Tourists are so darn easy to sniff out. If you’ve been to Macau, you’d know the Ruins of St Paul’s (大三巴牌坊) but a one-sided wall, completely demolished and naked in the back. So the first-timers (like us) would still clamour for pictures with the famed 16th-century complex, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. 68 steps would lead you to the southern stone façade, behind which lies the remains of the original pillars and a shrine. A wee bit of secret: the locals would tell you it’s customary to throw coins into the top window of the ruins from the stairs, for good luck.
From here, you can spot the stone façade, far left. Pretty deconstructed huh?
As we got closer, I realised it was just a one-dimensional wall. Didn’t stop me from my touristy shots!
Way to the ‘top’ – 68 easy-peasy steps! And so crowded on a late February weekday, we had to jostle a few elbows outta our way. Since this wall’s one of ’em things you’ve got to check off your Macau Bucket-lists, we made it to the top and beyond.
The best entitlement of a tourist is not being taken for a fool at stupid pictures. Here I am receiving a scroll from…some great Chinese scholar! (My bad, I can’t even remember names of half of my university Professors.) I CAME IN LIKE A CAAAANON-BAAAALLL (way before wreckingball became a thing)
Next best tourist entitlement: you don’t get judged for meaningless hand gestures in awkward I-don’-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands shots.
Not far from the Ruins of St Paul’s is the Museum of Macau, filled with relics from the time Macau was part of Portuguese empire, and also most importantly these were sacred and holy relics of art. Read: Museu De Arte Sacra = Museum Of Sacred Art.
The Museum of Macau is located in the famous Monte Fortress, in the heart of the city where the Portuguese first set foot. Being a fortress from where battles were fought and Macau defended, actual live cannons were left behind.
I had a hard time saying goodbye to the cannon I grew so fond off. They made a good war relic, and a decent sunbed.
Herein lies the footpath from midlevel (outdoors) to the top of Museum of Macau. Great weather, amazing scenery and good company makes for a fantastic walk.
Right at the top is where you see a grand entrance to the Museum. Conventionally, you’re meant to enter from the ground floor. The top floor consists of a garden, a small still fountain, and the fortress formation in which cannons are still located.
So the view from the top stole my heart! I loooove the vantage point, though ought to have been scared shitless standing so close to the edge. All I really wanna do is get close to the heart of the city.
Further snapshots from within the Fortress walls.
Every city I go, I try to get the bird’s eye view. Much like the Eiffel of Paris or Burj Khalifa of Dubai. It pretty much lays the city out at your feet for a much clearer picture than any map will provide you.
“I looked to the ceiling and told God, “God, next time I want an adventure, strike me with lightning. You have my permission.”
― Kristen Ashley, The Gamble
We were crazy for adventure and found our answer in Macau. The idea came like a flash of lightning. So with one day to spare we grabbed a pair of ferry tickets and bopped our way to the land of egg-tarts, casinos and tea-houses. I expected a whole new environment much like the gambling sitcoms we occasionally glimpse channel-surfing, but Macau is really an amalgam of new world Hong Kong with traditional Portuguese influences. What really amazed us – casinos were entities made of everything shiny, glazed with glamour and all that glitters that is actually gold.
Starving, we stuffed our faces with the island’s most traditonal Portuguese egg-tarts (or so every store says)
Then meandered the streets of Macau on foot. The air tingles with hope, because most people there were keeping their dreams alive. Making it big at the gambling den, or simply making it out alive.
Look what we found! Art in the heart of the city.
God knows who created these art but they are pretty darn amazing.
In Macau, basically, you can find hand-made pastries and cookies every-damn-where. It’s like stores fight for business. It’s what this place is known for, and all tourists are suckers for. We all want to bring a piece of Macau home. Almond biscuits, pork-floss crisps, handrolls. As traditional as it gets. I love their almond biscuit and egg-rolls which are out-of-this world. I have never gone for another bakery’s eggrolls ever since. Especially since Koi Kei makes the best egg-white egg-rolls, ooh lala.
My favourite is still Koi Kei – never have I gone home empty-handed from Hong Kong and he’s the reason why.
So since we’re on this topic, more food-talk and less sight-seeing! Sharetea in Macau is actually a cafe. The bustling cafe scene in Macau isn’t hipster at all…this is as hippie as it goes. Traditional teahouses, or cha-chan-teng 茶餐廳, which are known for eclectic dishes from Hong Kong cuisine and Hong Kong Western fusion cuisine, are more prevalent.
Food’s always the start of an adventure, as Anthony Bourdain puts it well: “I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure”. Every culture has its food norms. Anyone else finds it interesting MacDonalds’ caters to every country’s needs? Here’s a Red Bean pie from Macau. I still miss it.
Part One here was all about what we ingested plus wall murals we caught (well if I could inhale and live off devouring art I would but unfortunately graffiti is not food). The next one and thereafter’s all about the view, and what essentially keeps people coming to Macau. The mystery of the casinos maybe… I for one enjoyed walking through the Portuguese cemetery, reading headstones of all who’s walked the land and had the means to buy themselves a place here after death. #morbid
“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there,
not even poverty, nor sudden money,
nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong
nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition
So we found two very different bridges padded with lovelocks of all shapes and sizes – symbols of timeless promises and devotion to one’s significant other-halves. The first one, Vedettes du Pont Neuf, was tucked away in a corner along La Seine (so if you walked down Notre-Dame to the Louvre you’ll see it on your right-hand side). Unlike the more popular lovelock bridge at Pont des Arts, this one hasn’t collapsed.
Who could resist not taking selfies in Paris? Couples wishing to locate a spot for their locks will find a better chance at this place, and the view of La Seine is equally if not more breathtaking (sans the human congestion and men touting tourists to pay for souvenirs or a well-taken photograph).
Oh what a face only a célibataire on a bridge of love would make.
Onwards to the legitimate lovelock bridge – the Pont des Arts overlooking Pont Neuf at the Louvre Museum! The sheer number of locks amazed me, it’s really no wonder parts of the bridge have collapsed from the weight. Each day hundreds of new locks are added to the walls along the bridge, and seldom have any been unlocked or removed until the recent collapse. Many locks date back to the ’90s! Lovelock bridges are always a sight to behold – the greater significance of the locks far outweighs its physical presence on the bridge. So much hope for the future goes into each, of which the keys are deliberately lost. There’s no question why Pont des Arts remains an important icon in the City of Love.
Probably the only time you can catch the night scene outside St Peter’s Square is if you spend the night at Vatican City, or if you’re reading this as I’m about to show you a couple of my night scene captures. Outside St Peter’s Basilica on the day we arrived, there was a huge preparation for an important religious mass that would take place the day after, hence in the evening and well into the night, throngs of people gathered outside St Peter’s Square, setting up temporary food stalls and flea-market style cabins showcasing collections of costume jewellery, fine jewellery, art, tourist mementos, souvenirs, little collectibles of Vatican’s finest architecture, and flowers – from fine skinny stalks to big fluffy bouquets. As midnight approached, the crowd thinned, and melancholic street-lamps were just about the only ones creating shadows on the sidewalks. This is Vatican City at night, for you.
Bringing to you a quick showcase of the world’s smallest independent state – all 109 acres (44 hectares) around St. Peter’s Basilica and the palace of the Vatican. In and around are beautifully preserved cultural sites, lush green gardens, and museums which feature some of the world’s most famous sculptures and paintings. Home to architectural inputs of Bramante, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Maderno and Bernini, its chapels and homes distinctly echoes of Baroque and of the Renaissance.
The view from the top of Vatican City’s St Peter’s Basilica was exhilarating, breathtaking, and worth the claustrophobia-inducing flight of stairs we had to take to the top. Once in your life, or perhaps through somebody else’s eyes, you should see Vatican City from its proudest heights. Here are some pictures I snapped, enjoy!
We were both blessed and unlucky to have arrived in Vatican City the day before a huge and important event for the Catholic Church. Many parts of the basilica were closed due to preparations for mass. On the upside, we got to witness the procession which arrived to prep the church up. There were massive tables, grand velvet chairs and draped upholstery.
Due to a 3GB flurry of photographs I’d taken of Vatican City, there was a need to split my posts on St Peter’s Basilica into 4 separate pieces (and more to come!).
Ancient art, very much still alive today. The pure gold in reflecting sun’s rays ignites a sense of silent power that only a calm basilica would bring. Mass in this majestic interior must have been a truly empowering and significant event. Am amazed at how this Panasonic Lumix GF6 of mine was able to capture this beauty in all its stunning glory.
Be amazed at what human beings have achieved. Some dedicate their lives to creating art – intricate gold and bronze details adorn every inch of the ceiling at the St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. How did they get there, you ask. How did the people of the past achieve incredible feats like these. Patience, loads and loads of personal devotion to their craft. In short, people lived and breathed their art.
Rome was not built in a day. Pardon the cliche but it’s all I could think about right here and right now. The Colosseum is the icon of Roman masculinity being the site of many heroic battles fought within its colossal proportions. I’ve had the nagging suspicion that the Colosseum’s root word comes from Colossus, the legendary bronze statues of Helios at Rhodes, to complement it’s majestic size. I can’t help but imagine the sheer amount of bravery it must have took for gladiators to step onto that battle arena, knowing that this could jolly well be their last fight. I’ve also in my mind’s eye likened the battlefield to the modern day World Cup stadium. It’s just as grand, and it takes every amount of courage and pride a soccer player could possibly muster just to step onto a soccer field – all in the name of glory.
“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
– George Bernard Shaw
On close inspection undepicted in the pictures, passers-by have scribbled crass comments below the masterpieces. Which I could not understand. Which drove me senseless. An approval of ribaldry? Or a subversion of the fact ordinary humans cannot accept the salacious or risqué unless relegated to the artistic, stripped of life and existence. Is crudeness of reality really unbearable? Or have we been using art as a means of informally embracing the uncouth, while self-righteously, audaciously hating on all that is deemed offensive and lewd, just so we could appear respectable.
If art is where we truly become ourselves, then is it not reality?
So with all due respect to George Bernard Shaw, the crudeness of art makes the world bearable.
As seen in a beautiful park in Frankfurt Germany. A lovely place, otherwise graffiti-ed to no end. But still lovely.
Legend has it: a boat carrying Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) capsized at Ko Samui, killing the old couple who, for their son’s sake, were sailing to Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of their in-law’s daughter. The locals believed then that their organs turned into the rock formations which are now widely known as the Grandpa and Grandma rocks (Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks). No prize for guessing which body parts they came from!!
Ake drove us all to this south coast; the rocks are located between Hua Thanon and Lamai Beach, roughly 17 kilometres from the airport. How did these rocks come about?
It’s a puzzlement as to how these rocks came about, in such close proximity, if we choose not to believe in the folklores of the local community. Nature’s imitation of Art (artistic ribaldry) continues to amuse and baffle us beings. Seriously, mortal art will never match up to the art of nature.
Grandma rock was partially submerged due to the high tides and the area was cordoned off because a tourist had slipped and fallen to his/her death a couple of weeks ago. This is what the Hin Yai Rock looks like!
Ravenous from a gruelling session of Muay Thai, we feasted heartily on a meal of sushi and soft-shell crab salads! Am so in love with Muay Thai now too, except on days when I get nasty bruises, like on my elbows!! Would love to kick some real asses when I get more proficient. Robert, our instructor, gives Beth and I great advice for self-defense. In fact, Muay Thai is really a useful craft that all girls ought to consider picking up.
Inspired by LP Cover Lover, an amazing site containing the world’s greatest collection of record album covers from the golden age of LPs, I checked out Amoeba Music on my recent trip to San Francisco.
Occupying a 24,000 square foot former bowling alley on the eccentric Haight-Ashbury district, Amoeba Music is the world’s largest independent record and vinyl music store. The sheer size is insane. I literally had a jaw-drop moment when I saw floor to ceiling shelves chocked full of CDs, cassettes and records.
If my parents had still kept their vinyl from the ’70s I would have considered getting the players
Despite the impossible size, the store is impressively well-organized.
Just look at their cassettes collection.
And from these books you can check if your desired CDs are available.
I went with a bunch of people who weren’t planning on returning empty-handed, so we spent an entire afternoon flipping through records and grooving to the tracks on free-listening stations.
Now, onto the amazing LP Covers I’ve found!
Here you go, LP cover lovers.
Despite getting lost in the store for hours, I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg. There are too much awesome stuff in here.
Amoeba Music even stocks up on AudioBooks
Amoeba Music’s selection of vintage gig posters and ’70s pinup printables was just as impressive as their music collection.
Madonna’s 1987 gig at Madison Square Garden.
THE ROLLING STONES
Even Elvis Presley
We barely grazed the punk, rock and roll section and already the sun was setting.
If you’re here on a collector’s mission, do plan a list of records you’re looking for!
For non-LP-collectors like me, you’ll never know what you’ll unearth amongst the mountains of vintage and contemporary music. Art, loads of hidden jems, crazy album covers (and apparently loads of dust, true to a vintage store). This place is truly holy ground for music fanatics.
1855 Haight St
(between Shrader St & Stanyan St)
San Francisco, CA 94117
Someday I’d wish to be a true backpacker in Brisbane;
just my haversack & laptop for a couple of weeks.
Too many amazing streets to stroll along, colors and sights to see,
vintage buildings to admire, and entertaining buskers to applaud.
Liberal-minded people to talk to and be impressed by.
Talents abound and magic to be discovered.
Pictorial Walk-through…of BRISBANE!!
Because I literally went everywhere on foot.
Queer little creature encountered on the pavement of Queen Street Mall.
Anyone knows what it is? Pelican?
Albert Lane. Loads of teenagers and the younger set in this district.
Look what I found!
A little piece of home in a foreign land!
Am always fascinated by foodcourts that offer ‘Singaporean Cuisine’
I have to check books out in every single country. It’s a no-go action.
For many reasons, I’m so thankful this came out blurred.
Firstly I was out gallivanting alone right after a much-needed sleep.
This bunch of men came up to ask for a photo, as if they’ve never seen Asians in their land.
So they took this shot with my camera as well as this person’s phone.
I was so afraid they were gonna run away with my digicam.
Still, strange yet funny.
This building is too pretty I had to post twice,
in 2 different light settings.
Coffee and dance;
2 of my favourite things
Raunchy extreme circus with some porn and nudity, which a LOT of people were queueing up for
Quaint shopping mall which I happened to stumble upon along Queen Street.
A Colonel’s suit, probably one that has sailed the seven seas.
AMAZING BUSKERS!! I met a magician that day which amazed the hell out of me.
This band, PLUDO, were just as entertaining.
Will be uploading videos of them soon! They have their own CDs and gigs,
but they’re doing street busking to garner more popularity.
My take-home drystores and snacks.
I was up till late writing that night at Pullman Brisbane King George Street,
and barely slept although the hotel bed was, as always, incredibly comfortable.
Brisbane was incredible. I’ll be back soon enough.
Just landed Taipei…
And next up, Copenhagen!!!
I’m quite tired to be very frank, but the adrenaline sets in whenever I touch down on somewhere new.
Where’s the sense of adventure if you’re out there and not exploring??
Couple of days ago I revived the much-missed feel of carrying dead-weight heavy books in my arms…
by hitting the public library!
Which, sadly I have avoided since, 4 years ago, I found actual shit between pages of Nora Roberts.
By then I’ve forced myself to accept the fact that people do bring public books
into places where they do their private businesses.
So please, anyone who’s reading this, do not smear public books with your booger, poo,
pasta cream sauce, or stuff you wouldn’t want to see in close proximity while enjoying your favourite novel.
My take-home reads: Hester’s Story by Adèle Geras Citadel by Kate Mosse The Suitors by Cécile David-Weill Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans Blindspot by Jane Kamensky & Jill Lepore
Reveling in the freedom to read everything I’ve ever wanted to
given the time I have between flights, in the hotel, or in cafès with my latte.