Saturday, 21 February 2009

The second day in Macau: from the sacred to the profane

largo do senado

The next morning I took some time to meander around Largo do Senado, and popped into the pretty but not particularly remarkable baroque 17th century church of St Dominic.

The previous day we had seen a lighthouse from the vatage point of Monte Fort, discovered that it was on the Guia fort and thought it would be interesting to visit it the next day. After our taxi debacle the day before, we decided to take a bus there. Bus stops in Macau have a list of the stops made in both English and Cantonese, so by photographing the Cantonese sign of where we wanted to go we were able to ask the bus driver if we were going to right way. It’s a good thing we did this, as the first bus we tried to get on would’ve taken us in the wrong direction.

Lighthouse and Chapel of Our Lady of Guia, Guia Fort

We rode a very sedate cable car to the top of Guia Fort, and then had a pleasant walk through the park. The park includes a children’s play area with some swings: I couldn’t resist. I love going on swings, it had been absolutely ages since I’d done so, and I spent a very satisfying fifteen minutes seeing how high I could go, possibly much to the amusement of a pair of teenage girls.

I would not have thought that the top of the highest point in the city would’ve been a very sensible place to build an air raid shelter, but there was one there nonetheless, peopled with a selection of shabby and somewhat bilious looking mannequins.

Outside the rather appealing lighthouse and Chapel of our Lady of Guia, was this interesting display of what at first I thought was modern art, but turned out to be an old fashioned way of communicating weather conditions. Each one means a different sort of weather, although I’ve forgotten what exactly they symbolise, and would be hung outside the lighthouse to alert sailors.

weather warning signs, Guia Fort

The Chapel was decorated inside with a series of simple and seemingly completely non religious frescoes, although I suppose the lion in this one could be the symbol of St Mark the Evangelist.

fresco, Chapel of Our Lady of Guia

A short walk from Guia Fort is the charming and labyrinthine Kun Iam Temple. There is more than a hint of Mediterranean Catholic kitschness in the way the shrines are decorated with flower fairy lights, and the statues themselves are fierce looking red faced deities. The doorway lintels are decorated with fascinating and detailed carvings of gods doing their god thing. If you walk through the shrine rooms there is a quiet walled courtyard garden filled with various potted plants, although going back I got a bit lost and accidentally wandered into a private room where a monk was taking a nap!

shrine, Kun Iam Temple

That evening we took advantage of the cool night air coming through a hole in the wall at the end of the corridor our ‘rooms’ were on to sit out by the hole, play cribbage and having a few glasses of vodka. The reason that there was a hole in the wall is that they are currently renovating half of the guesthouse. The reason they are renovating it is because it fell down.

Cribbage is a north Mid-Western card game that A and her parent’s taught me on our trip, which is surprisingly addictive. Although it has probably taken me well over a month to remember most of the rules and even now I forget some of them, especially after a few glasses. The main gist of the game to collect 15s, pairs or more of the same card and runs of consecutive numbers. It’d be a great game to play in schools, as I’ve seen a real improvement in my mental maths skills since I started playing, but it would probably be inappropriate as the children would enjoy it.

After playing for a while we all got an attack of the munchies, so went out to forage. We found a little local restaurant, and using the ever useful skill of pointing at pictures on the wall, conveyed to the waiter that we wanted four plates of spring rolls. They arrived with a fluorescent pink sauce for dipping, which tasted like it might have been a version on sweet and sour. After scoffing them down, we retired, ready for an early start for Hong Kong in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. The chapel and lighthouse look like an interesting side trip. Really weird that the air raid shelter was up high in the city.
    Hope you didn't wake up that monk!