Taipa Village, Macau

Over Chinese New Year, for only the second time ever, Tom and I took a day trip to Macau. Last time we did the main sights but this time we headed to Taipa, on the south part of Macau.

According to Wikipedia, Taipa was once a much smaller island of its own but the land between Taipa and the adjacent Colaine island was filled in with an area now called Cotai. Cotai is well known for its massive casinos, but Taipa is very different indeed!

There are regular ferries to Taipa from the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan and the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, run by Cotai Water Jet. Turbojet also runs a few services to Taipa from the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal.

Since we didn’t really know where we were going when we got there, we took a taxi from the Taipa ferry terminal to near the restaurant where we were meeting friends for lunch. Our taxi dropped us off at the end of Rua do Regador, and we were a little early so we were able to wander around the nearby streets a bit before lunch. Taipa village is a lovely mix of Chinese and Portuguese influences, with narrow streets and pretty architecture. I wish I had taken more photos of this area since it was a very nice place to walk around! I did snap one of this square though, with its large Chinese New Year (I assume) centrepiece.

Taipa village square Macau

Our lunch was at nearby Portug├ília, which I’d recommend. The food was lovely and so was the setting.

Portugalia restaurant Macau

After lunch, our large group slowly wandered up the Avenida de Carlos da Maia, past Our Lady of Carmel Church…

Our Lady of Carmel Church Taipa Macau

…and Carmel Garden.

Carmel Garden Taipa Macau

After the children played for a while on the exercise equipment there (which is really designed for the elderly!), we headed down to the Estrada de Cacilhas. These lovely restored green buildings house the Taipa Houses Museum. Alas, we have small children who aren’t very interested in museums so we didn’t go inside, so I can’t tell you what the museum is like!

Taipa Houses Museum Macau

Across the lagoon is a grand view of casinos. Slightly different from Taipa village!

Cotai Strip Macau

These decorations were also part of the Chinese New Year celebrations…

Chinese New Year decorations Cotai Macau

…sadly these trees were fake!

Fake CNY blossom Macau

If you’re heading to Macau but looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the main sights and the high rise casinos then you might want to head over to Taipa village. It’s small but I think it’s a lovely way to pass an hour or two.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Mong Kok flower market at Chinese New Year

Last Thursday I headed over to Flower Market Road in Mong Kok with a Cantonese friend of mine to take a look at the Chinese New Year decorations and flowers. Chinese people like to decorate their houses with plants and flowers for Chinese New Year so these markets are very popular. (The biggest one is a temporary one in Victoria Park which I visited a few years ago) Even on a Thursday morning it was pretty busy and I think it gets busier and busier the closer you get to Chinese New Year.

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The shops generally have some plants out on the street but this time the street displays were much bigger and were solely made up of the types of plants and flowers that are associated with Chinese New Year, such as peach blossom, orchids, lilies and a whole raft of flowers that I didn’t know the names of.

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There were also some plants which are not native to China and have to be imported from places like Europe, such as daffodils and hyacinths.

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The market was also extended into a courtyard off Flower Market Road. There were so many stalls to choose from!

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Some of the stalls had decorated plants as part of their display.

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My friend told me that married people shouldn’t have peach blossoms in their house, it should only be single people looking for love and those who are about to get married. I didn’t know that!

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These bright yellow fruit are everywhere too. I was so confused about them the first time I saw them! They look a bit like lemons but have these weird protrusions. My friend told me that Chinese people like them because they look like gold, but you can’t eat them. Jack was certainly curious too!

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Isobel was kind enough to pose for me by some flowers – a very rare thing! This is the best photo I’ve had of her for months.

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At about midday it started get very busy and we started getting hungry so we headed home. It was a fun morning, and nice to see the build up to Chinese New Year!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Candid Hong Kong – Chinese New Year horse cakes

Bakeries are everywhere in Hong Kong – perfect for someone like me with a sweet tooth! Someone suggested to me that it might be due to a Japanese influence, since bakeries are also very popular there. Either way, I found it quite surprising when we first moved here because baked goods aren’t the first thing you think of when you’re thinking of Asian cuisine! Some of the yummy goods on offer are more Asian in style, such as red bean buns and egg tarts, but there are many things that you would see in a western bakery, such as raisin bread and croissants.

Some bakeries like to have cakes that reflect special events that are going on. These horse-shaped buns were available at Chinese New Year last year to celebrate the Year of the Horse! I have to admit I didn’t try one, but I thought they were really fun!

150728 Candid Hong Kong horse cakes

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Happy Chinese New Year!

Kung hei fat choi! (that’s the Cantonese greeting said at Chinese New Year – I think it literally means ‘wishing you prosperity’) Welcome to the year of the goat… or sheep… there’s some debate about which it is since the Chinese word is the same or very similar for either. From the majority of the images and displays around Hong Kong, I would say that most people think it’s a sheep!

Here is our Chinese sheep that Tom bought me. I think he’s quite cute :)

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Below is another Chinese decoration that Tom bought. It’s a bit random! Citrus fruits, particularly small oranges or tangarines, are very popular at this time of year. I think the fruit is considered to be very auspicious. Many people have small orange plants in their homes at this time, but instead we have the soft toy version!

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We don’t really do anything to celebrate Chinese New Year ourselves but all around us it’s a busy time. It seems to be similar to Christmas in the UK in the way that everyone goes to spend time with their families, but unlike the UK, many things are still open over this period so you can still go shopping or to restaurants and attractions (in the UK, pretty much nothing is open on Christmas day apart from restaurants serving Christmas dinner!). So for us it’s a nice few days off work and a time to see friends.

This year we have ventured into the world of red packets (or ‘lai see’) for the first time. The tradition is to give packets containing money to the people who serve you, and to those younger than you. We now live in a building with doormen and have a cleaner so we have bought some red packets and are in the process of handing them out to people. We haven’t put a huge amount of money in each one, I think it’s really hard to know how much to give but I hope we’ve got it about right! You’re also supposed to use new bank notes but by the time I went to the bank earlier this week, they didn’t have any new notes left in the denominations I needed, so I have some that are ‘not too used’ instead! Again, I really hope that’s ok! (but I’m sure no-one is actually going to turn down free money…)

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We also couldn’t resist buying Jack and Isobel some cute Chinese New Year outfits. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get a good photo of them at the moment because they’re more interested in the camera you’re holding than having their photo taken! But we managed to get this shot, which isn’t too bad….

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Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Candid Hong Kong – Cherry blossoms at Chinese New Year

Here in Hong Kong they have been gearing up for Chinese New Year for a few weeks now. The big day is on Thursday and Hong Kong is now festooned with red and gold decorations and cutesy sheep (it’s the Year of the Sheep, or Goat, this year). In amongst all the gaudiness I recently saw this cherry blossom tree adorned with red packets outside a hotel and thought it looked rather pretty!

150217 Candid Hong Kong Chinese New Year cherry blossom

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Kung Hey Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year (CNY) was enjoyed by everyone in Hong Kong because there were 3 public holidays on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which made a 5 day weekend! In actual fact, CNY lasts for 15 days so it’s still ongoing but many businesses have opened again and most people are back to work now.

I found CNY here to be a little more low-key than I was expecting. It’s normally a time when families spend time together, and there weren’t that many big events on. I found this article gave a really useful summary of CNY to the lay person (e.g. British expats!).

On CNY Eve (Saturday), we went to the flower market in Victoria Park. This was a massive market where people bought flowers and other decorations for their homes. This picture only shows about half the market!

Victoria Park flower market

Citrus trees are apparently very auspicious so there were plenty to choose from.

Orange trees at Chinese New Year flower market

These strange looking fruit are called solanum mammosum, and they are apparently a type of citrus fruit too (to me they look like knobbly lemons!):

Solanum mammosum Chinese New Year decorations

And here are some more solanum mammosum arranged in a very impressive display:

Solanum mammosum display

There were loads of other types of flowers to choose from too, including the most orchids I’ve ever seen in one place…

Orchids at Victoria Park flower market

…and loads of brightly coloured chrysanthemums (we couldn’t resist buying a few of these for our home)

Brightly coloured chrysanthemums

On Monday there was a fireworks display so we wandered down to the newly renovated waterfront at Admiralty which had a great view and wasn’t too crowded. It also gave us a view of some of the CNY lights on the skyscrapers:

Hong Kong Chinese New Year lights

I was a little bemused that many of the buildings had minor tweaks to change their lights from Christmas-themed designs to CNY! I’m pretty sure this little fellow used to look a lot more like Santa…

POAD Chinese New Year decorations

The fireworks display itself was very impressive, lasting about 23 minutes and kept up a constant stream of fireworks throughout. Here’s a few photos:

Hong Kong Chinese New Year fireworks Hong Kong Chinese New Year fireworks Hong Kong Chinese New Year fireworks Hong Kong Chinese New Year fireworks

So that was our Chinese New Year! Overall a pretty relaxing and very enjoyable time to be in Hong Kong. Plus, you could get around really quickly because there was hardly any traffic!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel