Peekaboo

Long time no post.

Life’s been busy. In no particular order:

– Went to Ottawa for Canada Day. Sucked.
– Was told I was too aggressive at work and to lower my standards
– Spent a week in Vancouver and went to GFunk’s wedding
– I worked my ass off and didn’t get much of a summer, hence no recent updates
– Changed career path and went to Asia for vacation (HK/Macau/Taipei)
– Here I am today deciding if I should get Allen Edmonds or Alden shoes.
– Life is tough

Toronto

Macau – Quick stop back home

HK – Triangle Cafe Meet with impactX and GFunk. Where the ballers at. Amazing city. Absolutely loved it. Would return. Highly recommended.

Taipei – Too many bizarre foods, but polite people, and great subway system. Terrible customs at airport. Would go back (sort of.)


Apparently this is business class on Taiwanese trains


Din Tai Fung was an interesting experience @ Taipei 101


Stroll along St. Claire & Yonge…and what do I see?

I’ll take two, please. Thank you.

Winter Is Overrated

Because when you got an indoor trainer, life is good. (Actually, not really. Because indoor training is a serious punishment.)
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Comparing an apple to an orange
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Toronto Zoo – Sup?
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Canada Goose – Damn expensive jackets
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Nice flowers. Also the day the condo sale closed. Thank goodness.
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Went to the Portuguese Consulate. My initial application was closed. No reason other than, “You aren’t Portuguese.” Fuck. Okay.

Lost In Translation

The final days of my trip was more bittersweet than anything. I had come to the realization that I had an emotional attachment to this small city. I had complained numerous times about the heat, the pollution, the people (particularly ruthless Mainlanders) its social, political, and economic challenges, and the density. Regardless of my ranting and complaining (re: whining) I grew fond of the people, its history, and the beauty and charm that Macau had to offer. But where I fit into all of this remains unanswered.

We met the family who lived beside the camp. They took care of me and my parents. Sadly, their mom and dad had passed away. All three remaining siblings are doing fine. They’re no different than us – just normal people who live normal lives. They’ve had their ups and downs, like me and you. We were able to meet the older sister and younger brother. The middle brother lives in HK full-time with his family. We all had dinner together and caught up on life. They talked about the bad times in Macau and how it has changed so much. 31 years later. Time flies.

We first them the younger brother at the house in Ka Ho and chat outside the Sam Seng Temple beside their houses. According to Macau Temple Civilization:

Sam Seng Temple is the oldest temple in Ka Ho region. The Temple was originally dedicated to the Great King Hung Shing, but later the statues of Kuan Tai and Tam Kung have been put in the Temple. This gives the temple the name“Sam Seng Temple” (literally means three Great Kings). Ka Ho was the original name of the Beach of Sam Seng.

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Perhaps my own misfortune
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Bus ride on the #15 back into Cotai
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Me and mom went to see if Margaret wanted to join us for dinner. She wasn’t able to attend but did wish us all the best in our journey. We went next door for lunch and tried their noodles, known for their fried fish cakes. We were asked to share a table with a guy, who turned out to be a local Macau resident. He was very friendly and guided us in what to order.
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A table near the entrance was full of Mainlanders who shouted while they ordered. We weren’t sure if they were yelling at one another in anger, but it was an absolute gong show; an embarrassment to thousands of years of Chinese culture and civilization. I’m not sure if they’re even Chinese. Perhaps an evolution and manifestation the seven deadly sins. The guy sitting with us said this was normal. This feeling was uneasy for both me and my mom. The guy beside us accepted this to be a routine part of life in Macau.

We all met in Taipa for a final dinner with everyone, including Paul Pun, and some of the nurses who worked at the camps during my parents’ time. After dinner, a few of us went to the Lusophone Festival in Taipa Village which features an exhibit of Portuguese speaking countries along with a stage for song and dance. My phone ran out of battery unfortunately. I had a great time here and the evening ended with a memorable departure. One I will never forget.
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Third Wave Coffee in Macau. The coffee culture is slowly growing, but sadly, it is a monopoly. Three shops owned by one one owner. Single Origin, Blooom! and Communal Table. I didn’t go to Communal Table because I was too coffee’d out, and short on time. I originally had a hard time finding these shops and got lost. Both physically, and linguistically.

The folks at both shops knew I wasn’t from around here. They immediately knew I was either Canadian or American. We both had a hard time understanding one another, but came to a mutual understanding. Lost in Translation, both culturally and linguistically. They barely spoke English. No Portuguese. And my Cantonese was awful. I’m not so sure where Macanese culture is headed. But one thing is for sure from my experience. Macau is trying to catch up with the Western World. Slowly, but surely.
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Blooom!
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While getting lost through Macau peninsula, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly, particularly where the main casinos are. It felt seedy and slimy. People approaching you to lend money or prostitution. No thanks.

What I have never understood are Asian clothes with English. They make no sense. See example below.
With A Warm Embrace Come (What May)
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Thanks, Macau. You did exactly just that.

My last moments in the sleepy village of Taipa.
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I had a lot of mixed emotions and thoughts on Macau. I still can’t quite explain it but I can confidently tell you that I’m nothing more than a tourist. Canada is home. Canadian is who I am. For now, all I can do is accept and embrace the past. A Chinese and Portuguese heritage. I can only look forward to visiting Macau again. And Portugal soon.

So much more to see, taste, and experience in Macau. And there is always something interesting around the corner. The tiny peninsula and islands are full of surprises. You just need to find it. My trip was worth it. I finally did it. And I found some answers. I can move on from the past now.

And they say Macau is only worthy of a day trip? They are wrong.

All But A Distant Memory

Me and my mom had some free time to explore the peninsula over the next few days. We wandered the streets, peeked through peoples windows, avoided crowds, escaped the blazing heat, and breathed in the pollution that has become the lowest common denominator.

Senado Square and the Ruins of St. Paul’s
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Camoes Garden and Grotto
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A-Mah Temple
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Lilau Square. This used to be a spring water fountain and where the Portuguese first settled. This is also where the legend began. I took a small sip. I didn’t care. I didn’t get sick, unlike in Los Angeles. My heart never left Macau. And it never will.
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A modern day “dai pai dong.” There aren’t very many of these anymore. This one has moved inside. A+. Will eat again.
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We went to meet up with my grandmother, aunt, and younger cousin and ate near the hotels. The little one wanted McDonald’s but we ended up eating Chinese for dinner. Poor kid.

Casa De Cha Long Wa- One of the last remaining traditional tea houses. Still family owned to this day with a long history since I believe the 50s or 60s. Friendly service. Not much variety, but they keep it real here. Just like how dim sum was meant to be – time shared among family and friends. This isn’t your usual coffee klatch. Give it a go. Get your own dim sum and refill your own tea. The boss will tally up your final bill with an abacus.
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Street market vendors. Feel free to slither through the alleys and buildings. You never know what you’ll find in there. Lots of amazing surprises.
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After a long day, we ended up having dinner in the sleepy village of Coloane at Cafe Nga Tim. We got to meet the owner who was very hospitable and the chatty cat. And no, the kitty was not part of our meal. My younger cousin was the real scaredy cat as you can see her running away.
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Taipa Village with my grandmother, aunt, and cousin before their departure back to Vancouver
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Base of the Macau Tower. We finished off our interviews and documentary here with our Portuguese friends. Our timing didn’t work out, otherwise, we would have had dinner at the famous Tromba Rija. There is always next time.
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Roaming Aveneda de Almeida Ribeiro / San Ma Lo for snacks and dinner
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After 31 years, Macau has developed into a modern world from what it once was. I noticed the dying breed of the older generation; the hybrid culture of Portuguese and Chinese. All I really saw was Chinese, Chinese, and more Chinese. The fusion of east and west is withering away. A culture becoming the next candidate for extinction.

Nobody really speaks any Portuguese anymore besides the Portuguese. It’s mostly Cantonese. Or Mandarin. Never mind any English. I had never been more lost in translation in any of my travels until coming to Macau. Pretty Portuguese and Macanese girls don’t roam the streets anymore. If anything, the only thing that has survived is the laid back culture and attitudes. Progressive is not in the local vernacular. Perhaps the enclave of French expats will change the scope and future of Macau. Who knows? In the end, it is all but a distant memory.

Chasing The Past

I set off on my journey to visit the Old World on Friday, October 16, Flight AC7 to HKG. Priority check in, priority security line, and Maple Leaf Lounge access. After the years of flying for pleasure and business, I had grown numb to the sensation and excitement of flying anywhere. Even to my old home town, Macau.

The 77W isn’t as bad as some make it out to be, especially those on FlyerTalk.com. The one annoying aspect are the controls being located on the arm rest for some weird reason. A lot of people often hit the flight attendant button by accident, or the overhead light switches on and off.
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The journey to HKG was straight forward. I had a few hours to kill so we took it easy and relaxed. Hopped on the TurboJet hydrofoil over to Macau, lugged our luggage out the door and was greeted by a lovely Portuguese girl and Filipa’s husband. It hadn’t occured to me that I was already in Macau until I stepped outside of the ferry terminal and saw a fraction of what Macau is. And then on the bus ride over to the hotel. That’s when I saw the Macau as it is today.

I set foot out into Taipa in the morning to get some food. Most places don’t open until 10am and so forth. I suppose old habits die hard. It’s also no wonder people in Macau have the longest mortality rate. I’m unsure whether that’s a good or a bad thing.
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This picture makes me smile every time. This Portuguese lady had lived in Macau for 30 odd years, spoke Cantonese, and is friends with the merchants at this market.
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We met up with Filipa and the gang and headed out to Ka Ho, where me and my parents lived. We were hoping to meet the people who took care of us and to see how they were doing. Sadly, they were not there and were nowhere to be found. And the camp we lived in? It has since been converted into a youth development centre, closed off entirely to the public. It’s changed a lot since 31 years ago. It’s modern and probably very nice inside. Time did not stop here. My mom was disappointed.
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Luckily, we met a lady who lived nearby and mentioned the family was at the house earlier in the day. After some convincing, she offered to take our phone numbers and to give it to the family when they come back. Nobody really lives in the two houses anymore. It’s fallen into disrepair. They’ve moved on. Our fingers are crossed.

Hac Sa Beach and Coloane. A quieter part of Macau in the southern island. Life is simpler here. Dinner at Cafe Nga Tim for some Macanese and Portuguese dishes with wonderful friends. Fresh pastéis de nata from the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery.
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The temple that answered our prayers 31 years ago. We got there just in time before the temple closed. I hope our new prayers are answered in the new world.
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We got to know our Portuguese friends pretty quickly over dinner. It’s funny how both me and my mom shared our life story to initially strangers, who would end up being our friends. They’re an amazing bunch for sure. I came in with no expectations. I had no right to have any expectations. Expectations are for the naive. I had no reason to be disappointed in Macau, or anyone for that matter. I knew nothing of it and no one, aside from what I was brought up to believe. But as time went by, so did life in Macau. All I could do was accept Macau for what it is today.

Legendary Swiss watchmaker, Jack Heuer famously said, “Time does not stop. Why should we?”

The next day, we were in search of some people who worked with Father Lancelot in the old days and to get some answers to some of our unfinished business in Macau. Our friends took us to an old-time favourite for the local Macanese where I tried authentic minchi for the first time. I recall my mom making a variation of minchi for me growing up. Little did I know it was a Macanese recipe infused with bits and pieces of Chinese and Portuguese elements. The restaurant we ate at has a long history and turns out they catered for the original owner of the Pinochio restaurant in Taipa, currently owned by the brother of a close friend of ours at the Macanese Cultural Association. Small world.

McDonald’s breakfast – macaroni soup
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Minchi
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Funny place indeed. The Chinese and Portuguese guys here speak both Cantonese and Portuguese. The linguistics are a bit of a mish-mash of one another. Super friendly people. Not a Michelin 3-star by any means, but give it a try.
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We took the opportunity to visit the local government offices to inquire about the possibility of me getting my Macau ID and my mom and dad’s marriage certificate. The straight answer was no. I wasn’t eligible, despite being born there. And there are no records of my parents ever getting married legally in Macau. They were considered, by law, refugees, and not Macanese residents. All my parents have is a letter documenting their marriage by one of the camp’s managers, Nelson Lee (who is now living in Toronto) and a newspaper clipping. The rest is forgotten and undocumented history. My mom’s heart was crushed. The local Macanese civil employees were very nice in guiding us to where to go, but the answers we got were quite the opposite. It was more like a swift stab in the back. The truth often hurts. But this time, it was painful.

After the disappointing news, we made a short trek to visit Margaret Wong, the owner of Margaret’s Cafe e Nata. She had once worked with Father Lancelot back in her day processing the paper work for the refugees. My mother was so grateful to have met her, and to be able to share her memories of the old Macau she lived in. Margaret was so kind as to offer us some of the egg tarts and advice for our quest in Macau. God bless that woman.
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Off to Casa Ricci to meet with Mr. Paul Pun of Caritas Macau. This man would eventually take over the work of Father Lancelot, and he still continues to do so today, despite the scope of work changing since the departure of all the Chinese and Vietnamese refugees from the 70s and 80s. We were able to get more insight into the lives of those who lived at the Ka Ho Refugee Centre, and the work he and the others did for us. A real legend among the local Macanese community for sure. And to boot, Paul’s got a few cool LML and Vespa scooters too. What a cool cat.
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Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro / San Ma Lo
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We were in search of dinner and ended up here to try the famous shrimp roe noodles. Friendly service. Great food. Well priced to boot. Give it a go.
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Me and my mom walked around aimlessly for a bit to see what was in the area. We weren’t feeling so great, coming from Vancouver to a smog-filled and polluted city so we wanted some herbal tea. After getting lost in a few snake-laned alleys and streets, we found this old uncle who sold herbal tea. He was super friendly and we had a great chat where he shared his memories of growing up in Macau, remembering how life was simpler in the old Macau.

By chance, we discovered he was very popular with the local folks. People dropped off cookies, cakes, and food for him. Another local explained how Macau has changed a lot, but the people haven’t. And she was right. Because this old man here was very wealthy, yet lived so humbly. He’s living proof that the Macanese have always been straight shooters and have not lost their ways. This is what I like about Macau. It’s the people that I love so much.
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(The herbal tea did its magic so I didn’t get duped into buying snake oil afterall.)