Macau

You know, it’s like Macau in May.

A text, right after another one, beeped. I imagine the classic ‘Welcome to Macau! Make a call for billions/min and receive a call for other billions/min.” The standard text you really don’t want to get, because it’s always better you don’t know.

Only this text says “Hey darlin’, welcome in da house! Casino Golden A-hole is waiting for you with a free cocktail after the first 5 slot machines you will use”. My general feedback? what the beeeeep. How did they get my number? Where the hell I am? And this is just the beginning of disbelief.

We took a taxi. LOL, it was a rickshaw. Traffic, smog, casinos and us cycling to the city center, in a constant mix of excitement and fear. Our chaperon, still unknown which language he was talking, or how he managed to spare our lives from the homicidal run through cars and bus.

Rickshaw

Still shaking, the major square is wonderful, it’s Portugal all over it. The pastel walls, the stones on the ground and catholic churches and shops with pastels de nata..tears on my eyes. The flood of people brings you to the famous facade, ruins of a cathedral.

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The following 45 minutes are a hideaway of misplaced stupid actions! Who knew it’s pretty easy to smoke with chopsticks and to jump around mangroves? It’s May, it’s +30 degrees, it’s 99,9% humidity, it’s Macau.

We visit the fortress, at 1pm with some other tourist in desperate need of water, and from the roof we see glory and misery of this heartrending city. My camera lense along with my eyes fight the hot steam. Are we all crying in front of this fascinating decadent view? I reckon I have never seen richness and misery so melted in one another.

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Back to the humans, it’s time to take a deviation from the main street and find the most bad-ass buddist temple. Ace.

Time to fall in love with it that we visit the last point on the map, a lovely christian colony.

Macau in May is so tiring but intense that we forged a neologism “Like Macau in May” … suor e saudade, sweat and melancholy. Are we dead yet? We don’t know, but we are satisfied with everything we just survived. On the boat again, another travel is awaiting.

Please visit an extended selection of the picture I took in Macau on my Flickr page, just click here!

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Temples

Temple comes from the Latin word “templum“, a structure dedicated to religious and spiritual activities.

We all feel the need to feel connected or meaningful in this beautiful crazy life, and it’s really fascinating, sometimes overwhelming to enter in a place considered sacred by others. I put together a collection of pictures (click here!) I took of temples in HK and Macau; there were too many to publish here, so I used you can find them on Flickr.

I hope you can see the beauty and the interest I saw through my eyes and camera.

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Strangers

I now admit the fact that, whenever possible, I take pictures of strangers. Is it weirdo-material? Maybeeeee.

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Or maybe not, let’s say I am just an enthusiast of all I had/have around. But please, promise me that if I turn my blog in a cats and dogs sanctuary you are going to call somebody very competent to cure me.

This is a little collection (click here!) of people, faces, actions I saw in Hong Kong and Macau back in May. Enjoy.

And remember that “people are strange when you’re a stranger

P.S. The freak in white skin is me…

HK – take four

There was a song about Aberdeen, right?

I don’t remember the melody, nor the lyrics, but someone sang about that Scottish city, up there in the green. Before HK I didn’t even know there was also Aberdeen down there, to be honest. But it’s just at the other side of the island, one bus, a tropical forest in the middle, you’ll find it.

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Places of interest? Not so many, especially during monsoon.

Tourist stuff? Dunno, There is an aqua park, but in Summer.

Remarkable things to see? Nope, at least not in my knowledge. A science centre, maybe? I saw some traffic signals. But we saw a very big cemetery.

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Are you asking yourself why on Earth I went there?

Because so.

Because why not.

Because from the moment I got off the bus, I, a very white gal, realised I was the only white one among locals. It’s an incredible, beautiful, humble feeling.

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Tin Hau Temple

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Because I had an authentic Chinese food in a tipsy-wipsy smelling damn good tavern; everything tasted so bloody good and I could enjoy also a local soap opera on tv with all the people there. They were extremely kind with us, non-speaking hungry aliens. It was a great communion of sharing.

chinese food(sorry, I don’t take pictures before eating, I usually just eat and then remember to take it)

Impressive experience, just 30 minutes away from HK financial centre.

P.S. my travel guide smelled of fry for weeks.

HK – take three

Kowloon bound.

Because when you are in Central or Wanchai, yes you get it, but in a way you don’t get the real mental mess inside HK. Fact.

Cross the canal in a ferry, enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning and boom!, give up finding a meaning in, well, everything. Except in the concept (pardon the close assonance) “buy-sell”, because profit and consume are never intrinsically obscure.

*Insert your add here! For free for the first 1/29 of the month!!*

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Famous Tourist Spot: Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade.

Street markets, psychics, fake Rolex, cheaper phones like rain, cocktails, clothes, foot massage and food. Yeah Food.

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Food to take hipster pictures at, sushi box for 30HK$ to snack off, but also an entire restaurant to rob. Yeah food.

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In Kowloon the shopping experience is full of lights and screams and, despite the fact it might remind of a Saturday afternoon in a Western mall – and believe me I’ll never forget the police coming to the Bullring in Brum and intervening to help people get in and out the mall-, it is all more chaotic and so weirdly peculiar. It must be the humidity, or maybe I am writing on behalf of my hair.

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Hey sexy, call me, maybe?

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Peeps, lights, traffic, humidity. Want something else, Sir?

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I liked the reverse feeling when inside Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden. Wow, I think I should just let the pictures speak. There is lots to say, grasping not to be moved by the contrast religion/man and monastery/neighbourhood. The pouring rain for once was helping: by far one of the most majestic place I have ever been to.

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A whimsical soaking-wet experience, indeed.

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HK – take two

Even according to Wikipedia, Hong Kong is a disambiguation.

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Across the hilly streets in Central we lost the count of stairs and slopes. And it’s like a highway of things to watch and document about. American style bars, street markets, little sushi, international restaurant. And then tall, ruined buildings, that make your heart skip a beat when they let you peek through them: the sky white as a wall made of salt, a rare ray of light, another irresistible weird building hanging one after the other. We walked all along like a landslide, rushing our restless hearts to the next thing to see, to a discovery.

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We got stuck by the heat in a public garden along the fancy Hollywood Road, looking at the ladies and at this peculiar couple, two complete strangers who shared a bench without changing expression or interacting for more than 15 minutes. Fascinating scene.

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What strikes most maybe are the temples in the middle of the city. They are silent, almost surreal. Red and gold dominate the place. The smell on the air and the slow pace of prayers – repeat x3, I learnt- made me felt every time a humble piece of the jigsaw someone else was trying to do. There I remembered when child I was at church, and I had this naturally imposed silence during the Gospel.

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A change of plans is always on its way: call it fate, call it rain, call it HK. Walking ups and downs, the harbour is a precious shelter to sit down, look at the buildings switching their lights, putting up the show. Sunset, then Darkness came so early that we had just got used to breath and say “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” that with the big question spinning in my head ‘why do they use so so much diesel fuel everywhere? Maybe it’s the cure for my asthma’ it’s time to celebrate ourselves in a panorama bar.

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In the background Edith Piaf singing “La vie en rose”, I drink my cocktail and think that life can be beautiful, but sometimes is just beyond it. I surrender to HK and its power. Cheers.

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HK – take one

We will be landing soon, look out it’s very steamy outside.” So the captain said.

Steam. I instantaneously think of the industrial revolution, of dirty workers steering some steel bars, working on wool machine: steam clouds and Dickens’s miserable children are populating my imagination. I think I know what steam is, I have experienced it, it’s like humid, but more.

I was so wrong. Outside the airport the steamy weather, that incredible creature, punched me right there, a full fist of inexplicable, warm, wet ‘compactness’, something never felt before. It was like hitting an invisible wall every step taken. The steam was the imminent impact of the arrival, of this area. A significant entrance to another gravity.

Welcome to Hong Kong.

I like contrasts, I like looking for harmony in what it seems not appearing like that. This is why I was sure I would have loved HK.

My first chat with a local, our taxi driver, dismantled two pillars I had built the weeks before: my five sure sentences in Cantonese – shut with a ‘we locals don’t speak with those words, it’s more in Singapore maybe’ (I adored the polite maybe)- and the fact that everything you want to eat, especially crazy stuff, you’ll find it here, when the driver told me that the best food he could suggest to try was McDonalds. Doh. Or as in Germany we might say ‘komisch’.

Light rain, outside the taxi, not freshening up our tired bodies. We are guide-wised ready to find the smallest room ever built by humans, on the contrary the desolation of the buildings along our street, tall, a bit crusted –dirty? hard to say in the darkness-, weird but incredibly poignant monsters leads to a lovely big big twin room. Again, I bless my urge of travelling, to constantly tear off every cliches everywhere I go. Hong Kong’s building are like meant to give misery the best luxury state of mind.

Now, that rain brings to a tropical storm all around our first day: the sound of the thunders, right in the middle of Hong Kong Island are phenomenal. People stop during storm, often wait silently. Groups of students grabs a soda and watch the deluge. It’s still warm, actually heating up, we can feel it on our sticky skin. A remedy is to visit the financial area in Central from the inside, putting your confidence in those crazy clouds.

Well, hello finger!

Rain’s gone, but my eyes are still wet. Of wonder, of excitement. And of jet-lag, but whatever. Light now is very bright, my camera settings go bananas. Jewels of architecture around mangroves and exotic flowers, one of the best way to explain why humans should always try to improve and build and progress themselves, with a bit more respect of the nature. The payback of years of colony, invasion, economy and finance is explained in these skyscrapers. Breathtaking.

 

Another good point of stamina comes while taking the train to Victoria Peak. Around us, the childish joy of every tourists, and the click-click-click of cameras in every language comes to our first bench, first line of the train. See, HK is crazy in every possible way, and I like the fact it does not hide, instead enhances it: it may be my European point of view, but that helluva slope was impossible for humans and machines, too pendent and slippery. But we made it, and we found a great view. There, one of the most graceful thing I have seen: not the city view, yeah incredible, yeah let’s take one billion pictures and bla bla tourist stuff, but the contrast between the area around the harbour, the crazy diamond in the rough, and the green wild forest on the other side of the hill.

Right in the middle, I felt in peace.