Thursday, October 22, 2009

10 Hours In Macau

Last February, I went to Macau with my friends who are living in Hong Kong. We took the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau and arrived at around 12noon. From the port, we took a free shuttle to the Venetian where my friend and I met up with our other companions. Then, we all took the taxi to Senado Square where we started our Macau exploration.

Most of the attractions of Macau are contained around the Senado Square area. Some of the places we visited included the St. Dominic Church and the very famous St. Paul Cathedral ruins. There are many shops and food stalls around this area so you won't get hungry. Trust me :D

St. Paul Cathedral Ruins (taken on February 7, 2009)

St. Dominic Church (taken on February 7, 2009)

After walking around Senado Square, we got hungry. So we chose to eat in A Lorcha, a Portuguese restaurant recommended by a friend. But when we got there, lunch time was over. So we had to return during dinner time. Luckily we were able to get a reservation since they were almost fully booked for the night. While waiting for dinner, we just decided to go to Macau Tower. Aside from the magnificent view the tower has to offer, Macau Tower is also home to AJ Hackett Macau Tower which is the highest bungee in the world. None of us jumped but we watched people jump while eating the pork jerky we bought in Senado Square. What a great way to relax! Hahaha!

Macau Tower (taken on February 7, 2009)

Bungeeeeee (taken on February 7, 2009)

Bungee!!! (taken on February 7, 2009)

View From Macau Tower (taken on February 7, 2009)

Outside Macau Tower (taken on February 7, 2009)

At around 5:30pm, we returned to A Lorcha. While waiting for dinner time, we went to A-ma Temple which is a few steps away from the restaurant. This was also a great place to catch the beautiful sunset of Macau.

A-ma Temple (taken on February 7, 2009)

Sunset by A-ma Temple (taken on February 7, 2009)

Then we had our much awaited A Lorcha meal, and it did not disappoint. The waiter recommended we have clams, prawns, Portuguese fried rice and lamb. The food was delicious and the staff are mostly Filipinos so they really took care of us. But if you plan to eat in A Lorcha, make advanced reservations as it is almost always full. You can contact them at +853 313 193. It is located at 289 Rua do Almirante Sergio, Macau. As it is a very famous restaurant, you can ask people around for directions.

A Lorcha (taken on February 7, 2009)

Prawns (taken on February 7, 2009)

Lambchop (taken on February 7, 2009)

Portuguese Fried Rice (taken on February 7, 2009)

Prawns (taken on February 7, 2009)

After our meal, we went to the Venetian, explored for a bit, then rode the bus back to the port.

Inside The Venetian (taken on February 7, 2009)

We left Macau at around 10pm and went back to Hong Kong via ferry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Typhoon In The Middle Of Summer

Around three weeks ago, typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) struck Metro Manila and its nearby provinces flooding most of the country's capital. A week after Ondoy, typhoon Pepeng (Parma) made landfall in Northern Luzon killing dozens and destroying crops and infrastructures. When everybody thought typhoon Pepeng already left the country, it made a U-turn and hit the provinces of Northern Luzon once again causing great floods, landslides and killing hundreds of people. These circumstances reminded me of another flood and typhoon experience earlier this year. During the "summer" month of May (when it was supposed to be sunny and dry), we were greeted with typhoon Dante (Kujira) during our trip to the Bicol Region.

During that time, the Philippines was celebrating the Labor Day long weekend. Being summer and all, my friends and I planned to spend it in the beautiful Bicol region. Our initial plan was to spend one day in the butanding (whale shark) capital of the Philippines, Donsol and 2 days in the beautiful Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur. We were expecting sunny weather since techinically it was still summer. However, a day before departure, we heard that there was an active low pressure area near the Bicol Region. Since we have already prepared for this and we had already bought our bus tickets, we decided to push through hoping it would be just a false alarm. But we were wrong.

Thankfully during our first day, the rain stopped for a while so we were able to push through with our butanding watching. We were lucky because even if the weather was not good, we were still able to spot 2 whale sharks. However, our guide told us that on a fine day, you can spot as much as 20 whale sharks. Butanding watching season is said to be from February to June, but the best time to go is around March to April, with the butanding festival being held around the last week of April every year.

In the middle of butanding watching, heavy rains started to fall. We had no choice but to go back. For the next few days, the rain did not stop. As a result, we were stranded in Donsol for the whole duration of our trip. All flights coming in and going out of Bicol were cancelled. Landslides slowed down traffic in the northern area of the region. And roads going in and out of Donsol were flooded so there was no way for cars and even buses to reach us. Since we were all working, we had to leave Donsol on time. Thank God the rain stopped and we were able to get out of Donsol. But in order to do so, we had to brave 7 floods in Donsol alone since all roads were still flooded. Thankfully, the people in our homestay in Donsol were nice and they sent a guide (Kuya Jay) to help us go out of Donsol. If any one of you is going to Donsol, you can contact Eve's Homestay at +639164155783. We finally got out of Donsol and took the bus out of Bicol from Legaspi City. When we arrived in Manila, we heard from the news that typhoon Dante left 27 dead in the whole Bicol Region and some provinces in the region were placed under the state of calamity.

Braving the floods (taken on May 3, 2009)

Carrying our bags (taken on May 3, 2009)

Boats (taken on May 3, 2009)

Nipa hut near flooded rice fields (taken on May 3, 2009)

Typhoons hitting during the summer season is pretty unusual in the Philippines. I once heard in the news that because of global warming, the Philippines should expect a rainy summer and a even rainier rainy season. Typhoons Dante, Pepeng and Ondoy are just a preview of what the next typhoons will be. If we continue to abuse our environment, we would see worse and deadlier typhoons in the years to come.