Croatian Holiday Bookings Rise Following Return of Game of Thrones Series

New research has revealed that the return of the Game of Thrones series to UK televisions has led to more people searching for holidays to Croatia, where the series was filmed. Season 6 started airing on Monday, 25 April 2016, since when holiday bookings to Croatia have also seen a sharp rise. It was also revealed that specific areas, including Dubrovnik, were particularly popular holiday searches and that many people have booked a trip to these locations. The spike started some two weeks before the series became aired and has not yet slowed down.

dubrovnikDubrovnik, Croatia.

The popular HBO series Game of Thrones seems to have had an impressive positive impact on tourism in Croatia. The series is, in part, filmed in this country. According to UK based online travel agency Sunshine.co.uk, the number of searches and bookings for holidays in this Mediterranean country have increased significantly. The travel agency is conducting a piece of research into the travel behaviors of British holiday makers, and they are trying to uncover whether the fantastical television series and travel trends are correlated.

In the two weeks before the next series of Game of Thrones returned, which was due to air on Monday, 25 April 2016, Sunshine noticed that some 3,100 individual searches were registered for ‘King’s Landing’ holidays. This was interesting because King’s Landing is a fictional place that only exists in the series. Part of this series was actually filmed in the Croatian medieval city of Dubrovnik.

Not all interested holiday makers searched for King’s Landing, however. In fact, many seemed to be well aware of where the series was filmed, because searches for Dubrovnik in particular were also up. In fact, there was a 71% increase in the number of searches for this city compared to the month before. Additionally, there was a 26% rise in the number of bookings that were made.

When looking specifically at searches for Croatia, it was found that there had been an 85% increase compared to the previous month. Furthermore, all Croatian destinations and resorts saw an increase of 31% in bookings compared to the previous month. This was specifically for bookings and searches made through sunshine.co.uk.

There were a number of other searches that were noted on sunshine.co.uk that are likely to be related to the new series. These included ‘Game of Thrones tours’ and ‘Game of Thrones Filming locations’. It seems, therefore, that the series has actually made a significant impact on the minds of people.

Additionally, Croatia has welcomed the increase in tourism. The country prides itself on its ancient history and beautiful geography and is happy to see that more people will be able to enjoy it. Now that the series has been aired, it seems that searches and bookings continue to rise, so the overall impact could be even more significant.

Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of sunshine.co.uk, said the following:

“Croatia is a really beautiful destination which is within easy reach of the UK. I’d say it’s very much still an up and coming holiday location, because it still retains a somewhat undiscovered status. There are so many small islands to explore and so much culture and history to soak up, as well as the year-round sunshine, so it’s not difficult to see what the appeal is.

“With all of this to offer and the fact the country has been thrown in to the limelight somewhat thanks to Game of Thrones and the TV show’s cult following, it isn’t going to remain undiscovered for very long. People wanting to visit should do so now!”

Macao: Arts and Culture

Think about Macao, you’ll probably imagine casinos, entertainment outlets, luxury hotels and Portuguese heritage. And yes, medieval churches, temples, and 459 year-old Portuguese governed city are testament to Macao’s industrial and historical past.

Yet right now massive city development projects are rapidly expanding Macao into a ‘Vegas of the East’. At the same time the city is old – evidence of human and culture dating back 4,000 to 6,000 years has been discovered on the Macau Peninsula and dating back 5,000 years on Coloane Island.

With the rapid development, the locals and officials realised that discovering its art and culture is probably next to impossible. Thus, Macao offer visitors a unique perspective on the territory’s chequered past by having exhibitions, annual festivals, and many more to highlight the diversity of arts and culture which nourishes Macao.

Below are some places and highlights of arts and culture in Macao that I chanced upon during my 4-day visit.

The Macao Arts Festival. The Macao Arts Festival dramatically lights up the city every early summer, bringing together theatre, dance, music, circus, multimedia and visual arts in an artistic panorama of events. A mix of local, regional and international performers from various regions and countries around the world present a diversity of programmes, including Cantonese Opera, Western classical and modern music, Chinese music and drama, Macanese drama, and a host of exciting artistic experiences enjoyed by enthusiastic multicultural audiences for an entire month. The icing on the cake is that several performances are hosted by some of Macao’s enchanting and atmospheric UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites. For this year, 27th Macao Arts Festival is happening from Apr 30 – May 29, 2016.Arts Festival

 

Macao World Heritage. Comprising over 20 ancient monuments and urban squares interwoven in the heart of the city, the historic district is collectively known as “The Historic Centre of Macao” and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005. It stands today as a living testimony to the integration and co-existence of eastern and western cultures over a unique chapter in history. Leisurely explore the Historic Centre of Macao – you will discover various magnificent heritages and unveil their wonderful stories!

AzulejosAzulejos ceramic art inside Leal Senado Building.

 

Museums and galleries. Visiting museums and exhibitions in Macao is an enjoyable, sure-fire way to make your visit more memorable and to gain more knowledge about this fascinating city and its history that include its culture of ‘East meets West’ over the past four and a half centuries.

One of the museums that I visited is Macao Museum of Art. The Macao Museum of Art is the only art museum in Macao and provides the largest space dedicated to visual arts. Current exhibitions include:

  • Paintings by Su Liupeng from the MAM Collection
    1 May 2016 – 29 May 2016
  • Macao Arts Window 2016 Encounter – Printmaking by Catherine, Cheong Cheng Wa
    22 April 2016 – 05 June 2016 
  • 10th Macau Design Biennial
    17 December 2015 – 26 June 2016
  • Ink Wash of the Forbidden City – Paintings by Charles Chauderlot
    08 October 2015 – 16 April 2017
  • Photographs of Old Temples in Macao
    10 July 2015 – 03 July 2016

Inkwash paintings by Charles ChauderlotLeft: Palace of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining Gong); Right: Pavilion of Flowing Music (Changyin Ge).

 

Edgar Degas – Figures in Motion. MGM kicks off its art exhibition by exhibiting a sculpture collection by legendary French artist Edgar Degas at MGM Art Space.A highlight program under Le French May, Edgar Degas –Figures in Motion presents 74 pieces of bronze sculpture never before been shown in Hong Kong and Macau, including the famous Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen.

Degas is known as one of the founders of Impressionism and is famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. Curated by Dalit L. Durst of M.T. Abraham Foundation for the Visual Arts, guests will rediscover the era of Degas’ most glorious years and the Paris that he knew, through his timeless art pieces, focusing on three subjects Degas is known for: Horses, Dancers, and Bathing Women. The exhibition is also paired with interactive elements including guides to walk guests through the story of the art and opportunities for fun photos.

Sculptures by Edgar Degas

The exhibition is co-presented by Le French May and M.T. Abraham Foundation for the Visual Arts, supported by the French Consulate General of France in Hong Kong & Macau, and exclusively sponsored by MGM. Exhibition will be from 29 April 2016 until  20 November 2016. Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm. Closed on Mondays (except public holidays).


Taipa Village
. Taipa Village is my favourite; it is a laid-back village where the original community of Taipa Island started from, and one of only two traditional villages that still exist in Macau. It’s a small cluster of narrow lanes and alleys, with old colonial houses along them. It was great peeping into small temples, shops and cafes.

Taipa VillageDireita Carlos Eugenio Street.

Blissful Carrot The Blissful Carrot Vegetarian Take-Away Restaurant, Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.

DoorGodDoor God art at Ka Sin Tong Temple, Direita Carlos Eugenio Street.

PleasantGardenGarden-themed screen, one of the exhibits at Historical Museum of Coloane and Taipa, Correia da Silva Street.

SilverBirdInteresting exhibit at Historical Museum of Coloane and Taipa; a brand label of Yick Loong Fireworks dating from between 1930 and 1950. Macao was the central location for most firecracker manufacturing. This label features a beautiful woman with a silver bird to catch a buyers attention. The slogan is “My face is pretty like the silver bird.”

craftsmanA craftsman working on Door God painting in front of Tin Hau Temple at Gov. Tamagnini Barbosa Street.

CunHa BazaarCunha Bazaar is where tradition meets creativity, borne of the cooperation between Choi Heong Yuen Bakery and Macau Creations.

Macau Creations is the first designer-brand in Macau to celebrate its culture and artists. Each item is a collaboration of real originality, creativity and passion. The Macau Creations has been working with many local artists and made use of the essence of their creative works and designs to produce cultural creative products they have all been under constant trials and development by local artists and designers. Every small item is a small piece of art of an intense thinking of life.

Cunha BazaarCunha Bazaar at Cunha Street.

So, there you go. Do check out Macao Government Tourism Office and find out more about art and culture places around Macao.

Things Macao

thingsmacao

These are some of the things that I found in Macao:

Egg Tarts: Although egg tarts can be found abundantly in Macao, the most famous one is Lord Stow’s Egg Tart. Englishman, Andrew Stow opened Lord Stow’s Bakery on Coloane Island, Macau on 15th September 1989. It was a modest affair, in a small village shop, in an area he loved. Local people quickly took to his European produce – a phenomenon in an area with no strong tradition of bread eating.

During a trip to Portugal in the late-80s, Andrew had become familiar with their popular Pasteis de Nata – a kind of egg tart, which had its origins in Belem, Lisbon in 1837. Andrew wanted to produce Pasteis de Nata for his customers, but had no recipe. His Pharmaceutical background made him no stranger to experimentation and Andrew set forth, experimenting with his own version. He dispensed with some conventional methods & ingredients, and introduced an English touch. By doing so, Andrew created his own specialty and introduced the “Portuguese” Egg Tart to Asia in the form they are now recognized and known.

Portuguese ceramic tiles (Azulejos): The influence of Portuguese art, architecture and craft still linger in the form of azulejos – the unique ceramic tiles characteristically used to decorate colonial-era buildings and public spaces. I noticed that one of the buildings in the Historic Center of Macao that still have Azulejos art is Leal Senado Building. Other building that I also noticed having Azulejos is Central plaza at MGM Macao.

Goddess of Mercy (Kun Iam)Goddess of Mercy is 20 meters high and weighs 50 tons. She is a deity embodying love, mercy and compassion, and a figure that represents this message of solidarity and rapprochement between people, worshipped even beyond the scope of the Buddhist religion.

Macao Tower: Macao Tower measures 338m (in height from ground level to the highest point. An observation deck with panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim. It offers the best view of Macau and in recent years has been used for a variety of adventurous activities.

Giant Panda: Miles from the glitter and gold of Macau’s resorts, nestled against a hill in Coloane, you’ll find the real treasures of Macau. The feature attraction at Seac Pai Van Park, the Macao Giant Panda Pavilion is home to two rare giant pandas, Kai Kai and Xin Xin. They count amongst the 320 giant pandas living in breeding centers and zoos around the world and are part of an endangered species that has only 1600 left living in the wild.

Door god: I noticed that all temples that I visited have Door God. I am very intrigued by the artwork on some of the doors and took some photos for my drawing reference.  A door god is a Chinese decoration placed on each side of an entry to a temple, home, business, etc., which is believed to keep evil spirits from entering.

Lotus: Standing in Lotus Square next to the Forum, the large sculpture of “Lotus Flower In Full Bloom” presented by the State Council of China in 1999, marks the return of sovereignty of Macao. The sculpture stands at 6 meters high and the major part is composed of a stem, petals and pistil, with a total of 16 components. The base of the flower consists of 23 pieces of red granite.

 

ACE Malaysia Lucky Contest

ACE Malaysia is celebrating its 1st anniversary in Malaysia and is giving away great prizes! If you are up to it, all you have to do is:

  1. Head over to Ace Bags & Luggage shops at Isetan KLCC or Mitsui Outlet Park, Sepang
  2. Spend more than RM300 to be entitled for Lucky Draw.

Prizes:

  • 1st: JAL air tickets for 2 persons worth RM4000
  • 2nd: Panasonic product worth RM1500 (43″ Viera TV)
  • 3rd: HITACHI product worth RM1500
  • 4th: SUSHI KING food voucher worth RM100 x 20 winners

Closing date:31 May, 2016.

ace2

Macao: concrete jungle where dreams are made of

Hi all! Just came back from Macao. Had a great time exploring Macao and thought I share some photos and thoughts about Macao.

Macao buildings

Macao is pretty much a commercial and industrialized city that is made of hundreds of high-rise buildings that include Grand Lisboa, The Venetian, L’Arc Macau, Wynn Diamond Suites, MGM Grand Macau, Galaxy Star World and many more.

And roaming further around Macao, it is evident that more buildings are on the rise at every corner.

grandlisboa

But as I explored in-between the buildings, I discovered historical ones; some ruined from war, some preserved and some turned into museums—evidence of Portuguese colonisation in Macao since the 16th century. It’s pretty amazing to see baroque European-influenced buildings among the high-rise modern buildings.

HolyHouseofMeryHoly House of Mercy. The main building was built in 1569, while the neo-classical structure was added in 1905.

LealSenado
Leal Senado. Originally built in 1784 as the municipal office, this building possesses a distinct  Southern European architectural style. After the handover of Macau to China in 1999 it became the headquarters of the Institute of Civic and Municipal Affairs.

St. Paul's ruin
A façade of what remains of the Church of Mater Dei that was built in 1602.

streetsign
A post of street signs comprises of 3 languages: Cantonese, Portuguese and English. Now I know that ‘gereja’  (Malay) comes from ‘igreja’ (Portuguese).  Since I am at it; do you know that the Malay word ‘sabun’ comes from French word ‘savon’?

StDominic
St. Dominic’s Church. Built in 1587, this was the first church built in China by Dominican priests.

The above buildings are among those listed in Historic Centre of Macao, a collection of over twenty sites that witness the unique assimilation and co-existence of Chinese and Portuguese cultures in Macao. It represents the architectural legacies of the city’s cultural heritage, including monuments such as urban squares, streetscapes, churches and temples. In 2005 the Historic Centre of Macao was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it the 31st designated World Heritage site in China.

Among sites that I visited include A-Ma Temple, Barra Square, Moorish Barracks, St Lawrence’s Church, St. Augustine’s Square, Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, Leal Senado Building, Senado Square, Holy House of Mercy, St. Dominic’s Church, St. Dominic’s Square, Ruins of St. Paul’s, Lilau Square.

Ama Temple
A-Ma Temple.

library
Sir Robert Ho Tung Library. Sir Robert bought the building in 1918 and when he passed away in 1955, the building was given to the government (according to his will) for use as public library.

leoOther than the heritage sites, I also visited  Macao Science Center, said hi to two giant pandas, had a fling with Leo di Caprio at the Wax & 3D Museum, ate some egg tarts, had a great vegetarian lunch at The Blissful Carrot, see some greeneries at Taipa and Coloane, had lunch at Grand MGM, had a great dinner at Sofitel Macao at Ponte 16, visited The Venetian and had a great lunch at The Golden Peacock, listened to two beautiful ladies playing violin, and discover arts (will tell you about this in another post).

 

Violin

lakeatTaipa

panda

Macao has developed itself as one of the world-class tourism players with a wide choice of hotels, resorts, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) facilities, restaurants, casinos,  family entertainment, financial and banking services, staff training, transport and communications support. With all the offerings, I like to think that Macao is a concrete jungle where dreams are made of; where people come to work and make money, flock casinos and get rich in one day (or two, or not), experience fusion cuisines of Portuguese and Chinese, learn about the culture and history, attend or participate in festivals (or shows, concerts or business events), bring family for a holiday, or simply go shopping.

macanese
Macanese go about their daily lives. Rua do Gamboa, Macao.

neons

I am glad to have the chance to visit Macao and learn about everything that it has to offer. Viewing neon-lit Macao at night from the 18th floor of Sofitel Macao is so satisfying. While it looks gritty from up here during the day, it looks so darn pretty at night.

 

 

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Empire
http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab48
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Macau
http://www.everyculture.com/Ja-Ma/Macau.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_Centre_of_Macau
http://en.macaotourism.gov.mo