Thursday, October 04, 2007

A little luck

I took a day in Macau yesterday. I needed to get out of Shenzhen for a little while to relax and make me feel like I'm really having a holiday. Of course, it required me waking up early to take the bus to the ferry port in Shekou, but it was worth it. The last time I went to Macau, Jia and I went through Zhuhai. This time I spent a few extra kuai to take the ferry directly to the outer harbor port.

I guess it was a great choice--it certainly saved time on the border crossing and the port was only about a 10-minute walk from Senado Square. I was also surprised with the customs officers on both sides--they were really polite and even spoke a little (the officer on the mainland side even wished me a good trip). I thought it might be a good omen if I decided to gamble a little. Of course, the other omen was sitting on the ferry reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead--the whole opening scene about probability couldn't be a good sign.

I decided to have a look at the new Grand Lisboa, billed as the largest casino in the world. It is an impressive structure that looks like an ode to excess. I like the architecture of the old one across the street much more. The building isn't complete--the top floors are still under construction. The casino is split into a lot of smaller rooms that are rather quiet, probably because the crowd is split into different areas of the hotel.

After wandering around the gaming areas (one sign was "gameing") of the Grand Lisboa, I headed across the way to the Wynn. I was much more impressed. It had more of a hotel feel than a casino. The staff was also more friendly--the Grand Lisboa didn't even acknowledge my existence (except when walking through security to the casino rooms).

Other than those casinos, I wandered around the city. I had no particular destination set, but I found some cool buildings (mostly Portuguese designs) and parks. I also had an interesting time conversing with some shopkeepers (I think I managed to find everyone in Macau who didn't speak English or Mandarin, only Cantonese). For my early dinner, I found a new restaurant near Senado Square--I asked if one of the dishes had pork. The answer was, "It's not spicy." So, I asked in Chinese and the answer was, "meiyou." Sure enough, it had pork. I also went to buy some smoked, dried beef. I asked how much it cost and the shopkeeper pointed to a red blob on a sign. When I pointed out that I couldn't read it, he pointed to another sign that had a red blob. I walked away and went to another store that had clear prices.

The best part of the trip was definitely finding the grocery store with the great coffee. They raised their prices since last year (last year it was 20 kuai a pound, this year 40), but it's cheaper than most coffee in Shenzhen. I still bought a pound of mocha to enjoy. At least the woman working there spoke Mandarin Chinese, even though I didn't understand when she asked if I wanted the coffee ground (vocabulary I don't know).

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