Thursday, April 26, 2007

Never lend money to people on the street

There are some well-dressed people who will approach you and ask to lend money from you. They are from mainland China and often speak only Mandarin (Putonghua). Don't lend them money as they will not pay you back.

The first time I encountered them was in late October. A lady came up to me at night apologizing to bother me. She said that she has lost her wallet and needed money to stay overnight.

She explains that she is not begging for money, just borrowing it. She promises to pay me back the next day, when her business partner arrives. She will definitely treat me for lunch for my great help.

I scribbled my contact information down and handed her all the notes in my bag, which is somewhere around MOP$360. The result is that I lost all my money.

The second time I encountered them was the day before yesterday. A man came up to me asking to befriend me.

This time he told me that he had lost all the money gambling in the casino and needed money for food. He is persistent saying that he is very hungry and has 2 companions in a similar situation. Their credit card bounced, he explained.

Again, he explains that he is not begging for money, just borrowing it. He will return the money the next day when his friend comes by to rescue him. As he speaks, one of his companions came and shake my hand.

He gave me his name card, which contains a Zhuhai number. I left my mobile number with him. I thought that I could give him the benefit of the doubt, but this time I only offer MOP$30. I have little money left myself and am not keen to give much away.

He tried asking for me but I told him that he can just eat lesser and share with his companions. He said OK, and then turned away. He never called. I later called his number only to find that his mobile phone was switched off.

On hindsight, if I wanted to help, I should have brought these people to a restaurant or give them bread or food vouchers.

These people have no qualms about cheating others, and may just use the money to gamble and lose at the casinos. Lying may be their professional occupation, and they have long silenced their guilty conscience.

I am not going to help them again. If they are really desperate, perhaps a cheap loaf of bread is what they will get. If they get persistent, I will threaten to call the police.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cheap Food in Macau (San Ma Lo)

Scenario: You wish to find cheap food and are near Macau New Central (San Ma Lo), which tends to have more expensive prices.

No problem. The market in Central is a tall 6 floor building near to the Post Office and fountains. In the picture below, this is the view from the street just before you turn right (-->>).

Shortly after you make a turn, you will notice this building on your left.

There are a few floors in the building. On the first floor, you can buy eggs and fruits. The cheapest price for the apples and lemons I got was $10 per 6 units.

Oh, by the way, they don't accept credit cards.

These are samples of apples available from the stalls. I prefer the Fuji apples (the 3 on the left). They don't seem to have nearly as much wax on them.

As you go to the second and third floors, you will be greeted by rows and rows of stalls selling meat. The place is usually very busy in the morning - the photos are taken around 2pm in the afternoon.

You can go up a few more floors where they sell vegetables. You can buy carrots, lettuce, leeks - just look and compare instead of buying from the first few stalls nearest to you. Sometimes stalls with the best business mark up their prices a little bit.

If you are hungry, you can look around for this nice hawker centre on the 5th floor. The prices there are comparable to Singapore, making it a great bargain. You can get a decent meal for MOP$16 instead of MOP$30 elsewhere. The only catch is that they list everything in Traditional Chinese.

After visiting the market, you can look around for other nice things to buy in the roadside stalls, like clothes and accessories.

There is a stall nearby that sells cheap and durable airline cabin size luggage bags (around MOP$120 to MOP$160). Look for the wheels to ensure that they are not made of rubber that can come off, but a single piece of thick plastic.

The ruins of Saint Paul are only 5 to 10 minutes walk away from this area. Follow the signboards if in doubt.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Go Daiso for cheap shopping

If you are coming from Macau Ferry Terminal, you can take bus 12.

If you are coming from the Blood Transfusion Centre near Kun Lam Statue, you can also board bus 8. Beware of taking bus 12 here - there are 2 versions, one of which goes to the Ferry Terminal!

The bus will travel up a fly-over and will pass by an old pink building called the Former Government House before reaching this bus stop.

Note down this bus stop, because it is where you will drop off.

To make sure that it is the correct bus stop, you should see a bridge in front of you. Note the McDonalds and KFC fast-food restaurants on both sides of the bridge.

Turn left and head into this street. Travel all the way up to the other end of the street.

You will be greeted by a construction site with 3 smiling, flying cats. The Chinese words mean "the cats on the walls of Paris". [Update: The cats no longer exist in April 2009.]

Turn left, and you will go down a very busy street.

Watch out for the Daiso sign on your right side as it is easy to miss. The huge Daiso superstore is underground.

In Daiso, things are sold according to Japanese Yen. To know the price in Patacas, just divide the number on the price tag by 10. If the price is not indicated, then the item is MOP$10 each.

The items they sell include Egyptian figurines, baskets and a plastic wrapper that can compress your winter clothes. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Free Coins in Macau

There is a place in Macau where you can get free coins. And that place is none other than the higher floor of the Ruins of Saint Paul.

It also comes with a great scenery of Macau, as long as it is not raining or foggy.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Macao Art, Creativity, Youth, Nature Workshops

Are you keen to inspire children and teenagers to develop their creativity and positive thinking?

What about organize an event for people to get in touch with nature and save the environment at the same time?

Or maybe you may like to create some exotic art and music to spice up an otherwise boring ceremony, party or wedding?

If so, I would like to introduce you to my friends from Brainstorming Creations. They are a group of dynamic and inspired youth who aim to help develop the inner creativity and awareness of people.

And they love to have fun... Lots of it. They have organized various projects in Thailand and Macau and plan to continue to do even more.

Their work is also inspired by Waldorf Education, which makes their workshops unique. For instance, their storytelling uses a natural objects, simple storyline, and cloth dolls (so that children can imagine the emotions and facial expressions on their blank faces).

In addition, they are keen believers in promoting environmental awareness, so you can count on them to help protect the environment while they are doing their work.

Feel free to write to them at to find out more about their work.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Buying Computers in Macao

I suggest that you don't buy them if you can get them in Singapore or Taiwan.

Despite a 5% Goods & Service Tax (GST) in Singapore, key computer parts still cost around 1% to 5% more in Macau after currency conversion.

The exception are card readers, mice and other computer accessories made cheaply in neighboring China. [You may consider purchasing them in China at an even lower price.]

Beware that if you need to send many computer parts for repair, you will have to pay a MOP$80 shipping fee to send it to Hong Kong. And of course, you will have to wait a month for the computer part to travel.

If you are still keen to buy computer parts (perhaps you may not have a choice), then a good place would be Digital Technology Centre at Rua Um do Bairro Iao Hon in Macau.

It is within 10 minutes' walking distance from the border to China near the 3 sided bridge and a popular garden with pavilions.