Our readers will know we are primarily interested in sipping ’n snacking. We rarely engage in flights of fancy that eschew our primary objective. Having said that, we enjoy walking as a method to ensure our sipping ’n snacking is counter-balanced, to a degree, by exercise to ensure maintenance of our less-than-trim figures. Tough racquet!
With that in mind, we woke-up one morning, donned our walking shoes and sallied forth down the the narrow streets and luvly lanes of the “old” Taipa Village of Macau. Below, we have included some photos, which say more than words, and some thoughts regarding our stroll. For more detailed information and a useful map, we suggest you visit the Macau Government Tourist Office.
After walking through the approximately USD2 billion, nearly 3,000 room and 555,000 square meter (nearly 6 million square feet) Galaxy Hotel complex, we crossed the street to Old Taipa Village. Whew, we already felt tired from sauntering through this mega-entertainment extravaganza that boasts more brand names, slot machines, restaurants and bustling people than should be legal, well, anywhere on the planet! Can you say contrast on steroids!? Thus is the “old” vs. “new” of Taipa!
As we entered the Village, we noticed significant contrasts from the outset as new, modern buildings with intriguing architectural designs were popping up against the backdrop of the tiled sidewalks. In with the new, but definitely not out with the old. We applaud the continued, measured development with the preservation of the old Portuguese charm. We call this “intelligent gentrification”. Good on ya, Macau city planners!!!
Our first stop was at the Tin Hau Temple, which is considered the oldest (approximately 1785) such place of worship in Taipa. Tin Hau (Heavenly Empress), is also known as A-Ma, who had the power to save boats and drowning people from danger. Given the fishing and trading culture of Taipa, A-Ma is one of the most respected of all the Gods. Over the decades, we have seen other temples dedicated to Tin Hau throughout the seafaring places of southern China, and all we can say is “praise be A-Ma!”
We next crossed the lane to the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History , which was built in the late 19th century. Initially, the Municipal Council of the islands was based here (ah, government bureaucracy spreads its wings everywhere), but the venue now serves as an edifice to preserve and promote the history and culture of Taipa and Coloane. We did not venture inside this time – hey, we are philistines at heart – but we very much like the old Portuguese style of the building particularly after visiting the equally old, yet Chinese,Tin Hau Temple. Contrasts make life more interesting!
Down an alley running alongside the Museum, one encounters a courtyard with kids playing and riding bicycles and old men and women jabbering about everything from breakfast to politics to the price of watches. One simultaneously happens upon the Pak Tai Temple, which dates back to the 1850s. A dedicated worship pavilion is set up for its followers to pay tribute and offerings, which apparently is unusual for most temples. Pak Tai is believed to have the power to withstand floods and fire, which obviously would be very useful in a low-lying island like Taipa. Another solution-oriented God…good stuff!
Perhaps one of the most interesting stops along the way is Rua do Cunha. A narrow, bustling and loud pedestrian street (first such zero-car street in Macau) adorned with shops selling all types of trinkets and restaurants doling out traditional local snacks such as biscuits, egg rolls, coconut flakes and peanut candies. Folks, if you want to get a good feel for the local love of shopping ’n snacking, then this is a MUST visit. Be prepared for noise, crowds, bumping and thumping while you engage in some of the Macanese’s favourite sports!!!
After passing the Carmo Fair, we continued strolling until we reached the Kun Iam Temple, which was built around 1902. Kun Iam literally means “let’s listen to the miserable voice from this human world”. Ouch! Kun Iam also is know as the Goddess of Mercy, who had infinite wisdom and supernatural powers that could offer salvation for human suffering. OkeyDokey, we were pleased to learn Kun Iam was a solution-oriented chick!
Just when you thought Taipa Village was only for the Chinese, you are wowed by Carmo Hall, which formerly was the General Electric Bureau of the Island and now is a multi-functional activity centre for cultural performances and other similar events. Bottom line: it is definitely different than the temples and a pretty cool looking, well-preserved Portuguese style building.
Just up the street, we are wowed by Our Lady of Carmo (Carmel) Church . A Catholic church built in 1855, this light-yellow, three-storey church is a reminder of days gone by as well as a simply beautiful and peaceful setting. Directly opposite to the church is the official department for marriage registration in Taipa…love is in the air all around! By the way, please do not miss the gardens to the left of the Our Lady of Carmo Church as you face the entrance…tranquil, beautiful and worthy of a moment…
Just around the corner is a small park – Carmel Garden – dedicated to Luís Vaz de Camões, author of “Os Lusíadas – an epic poem that tells the History of Portugal and the great discovery journey of the Portugese people”. Sounds like he was a pretty cool fella!
We walked down the steps to the Taipa Houses-Museum . Arguably, the most interesting aspect of Old Taipa Village, these five, special green houses were built in 1921 (restored in 1999) and highlight Portuguese architecture. They include the “Macanese House”, the “House of the Islands”, the “House of the Portugal Regions”, the “Exhibition Gallery” and the “House for Reception”. These old colonial residential buildings beautifully recreate the atmosphere of the houses of well-to-do Portuguese families of the 20th Century. Too cool for school, we applaud the Macau Government for maintaining this little slice of history against the backdrop of casino entertainment gone wild. Definitely worthy of a visit.
We strolled by Fabrica De Panchoes Iec Long, an old firework factory and finally finished our stroll (well, we had to walk back to our hotel afterwards, but you know that story) at the I Leng Temple, which was built around 1900. Also known as Ka Sin Tong, this temple is for the worship of the God of sacred doctors, men from ancient times, who often were gifted with clairvoyance and could perform miracles. We think they must have been pretty cool dudes as we can barely see what is happening as it occurs and think our only miracle-performance is waking up every morning feeling only slightly older than the day before!
Also of interest (click to read)
Photos (Old Taipa Village)