“The House of Dancing Water” Show in Macau


I was writing a blog entry on the Top Ten Things to Savor in Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, former Portuguese colony, and gambling capital of Asia, when I realized that one of my recommendations merited its own post. My family and I had taken too many excellent photos of the show, The House of Dancing Water, a Vegas-style stage production, to limit this attraction to a mere bullet point on a list.

The show, now playing at the City of Dreams in Macau, is a wonderfully choreographed experience in an intimate aqua theater-in-the-round. The spectacular show features aerial acrobatics, provocative choreography, and elegant artistry. It is similar to the aquatic theatre show Le Rêve – The Dream at the Wynn Las Vegas and produced by Franco Dragone, who also produced Le Rêve and is known for his work with Cirque du Soleil.

The House of Dancing Water offers a uniquely Asian take on the aquatic theater concept. The U.S.$250 million production that took five years to develop and two years to rehearse is billed as the “world’s largest water-based show” according to the City of Dreams website. The one-of-a-kind production that combines theater, dance, gymnastic artistry, high-performance diving, and state-of-the-art displays of water imagery were truly awe inspiring.

The following is the synopsis of the story from the show’s website:

The Story begins on the coast of Coloane. A Fisherman traveling with his boat enjoys his journey. Suddenly, a mysterious energy from the water creates a terrible whirlpool, grabs the Fisherman, and pulls him to a place and a time of legend. He does not realize for a while what is happening at that moment. He observes, lost and intrigued, when a storm brings a survivor from a shipwreck, a Stranger to this magical kingdom. The young, brave Stranger encounters and falls in love with a beautiful Princess who was thrown into a cage by her evil stepmother, the Dark Queen. Without hesitating, the Fisherman decides to help the Stranger fight against to the Dark Queen and rescue the Princess. With his help, the Stranger and the Princess defeat the Dark Queen, and the Fisherman obtains an unexpected reward. It is a spectacular love story through time and space.

Below are photos from the performance we watched when we visited Macau in April 2012. The theater allowed flash-free photography.

Mysterious energy grabs the Fisherman and pulls him to a place and a time of legend.

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A survivor from a shipwreck, a Stranger to this magical kingdom encounters and falls in love with a beautiful Princess.

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The Princess was thrown into a cage by her evil stepmother, the Dark Queen.

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The Fisherman decides to help the Stranger fight against to the Dark Queen and rescue the Princess.

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An epic battle. Dueling motorcycles were an interesting addition to the show.

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With the Fisherman’s help, the Stranger and the Princess defeat the Dark Queen, and the Fisherman obtains an unexpected reward.

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Images projected onto the water. Amazing.

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High diving from the theater ceiling.

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The highest dive of all. This dive was from at least 25 meters high.

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Final bows and curtain call.

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One of the most flexible performers I’ve ever seen. The way he contorted his body was unbelievable.

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Tickets to see The House of Dancing Water are not cheap, but it’s worth the price of admission. It is easily one of the top attractions at any of the casinos in Macau and highly recommended if you’re visiting the gambling capital of Asia.

The official trailer shows some of the spectacular scenes from the show.

“The House of Dancing Water” Trailer
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buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain available from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. They visited Macau in April 2012.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Zhujiajiao, the Venice of Shanghai


On January 26, 2012, my family and I traveled to Zhujiajiao, an ancient village in Qingpu District about 45 minutes west of Shanghai. Zhujiajiao bills itself as the “Venice of Shanghai.” Why not the “Venice of China”? Well, perhaps because China has hundreds, if not thousands, of traditional villages like Zhujiajiao scattered throughout the country.

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Founded over 1,700 years ago, Zhujiajiao has canals, wooden oar-driven tour boats, stone arch bridges, and plenty of traditional Chinese architecture. However, it bears little resemblance to Venice, Italy.

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Some of the village’s attractions include a Buddhist temple that rises above town, a small Temple of the Town God dedicated to the spirits that protect the village, and a theater that offers performances of the Chinese classic play The Peony Pavilion during the summer months and on Saturdays.

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The traditional Qing Dynasty-era architecture that lines a picturesque network of canals is a main attraction, as are the Chinese foods, beverages, and souvenirs for sale from many vendors. Lotus root, soy beans, pork, toad, and seafood are local specialties.

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The toad was delectable.

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The snails aren’t your garden variety escargot.

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Dried, not fried, chicken is also a local favorite. Not recommended for tourists.

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The crowds during Chinese New Year were horrific. We thought we were going to be crushed in an alleyway! Fortunately, body heat kept us warm on a cold winter day.

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In spite of the crowds, the atmosphere was festive during our visit. Dragon boats with drums beating sailed in the canals, and well-groomed dogs sported bright red Chinese New Year coats. Red lanterns with gold tassels festooned the streets.

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Zhujiajiao is a nice daytrip from Shanghai along with Da Guan Yuan, a park on the shore of Dian Shan Hu (lake) that replicates the garden featured in the classic Chinese novel The Dream of the Red Chamber.

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Just don’t go when it’s busy!

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Here are some short video clips from our visit.

Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
Dragon boats in Zhujiajiao, China–January 26, 2012
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P.S. This has been a busy week in China with family and Chinese New Year’s festivities. Last night we could barely sleep as the locals blew off rounds of fireworks to welcome the god of wealth on the 5th day of New Year’s. I have to say that I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet – not to mention warmer weather – back in Thailand. We return home to Bangkok tomorrow.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming travel novel, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be available in March 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. Visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him at me@mgedwards.com. Find him on Facebook or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

Temple of the Town God–Shanghai, China


Happy New Year! It’s the first day of the Year of the Dragon in China. Today we visited the Temple of the Town God in Shanghai. It was crowded! I haven’t seen so many people in one place in a long time — which means a lot in a place like China with more than 1.2 billion people.

Thousands converged on this popular attraction to see the lighting of the lanterns on decorated floats on the water and other Chinese New Year’s festivities. The lights were simply spectacular. The traditional Chinese architecture added to the ambiance.

Enjoy these video clips of the Temple of the Town God. Happy New Year! 新年快乐!

Temple of the Town God, Shanghai, China–January 24, 2012
Temple of the Town God, Shanghai, China–January 24, 2012
Temple of the Town God, Shanghai, China-January 24, 2012
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Fireworks in Shanghai, China – Happy Year of the Dragon!


Here’s a video clip of some amazing firework displays in Shanghai, China at midnight on January 23, 2012, to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year. This year, the Year of the Dragon, is a special one for the Chinese, and this New Year’s celebration was truly memorable. Happy New Year! 新年快乐!

Shanghai, China–January 23, 2012

 

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Hanliu / Hallyu (한류)


Hanliu (한류), also known as hallyu or the “Korean Wave,” refers to the Korean cultural phenomenon now sweeping across East and Southeast Asia.  Korean culture is hot right now, especially in Japan and China.  Asians are discovering the uniqueness and intrigue of a place once known as the Hermit Kingdom.  The phenomenon started with the spread of a 20-parent Korean drama series produced a few years ago called “Winter Sonata.”  You might have even heard of this series in the news.  Right now it’s the hottest thing in Japan and very popular throughout Asia.  Other Korean drama series that are popular right now include “Summer Scent”, “Fall Fairy Tale”, and “Stairway to Heaven” (yes, the Led Zepplin classic is one of the featured songs).  I enjoy watching these dramas to improve my Korean, but they are not my kind of movie.  They can be slow, and the plotlines are too simple and have too many coincidences for my taste.  Rather than using violence to create suspense, these dramas tend to inflict characters with illnesses–blindness, amnesia, and heart failure.  Nothing like a good heart transplant to bring people together.

My wife, who grew up in Asia, is crazy about these movies.  Her favorite actor is a hunk who makes every woman in Asia weak in the knees, Bae Yong Jun (배용준).  Very few actors have made the same kind of splash in the U.S. as BYJ has in Asia.  The rapid rise of Leo DiCaprio after the release of the movie “Titanic” is probably the best comparison to Bae hysteria in Japan and Asia.  Interestingly, the popularity of “Winter Sonata” has cooled in Korea because it’s already a few years old.  I imagine that when the new “Spring” series comes out–the last of the four “seasons” dramas, it will be immensely popular in Korea and Japan.

Korean movies have heightened interest throughout Asia in other aspects of Korean culture, including music, technology, martial arts (tae kwondo), and language.  In Japan the wave of Hanliu is still on the rise.  It’s rare that the Japanese embrace another culture so quickly and feverishly.  Korean dramas are especially popular with Asians because many closely identify with the dramas’ main themes–love, love triangles, family duty, personality conflicts and manipulation, innocence, intimacy, and tragedy.  Korean culture itself is intriguing because it still embodies many Confucian principles, and Asians are revisiting these principles, perhaps for the first time.  This is especially true in China, which lost some of its Confucist character following World War II and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

For Christmas I bought my wife the “Winter Sonata” soundtrack and a Bae Yong Jun T-shirt.  After an exhaustive search I found just one to buy on the Web.  (I found it at Kpopmusic).  I told my mother, and she exclaimed, “You bought her a T-shirt?!”  An American, she doesn’t understand.  At this moment that’s the best gift I could give her.  She plans to wear it proudly and show it off to all the Koreans she knows.