Monday, December 12, 2011

Afterthoughts of Macau Holiday Trip with The Changed Man (Day 1 of 3)

Day 1/Prelude/On a cab towards Budget Terminal/1030hrs
A chance to go on a holiday - finally - after slogging for a year at work and attending a couple of volunteering camps in December. The trip to Macau was planned within the space of a few hours because The Changed Man (A VIP friend of mine) was so busy with work that he could only grab leave from work on the day before and he was actually in full work attire when he turned up to meet me at the Budget Terminal in Singapore prior to our flight itself.

We packed really light and with no exact plan in mind, we hopped onto the flight we booked and off we go on a holiday together to explore Macau - a group of three islands - the casino city of Asia.

(Photos are still inside The Changed Man's superior camera phone. Will upload them once I have them on hand.)

Day 1/Budget Terminal/Singapore Changi/1230hrs

My first time taking Tiger Airways from the Budget Terminal in Changi. The seats were really cramped and there wasn't any entertainment onboard. I must have looked so bored from studying the lines on my palms that the Singaporean middle-aged couple offered their Straits Times newspapers for me to read. Thankfully, that helped me pass some time for the four hour flight.

Day 1/Macau International Airport/Taipa Island/1630hrs

Customs are tough and vague in Macau International Airport and after several attempts, I finally got the arrival and departure blue slips right by running to and fro from the check-in counters to the writing counters several times, much to the amusement of the customs officials. Hey, it's my first time in Macau and nobody told me that the slips are to be filled in together in the midst of all the frantic rush by the frequent travelers.

The first thing I grabbed after clearing the customs was a tourist map of Macau. The map was one bizarre labyrinth of streets clustered with hotels, sightseeing venues, casinos, residential housing, colonial fortresses and churches. That would take some head-scratching to interpret them all to plan some decent itinerary.

The weather was blisteringly cold when we waited at the taxi stand. An icy northern wind was blowing across the whole island and temperature plummeted to 12 Degrees Celsius in a matter of hours.

Day 1/Metropole Hotel/Macau Island/1730hrs

Finally checked into the hotel that the Changed Man had booked last minute. The room rate was unfortunately higher since it was done at last notice - around 660 SGD for a 3D2N stay. I was a little skeptical since the hotel was nothing much to look at from the exterior - a bland-looking building smack right alongside a busy mainstreet road but I was delightfully surprised when we entered the room. It was on the top floor and was actually an executive suite with sofa, two televisions, two bathrooms, one bathtub, bedroom on the second floor and an excellent view of the island of Macau itself.

Day 1/God of Kitchen Restaurant (食神)/ Macau Island/1830hrs

Our first dinner was at a fairly large restaurant tucked at one of the many streets of Macau Island nearby to our Hotel. The Changed Man ordered some salted egg toufu, green kailan, duck meat stir-fried with beans and Peking Duck.

Day 1/Touring The Grand Lisboa, Lisboa/Macau Island/2030hrs

Casinos are the main attractions in Macau and obviously I am not going to miss the chance to tour the casinos even though I don't even gamble at all. After dinner, we made our way down the streets and came across The Grand Lisboa and Lisboa Casino - brother casinos of the same company and their differences - the stakes at each time. Lisboa is the less glitzy one with stakes from HKD200 while Grand Lisboa can easily be at HKD500 onwards. They have every game imaginable - baccarat (the most popular one), blackjack, slot machines, dominoes, texas poker, dice, roulette and many discreet VIP rooms for the high rollers whom I imagine to put at least HKD10,000 per hand. I shudder at the sheer amount of money that changed hands in the space of just one night in one casino alone, let alone the twenty odd ones in Macau itself.

Being the less experienced when it comes to casinos, I asked The Changed Man what the average working hours of the croupiers are and the answer came in: easily more than 14hours. No wonder some of the croupiers were haggard looking and yawning away whenever their supervisors were not looking. As I have studied a couple of modules in architectural design when I was still an undergraduate, I turned my attention to the designs of the casinos - high ceiling, plenty of glided gold, ambient light to reflect on the glitz and glamor intended to seduce the customers with extra wads of money to spend on.

Day 1/Metropole Hotel/Macau Island/1030hrs

Lazing on the bed watching B.I.O channel on the bedroom wall. The Changed Man was fast asleep and snoring away. I had a hot shower to fend off the coldness in my bones and was trying to figure out about compulsive hoarding which is being featured on the television program then. Maybe gamblers themselves are also compulsive hoarders too - they hoard winning streaks to boost to friends and peers? Hmm...maybe...

Yes, I am a weird person who suddenly watches psychology related shows in the middle of a holiday trip. Oh well, I like to learn new things everyday, no matter where I am and I knocked out around midnight. Zzzzz....

Stay tuned for the next two blog posts on what I did for the remaining impromptu trip at Macau. ^__^

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