A father buys his daughter a surprise gift this Christmas-time – a charming 1 bedroom apartment in the World Heritage area of St Paul’s Ruins
Ao Mun Fat’s family has lived in the St Paul’s area of Macau for three generations and he still runs their antique shop on Rua de Sao Paulo. But he’s getting old and starting to look ahead in the hope that his son and daughter will one day take over the business. Both children were educated abroad, returned to Macau, and are doing well in their own careers, the son, Chris, in IT, the daughter, Carol, in hotel marketing. Both too have moved away from the area; they work on Cotai so Chris has a home in One Oasis and Carol rents in central Taipa.
Mr Ao has been longing to get his children to move back to Macau-side. “Their jobs keep them busy and we only get together these days for Sunday yum cha”, he explains. “It would be so nice to have them live closer to home so the whole family can eat dinner together”.
So for over a year now Mr Ao has been looking to buy an apartment on Rua de Sao Paulo. He almost bought one in a 5 storey walk-up a couple of buildings down and across the street from his shop, a low floor with no view, but the sale fell through at the last moment.
Imagine his excitement when last month Ambiente presented him with another in the same building, but this time on the 4/F. On the market for HKD3.5M, it was quite a bit above his budget of HKD3.2M. But he was determined to buy the property and eventually raised his offer to close on the purchase at HKD3.44M. “Even though the building is 37 years old, I’ve been lucky to get my bank to help with the mortgage”, he says. “I’m buying this for my daughter … family comes first. And it will be a surprise gift for her, in time for the Christmas holidays, although my son knows all about it, so hopefully he wont have let the secret out!”
Originally a 2 bedroom apartment, the previous owner had engaged an architect and interior designer to convert it to one bedroom, with open plan living, dining and kitchen area and one bathroom. The décor has a contemporary loft feel – stark white walls, large white-framed windows, concrete flooring throughout, stainless steel kitchen countertops, backsplash and appliances and modern ceiling light fixtures. A kitchen island provides additional counter top space and more storage below, and forms a natural barrier between kitchen and dining area. French windows on to the balcony fold right back on either side so that in fine weather the balcony makes a pleasant extension that enhances the entertainment-dining space.
In the bathroom is a shower with glass-panel doors to help make the compact area feel more spacious. Heated towel racks and modern vanity unit complete the sense of simple comforts.
From the balcony there is a superb open view; opposite is the tiny single chamber Taoist temple, Na Tcha Temple built in 1888, and beyond to the right, the 16th century St Paul’s Jesuit cathedral ruins, both on Macau’s UNESCO World Heritage list. Even a small section of the Old City Walls can be seen. Constructed as early as 1569, it’s a sample of traditional Portuguese defensive walls found in their settlements around the word. Right within the building’s doorstep, all fine examples of Macau’s multicultural identity.
And from the balcony, Mr Ao waves across to a long-time friend tending to his balcony plants in the building opposite. Looking down on the cobbled streets below, the hustle and bustle of locals and tourists passing by gives further vibrancy to the neighbourhood atmosphere. “I’m sure my daughter will be happy being back nearer home, with many friends she grew up with” Mr Ao smiles, “and my wife and I are so looking forward to giving her the keys to her own place!”
Photographs by Eduardo Martins, for Macau Closer magazine