Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eat my way to Macau - I won $300 by doing nothing!

The Venetian is one of Macau's many super luxurious hotel-cum-casinos. If it is in Singapore, we would have called it an Integrated Resort that is supposed to offer all sorts of entertainment and shopping for the family and the casino is just a tag-along.

We couldn't afford to stay in the suites in The Venetian (oh yes, they've only got suites) but we could at least shop in its huge shopping mall which is so gigantic that it has a long fake river with fake gondolas with fake gondoliers rowing and singing to their real customers with real money.

The Venetian in Macau

Oh, and the sky is fake as well. It's always a bright blue sky to give you the illusion that the day is still young and you can continue to shop or gamble till you drop.

The Venetian in Macau

The Venetian in Macau

The casinos look real ugly during the day time. They look damn old and lifeless. But once the night is here, all the neon lights really liven things up!

Casino in Macau

Casino in Macau

Night of casinos

There's a musical fountain right in front of the Wynn casino with performance about every 20 minutes. It's not as large scaled as the one we've got in Sentosa, and there is no flashing laser shows and performers with Disney characters voices, but hey, it's free.

Musical fountain in front of Wynn Casino

Musical fountain in front of Wynn Casino

Musical fountain in front of Wynn Casino

With a casino just at every corner of every street, it is not possible not to enter at least one. And we entered three anyway. I played a bit of roulette and won a couple bucks, but the huge "win" that my friend and I had was a big SGD300 each! Because, like I said earlier... we entered THREE casinos, and in Singapore, that's a whopping THREE hundred dollars of Casino Levy that we saved!

For supper, we took a cab to Luk Kee Noodle to try their famous handmade noodles with shrimp eggs. The boss was really generous with the shrimp eggs, but while they are fragrant, they also made the noodles a bit too salty for me. These little shrimp eggs kinda taste like our habi-ham without the chili. The noodles is still the star, which is still made by sitting on a huge bamboo and bouncing on the dough. As a result, it is damn bouncy!

Handmade noodles topped with shrimp eggs

Supper in Macau

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eat my way to Macau - Churches, temples and little bites

Besides the countless casinos and hotels, Macau has got lotsa churches and temples too. And what strikes me is that all the churches are painted in striking colors of bright green or yellow, no matter how old they are! Just like this St. Dominic's Church in the middle of a shopping district...

St. Dominic's Church in Macau

St. Dominic's Church in Macau

St. Dominic's Church in Macau

St. Dominic's Church in Macau

Ironically, with the vast number of old churches in Macau, the most famous one is the one with just one wall left standing. The Ruins of St. Paul's. This is where you find all the tourists, if they're not in shops or casinos that is.

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau

And of all places, someone has to piss me off at this sacred place, and of all nationality, it has to be another Singaporean!

When I was leaning at the side of the steps waiting for my friend, a group of people suddenly appeared and squeezed behind my back. Just when I was turning back to find out what was happening, one aunty asked "Cuse me, can you move aside or not?".

WTH! Aunty, I was there first lor! But what to do? One shalt not argue with an aunty, or in this case, a group of aunties and uncles. So I left quietly but angrily.

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau

Notice the "East meets West" stone lions at the edges.

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau

And the scary skeleton too!

Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau

One of the must-eat in Macau is the Portuguese egg tart. But while you can find it everywhere, not all Portuguese egg tarts are created equal. We were there for the real thing, and so we took a MOP90(SGD15) cab ride all the way to Lord Stow's Bakery. The Portuguese egg tarts are really worth the ride! The skin is crispy and layered, the custard eggy but not too thick, and the caramelised top skin is fragrant yet not too sweet. And since we paid for the cab to take us all the way there, we bought 6 egg tarts for 2 of us. Of course we couldn't finish them all! But even on the next day, the left overs were still good!

Portuguese egg tarts

After eating the Portuguese egg tarts, we took a stroll along the sea side.

Scenery by the sea in Macau

Spotted another bright yellow church!

A cathedral in Macau

After we had digested much of our Portuguese egg tarts, we took another cab and headed for the famous pork chop sandwich at Cafe Tai Lei! This place sells pork chop sandwich on baguette, butter bun and sandwich bread. The baguette pork chop sandwich appears to be the best one which is only sold at 3pm daily with limited quantity. By the time we reached the cafe, it was already four plus so the baguette sandwich was already sold out.

But still, it's the same pork chop right? So we ordered the butter bun version. But boy were we disappointed. The pork chop was cold, and so it was hard. The butter bun was... well, just butter bun. They're also famous for their curry fish ball and so we ordered one as well but was disappointed as well. The curry is kinda too diluted for our liking, and the fish balls... you can get the same from Old Chang Kee and cheaper.

Pork chop bun and curry fish balls in Macau

And then we had another slow stroll to digest the pork chop bun and curry fish balls...

kids cycling in front of a temple in Macau

on the street of Macau

One of the oldest temple in Macau, the A-Ma temple is dedicated to the seafarers' goddess dates from the early 16th century. According to legend, A-Ma was a poor girl on a fishing boat on the way to Canton when a storm blew up and wrecked all the ships nearby except the fishing boat carrying the girl. She then stepped onto Macau and vanished, only to reappear as a goddess, on the spot where the fishermen built this temple.

The A-Ma temple is not very big, but there are gods and goddesses in the temple and all over the little hill behind it. My mom's wise words said that whenever one pass by a temple, one must go in and pray. But while youngsters like us obediently paid for the MOP20(SGD3.30) bunch of joss-sticks and went urn to urn to pray to each and every god and goddess, we overheard some China Chinese tourists refusing to pay for the joss-sticks... what the...

The old A-Ma temple in Macau

Rock in A-Ma temple

A tree in A-Ma temple to bless loving couples

Wishes made in A-Ma temple

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eat my way to Macau - The Macau Immigration was like a scene from WWII

This morning we were going to take a Turbojet from Hong Kong to Macau. Since the ride takes slightly less than an hour, we packed some breakfast from the local bakery to eat on the ferry. I really love to drink Vitasoy whenever I'm in Hong Kong. It just tastes so much better than any of those Yeos or even Marigold "fresh" soya bean milk. Definitely more "beany".

White-chan's breakfast on the ferry to Macau

When we got off the ferry and reached immigration, we were in for a shock. It was as if we were in the midst of World War II and the Japanese were here to attack us again so everyone was fleeing the country and the whole ferry point was in chaos. I could almost see a couple being pushed away from each other by the chaotic crowd and the woman accidentally slided the man's Soviet Titus watch off his wrist...

Then the shouting and yelling of a China tour lead brought me back to reality. Apparently she was yelling at her fellow China tour lead who had happily led his group to cut her group's queue. And apparently she wanted to share her anger with the rest of the world and thus her loud voice.

We knew we could not survive queuing (or not queuing) with the China Chinese tourists with their tour leader generals, so we found one queue with more ang mors (not difficult to locate tall ang mors anyway) which is way more... peaceful.

It was then that we could really see the contrast between the China Chinese queues and non-China Chinese queues. While our queue seemed longer, we had civilised breathing space from the ang mor in front of us and the Korean gals behind us. The China Chinese queue opposite us seemed much shorter, but they were packed more compact than a can of sardines. In fact at one point, some of them started yelling at each other again in the queue, and then I suddenly realised there were some Singaporeans behind our queue somewhere. Because I heard someone muttered "Aiyah, shout so much for what? Fight lah!".

Finally we got out of the ferry point and took the free shuttle bus to The Landmark Macau. Due to the vast number of hotels competing for customers, most of Macau's five-stars hotels provide shuttle services. Some of the bigger ones even have kawaii gals standing outside the ferry point to get tourists to go to their hotels!

While our hotel shuttle was just a small van, the room was actually pretty big. Hey T.T. Durai, I've even got my own golden taps! And all these for less than SGD200 a night, it's quite a steal.

Macau Landmark Hotel

Macau Landmark Hotel

On the way from the hotel to the Portuguese restaurant Restaurante Platao, we realised how the whole Macau is overflowing with tourists, especially at the shops along the way. And after losing our way and seeking help from the tourism office, we were delighted to find the restaurant tagged away at a quiet corner.

Portuguese restaurant in Macau

Portuguese restaurant in Macau

Portuguese food in Macau

These fried balls are made of some Portuguese salted fish and mashed potatoes, and apparently only available in Macau. Not bad though I'm not sure I tasted the Portuguese salted fish.

Portuguese food in Macau

The baked duck rice is supposed to be a famous dish for the restaurant and they sell only limited number of dishes per day. The rice tasted like glutinous rice, fragrant and chewy which I like, and the duck meat in the rice added texture to it. But the sausage was a bit too salty. I think I prefer our chicken claypot rice...

Portuguese food in Macau - Baked duck rice

When ordering, the waitress mentioned that we did not order any vege, so we ordered the eggplant, which we didn't expect it to turn out so gigantic! Although the cheesy minced meat and the eggplant was tasty, it was way too much for two! But guess what? The cauliflower that the two gals on the next table ordered was gigantic as well!

Portuguese food in Macau

Though we were super full after eating the gigantic eggplant, we had to order this dessert which is supposed to be a Macau specialty that is originated from this restaurant. I can't really tell how they do it, but it tasted good. Like some ice-cream cake topped with fine bits of biscuits.

Portuguese food in Macau

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eat my way to Hong Kong - 250 steps to Big Buddha

Yes I know Big Buddha sounds kinda literal translation. In fact, they call it Giant Buddha on the official tourism website. But when we were there, we saw the sign "This way to Big Buddha". No, we didn't bring any post-it note to correct it.

The Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

The Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

The Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

The Giant Buddha is next to the Po Lin Monastery. The whole place is supposed to be religious and quiet. But no, after a place is labelled as "tourist attraction", be prepared for bus loads of noise.

The steps do look scary from the bottom, but the way up was actually not that tiring. In fact we counted 250 steps, which is even less than the 272 steps in Batu Cave!

250 steps leading to the Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

The view at the top is indeed beautiful. Besides the never-ending stream of tourists, there are 6 other smaller statues up there, but the view of the mountains in the far is the view to look out for.

Statues at the Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

View of mountains from the Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

View of mountains from the Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

You can actually get below the Giant Buddha where it houses some shrines and souvenir stores. Oh, Anita Mui's shrine is there as well so you can pay her a respect if desired. But I don't really care for the souvenir shops there. I mean, isn't there kind of not right to do business beneath the Giant Buddha?

The Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

The Giant Buddha of Hong Kong

Temple next to the Giant Buddha

Back in Kowloon, we went to the Honeymoon Dessert Shop to take a break. They are famous for their mango and durian desserts, so we ordered a mango pomelo sago dessert which was refreshing and filled with juicy sweet mangoes, a mango pancake with super light cream and silky soft crepe and more juicy sweet mangoes, and a black rice in almond paste. The black rice tastes like our o-bi-bei but with more texture due to the little corn bits in it. The almond paste was really good too, sweet and fragrant, and not powderly at all.

My friend was saying that this dessert shop has a branch in Vivocity in Singapore too, but I wonder whether the quality is just as good.

Mango pancake

This has got to be our most expensive dinner in the whole trip. It's chili crab time! Who says only Singapore got chili crab? We walked to the famous Qiao Tei Chili Crab which is literally translated to Chili Crab Under The Bridge. And the restaurant is indeed under a flyover...

Though it was already pretty late for dinner, the restaurant was still super packed! We even had to share table with a Hong Kong couple and a Japanese couple! We ordered a small crab at HKD300+ (which is about SGD50+) which was just nice for two. Unlike our creamy chili crab, the Hong Kong chili crab is actually fried dry with minced crispy chili garlic bits. The garlic bits are a bit too spicy for me, but they are real delicious and I have to eat them with white rice even if I must drink up my tea!

We also ordered a plate of mantis prawns (don't know why the locals call them "peeing prawns"!) which also turned out to be fried with minced crispy chili garlic bits! But the strange thing is that these chili garlic bits taste different from the ones in the crab! Oh well, never mind since they are just as delicious in their own way! My only complain is that the mantis prawns are rather small and not very meaty...

Hong Kong chili crab

Mantis prawns fried in chili garlic

After the chili seafood dinner, I packed a herbal jelly back to cool my body down. I heard that these herbal jelly in Hong Kong are made with real tortoise shells...

Herbal jelly made of tortoises shells