Thursday, July 30, 2009

Further Macau musings

To your left 9 levels from the bottom you will see our new home, our casa de macau, womende xinjia, call it what you will!!! We had the option of the 36th floor but Nat was worried being that high up incase Angie felt like exploring out an open window.... my feeling is the 9th floor probably won't be muuuuch different...
But, mother, you will be happy to know the windows are relatively high on a ledge out of the way of 3 year old hands. Nova City or as it has been called by colleagues, Cirque City (due to the large number of Cirque employees that live there) is one of many Western-style apartment blocks here in Macau catering mainly to the expat population replete with swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium, tennis courts, creche and playground.

At present there are a large number of apartments available for rent as Macau has undergone (like many other places in the world) a housing bubble in the last few years with a huge number of similar apartment towers being built with a concurrent decline in the number of people to fill them. Good for us as we were able to get a decent price on our rent - cheaper than an apartment in Perth and most other places in the world. Bad for any property developer as they've seen a huge reduction in the value of their apartment and on their rate of return on their investment. I've been told since about two to three years ago rents have practically halved.

Macau is a very interesting blend of cultures - on one hand you have an ever industrialising Eastern city featuring world-class casinos and resorts to rival any city in the world. On the other you have colonial Macau, especially in Taipa where old-world European architechture is set in cobblestoned laneways spiked with gnarled hundred year-old trees straight out of Pan's Labyrinth. An excellent fusion can be seen in Macanese food, a hybrid cuisine mixing the best of asian and european flavours. But for now, you'll have to just contend with pics of my last few meals, mainly some Southern Chinese specialties - like the restaurant down the road from my hotel where they cook individual claypots of rice and other goodies, placed into a large steamer - mine had lap cheong - dried Chinese sausage and salted pork with gai lan - Chinese greens.

To the left we have Bibimbap- Korean claypot rice - and a Kim Chee pancake from a nice Korean restaurant in the other direction from my hotel.

And to the right a nice melage of Porky goodness with a black vinegar sauce...prizes for who can guess what bits are in it!!
And on that note....i'm hungry! Now where to for dinner??? And only a week till I head back to Perth and see my gals! Look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days...Thursday, Friday...uggh

Howdy all. Ok, my initial excitement now has died down and i've been brought back to reality by something that all travellers to Asia have at some point been familiar with - gastro. I spent a nice long day yesterday curled up in my hotel room bed flicking through 39 channels of bad cable TV. Well, 38 channels as they have Discovery. Here is an artists representation of what I was doing other than curling up in my bed...

(Ed. I'm not sure where the dog came from...)

And I know what it was that gave me gastro.... Bad burmese food (gasp!!). I was feeling adventurous so caught a bus across to Macau peninsula on Wednesday which is my day off. Where I currently live and work in Taipa there is a 2km bridge which connects Taipa (an island) to the mainland peninsula.

I had read that the 'Three Lamps' district is where there are a lot of Burmese restaurants so I headed in that direction with my trusty Macau tourist map. The 'Three Lamps' district is just that - an area of Macau where there are three lamps at an intersection of narrow streets filled with an array of shops, street stalls and restaurants. It is an area where a large number of ethnic groups from parts of South-east asia are concentrated such as people from Burma, Indonesia and Thailand.
So after jumping on a bus I was on my way for some authentic Burmese food! - as if my mums food is not enough you may ask.... As described aptly by my colleague, Erick, Macau is 'China-lite' so figuring out where a bus will end up is not too difficult. Even though bus routes are marked in Chinese they are also marked in at least Portugese as well (sometimes English) so you can figure out the direction the bus is heading. See a dated Three Lamps alleyway photo here....

After wandering a few streets in the area I happened across this small shop located off one of the larger streets....

And after playing with my very mediocre Burmese I was able to order nungee-thou which is like a curry chicken and noodle salad with onion and coriander. As the dish came to my table I thought of all the things one shouldn't eat when travelling in Asia, one being food which is NOT steaming hot. And as I took my first mouth I thought to myself 'this dish is not steaming hot...i'll probably regret this tomorrow'.... aannnd 'nuff said.

Here are some various shots taken on my day off...

And here is a recent video of the ZAiA crew performing at the Bollywood IIFA awards held here at the Venetian Resort in June. This has elements from the show itself but also parts which were added just for the IIFA show. I'll post again soon on my next adventure but for now....Enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Linda from Trip Advisor last June posted a blog heading describing a day in Macau. Thanks Linda, but i have to disagree - Macau has been treating me alright so far....
Macau Day 2.5 for me and all going well, slowly settling into Cirque and Macau life.
Luckily for me i'm gently being eased into working life, starting my days nice and late in the afternoon. It's something I could get used to!
And to add excitement in the mix we had a typhoon come past Hong Kong and Macau last night and the early hours of the morning. Initially it was a level 8 warning but only came to a level 3 in Macau but it has been quite a wet and windy day. Lucky for us (unlucky for HK) it passed through HK quite severely.

A highlight so far has been the great diversity of food available - from Macanese, Portugese, Chinese, Burmese, etc, etc.
The Crab porridge at Seng Cheong restaurant in Old Taipa village was something I read about online that I had to try......

The first day I went for a walk in the morning breakfast hunting, and low and behold....a Burmese takeaway!! So breakfast, Burmese style - Mohinga (fish chowder with rice noodles)...

So me and Macau are fitting like an old pair of jeans, like two old friends that are catching up over some drinks. The hotel i've been put up in has been fine, the empty pool now has one patron in the morning (me - except today due to the rain)...

Cirque so far has been very welcoming to the newbie so i've had a chance to find my feet and have not been rushed into anything. I've started treating my first artists which has been a bit different to the type of 'patients' i've been used to back home - but they are human after all so I haven't felt out of my depth.
Most (all?) of the artists are in amazing physical condition - a good analogy would be a mechanic that is used to working on Holden's or Toyota's that has changed to working in a Porsche workshop. I'm not complaining.
The only downfall so far has been being away from my 3 girls back home : (
But I know in a few weeks time we will be together again...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Nat's Delivery!!!

WARNING - the following video may offend some viewers. Viewer discretion advised!

Most people now know that Nat had a home birth, and some friends have asked if we filmed the delivery. Well the answer is yes, and i've posted it here for all our family and friends to enjoy maybe with some popcorn or a nice hot mug of cocoa. Obviously I have edited the footage as best I could, but be is not for the squeamish. But, remember, childbirth is a wonderful thing!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And then there were two....

Our two angels - Talia and Angie

As mentioned in my landmark post, we have had a recent addition to the family!
Talia Grace Aung Than was born at 8.26pm 29 June 2009 weighing in at a petite 3kg (6 lbs 6) and 50cm in length. My wife Natalie is an absolute warrior (princess) and had a home water birth just how it was done in days o'yore. I provided back up with frequent back rubs and soothing intonation, with Nat's sister Bel on cold-flannel duty. Talia is a quick learner and has fitted well in to the family hierachy - at the top- much to her older sisters chagrin.

Talia's birth was one factor that made our decision to relocate to Macau much harder. That and the fact that Angie has developed such a great bond with her grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins made our decision one of the hardest decisions we have had to make. In the end it came down one of those moments in your life where you just went with your gut instinct, what felt natural to do. When I received the email from Cirque two months ago my initial reaction was one of disappointment, a feeling that I would have to turn the job down (yet again! I initially was offered the job in 2007 but said no...d'oh!). But my warrior princess was by my side and said 'Well, you have to take it this time!!!' and the rest is history.

A good friend of mine 10 years wiser than me who has led an amazing life which has led him to all corners of the globe said aptly - 'You're lucky if opportunity knocks twice'.
And that's how I feel. Really lucky..... for everything. To be alive and healthy and have an inspirational wife and two gorgeous girls. And to get this opportunity, yet again. I couldn't say no this time - I wouldn't want to look back on my life in ten years and ask 'What if I took that job with Cirque?'. Now in ten years I can hopefully say 'How about that time when we were in Macau with Cirque....'.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why not? goes. After many half baked attempts at writing a blog of sorts...abracadabra. But in my opinion, a blog should mark an occasion of sorts, kind of like the decision I had to make recently. It was either;

(A) Continue on my comfortable, merry way in life or,
(B) Have another baby and/or
(C) Leave my job to join the circus.

I chose (B) and (C). Not necessarily in that order. Yes, you heard right. We've had another baby (more on that later)....and I'm joining the circus. Not Ashton bros or Ringling bros but the Circus of the Sun aka Cirque du Soleil. And I haven't decided to move cities or change states in which I live and work, but I'm moving countries. To China. Yep...the P.R.C. Well, S.A.R (Special Administritive Region) to be precise. The Macau S.A.R in fact. Now if that isn't enough acronyms for you....

Yes, Cirque have headhunted me from across the globe for the position as physio for their resident show, ZAIA, in Macau. So i've left the comfy job I had, left the house we have settled domestically blissfully in, left all that we had become accustomed to - for a country half a world away. But it will all make sense....

This decision will make a lot more sense to you (and me) after you read this post. It really will. I'll throw two things out there right now - Burma and Portugal. Unfortunately I will have to run you through some genealogy for this to make sense. For those who know a little about me I'm of Burmese-Chinese descent. My dad is 3rd generation Burmese of Chinese descent and my mum is Anglo-Burmese. Now this 'anglo' comprises no fewer than 6 or 7 countries that make up the UN, I kinda get lost in following it all. But she assures me that I have some Portugese blood - after all, her maiden name is Valles which is a Portugese nom de plume (Cirque are French Canadian after all). But then I hear that was an adopted name and then..... it just gives me a headache. So to simplify things, just remember...I'm part-Portugese (like 1/24th, or 1/36th).

Now if any of you out there have been to Macau or know a little about Macanese history, Magellan or some other Portugese ancestor of mine came across a nice harbour at the southern tip of China and thought...mmmmm....this is a nice place....let's stay! Well kinda...but it wasn't until the 1800's till they got to stay for good. Or so they thought, until 1999 when Macau was handed back to China as was Hong Kong. So it's only natural my primal , familial urge is to return to a country of my forebears. Well, a country that was a country of my forebears is close enough.

Now in between that time of 1800 and 1999, there was another country in that part of the world, Burma (now Myanmar) that was undergoing some severe unrest. It was in the 1960's that a whole lot of Burmese fled the country and oppressive rule. A lot of these refugees in fact fled to Macau, and it was a decade or so later that my parents fled to Australia. Which brings me back to my natural progression....Macau has a lot of Burmese people. Burmese-Chinese people. So it is only fitting that I - of Anglo-Burmese-Portugese-Chinese descent relocate myself and family to Macau, China because it all makes sense. I told you it would.

Which brings me to this blog. Either; (doesn't it feel like you're reading a Choose your own adventure with all these multiple choices???)

(A) I will never write an entry in this blog again or,
(B) I will update continuously witty, insightful rhetoric on our adventures in Macau.

I'm leaning towards (A) but I'm hoping it will be (B).