neither doner nor currywurst), and then I can head out. Sun's going down, though, so some night pics are probably on the card as well.

504. I'll let my Chinese-ethnic friends make the fairly obvious joke here. I aint touching it, I've written enough racist things for one day.

505. Androgynous sculptures by the Waldo. Knob or pregnant woman? All depends on your perspective.

506. Another golden casino.

507. Look over a public park to Fishermens' Wharf.

508. Some original forest over a bus park. (Yes, it's probably regrowth, but still.)

509. Why to buy local, rather than from chain minimarts: this costs a buck. (The hand, for scale, belongs to the 6'2" white foreign devil writing this.) 7 MOP, seriously.

510. Pork chop roll place, animu on the TV.

IgotaboneIgotaboneawesome!!!1! This is either super authentic or a gwailo trap, maybe both.

I actually got several bones, one of which fortunately degristled cleanly enough to wrap in a paper napkin and take home as a souvenir. The actual sandwich is as yummy as might be expected for, effectively, a festival Hackbraten with some crunchy surprises, and highly recommended.

No, there are no T-shirts with a picture of a pork chop roll and I GOT BONED IN MACAU on the front, and some ham bones on the back. Business opportunity!

Soooo....three 22ers in, one purchased entirely in Chinese, and I STILL have no Macau Beer cap. Drinking it at lunch fucking cursed me. Still, Pearl River is good shit, and not all hope is lost as I crawl my way north to the ferry.

511. Improper neon maintenance can have hilarious consequences.

512. Elephants in front of a Taoist shrine under the building between the Golden Dragon and the Jai Alai.

513. Class old police box and splitting tree planter.

Packed up, heading out. Good day, not looking forward to the hikes ahead to get home. Just use the MTR! It'll be super effective!

514. Fun street name. Roll them Rs!

515. Out into the darkening harbor.

516. The casino from #350 (Oceanus at Jai Alai) all lit up.

517. Oceanus changing phase.

518. Heli, at least as good a shot as I was going to get. Since I didn't even get into the casinos, let alone hit it large, this is as close to the ride as I was going to get.

519. Jai Alai and mountain tower behind.

520. Colonial villa lit up on the hill.

521. Jai Alai neonshow.

522. Vegas of the East, just stirring to life.

523. SD Gundam promotion in the ferry terminal. If, as a Westerner, you know what this is at all, or as an Easterner over the age of about 10, you know which specific iteration of the series this is, congratulations, you are (also) a huge nerd.

On a related note, the outlet shop on the third floor of the terminal has one of the largest and most complete offerings of Gunpura I've ever seen in my life, at least as I can remember. (I was in Japan when I was nine, and can't remember if I noticed better.) They also had some Guren models -- in a white box with no art, because Gainax keeps it real GP/GX style like that.

And the further you understood into that graf, on an ascending scale to the throwaway Otaku no Video reference at the end, the more of an irredeemably huge nerd you are.

524. Your guide to telling Macanese restaurants from Cantonese. Macanese put fried eggs on stuff, Cantonese don't. And now you know, and can find yourself a pork chop roll shop and get boned.

(Note: if you need assistance getting boned in Macau in a way that is just vulgar, not a double entendre, there are no words, not in English nor in other languages that suck less, to describe how hard you fail it. You could as easily fail to drop money in the casinos as fail to pay for sex, if such was your objective.)

525. Language makes the world humane. Wouldn't you rather wait for an open seat on an earlier ferry than the one you paid for in the "Line of Hope" than in the "Stand By Line"?

526. An animu promotion in the MTR that actually makes sense. (If you know why and did not grow up in east Asia or a culturally east-Asian household, see the note on 523.)

527. My bone souvenir after some washing. If this starts to rot before I can chemwash it, it's getting ditched. (This, unsurprisingly, happened. I got back from Sha Tin the next day and it was stinking before I could use bleach on it. Oh well, don't have to try and take an animal bone through customs.)

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