What can I say…. TFGIF!!! See if you can guess what the extra “F” in there stands for. Why am I spending Friday night at home? Besides the fact that I’m somewhat of a chronic hermit, it’s because I still haven’t recovered from this blasted sickness that’s been plaguing me the whole week. My body is very slowly recovering and still no where near 100%. Guess it doesn’t help that I’ve had to return to work on Wednesday when I should have still been rugged up at home in bed. The fact that work has been pretty stressful and busy hasn’t really helped all that much. Oh well…. hopefully I’ll have more energy when I wake up tomorrow as we have plans for the whole day.
Anyway, I’m dutifully trying to maintain the momentum generated by my previous consecutive days of backlog blogging and channel that kinetic energy into my next post. And so we have our second day in Macau. Basically it was going to be a fairly big day with lots to see. Our itinerary, of which anyone below the age of 50 had zero input into, included checking out some of the usual tourist haunts in Macau and then hitting up the other big name hotel casinos like the Wynn and MGM Grand.
I had no idea what tourist sites we were off to see given that all matters pertaining to sightseeing locales took place in chinaspeak, but I figured anything would be more interesting than Sanya! Hell, watching a one legged man taking a shit whilst playing solitaire on his lap would be more interesting. I know I may be sounding like a general Mr Complainy Pants right about now, but well, you try going on a holiday somewhere of which you have absolutely no input into what’s going on and the group you’re traveling with speaks a language you don’t understand, then come tell me how it feels! 😛
What I really just wanted to do was to go explore the Venetian, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to do that later. First things first… brekky! Basically the most convenient place to have brekky was the food court downstairs. We all ended up just getting the boring asian breakfast staple which is congee. Now the food court is pretty cool. The first thing that really hits you about the Venetian is the fake sky painted on the ceiling. It’s so damn frickin’ cool. Not just the painting, but also the ambient lighting is all done to create the impression that you’re outdoors… in Venice. Or in this case, outdoors… in Venice… in a place that sells primarily asian food.
One thing I would realise later is that the whole effect is so realistic that it actually kinda throws your body clock out of whack. Walking around at say 10pm in the evening is just so strange, because your mind is actually getting fooled to think that it’s daytime. Well, this was what I found anyway. Either way, It’s all pretty sweet.
Our first port of call was to be The Ruins of St Paul, followed by Mount Fortress. Both of which I knew nothing about and to this day still don’t. Seeing I wasn’t able to read anything about the site, any significance it may have was lost on me. The taxi dropped us off at some open area and we made our way on foot through part of the city towards the fort. It was a bright, sunny, and cloudless day. It was still “winter” and so the ambient air temperature was perfect for sightseeing.
There was certainly crowds aplenty, partly due to the fact that it’s the holiday season I’m guessing, and the scent of Christmas was thick in the air. The Christmas scent is always a lovely scent because it hopefully reminds people to treat their fellow man just that little bit nicer for this small portion of the year, before it’s all over and everyone returns to screwing each other over for the sake of a penny. This touristy section of Macau was actually quite nice to walk around.
We stopped for a snack of Portuguese Egg Tarts because that seems to be the popular thing to do. Now I’ve never been a huge fan of Portuguese Egg Tarts because I’ve never actually had one that I’ve really liked. All the ones I’ve had have been in Australia and they all sucked. I much prefer the cantonese style egg tarts that you get at yum cha. So much better. Emily loves the Portuguese ones and swears by them. And so I gave it a go again here. Nope… still don’t like’em!!! However, this would all soon change on my return to Hong Kong after, but I’ll get to that later
Besides Egg Tarts, another thing that all the stores seemed to sell was those barbecued pork squares. We call them Bak Kwa, but I have no idea what they call them in English. Every second shop seemed to sell a huge variety of it using various types of pork and flavours. I’m quite partial to Bak Kwa as I grew up eating it in Singapore.
Finally we arrive at the Ruins of St Paul. I would barely even call it a ruin. Ruins are pretty cool because term ruins conjures up images of a once great building that has been reduced to weathered remains by either the sands of time, natural disasters, or human conflict. You expect to see the bare and broken bones of structure that once stood proud and tall. Unfortunately, the ruins in this case was nothing more than the mere facade of a building that has been restored and preserved. That was it. Interesting, but a tad disappointing. Either way, the tourists flocked all over it.
At the base of the steps leading to the ruins I noticed a bronze stature of a women that was just begging to be violated. It was basically just screaming my name! And so… after much mental deliberation and hesitation, I figured what the hell… I’m on holiday. Surely that should be enough to get me out of whatever trouble public mischief is liable to land me in!
After the Ruins it was onto Mount Fortress, which was smack next to it. It’s basically an old fort that sits on a hill with canons poking out everywhere. It’s a longish winding trail up to the top and so Erica’s folks opted to chill out at the bottom whilst we strolled up to the top. At the top was a museum I believe but we didn’t go it. We just took in the panoramic views of the city of which there wasn’t all that much to see. Basically the city looked really really old. Old and poor. Most of the buildings were dirty and dodgy looking and one can’t help but think that they were looking at the slums. Either way, I’m sure most of the areas immediately surrounding, from the looks of it, had to be the poorer areas.
Beyond that there wasn’t all that much to see besides the canons and the fort itself. A fort is basically nothing more than a defensive perimeter so it’s probably not all that fascinating unless there’s some interesting bit of historical trivia to go with it. I’m sure there is but I didn’t know it unfortunately.
And that’s basically a quick wrap up of the sightseeing we did of Macau, which isn’t all that much. Now for the more interesting part, the casino’s!!! The next destination on the cards was the MGM Grand. I’ve never ever been to a casino outside of Australia and so was very very interested in going. The casino’s in Australia are by and large quite small, with possibly the exception of Crown in Melbourne. So I wanted to see what a real casino looked like! And I don’t just mean like the gaming floor itself, but the whole themed hotel/casino shebang. Again, I’ve never been to Vegas and this is probably the closest I’ll get for a while.
The MGM Grand was pretty sweet looking from the outside what with the big display screen and the multicoloured tower. We split up once we got inside as Erica’s parents wanted to go gamble, and us kids wanted to go exploring. Of course we’ll have a quick dabble at the tables, but it’s more just so we could say we’ve gambled at *insert casino name here* than actually trying to win anything.
Unfortunately they don’t really allow you to take photos near the gaming floor itself, which is a shame as that’s what I wanted to capture the most. I trued to sneak in a couple of shots but it’s just too damn conspicuous with a massive DSLR and security staff scattered everywhere you look. I kept getting reminded by them that I wasn’t allowed to take photos. Boo….
We had a bit of time to kill before we were due to meet up again and so stopped by the MGM patisserie for a quick snack. Can’t remember what they were exactly, except for the pastry, but they were all pretty good. The casino as a whole was quite big and pretty but didn’t come anywhere close to the Venetian in terms of pure scale and grandeur.
After we met up it was time to move onto the Wynn. The Wynn had a cool dancing fountain out front which is choreographed to music. Sure it’s not as impressive as the one out the front of the Bellagio in Vegas, but it was still pretty cool all the same. Again, we split up to go exploring whilst the oldies went off to try their luck at the tables/slots.
Now the coolest thing about the Wynn is without a doubt their Tree of Prosperity. Basically they have this thing called the Tree of Prosperity which rises up out of the ground amid this whole audio visual song and dance routine, and stuperstitious asians throw their money at it hoping to get rich whilst they in reality they’ll probably just wander off to the gambling tables and get their bank accounts raped. Either way, the whole thing is pretty awesome to watch.
You have this massive ornamental thing on the ceiling that’s designed to reflect the Chinese Horoscope, I’m a horse by the way, which then opens up to reveal some cool light show. The light show display thing then opens up to drop down this massive led encrusted chandelier. Because I’m just full of colourful metaphors, my description of it would be that the roof is like one giant anus and the chandelier is like a hemorrhoid from hell just dangling from it.
After that horrendously massive case of the piles comes down, the whole floor opens up and out pops the tree cued to the grandiose audio fanfare. All up it takes a good few minutes but is definitely worth catching. It’s all very very impressive worth sticking around for. The show kicks off every 30 mins so you don’t have to wait very long at all for the next one if you missed the one before.
As awesomely cool as it is, like the Fonz, I’d hate to be the security staff on duty there. They must be so damn sick ad neuseum of the same theme song playing again and again and again that I’m sure they must cram Macau pork buns in their ears to block out the sound and dream of taking a chainsaw to the tree. And because I forgot to take a video of the whole thing in action, I’ve just embedded a random youtube video that someone else had kindly put up.
And after that, our Macau casino adventures were over and it was time for dinner. The day had flown by surprisingly quickly and I had a great time checking out the different casinos. I’m sure splitting up with the folks and being able to just do our own thing greatly contributed to that. After this, I think I would love to go to Vegas just to check out the real deal!
Anyway it’s time for dinner now and we ended up at a place called Solmar, which I think was a Portugese restaurant. The restaurant was actually quite old and dodgy looking on the inside. It looked like it was in dire need of a fresh coat of paint…. about 30 years ago. But we were hungry and I’m just glad it’s not Chinese food again. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I’ve never actually had Portuguese food, and I don’t really want what Portuguese food really is, but somehow this just didn’t seem very Portuguese to me. Then again as I said, I have no idea what the hell Portuguese food is!
We returned straight to the hotel after as we were all quite tired by then. Uncle Frankie still felt like some post dinner drinks however so after a brief spell in our rooms to freshen up, we all met up at one of the bars down on the gaming floor. The Bellini I think it was called. It was quite empty but still had a live band playing so that always makes for good ambience.
All up, it was a great day! Really enjoyed myself and had much more fun than I did in Sanya! Now we came to an agreement with Erica’s parents that the next day would be a day for us to just chill and do what we wanted. And basically that just involved chilling out and lazing by the hotel pool, then going exploring by ourselves. If we could stick to that plan, I’d be a happy man. The next day Uncle Frankie and his partner would be heading back to Singapore whilst Erica’s family and me would kick on by ourselves for the remainder of the trip.