How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


Packing Up and Homeward Bound

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Breakfast was a disappointment. Again:  dry buns, squashed croissants, and small stale Danish. I loaded up on cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple, a piece of toast, and coffee. I decided not to gorge on our last day.

After breakfast, Ernesto and his wife entered an elevator with two Chinese businessmen. It stopped part way to their destination and wouldn’t budge. One of the businessmen began to sweat, his face beet-red. Ernesto’s wife hit the red button and someone answered at once with instructions but nothing worked. After a moment or two—that’s all it took—the elevator stirred to everyone’s relief, especially the Chinese man.

~ * ~

Time to leave for the airport, Sue and I towed our luggage to the elevator at 8:25 a.m. Though it appeared too full, the occupants insisted we get on. We stopped on almost every floor and with much shifting, more people squeezed on. I laughed inwardly because this felt like the Volkswagen commercial where endless lines of people pile in. Nobody thought the elevator was too full to get on and no one considered waiting for the next one. By the time we’d reached the first floor, we had enough Chinese people to start our own small village with a population of a million or two.

~ * ~

After we’d settled at our boarding gate at the airport, Sue and I went in search of bottled water to take on the plane. Before boarding, we passed through another security check, opened our bags and carry-ons, and lost the untouched water. Other passengers had also purchased water but were robbed of their bottles as well. A female passenger argued with the stewardess.

“There should be a sign if we’re not allowed to bring water on board.”

“Madam, we are not allowed to do that in Hong Kong.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know my new water bottle will be confiscated?”

“You will know for next time.”

United_787_800_RR

I tried wifi at the airport without success. The plane before us had been delayed; the passengers moved to another gate after much dithering. Our flight wasn’t announced. Tick. Tock. The clock snuck past our boarding time with no updates offered. Finally, another gate became available. We were 35 minutes late boarding. Thank goodness we didn’t have to run to the other end of the airport, but I worried about the prearranged limo we’d paid for to pick us up in Toronto.

The aircraft was puny: two seats on either side of a narrow aisle, not unlike the one we had taken from Toronto to Chicago at the beginning of our trip. The door closed and—nothing. We waited. The passengers shifted in their seats and looked at each other across the aisle. Coughs and sneezes echoed throughout the cabin. Drat. Disease incubator!

1st announcement:

“We need to fuel up so we have enough gas to get you to To-ron-to.”

2nd announcement after a long spell of twitchy waiting:

“We’re trying to locate the guy who’s supposed to fill us up.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Is that enough fuel? Are you kidding?)  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3rd announcement:

“He went to the wrong…”

W-h-a-t?

My heart danced the Nitty Gritty. So close to home—yet would we even make it?  The air in the cabin grew stale and stifling. Susan’s stomach had been queasy while we were still in the airport. I now had a scratchy throat and stuffed sinuses.

Credit:  SOUL of the North : tolpuddleman’s channel

~ * ~

Finally soaring, the flight proceeded without further incidents. My eyes didn’t itch nor burn from lack of sleep though it was the middle of the night. By 1:00 a.m. breakfast arrived, but I wasn’t hungry. I had half the omelet, a taste of the anemic pork sausage and two toonie-sized hash brown coins. The drinks cart came around once. I would have loved more coffee. Finally, a second offer was made.

I watched a lot of movies, and read a complete book I’d borrowed from an avid reader in our group. Touchdown in Chicago didn’t require five or six hours to proceed on a flight home.

We arrived in Toronto ahead of schedule and in one piece but had to trudge forever across the tarmac to the airport. I felt like a rag doll. The airport is huge; it isn’t easy nor forgiving. There are no walkalators nor airport treadmills. Not a washroom in sight for miles and miles.

I noticed something interesting at the baggage carousel. A female police officer and a sniffer dog checked the incoming luggage. I’d have expected a German shepherd, instead, a beagle named Lucy sniffed and wagged.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

We waited about five minutes for the limo driver. The deal was if the plane didn’t arrive on time, the driver would only wait for an hour. Phew! Almost home.

Soon we sped towards home-sweet-home, the great adventure over. I couldn’t wait for a hot shower without watching the clock and to snuggle in my own bed again.

The End

Next on February 2nd: North to Alaska

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I plan to drop in for a visit and a short update Monday.

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Hong Kong, What a Throng, Part 4

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

In Aberdeen, the ferry driver burned more stinky gas turning the boat (40 – 49 capacity) out of the parking slot at Tai Pak Marina than the amount it took to get to the floating Cantonese restaurant. I expected the restaurant to rock due to the rolling waves due to boat traffic, but it was rock solid firm. The huge open space hummed like a beehive and didn’t feel like a ship. The male servers wore microphones with coiled phone wire tucked behind their ear like secret servicemen in the movies. We’d heard Cantonese people like to eat out and this being Easter weekend proved it. Every table was filled. I counted 36 tables and each appeared to be set up for 10 guests. We were served on the third floor.

Lunch:

  • Sweet and sour sauce
  • Chili pepper sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Steamed shrimp in rice paper (rubbery)
  • Shrimp wontons
  • Steamed fish balls
  • Pork balls with cabbage (?) (tasty)
  • Steamed sweet dough wrapped pork (?)
  • Noodles with curry shrimp, green peppers, and egg
  • Fried rice with shrimp peas, corn and green onions on noodles with ginger
  • Jasmine tea
  • Coconut Jello (but not clear like Jello

This was a long affair from 12:55 to 2:10 p.m. When we arrived, we waited longer than usual for the food to arrive. Again, everyone in the restaurant had the same food. I thought I was smart when one of the ladies wanted more tea, but couldn’t catch the server’s attention. I lifted the teapot lid and replaced it at an angle, not snug into the opening. Another of our group waved the waiter down to ask for more tea and he showed her the same thing I had ‘invented’. Am I brilliant or what?! I have no clue how I came by this idea.

After lunch—what a treat—a surprise visit to Dynasty Jewelry Manufacturers in a-last-stab-effort to our lined tourist pockets. We English 8, too few to bother with, the presentation transpired in French only. Right. Though the jewelry was magnificent, who walks around with the kind of money for such purchases without forethought?  Bored and poor, though I’m attracted to sparkly things, I wandered around shadowed by a clerk who didn’t even pretend he wasn’t stalking me. After all that, I’m not sure anyone in the French Group purchased anything.

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

  © Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

 

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

                       © Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Next, we climbed a steep, serpentine road to Victoria Peak. I held my breath as another bus passed us traveling in the opposite direction, grateful we were in the inside lane. We passed breathless views for perfect picture-taking, but photo opportunities came and went. There wasn’t room to pull over and we’d likely be killed crossing the busy two-lane road. If we beat traffic, someone might fall over the edge. From the bus, the city gave the impression of a toy city.

Our destination: The Peak for picture taking and The Peak Galleria (the mall for shopping). We had to go inside and up escalators to the third floor, then outside to the extensive viewing platform for spectacular views of the city and Victoria Harbour. Because of the distance, my photos were small. With more time to kill, I checked out the mall. Actors dressed in rabbit costumes put on a show for shoppers’ children, this being Easter Saturday. I wandered into a drugstore and bought nail polish for our last dress-up dinner before heading home. Two tiny bottles (about half the size we usually see at home) cost a grand total of $2.00 total.

Quick Facts

  • 1,800 square foot = luxury apartment
  • Condos at Repulse Bay under $20,000 USD per month
  • Visiting Businessmen are put up in these type condos
  • Usual apartment rent around $1,300 USD
  • If cannot pay, government subsidises at $300 USD per month
  • Long wait to get subsidized apartment: 4 to 5 years
  • A car traveling to Hong Kong has two license plates: one for Hong Kong and one for China
  • No casino allowed in Hong Kong
  • If one travels to Macau, must return home 5:00 p.m. like from work
  • Hong Kong 93% Chinese + Pakistani Indian
  • Has 272 islands
  • West Hong Kong is new
  • Have many temples, mostly Taoist
  • 150,000 immigrants arrive every day

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Dinner choices made by members of English Eight at an Italian restaurant (paid out of pocket):

  • Risotto
  • Pizza
  • Lamb
  • Fettucine Bolognese
  • Linguine with Clams
  • Octopus Ink sauce (for pasta)
  • Octopus Ink dinner rolls
  • W.i.n.e.

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

                                   © 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Additional information about Hong Kong:

Taken by Jacek Zarzycki

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Next on January 26th – Packing Up and Homeward Bound

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical but hope to visit here before the end of the month. Many, many thanks for your supportive reading, re-blogging, and tweeting. Your continued follows are immensely appreciated.  XX


Hong Kong View-a-Thon, Part 3

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We’d seen all we could at Tin Hau Temple. Sue and I headed to the bus parked in front of a Seven-Eleven Variety Store. We decided, as did the rest of our group, to buy water. A cashier managed to keep up with the brisk business, while another worker (or owner) kept an eye on the crowd. The store appeared to stock anything you can imagine: groceries, wine, water, and clothes.

Soon, almost everyone took his or her seat but someone was still missing. Hurry up and wait. We did wait. And wait. And wait. No explanations were given, at least not to the English Group 8. Finally, the French crowd cheered and the last couple hopped on, to loud and boisterous guffaws. The story: the husband, goofing around—whether on purpose or by accident—sent his wife into the water and of course, she was soaked through. The bus couldn’t turn back to the hotel just for her. Would you believe she bought pants and a top at the Seven-Eleven? I have no idea where she changed.

Next stop: Stanley Market. I managed to go through the paces once we were dropped off into scorching temperatures and no trees. Jewelry kiosks were plentiful, but the earrings I found weren’t to my liking. Why did dollar stores in Canada carry such fabulous Made in China earrings, but after I’d traveled all this way found nothing to compare? I did buy one pair for a souvenir, but they cost too much—five times more than in Canada—and the chandelier type already out of fashion at home.

Stanley Market

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Some tourists avoided shopping by visiting the Stanley Waterfront. I wish I had known about it as I expect it might have been cooler by the water. I’m not overly fond of shopping and anyway, the same products and trinkets came up time and again, especially T-shirts and shawls (Pashminas).

We trudged up an incline, squeezing into the shade of anything available until the tour guide appeared to take us to the bus.

Quick Facts:

  • Japanese occupied Hong Kong in the 1940s
  • A city with lots of convenient washrooms
  • Cross-Harbour Tunnel opened in 1972
  • Cranes and constructions everywhere
  • 12 days a year paid holidays
  • Financial district in a central area
  • Education free from age 6 to 18
  • Lots of private schools for ages 6 to 15, but expensive
  • Great public facilities for young people: swimming
  • Cinemas available but people prefer big TV screens at home
  • One child per couple not applicable in Hong Kong
  • Writing is the same in Cantonese and Chinese but sound different
  • Taoism not a religion but a way of life
  • Population 7.2 million
  • Total land area 1100 square km. (426 square miles)
  • Lots of tunnels
  • Hong Kong means Fragrant Harbour
  • It is the Pearl of the Orient
  • Visas available for visitors who come just to shop
  • No tax in Hong Kong

Only a small group signed up for a boat ride to Aberdeen, an old-fashioned fishing village, which still exists in the midst of modern high rises. Tired, thoughts of home hovered in the back of my mind and I looked forward to going home. I didn’t join in the boat ride but caught up with a group who walked around the town. At one point the ladies needed the Happy House and begged relief at a fancy hotel along our way. Later, we passed a grocery store where I bought a bottle of (Dynasty or maybe Great Wall) wine for 49 Hong Kong dollars (around $8.00 Cdn.).

~ * ~

Next on January 19th – Hong Kong, What a Throng: Part 4

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical but hope to visit here before the end of the month. Many, many thanks for your supportive reading, re-blogging, and tweeting. Your continued follows are immensely appreciated.  XX

 


Hong Kong, Come Along: Part 2

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

On our return from the light show the night before, we had no trouble getting on the crowded subway. One lady offered her eight or ten-year-old daughter’s  seat to RJ. His wife had found a seat, but he and I stood, hugging poles.

A pictorial on the wall illustrated passengers should give up a seat to the elderly, the disabled, and to pregnant women. RJ’s hair color was a dead giveaway. Mine is colored. Maybe that’s why he was offered the seat first. (Nope, likely because he’s a man, or I looked younger. Sigh.) Since he refused, I was next on the woman’s agenda to do her good deed of the day. She persisted; I sat, feeling guilty.

At our last stop in the subway, we passed a Seven-Eleven (these are popular here) and thought we knew where we were in relation to the exit until we passed another one. A young couple approached and gave directions in wonderful English.

 *

Breakfast hadn’t been half as nice as our previous morning in Macau at the Sheraton. We later surmised there were more restaurants in the 118-story hotel. Today’s permitted restaurant was a lowly one with disappointing offerings.

Sue and I liked arriving early expecting the food will be fresh before others’ eyes and hands. We were the first of our group and misinterpreted the greeter’s actions when she knocked over a couple folded and steepled serviettes. A strange look crossed her face when we chose a table and sat, but she made no comment. Chinese people a row over kept staring at us. When more of our group arrived, they were directed to another section where only Caucasians were served. Oops. Was this a faux pas? Had we broken some rule by sitting in the Chinese Only area?

My breakfast:

  • Dry croissant and bun with orange marmalade and strawberry jam
  • A plateful of watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple with whipped cream (yummy)
  • One sausage and a hard-boiled egg
  • 3 cups of coffee (quite good)

Long after breakfast, our bus driver stopped around 9:30 a.m. for our 10-minute bathroom break and a walk around at a couple tourist shops in Golden Bauhinia Square. Notice the huge golden flower Bauhinia.

The Goddess of the Sea Ceremony is like a grand opening of a cruise ship for the Chinese. More images here. Smoked pigs are offered on platters as a gift to Tin Hau who protects fishermen and ensures plentiful fish.

Courtesy of  China Daily Asia official channel

Quick Facts:

  • 272 outland islands
  • Still keeps border separating from China
  • Need visa to cross to China from Hong Kong
  • Population over seven million
  • 1980 nothing here but farmers
  • Kept English names of streets and places
  • Army no longer in Hong Kong / now comes from China
  • Keep own laws. Police govern Hong Kong.
  • Don’t need cars to live here
  • Lots of taxies (red with gray roofs), buses, subways
  • Cheap transportation
  • Not much parking provided at workplaces
  • Lots of toll booths

We continued on to Longevity Beach at Repulse Bay. What were we supposed to do here? We couldn’t swim. Another Seven-Eleven beckoned across the road. No thanks.

Sue spied color and people in the distance, which looked like a festival. We decided to see what was happening and were startled by a handsome young local (25 – 30-ish), showering outdoors (yes in his bathing suit) slathering on soap as if he needed it. I hope he hadn’t noticed me blush. His English was quite good and he asked all the usual questions: where were we from, what were we doing there etc.

We continued on and happened upon Tin Hau Temple with hordes of people making offerings. (I know I had taken pictures there but found none on my iPad.) Soon we had to return to the bus.

~ * ~

Next on January 12thth Hong Kong View-a-thon

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical but plan to at least visit here before the end of the month. Thank you for your supportive reading, re-blogging, and tweeting. Your continued follows are immeasurably appreciated.  XX

January, Jan, Month, Year, New, Day, Holiday, Calendar


Hong Kong. Hang On: Part 1

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

To reach Hong Kong Island, we traveled through Cross Harbor Tunnel which is more than 1.5 kilometers long and underwater. Yes, all that water overhead played with my mind too.

Quick Facts:

  • Easter weekend, a four-day public holiday (Good Friday to Easter Monday)
  • Good time for citizens to travel to other countries and to China.
  • Public workers, hotel workers must work.
  • Service industries; all stories are open
  • Office workers get holiday
  • Students have two-week school holiday
  • The tallest building here turned out to be our 118-story L’Hotel Nina Tower
  • Factories used to populate this area but have been moved to China

Zeelo, the new local guide, met us after we had been processed where we’d seen the duty-free wine but had no opportunity to buy. He also took care of our hotel registration. Meanwhile, Clovis, the French guide, took an extraordinarily long time explaining in French how to get around during our free time for the rest of the day. Some guides don’t talk close enough to the mic and others, like this one, talked too close. I found him difficult to understand.

Impatient, someone in our group raised a hand. “Why do you spend so much time explaining to the French? What about us?”

When he finished, Clovis apologized and began again in English about the subway system and how to get to the Victoria Harbor Light Show and what shopping was available. Sue burned to hear about opportunities within walking distance of the hotel and asked lots of questions about shopping. Our room keys ready, Sue and I and RJ and his wife, dragged our luggage to the elevator. They invited us to see the Light Show with them later. I accepted.

No sooner had we entered our room on the 30th floor and rolled the luggage inside, Sue made ready to go exploring. Was I coming? No. I needed my feet up and quiet for a while. Anyway, I waited for the phone call to join RJ and his wife to see the dancing lights.

With no (paid) lunch on our schedule, I had two Fibre bars, drank water and relaxed. I expected we’d go out for dinner somewhere at the harbor. I wandered down to the lobby for wifi to contact my daughter. A couple workstations were provided but they were in use. Lucky I brought my own laptop. I had trouble connecting to the internet but asked a desk clerk for help and success!

Four Main Parts of Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong Island: means fragrant harbor or port (former British City)
  • Kowloon (means nine dragons)
  • New Territories
  • Outlying Islands

RJ, his wife, and I walked a short distance to catch the subway to see the Symphony of Lights in Kowloon. Signs were in English and Chinese. To buy a ticket for the subway, a machine I’d compare to an ATM, is available at intervals. You choose your destination on a touch screen map, are instructed the cost, feed in the money and out pops a ticket. You then swipe the ticket on entry and turn it in on exit. The wait wasn’t long, street signs were displayed everywhere. We arrived without incident. While in the subway, I noticed women didn’t have iPhones, only men, and the younger generation boys.

We passed bands and singers dressed to the T’s as we strolled down to the Avenue of Stars. Soon throngs of spectators hemmed us in, mostly Chinese.

As soon as someone moved and/or space opened up beside me, it was immediately filled. I don’t like crowds at the best of time and certainly not in a foreign country. A little elbow room keeps me happy. Dusk fell quickly. A disappointment, the show lasted only about fifteen minutes, but I wondered about the electrical bill for all those lights. The show goes on every night since 2004.

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Next up January 5th: Hong Kong, Come Along: Part 2

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.


On to Hong Kong. Ding Dong.

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We walked and I gaped. I’m sure I stuck out like a greenhorn tourist (not that I’m not). A jewelry store displaying sparkling diamonds drew my attention. I leaned in for a closer look and banged my forehead on the window. Ouch. The glass was solid as a brick wall and felt as thick. The interior lights bright, the glass gave the impression of absence. I felt stupid and hoped no-one had noticed. Why would anyone notice? There were all sorts of more interesting people around with bigger things on their minds. I couldn’t believe how young the fashionably-dressed, Asian women hanging on to boyfriends’ or husbands’ arms were. No shortage of Daddy’s money. Sigh. I don’t know why I assumed they weren’t young marrieds, but who knows?

Posted by:  ConnectedTraveler

One last look: Night Pictures in Macau

Worn out by all the excitement of our new day, a bed and pillow beckoned soon after supper. Before turning in, I noted another bathroom story. While I ran the sink tap, it didn’t sound right. I turned off the water; I turned it on again. The bathtub drain gurgled up water. I could not hear water going down the sink drain. Let me explain the layout. The foot of the tub was tucked lengthwise into the left corner and the sink and cabinet were perpendicular at the foot, like an upside-down L, the tub being the long end. A glass-doored shower shared a wall with the faucet end of the tub. Would you call that fancy plumbing? I can’t figure it out either. The biggest hotel in the world. Hm.

When I asked Sue about it, she hadn’t noticed the situation but wondered why the tub was wet with water, which neither of us had used yet. Nice. What’s the reason North American hotels don’t have a 13th floor? Oh! It’s not because of the plumbing?

 * * *

Wakeup call buzzed at 7:30 a.m., on Saturday, Day 22. Luggage had to be downstairs near the reception area by 8:15. Sue and I weren’t comfortable with this as a zillion people moved in and out around the nearby elevators and the casino. The bellboy assured us he’d stand guard until our suitcases were transferred to the bus.

Steam coming out of the chimneys early morning before leaving for H.K.

Upon arrival at the ferry terminal, we lined up and were given numbered tickets. We had to fill out Hong Kong immigration forms while on board the Cotal Jet Ferry. It was a deep blue fearsome machine and looked like an army tank on water. Walking past, at about a third of its length, I changed my mind. It looked more like a plane. Inside the layout wasn’t unlike an airplane: 3-seat rows x 18 seats long x 5 sections across (270 passengers from my rough count). The ride was smooth as silk; quiet as a hydrofoil, but that’s my guesswork. I’ve never had the experience before.

Our ticket said next departure at 10:30, but it felt like hours before we finally were allowed inside and took off. The trip took about an hour. Water sprayed the ferry as we flew across the black water into the misty weather.

More Images Cotal Jet Ferry

Muted T.V. screens were turned on in front of every row. The seats were supplied with belts no-one used. If there were rules, I saw no signs, nor did anyone come around to suggest the necessity of their use.

Upon arrival, we passed through roped off aisles with a zillion other people. I considered the process would take forever. I was wrong. After the experience in Macau, everything was so Chinese and foreign again. We craned our necks and gawked at expensive wines on display before the exit, but there was no opportunity or invitation to buy any at the duty-free.

Welcome to downtown Hong Kong

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Next on December 29:  Hong Kong. Hang On! (with lots of pictures)

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.

 


Holy Cow! So, this is Macau.

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I tried multi-tasking: take pictures, scribble notes, and look around in an effort not to miss anything we passed. While taking pictures, I feared dropping my pen and losing it. Pens are not left in hotel rooms for guests as they are in North America and my gel pens were running low on ink.

We arrived at the hotel and were dropped off as close to the south door without scraping the building. The check-in area was jam-packed with humans of every stripe. Instructed to stand off to the side, our new local guide, Cheryl, and the French guide, attended to our registration and room cards. I was amazed at the speed and efficiency of the process. Our luggage, already in our room 1362, Tower 2, we freshened up, free to explore for the rest of the day. Unlike the Sheraton hotel the previous night and several others earlier, this one did not feature the glass wall between the bedroom and bathroom.

This was our view. Ugly. Cranes everywhere. While passing a site on the way to our hotel, I counted at least 10 Macau China State Construction cranes. Must be more hotels coming. The expanse of reclaimed land is mindboggling.

  • Sheraton Macau 3, 800+ rooms (the largest Sheraton in the world)
  • Has two towers: called Earth and Sky
  • Built on reclaimed land
  • Like a huge city inside
  • Huge reception area with a half-dozen counters at Check-in, each one roped off
  • Palm tree setting in sitting area off the check-in area
  • No passports necessary: this is visa-free territory
  • Huge casino across from check-in (behind a wall but evident: Tingtingtingtingting)
  • Huge Ralph Lauren Store, the first one off the lobby
  • Huge shopping mall off the lobby
  • Can convert money with local guide or at hotel (to Hong Kong money)
  • Steering wheel is on the right
  • Driving is on the left side of the road
  • Bus drivers have no problem making U-turns at will

Sue and I set off. The first escalator we came upon confused me. There were two side-by-side. Odd, I thought. Both were headed downward. The ascending ones must be on the other side. Sue laughed when I mentioned this. “Have another look,” she said. I had to concentrate. Not only do cars drive on the opposite side of the road here, and drivers sit on the ‘wrong’ side, the elevators run opposite as well. The up elevator was on the left where at home it would be the down elevator.

This is the first time we had to find our own dinner. We explored the Food Court on the third floor of the hotel.  Since we’d come across a couple KFC, MacDonald’s, and Starbucks in our China travel, we’d hoped to eat something North American (think burger or pizza). No such luck.

We decided to explore the Venetian Macau Hotel across the street. Taking an elevator in a different direction we crossed the street in an overhead, glassed-in bridge or walkway with a lookout.

 The street below the overhead bridge on the way to the Venetian.

The Venitian is massive. Brand name stores everywhere. Six hundred of them. Lots of people but few customers buying diamonds, exotic perfumes, or outrageous shoes. We were lost,then found a map, but it didn’t help. A sales clerk selling make-up, although she spoke good English, couldn’t help us. Upon sighting a gondola in a canal, it was tempting to whistle the gondolier over but we didn’t. Finally, we stumbled into the food court. All Chinese food. Wait. A place called Fat Burger. Better not after the raw pork incident. Is that a Pizza Pizza? Nope the logo wasn’t right but we settled for their pizza anyway.

The Sheraton is the largest hotel not only in Macau, but in the world, and the Venetian has the largest casino.

Breaking News: (sorry for the commercial)

Macau Slowdown

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Next on December 22nd: On to Hong Kong and Wow!

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.

 


Zhahai to Magnetic Macau

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I’m not sure when the bus switched to the left side of the road. I blinked as vehicles passed alongside on the wrong side. This was a huge surprise and a shock. First unexpected palm trees and then

First agenda item: a bus tour of the Macau. We gawked like children, at least I did and cannot say exactly how everyone else reacted. Cameras clicked in such rapid succession, it sounded as if a bomb might go off. We’d arrived at The Monte Carlo of Asia, the Las Vegas of the East.

Lunch Buffet:

Salad fixings

  • Red cabbage
  • Romaine
  • Baby corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Cukes
  • Chickpeas
  • Italian dressing

Main

  • Baked Ox Tongue with creamy cream cheese
  • Roasted Chicken with chili and white wine
  • Red kidney beans stewed with pork
  • Fish Fillet with beer batter
  • Sautéed mixed vegetables
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce
  • Rotini with red pepper sauce
  • Fried rice Chinese style
  • Steamed white rice
  • Japanese Pork Curry
  • Pizza
  • Buns
  • Congee
  • Chocolate cake
  • Pound cake
  • Red Bean Pudding
  • Stewed pear in red wine
  • Finger sandwiches
  • Cold cuts (2 kinds)
  • Potato salad
  • Pork
  • Sardines, Portuguese style
  • Coffee, tea, water. Can’t recall if there was beer. (Maybe to order?)

(I couldn’t read several scribbled items due to my rushed handwriting)

The driver dropped us off in front of the Fireworks Factory. A new local guide, Cheryl, met us. Our luggage was taken off and sent ahead to our hotel as we scurried behind the guide in the opposite direction.

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

Up a hill, we followed the flag-carrying guide lost on the outside parameters of the French group. Next stop: Old Macau (a little history).

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Macau Quick Facts

  • 75% income comes from the casinos
  • Gambling allowed only in Macau, nowhere else in China
  • 29 million visitors to casinos in 2013
  • Run by Chief Executive (must be Chinese, local person, and local citizenship)
  • Runs for five-year term, only re-elected once
  • Only power of Parliament is bigger than Chief Executive
  • Can vote from 18-years of age
  • Port-based laws: have own police, laws, money, postage stamps
  • Is visa-free
  • Has three bridges
  • Status of Macau now 440 years
  • Macau Flower
  • Home of Macau Grand Prix. Circuit is like Monte Carlo (3.7 miles)
  • Macau Old Garrison
  • Watch your belongings. This is a tourist city.
  • Narrow streets
  • Comprised of two islands 29.5 square km

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  • Before 1993, only 17.3 square km. Close to doubled now.
  • Language: Chinese (Cantonese).
  • Portuguese almost never spoken anymore
  • Schools teach Chinese, not Portuguese
  • Portuguese (about 2% of population) are Catholic, need children to be baptized
  • Chinese prefer to send children to Chinese schools and keep their own religion
  • Three major religions: Buddhist, Taoist, and Catholic

Video by: MichaelRogge

* * *

Next time on December 15th – Holy Cow! So this is Macau.

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.


Zhongshan to Lollygagging in Zhuhai

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

The day began with a wake-up call at 6:08 a.m.

Breakfast was outstanding! The best one so far. It’s as if they had pulled out all the stops. We weren’t just tourists, but special visitors.

 Breakfast

  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon slices cut in the shape of cleavers
  • Sliced dragon fruit (first time on any buffet so far)
  • A wide selection of rolls, white and whole wheat
  • Whole apples, pears and baby papaya (lots and lots)
  • Six various dry breakfast cereal + milk
  • Three kinds prepackaged yogurt
  • A cheese plate, including blue cheese and gouda (first time this trip)
  • Five kinds of jam, including pineapple (Gosh, they were good.)
  • Peanut butter
  • Bacon, and chicken and beef sausages
  • Eggs boiled and sunny-side up
  • Romaine lettuce and fixings for salad
  • A whole section for hot food: rice, green vegetables, baked beans etc.
  • Coffee and tea replenished as soon as empty (all other hotels we refilled our own)

The service had been the best thus far as well.

We held back until the French Group was seated on the bus. I expect each of them had staked out his and her seat from the beginning. The worry it might be crowded, since the French group had huge carry-ons, soon evaporated. This was a 48-seat bus, but the overheads weren’t tall enough for my square overnight bag. Two seats across the aisle from Sue and I were empty. Soon we stashed our paraphernalia on them to keep the seats company.

The bus had left the hotel at 7:50 a.m. and the tour guide was still talking French at 8:37 a.m. Some of our group understood French. I managed with a little guesswork but missed most of the content. It occurred to me,  most information shared with the tour guide’s original group would likely be in French. We were outnumbered, after all. He made attempts to include the English speakers but the translations were much abbreviated.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Lots of green spaces along the roadway: trees, shrubs, flowers; everything trim and neat. Gorgeous boulevards in Zhuhai. A water truck in the inside lane supplied water for the plants. Banyan trees  (small leaves and wispy beards hanging from branches) shaded one side of the road and palm trees decorated the other. I wasn’t certain where we were until the Fisher Girl statue came into view, and kept forgetting we were even in China. I blamed it on the palm trees and the presence of so many Caucasians

IMG_0707

                                                                    © 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

The bus stopped at tourist trinket shops around 9:15. The ladies lined up for the Happy House before heading down to the water to view the famous Fisher Girl and learn about her story. The highway we crossed to walk there was a danger to our safety: four busy lanes with fast traffic.

More Images of Fisher Girl

It has been unusual to see beggars or anyone with disabilities. I have where and when we had seen a few. My guess is they are well hidden and not allowed around well-beaten (tourist) paths. I couldn’t resist taking this fellow’s picture. When he realized what I’d done, he yelled at me but we walked on in a desperate hurry.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Time for shopping and lollygagging over, I felt our group held back again as if we were the forgotten branch of the family. Don’t get me wrong, our fellow travelers were friendly and polite and yes, they spoke English a lot better than I managed French. Next stop, mysterious Macau at last.

~ * ~

Next on December 8th:  Zhuhai to Magnetic Macau

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.

 


One Night in Zhongshan

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Through the window of our room on the 21st floor, the view of the Pearl River was spectacular. Still in daylight, I spotted three cranes: two short, one in motion, and the third directly across from our full wall window. Construction is everywhere.

A lot of rooftops had water gardens with fish, a zigzag walkway over the water, a Pagoda in the center on another walkway and an old-style Chinese house with a fenced and bricked, L-shaped veranda affair at one side of the house. Couldn’t guess its use. Lots of fans and air conditions, another bricked patio, some with organized, potted gardens and others bare but swept clean. On the far right, I made out an old style boat on the Pearl River.

We were again joined by the French group during dinner. Afterwards, we learned The English Group Eight would no longer travel solo. Beginning the next morning and for the remaining days of our tour, we were to share the French bus and tour guide.

 Dinner:

  • Sauces: ketchup, hot pepper, chili paste, soy sauce, sour cream, and chili sauce
  • Spare ribs
  • Sliced pork
  • Egg pancake
  • Pork with celery and carrots
  • Sweet and sour pork
  • Eggplant
  • Bacon (boiled, ugh) with celery, red peppers and snow peas
  • Rice with sliced green onions and egg whites
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Apple strudel (in disguise)
  • Fruit plate: sliced watermelon, cantaloupe, grape tomatoes

People gathered around in the lobby to check e-mail before calling it a day since the Internet was available there only. The huge and spectacular chandelier overhead made me somewhat nervous. 

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A Starbucks Coffee Shop off the lobby opened to an outside patio. Room Service wine was 38 Yuan,  about $6.30 USD per glass. A bottle, however, cost 268 Yuan, approximately $44.65 USD. These ladies weren’t buying.

Our room had a glass-walled bathroom with a pull-down blind again. This setup was still a mystery. Why have glass if you need the blind? Why not a regular wall instead? Probably cheaper, too. Not one of our tour guides gave a straight answer, which only made the whole setup creepier.

Sue manually pulled down the shade for privacy as it had been left open. Later, sitting on our beds reading around 8:00 p.m., the whirl of a motor startled us and the shade rose. What? After playing with the button panel on the wall, success at last. Five minutes later, the shade rose again. Upon a second investigation, I noticed there were three buttons. If the bottom button meant down, the top one meant up, the middle one must mean hold. Yes. Problem solved. Fixed down again, no more musical blind.

This was only a one-night stay. We placed our bags in the hallway by 10:00 p.m,. in readiness for the next morning’s departure at 7:45 a.m. Why not bring our bags downstairs in the morning ourselves? Anyone confused yet?

~ * ~

Next on December 1: Zhongshan to Lollygagging in Zhuhai

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.