Day 1: Bamboo Temple+ Back

Right after lunch, we tried to go to the Ox Warehouse just up the street to laugh at some modern art, but just like our first trip, there was nothing on.  Winding South back down toward Tap Seac Square, we accidentally stumbled onto the Temple of Bamboo, one of Macau's best kept secrets.

I must admit that temples don't interest me in the same way that churches do, mostly because our Buddhist and Taoist friends aren't into large grandiose displays of power and wealth.  They prefer to keep things on the down low, adhering to the tenets of their faith by building simple unpretentious structures.  For that reason, I sometimes find temples to be a little boring: if you've seen one, you've seen them all.



The Bamboo Temple, however, is a clear exception to this rule.  For sheer aesthetic value, this temple can give most churches a run for their money, its beauty just manifests itself in different ways.  I like how the natural elements in the courtyards, namely the trees, flowers and plants, interplay with the Buddhist art, altars and architecture, in ways not seen in churches.  And unlike churches, which are often self contained and rather collective in focus, the Bamboo Temple is an open complex, full of diverse yet harmonious elements, all in step and working together.  It also might be the most colourful temple in Macau, one rarely visited by tourists, but well worth seeing if you’re in the neighbourhood.  Quite what relation bamboo has to Buddhism I don’t know, but they sure built a beautiful temple in its name. 



The Bamboo Temple is not only not marked on the free Macau tourist map, it's not even marked on the brochure specifically listing all the temples in Macau.  It’s not hard to find though.  Once you get to the 3 Lamps District, signs in the neighbourhood will show you the way.  (You should find it on Estrada de Coelho do Amaral, very close to Rua de Bras da Rosa.)

Tap Seac Square was our next stop of the afternoon, to see what was on at Tap Seac Gallery.  Disappointingly, nothing was, but I'll cheat a little and show you what was on display the following week, From East to West: the Wonderful World of Puppets.  I don’t know how long we’ll continue to make puppets, because it already seems like a lost art form, particularly in the West.  Maybe they’ll still play a part in some traditional festivals, but that’s it.  Anyway, here are the ones I liked best.



The first two are from Portugal, the second pair from Macau.




The first one is from England, the second one from China, and the last two from Myanmar.



The first pair is from Sri Lanka, the third puppet is Indian, while the last two are from Nepal and Africa respectively.

Directly opposite of Tap Seac Square is the old Estoril Hotel which has sat empty and disused for many years.  Prior to the Lisboa opening in 1970, it used to be SJM's flagship hotel, particularly renown for its Thai massage parlor and very physically endowed Thai ladies who worked there.  Their presence in the neighbourhood led to a number of Thai restaurants and shops opening in the area, some of which still remain open today.  Hotel Estoril may soon be getting a new lease on life, as there are plans to convert it into a community centre for local youth.  Here's hoping that the building's current form and architecture are retained, as the Estoril is a historically significant hotel, and it would be a travesty to see it go.



After Tap Seac Square, Mu Yi and I called it a day.  We returned to the Lisboa via Rua de Campo and rested up for our evening endeavours, which included dinner at the hotel’s signature Portuguese restaurant, Guincho A Galera, and a nightcap of wine and gossip at Macau’s premier drinking lounge, Macau Soul.

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