Day 3: Masters of Ink+ Back

Day 3 would begin by checking out the Masters of Ink Exhibition at the Venetian, followed by an egg tart lunch at Lord Stows.  From there we’d check into our new hotel, the Pousada de Coloane, way down in Coloane, then scope out the action at Hac Sa Beach.  It would all end with a Japanese buffet dinner at Altira’s Kira.  
 

The Masters of Ink Exhibition at the Venetian featured 90 traditional ink paintings from the best Chinese artists of the past 150 years, including works from noted masters Qi Baishi, Wu Guangzhong and Li Kuchan.  The paintings had an estimated worth of over 80 million RMB or 13 million US dollars, making it quite a serious collection.  Ink painting in China dates back to the 5th Century and is one of the most demanding art forms in the world.  Simply put, ink painters don’t get a second chance - once a brush stroke is laid down upon the paper, it can’t be altered or erased afterwards.  The aim of ink painters is to capture the soul and essence of the subject they’re drawing, therefore they’re not always so concerned with producing the most realistic portrayal.  In that way, I’d say there were well ahead of Western artists by about 1500 years.
 

With that little introduction out of the way, here are my favourite works from the exhibition.

 

   

 
As Mu Yi and I were walking around, a Hong Kong gentleman seemed a little disappointed by what he was viewing.  He made a comment that Chinese art was much simpler than Western art, and therefore maybe not as good.  I didn’t think so because all the same basic elements of art still apply for a Chinese ink painting, namely composition, colour, space, line, and shape.  While it may be presented in a more essential manner, that doesn’t make it any less artistic.  
 

When the exhibition finished on the 21st it was branded a huge success by the organisers.  I can’t remember exactly how many visitors there were, but I think it was well over 10,000.  Promises were made to hold similar kinds of art exhibitions in the future, so make sure to visit the Venetian website when you’re in town to see if anything is on.  The price was obviously right, since Mu Yi and I didn’t pay a dime to get in, it was all free.  
 

Afterwards, lunch was calling so we hopped the 26A bus down to Coloane Village to sample one of Macau’s sweetest inventions.
 

I don’t know what the most famous Macau snack is, but egg tarts would have to be near the top of the list.  I originally thought they had been a Macanese staple for hundreds of years, available since 1700 or some such time, but the truth is that they’re a relatively new invention, only having come into being in 1989.  They were the brainchild of someone who wasn’t even Macanese, or Portuguese, or Chinese for that matter, but rather an English expatriate named Andrew Stow, who came to Macau in 1979. 

 

Nicknamed “Lord Stow” by the locals, Andrew conjured up the egg tart in 1989, the same year he opened Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane Village.  His trick was to take a traditional Portuguese egg tart and instead of filling the inside with some combination of flour and water, he used an English style cream instead, a match made in heaven!  Within a few years, Mr Stow’s egg tart swept through all of Asia and today you can buy one in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines.  Unfortunately, Mr Stow passed away from an asthma attack in 2006, a young man of only 51.  Today his sister and cousin run Lord Stow’s Bakery, which now has two or three outlets in Coloane Village along with another one in the Venetian

 

   
While most large bakeries in Macau produce egg tarts today, Lord Stow’s and Margaret Cafe’s are considered the top two.  It’s probably no coincidence that Margaret is in fact, Andrew’s ex wife, and she probably took to making egg tarts after their divorce, just to spite him.  If you compare them, Lord Stow’s egg tarts are definitely richer and sweeter, while Margaret’s aren’t as strong.  The only way to know which one is better is to try both of them yourself then make a decision.  For me, I still prefer the originals, and while I can’t say they’re any good for you, I can say that sin never is.   
 

Mu Yi and I bought a box of 6 tarts which ran $45 in total then split them up fairly and evenly, which meant four for me and two for her.  If you just want to buy single tarts, they’re $8 per piece.  A box of 12, meanwhile, is $90.  All in all, they don’t make a bad lunch.  Every time I have three or four of them, I don’t have to eat again for 6 hours.
 

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