Macau is a city with two faces. On one hand, it is the famed Las Vegas of the East, where the thrill of beating the dealer at the blackjack table lures wealthy tourists from mainland China and neighboring Hong Kong to try their luck. But on the other hand, there is a side of Macau rarely explored. A side filled with charismatic fortresses, churches and culture of its former colonial master, Portugal. One such site is The Historic Centre of Macau, which spans eight historic squares filled with classical colonial and oriental buildings. Unearthing Asia explores the notable highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Senado Square has been the centre of Macau since the beginning, and plays host to many public events and festivities. Within the square are several notable architectures, such as Sam Kai Vui Kun (Kuan Tai Temple), Leal Senado Building and Holy House of Mercy. The Kuan Tai Temple is situated on the site of the old Macau bazaar, a very important trading centre during the Chinese commercial period in Macau. After the decline of the bazaar, the temple rose to importance in the area.
The Barra Square faces the Inner Harbour, and its front part is constructed from famed Portugese mosaic. The tiles are laid in a wavy pattern to mirror the flow of a nearby river. Within the square is A-Ma Temple, the oldest and longest surviving building in Macau. When the first Portugese settlers arrived in the 16th century and asked for the name of the place, they were told “A-Ma Gau”, the name of the temple instead. This was then transcribed by the settlers into the Portugese Macau.
St Augustine’s Square
This square brings together several notable sites, including St Augustine’s Church, the Dom Pedro V Theatre, St Joseph’s Seminary and Church, and the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library. The Dom Pedro V Theatre was the earliest western-styled theatre in China, and was originally built to commemorate Kind Pedro V.
Lilau in Portugese means “mountain spring”, and this used to be the principal source of water in Macau. Within the Lilau Square are the Mandarin’s House and Moorish Barracks. The Mandarin’s House was the residence of the famed Chinese thinker Zheng Guanying. The Moorish Barracks nearby was built by the Italian architect Cassuto, but curiously shows Islamic influence in its design.
Ruins of St Paul’s
The Ruins of St Paul refers to the facade of what was originally the Church of Mater Dei built in 1602-1640. Destroyed by fire in 1835, the Ruins also refer to the ruins of St Paul’s College, which stood adjacent to the Church. As a whole, the old Church of Mater Dei, St Paul’s College and Mount Fortress were perceived as Macau’s “acropolis”. Today, the Ruins of St Paul are one of Macau’s most famous landmarks, and in 2005 were officially enlisted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best cheap holiday ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
From water-sports to shopping, the island of Bali has it all. Pamper yourself with a chocolate spa treatment before partying the night away at one of its trendiest nightspots, all this while squeezing a gourmet meal in between. Here are some of the must-do things in the Islands of God.
No trip to Bali is complete without experiencing the hillside tranquility of Ubud. Fresh off winning the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Magazine award as the World’s Best City, the small hill-side town is now abuzz with tourism and renewed popularity. However, there are still spots to relax and unwind. Head to Dirty Duck Cafe (Warung Bebek Bengil) for a tasty serving of crispy, deep fried duck with mouth-watering sambal on the side. Various trekking and cycling tours are also available for you to take through the maze of never-ending terraced paddy fields.
When it comes to shopping in Bali, there is only one place for fashionable trendsetting locals who knows not to judge a book by its cover – Seminyak. This shopping area on the southern coast of Bali is filled with fashionable treasures waiting for you to unearth. BIASA is the undisputed queen of fashion, a chapel of cool selling classics for grown ups and a few flirty styles for the younger crowd too. Other local favorites are Paul Ropp, Papillion, Innuendo and Flamingo, which you can read further in our exploration of Seminyak.
Arts & Crafts
The arts and crafts scene in Bali is well developed and highly sought after in the international market. Numerous artists have made Bali their home, drawing from the colorful culture and charming island life Bali has to offer as their inspiration. Balinese wood carving is popular amongst tourists, and you can find some of the best in business at Tegallalang, Pujung and Sebatu. For elegant ceramics, Jenggala Ceramics in Jimbaran is the place to go. The spacious gallery, just 10 minutes away from the airport, offers world-class, locally made crockery at reasonable prices, in a wide range of designs.
While Bali is no longer a frontier surfing destination, it still boasts some of the best surfing spots in the world. It has over 20 top quality breaks on the southwest and southeast coast of the island, and there are a wide range of breaks to cater all skill levels. Beginners can head to Kuta Beach to enroll at the various surfing schools available, while other areas, such as Uluwatu and Padang, offer world-class reef-breaks for those of higher skill level.
Tourists can head towards Lovina, 3 hours north of Kuta, which is famed for their dolphin sight-seeing tours. These tours leave the main beaches each morning at dawn, with the price usually set at Rp75,000 per person. If you are in a group, chartering your own boat maybe a more worthwhile option.
Sip a Good Martini
For Bali’s best martini, drop into the legendary Naughty Nuri’s Warung on Jl Raya Sanggingan, a 10-minute drive west from the centre of Ubud. The classic chilled martini and margaritas are some of the best you’ll find on the island, and they also serve a mean pork ribs. The atmosphere is casual and relaxing, a perfect way to while away your afternoon after a tiring day.
If partying is high on your list then the Kuta Beach area is where you want to go. Here, the party starts late at around midnight and goes on all night into the wee hours of the morning. Think noisy discotheques full of drunk tourists and locals, with various dance shows to draw in the crowd. Hulu Cafe prides itself as “the only real gay bar in Bali”, and has drag shows three times a week which can be quite fun. Casablance, Peanuts, Bounty Ship, M-Bar-Go and Sky Garden are a few of the numerous watering holes in the area ready to serve you whatever drinks you may want.
As the bastion of luxury travel in South East Asia, Bali boasts some of the world’s best in the art of spa pampering. Kayumanis Private Villa & Spa offers the ultimate indulgence – a pampering of chocolate spa treatment. It combines traditional Balinese massage using chocolate oils, followed with a chocolate scrub, chocolate bath, chocolate facial and finally, a serving of chocolate ice cream to top it off at the end. Plenty other hotels and villas offers high-quality Balinese massage using special medicated oils to help you relax and unwind.
Eat Like a King
Bali is home to some of the finest restaurants in the region, offering high-end culinary treats mixed with the great island atmosphere and friendly face. Over the years, there have been a few mainstays, such as the legendary Ku De Ta, Sarong Bali, and Kafe Warisan (which is now revamped as Metis). The price is steep, but like they always said, you do get what you pay for.
Tanjong Benoa is Bali’s premier water-sports hub, with various activities available for you to choose from. Parasailing, snorkeling, jet-skis, wake-boarding and banana-boats are but a few of the choices available here. There are also white-water rafting operators further up north, near Ubud area, with the the Telagawajah and Ayung River being two of the most popular options.
There are quite a few scuba diving sites around Bali. Some of the popular ones are – wreck-divingat Tulamben in the east, the serene reefs around Menjangan Island, and drift diving off Nusa Penida in the south. For beginners there are also various dive centres affiliated with PADI and SSI offering introductory courses.
Climb Mount Agung
Mount Agung is the highest mountain on the island of Bali, which holds a huge spiritual significance to the people of the island and is home to the Temple of Besakih. There are three climbing routes up the mountain, and all are quite difficult and only suitable for the physically fit. The rewards however, are most definitely worth it, with some awe-inspiring views of the mountains across flat rubble plains. Getting a local guide is a must, with fees varying from USD40 to USD100 depending on how you arrange the guide, the route taken and the level of English expected of the guide.
Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best last minutes holidays ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.
About the Author. Parthajit. Parthajit is a nature & landscape photographer and trekker with travel experience in the Indian Himalayas (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh), Western Ghats (India), Thailand, New Zealand, and Japan.