Hong Kong, its never ending hustle and bustle. The food. The shops. The people. We love it. And apart from a short side break to Lamma to get some of the best Dou Fu Fa – warm tofu in a peppy ginger syrup – and meet up with an old travel buddy, we have been lapping up the city life.
This has caused a major problem.
We have forgot that we are backpackers on a pause. The consumerist lifestyle that oozes out of every high-end nook and cranny has seeped into our bloodstream. A nice dinner here. A bottle of wine there. Some new clothes. A treat for Joyce’s parents. A treat for ourselves. Hmm. We need to leave soon, or we’ll be booking our flights home early! Eek.
So, what we needed to do was batten down the hatches, lock ourselves away from the wider world and count our few remaining pennies.
Is that what we did? No.
Amazingly one of Joyce’s family friends works for – connected in some way or something I don’t fully understand – the Four Seasons hotel in Macau. Yeah, that posh hotel chain that you find around the world. And she had gone and got us – Me, Joyce, her mum and dad – in for free!
Free! Including, the high speed ferry ride there and back to Hong Kong (in first class), private car for 3 days, buffet breakfasts and dinner, oh and of course the room!
Here I am, slightly overjoyed about finding myself, a backpacker, accidentally in a 4/5 star hotel without having to spend a penny. Fish out of a water me thinks! I almost fell head first off the bed as I completely misjudged were it ended!
But I quickly composed myself as we wandered through the ornate, European styled halls, to our first food foray in Macau. High tea!
It was beautiful. The light streamed in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, whilst the pitter-patter chatter from the myriad happy (and rich) clientele echoed around us.
And us. Four ragamuffins that looked like they had lost their way and thought they might as well take a seat and have a cup of tea anyway. Beautiful.
The indulgences didn’t stop there. After a brief visit to the shops of the next door hotel (The Venetian), which were lined up against a compelling Grand Canal, complete with punts… and air conditioning of course…
We headed to our next stop. Seafood buffet! Followed by dessert buffet.
Cue, exploding stomach, embarrassing waddle and loosening of belt!
Full of food, and brimming with luck we headed to the casinos. Here our hearts sank a little as we rounded table after table glancing at the minimum buy in… Too rich for us. So we watched others win big and lose big. One guy, at a Roulette tale, had put down over $250 (US) on 21. It came good. He ‘walked away’ with over $9000! I say ‘walked away’ as he just put it all back down on the table. As I said. Too rich for us.
So instead we found ourselves at a fruit machine and having no idea what we were doing – apart from pressing that ‘flashy button on the left’ – we gambled the night away… Or $10! Believe it or not, we walked away ‘up’ $12! Good night.
The next day rolled around. The day of discovery. Joyce and I were feeling a little worse for wear after a late night at the casino and an early start for breakfast with the folks, but we troopered on. A whistle stop tour of Macau, the Tower, a church here, temple there and of course, the ruins of St Paul. An imposing site, made all the more striking as the caustic sun rippled over the rough hewn stone.
And then of course we were off to food street. Portuguese tart. Only fair to try a few we decided. My stomach is stretching…
… And then dinner. Fernando’s on Taipa island. Awesome. Awesome Awesome. Soft, tender and rich beef stew. Luxuriously smooth, moist angel-white squid, grilled to perfection. Crispy suckling pork, dripping with just the right amount of fat.
Delicious… And belt needs loosening a little more.
Our final day came and went in a dreamy blur. We didn’t do too much. Ate well (of course) and then just settled down in our room and enjoyed the fleeting luxury we knew would soon we gone and not return very soon.
And yet, before we headed to the ferry, we had one final surprise. A show (also a gift from our friend). A water dancing show.
The technical aspect of this show was incredible. Amazing divers, swimmers and gymnasts. And whilst there may have been a gaping hole where there should have been a plot, the show was no less spectacular! This was just the start…
But now we bid farewell to luxury and return to home comforts. And in no time at all, those comforts will disappear as well. But we will be happy, back on the road – where we belong – discovering what Northern Asia has to show us. We can’t wait.