Meatless in Macau
23 October, 2018
As we battle the jet lag back in London, here’s Becky with the final instalment of our tour blog!
“Arriving in Macau at night gives one a first impression of opulence and vulgarity – it’s not known as the ‘Vegas of China’ for nothing – but as we discovered over the next couple of days, there is much more to this city than huge brightly lit hotels and casinos . But on that first evening we oohed and ahed and ‘OMG!’ed over it all, and took a few snaps from the coach windows as we were driven to the Beverley Plaza Hotel which was to be our home for the next three nights.
I was delighted with the chaise longue in my room, and Emma was very excited by the foot massager in hers.
“Meanwhile Ben was fascinated by his massage chair…
“Tom Lowen was the only one of us who had spent time in Macau before, and he had been to a restaurant where potential Michelin star chefs are trained, so we had booked a table for 12 there in advance. We enjoyed a wonderful array of cooking styles and flavours from the buffet and tasty Portuguese wine before half of us got in a taxi and the other half walked back to the hotel. It seemed there was only one taxi available in Macau that entire evening!
“The following morning was free so, being desperate to see some old buildings, our first stop was the lovely Senado Square in the old town with a pretty street leading us to the remains of the 17th century Jesuit church of São Paulo.
“An imposing façade at the top of a long flight of steps is the only part of the church remaining and it certainly looks very bizarre with nothing behind it. Cheek by jowl with this old Christian establishment was a very sweet little temple dedicated to the child god Na Tcha.
“Our party then split into various factions. Those in need of a caffeine fix headed to the famous ‘blooom’ coffee shop, whilst others paid a visit to the famous mall at the Venetian.
“Andrew, Eleanor and I headed up to the old fortress and enjoyed the views of cannons pointing directly at the Grand Hotel Lisboa, one of the most famous and more hideous edifices in the city, before taking in a bit of culture in the Macau National Museum.
“After a wander round the museum, we rendezvoused with most of the group at Veggie Macau. Poor Eleanor had eaten little else but rice and cabbage in South Korea so had researched Macau vegetarian restaurants to make sure she could eat a decent meal! The food was so good and all the items on the menu so mouth-watering that most of us returned there for lunch the following day to try out another dish.
“The venue for our concert that evening was the 1860 Dom Pedro V Theatre, named after the Portuguese monarch of the time, which was the first Western-style theatre in China. It’s a beautiful building painted in a lovely pale green shade (as Andrew pointed out, the same shade as his hallway) and a lovely old-style auditorium inside with red velvet seats.
“We were to give two concerts on consecutive nights here, the first being our Queen of Muses programme that we had already performed in the US and South Korea, the second our Victoria Tenebrae Responsories programme. This seemed a daunting prospect at first in the clear, dry acoustic, but the theatrical setting proved in the event to enhance the drama of the music. We had a friendly and appreciative audience at each concert who very obligingly bought a large number of CDs, lightening our load considerably!
“The evening after our first concert, we decided to poke our noses into one of the 40-odd casinos in Macau just to see what it was all about. With a minimum bet of £50 we decided against taking part, but watched some of the games for a while and enjoyed some actually rather reasonably-priced cocktails. I discovered a rather dangerous penchant for old-fashioneds!
“I believe that there was more exploration of the city the following morning but I was too busy sleeping! So somebody else will have to fill in that part…. Ed: Becky, you snoozed through visits to the charming Mandarin House and A-Ma Temple – here’s what you missed!
“The one thing I did make time for was a trip to the famous Margaret’s bakery for some Portuguese egg tarts Macau-style. Absolutely 100% worth getting of bed for – delicious!
“We had a quieter evening after the second concert, a civilised gathering in Emma’s room involving animal face masks courtesy of Will’s wife, Katie. Thanks Katie! They made our skin feel glowingly healthy!
“On Sunday morning we caught the HydroJet boat to Hong Kong for our concert that evening in the City Hall. There was not much time for exploring but most of us managed to fit in some dim sum before our rehearsal, whilst Andrew and Eleanor headed up to the Peak.
“Stepping out onto the stage, the concert hall looked very impressive and we could tell straight away that it would be good to sing in – a very bright acoustic with a lovely bloom. Many thanks to Raymond Choi of Tallis Vocalis, together with Premiere Performances of Hong Kong, for making it possible for us to make our Hong Kong debut in such a wonderful venue. The audience of 600 or so was lovely afterwards and we enjoyed chatting to them and signing CDs and programmes. It felt good to end our tour on such a high note, before heading to the airport for our overnight flight back to the UK. Apart from those who stayed on in Hong Kong or flew on to other Eastern climes – but that’s another story.”