Monday, January 25, 2010

An Action Packed 6 days: Macau Art Gallery, Portuguese Family Style Restaurant on Taipa Island, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hi-Lak's departure for the Mainland

It's been a packed 5 or 6 days without an occasion, until now, to write and finish a hopefully worthy blog entry, so here it goes-

-Macau Art Gallery-

After my evening of song writing inspired by Ms. Chang and the composer who shan't be named, I indulged in the Macau art gallery. There were a few things on exhibit which were purportedly there to celebrate two things; 1) The 10 year anniversary of the handover of Macau from Portugal to China and 2) the 60 year anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

The two exhibits that I found most interesting were of Macanese artists and a collection of oil paintings from the Mainland. The Mainland exhibit is works from the beginning of the PRC up to now. Photos were allowed and I will post several of these on facebook soon. The paintings in the 50's begin as one might assume, in style and content, but take some unexpected departures in the last few decades.

-Portuguese Family Style Restaurant on Taipa, and surrounding events-

The Macau Art Gallery, together with some aimless wandering and chilling in public parks, took about a day and a half. For my final evening in Macau, I took a suggestion from the Lonely Planet book and went out to one of the nearby connected islands to Macau (in this case, Taipa) to find a Portuguese restaurant. The neighborhood was interesting in itself. Small colorful houses, feeling quite Iberiany, though I have nothing to base that on.

I heard most people speaking what sounded to me like one or both of the Chinese-es, someone shouted something at me that sounded latiny (when I was looking for a public privy, and apparently this was obvious) so I'm assuming they thought I was Portuguese speaking, ha.

(In this neighborhood, I did find an English academy by complete circumstance and spoke with one of the Native English speaking teachers there.)

I found my restaurant, Amagao, and entered to find a Chinese family, a Chinese couple who looked as if they were vacationing, and a 60's something Chinese waitress looking at me a bit dumbfounded. I held up one finger to indicate that I was solo and she kind of shook her head in a kindly bit of confusion and directed me to a table in middle of the small restaurant.

The menu was, of course, in Chinese and Portuguese. Again following the suggestion of Lonely Planet, I was looking for something like 'pollo' on the menu. Well, I guess chicken is not the same in Portuguese as it is in Spanish. I looked up at the motherly server and asked, 'chicken?'. She knew what I was looking for and pointed at it saying slowly, 'Portuguese chicken'. I nodded in return.

While the food was coming, many filtered in the restaurant until it was full of Chinese locals and tourists. Combining this and the western homey decor it created a wonderful cultural dissonance for me. The food came and it was a big bowl of chickeny-gravy goodness; down-home comfort food. I pointed at a bottle of red wine for a glass and it was a perfect fruit bomb to match.

-Chinese Orchestra and the Hong Kong Phil-

Friday evening I came back to Hong Kong to hear the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra conducted by a guest, Liu Wenjin. Who is an award winning composer for the Chinese Orchestra from the Mainland. I will reserve any comments upon the music or the ensemble except to say that harmonically and melodically it is what most would expect. The stage organization is quite indebted to the western orchestra we know. The orchestra is made up of many urhus taking the place of the fiddles, and that about half of the orchestra is made up of what seems to be authentically historic Chinese instruments and the other half pseudo western instruments made to fill out the orchestra.

Saturday evening the Hong Kong Phil featured Chinese harpist, and fellow Indiana University Music School Grad, Dan Yu, who played the Ginastera harp concerto. The orchestra made me feel right at home by concluding the concert with Copland and Bernstein.

-He-Lak's Departure-

With somewhat ironic timing, my new Korean friend after living here for eight months, has just now left Hong Kong and is going back to Korea via a trip to the Mainland. I was invited to the going away party the other night, meeting anew many who were just saying goodbye to who has been a large part of my trip thus far.

Today I will likely be going to the Hong Kong Museum of Art and tonight spending some time with a couple, friends of friends also from Korea (they are Special Pioneers assigned here). After this evening I will have five days remaining with nothing planned except a Cantonese opera so we will see what this town has in store for me.

Till next time!


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