(Photos by Sandy Zimmerman)
After visiting China four times, I have always been fascinated by the people and their culture and want to convey the TRUE “Macau Experience”- the sights, tastes, sounds, and “feeling” of visiting Macau. I watched several men and women “walking their birds” around the streets of Macau. Of course the birds were in their owner’s ornate bamboo cages. When I asked why, a woman replied, “Don’t you walk your dogs?” The birds are given a breath of fresh air as their owners attend daily chores. Whenever the owners are busy shopping, eating, performing Tai Chi exercises, and talking to friends, the bird cages are hung on tree branches or on wall hooks at restaurants and shops.
Walking through the Lou Lim Ioc Gardens is an extraordinary experience, an insight into their way of life. Here, in one of Macau’s most beautiful settings, the Garden offers secluded hideaways, romantic grottos, Moon gates, bamboo groves, pavilions, and ornamental mountains. A large pond is filled with golden carp and Lotus flowers. These scenes resembled Chinese paintings. I felt as though I was transported to another time. As the walkways twisted around the garden, I found one surprise after another! I suddenly came upon four women singing Chinese operas while they played ancient musical instruments. After watching them for awhile, I continued across an arched bridge and was intrigued by the skills of a lady performing a Tai Chi sin dance with two large red rice-paper fans. She combined graceful body movements with the art of telling a story with her fans. Another woman was performing an extraordinary ritualized Tai Chi dance with a sword. Each step seemed to have a meaning, each turn was choreographed as a duel with the sword. Later my path led to a nine-turn zig zagging bridge across the pond (according to legend, evil spirits only move in straight lines) to a large pavilion which combined Classical and Chinese architecture. Everywhere I have traveled in China, I saw large numbers of people performing Tai Chi exercises in parks and other public places. You might also want to see the people exercising alone or in groups around the Lou Lim Ioc Gardens. Macau’s serene Lou Lim Ioc Gardens are also the perfect spot to relax, or take a romantic stroll. The Lou Lim Ioc Chinese Garden was built by a wealthy Chinese merchant in the 19th century, and opened to the public in 1974.
Our tour continued to the old city. Taste cookies, cakes, and other food as you walk around the shops. Girls cook and prepare everything in front of you at demonstration tables outside the shops. This is a chance to try complimentary tastes before you buy some of the delicate flavors of the local food. Our tour stopped at a Chinese Medicinal Tea stand to meet the owner, a lady who diagnoses people’s symptoms and prepares special tea remedies for diarrhea, colds, sore throats, reducing, and other health problems. See the REAL Macau- the Buddhist Temples, churches, historic sites, Portuguese restaurants, attractions, and especially the PEOPLE!
Macau is a heritage of two cultures, a Portuguese colony since the 16th century, and now, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, with “one country, two systems.” Macau offers something old, something new, and something different. Macau is a cultural crossroad of East and West. They have more attractions than ever- the oldest landmarks date from the Ming Dynasty and World Heritage sites, more museums than ever, more entertainment by night and day, more selection of international dining, more places to stay, and more meeting and exhibitions rooms. Whatever questions you have about visiting Macau, contact the Macau Government Tourist Office. They can suggest different itineraries for families, singles, groups, conferences, and fun seekers. Due to the favorable exchange rate, around 8 Patacas is equivalent to 1 U. S. dollar, you will be happy to get more for your money. For free brochures and information, call
(646)-366-8162, Macau Government Tourist Office, 501 Fifth Avenue, Suite #1101, New York, New York 10017. www.macautourism.gov.mo
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