Macau: Day 2 (Part 4)

May 28, 2012

No trip to Macau is complete without a visit to the A-Ma Temple built in 1488.  This historical Taoist and Buddhist holy place, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, is dedicated to the Goddess Mazu.  She is the Chinese goddess of water — protector of seafarers and fishermen.  It is also believed that she is Macau’s namesake, since when the Portuguese sailors first landed on the coast in front of the temple and inquired the name of their surroundings, the natives replied, “Ma Ge.”  The sailors did not know that the natives were referring to the temple and thus named the new-found peninsula Macau.

The oldest temple in Macau is a destination offering a peaceful refuge from the chaos of the casinos.  It has been well-described in ancient Chinese texts and paintings and has the honor of being one of the first scenes ever to be photographed in China.  Throughout the temple there are places to leave offerings to Mazu.  My favorite were the decorative ornaments that contained written prayers for good fortune.  When the wind would touch them with her lips, they would gently sway, as if the goddess herself was confirming that she had indeed received the prayers.

The temple contains 6 parts that are all made up of classical Chinese architectural treasures, as well as copious stone fu dogs whose purpose is to offer protection.  No matter which part you are in, you will see incense and candles in multiple forms, which help to create an ambiance of tranquility and worship.

In order to get to to the top of the temple, you must follow a winding outdoor path.  Along the way you will encounter an enormous statue of Mazu that serves as the main altar.  I chose to not photograph her, nor any of her devotees out of respect.

Macau Tourism gave me an hour to explore the temple, but after about twenty minutes of taking photos an overwhelming feeling came over me to put my camera down and to fully appreciate the moment.  I bought some incense and as I lit it I expressed my gratitude for being able to live a life that is full of travel.  Once we departed, we returned to the Mandarin Oriental, Macau where I was able to catch the sun setting over the mountains from my gorgeous room.

This is the Macau that I want the world to know about.

101 thoughts on “Macau: Day 2 (Part 4)

  1. Laura

    I love these beautiful photos, really! I am a Buddhist, although a Nichiren Buddhist (one of the many many sects) and feel connected to this in a way.

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      Awww I’m so touched you’re following me and I hope with all of my heart that you can travel the world if that’s what your dream is!!! DREAM BIG!

      Reply
  2. Ruth

    Lovely photos and such a feeling of peace, I love visiting temples, they’re such tranquil places. I’m not sure what the statue of A-Ma looks like in Macau but there is a breathtaking one on the Island on Hainan, and one of the tallest statues in the world. The legend there said the Goddess was once a poor girl who wanted to travel to Guangzhou. Wealthy boat owners wouldn’t take her but a poor sailor offered her a ride. During the trip a huge storm occurred and all but the boat carrying A-Ma was shipwrecked. Once they arrived at the safe harbour of Macau A-Ma walked to the top of a nearby hill, ascended into heaven and became a Goddess and protector of the sea and sailors.

    I would really love to visit Macau one day and see the temple they built for her there. Such a fanstatic legend!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      Ruth dear, I didn’t know that story, thank you so much for sharing that with me and my readers! I would love to visit Hainan now!!! I agree, temples are such tranquil places. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Alyx

    Oh, man! What an awesome experience. These colors are all so bright – I love it! and of course your photos are amazing.
    Macau seriously looks like an amazing place!

    Reply
  4. Katrin

    The pictures are fascinating, Andi! Thank you for sharing them! Such a beautiful place! I hope I will be able to travel to Macau someday!

    Reply
  5. Expatkerri

    great post! i know what you mean about being in a temple and wanting to just put the camera away. it’s a spiritual place, and sometimes it’s better just to be there, light incense as you did, and live the moment as it is. that being said, i love your close-up photos of the incense burning 🙂

    Reply
  6. Emily @ Maiden Voyage

    I love these bright, colorful pictures! I just watched a few America’s Next Top Model episodes that took place in Macau, and that was actually my first time to really learn anything about it, so it was fun seeing even more of it here!

    Reply
  7. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    My husband and I are currently rejiggering our post-Japan travel plans, because we are no longer going to be able to secure Chinese tourist visas before we leave on our RTW trip. Instead, I think we are now going to try to pick up our visas in Hong Kong, or maybe Macau. Seeing your recent posts on the place, I definitely want to try to spend at least a day or two in Macau; it seems like a wonderful place, and it would be a shame to miss it when we are so close!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      Ooooh yes yes yes, you must try and stay a day or two in Macau if you can! You will LOVE it! Sorry about the visa problems — been there done that — not fun!

      Reply
  8. Abby

    Temples can be so magical! I wish I could go to Asia again soon. Someday! Funny how my brother has never mentioned any of these places — even though he is quite well-traveled and does try to see the sites. But I think in Macau, he just gambles!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      OMG you are commenting while on vacay I’m so impressed! And yes temples can be absolutely magical. I hope we can go to Asia together one day gorgeous!!!

      Reply
  9. ashley

    I love the colors of these photos- the reds and yellows…also, just noticed your instagram widget on your sidebar! That is a great idea and I love how it scrolls through your awesome photos!

    Reply
  10. Renee

    What a lovely post Andi. I especially like what you said about not photographing the devotional statue and putting down your camera to truly experience the moment you were in. Both that respect and experience I think are so utterly vital and also so easy to forget.
    As always, your writing and pictures just make me want to go places 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      Renee, thank you deeply for your kind words, I’m so touched!!! I agree that a lot of times travelers get SO caught up in the moment that they forget to be respectful. I’m sure I’m guilty of it too. XO

      Reply
  11. Elizabeth

    I have heard so many good things about Macau now (haha, that rhymes) from several friends and blogs, I hope I get there before I leave Asia. Amazing photos Andi!

    Reply
  12. Cenira

    i had to admire your great effort, you have shared valuable information with us thanks for the good work!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *