Thursday, 9 April 2009
An hour's boat trip, 65 kilometres away from Hong Kong, you arrive at Macau, an old Portuguese territory which has now got special status with the Chinese as has Hong Kong.
It's a casino city, trying to rival Las Vegas, with large models of a volcano, the Forbidden City, New Orleans, and a host of others.
It's very similar to Hong Kong, built on a hillside and surrounded by sea; there's a lot of development going on, mainly around the Fishermen's Quarter which is the main tourist area around the ferry terminal and the heliport. There are lots of restaurants from loads of different countries, serving good food at reasonable prices. We walked into the main city area, which is full of skyscrapers with people's laundry hanging from their flat windows; again the quantity of steps to be negotiated is incredible.
Arrived here before 6am in the morning! We had a reasonable flight despite the disgusting sniffings and snortings of the man seated between us!! Why do some men think it is acceptable to make those sort of noises? He's lucky I didn't throw up all over him! We got to our hotel to find that, from the bus, we had two flights of stairs to carry our bags down and then three flights to carry them up to get into the hotel door, lovely. It's a pleasant hotel, very firm beds, but still comfortable, much to my surprise. The staff are very efficient and friendly too. Apparently if you have a room at the back, they have frosted out all the windows so you can't see the HUGE cemetery there, seems a little bizarre, after all, no-one in there's going to hurt you. It's a mixed Muslim, Catholic and Protestant cemetery, so quite interesting to look round. Our room overlooks the Happy Valley Racecourse, but we shall miss the racing which is on Wednesday, the night we leave; I can imagine it will be heaving as the Chinese love to bet.
It's much warmer here but not as humid as I dreaded, thankfully. We got ourselves organised in our room and then set out to explore; we bought a couple of octupi to make it easier to get around.....that's a type of travel card! We went down to the Star Ferry to catch a boat to Kowloon as we're staying on Hong Kong Island and when we arrived there, we had to run the gauntlet of thousands of Filipino maids who gather there over lunchtimes at a weekend for a chat; the numbers of them were incredible and they were just sitting anywhere there was a space, on staircases, bridges, pavements, groups of about 20 all chattering non-stop, the noise was unbelievable. There were huge bags and boxes everywhere too that a courier firm were packing up ready to send back to their homes, so all in all, an experience!
The Star Ferry is an institution in Hong Kong, it's been here since forever
Steps, steps and more steps...no wonder they're all so thin here; I wanted to find a loo, 57 steps up to it and no alternative either! I cannot imagine how anyone who is disabled lives here, every shop has at least 3 steps into it and often many more; quite often it's impossible to cross the road without negotiating two or three flights of stairs. We travelled on the mid-levels escalator, it's supposed to be the longest in the world but is actually made up of lots of small ones taking you right up to the top of Hong Kong and then you have to get back down again...not so funny!
We visited a market near our hotel; there were whole, deep-fried birds, and when I say whole, that's what I mean. I have no idea what they were but about blackbird-sized. They were selling dead cockroaches and ants, I didn't like to ask what they did with them, the mind boggles. The fish market was interesting until I realised that the fish were not dead but had been recently pulled out of tanks and laid on the stalls; there was one which was just the head and gills and it was still trying to breathe and another which had been cut in half lengthways and you could see a sort of pulse still beating as it was trying to breathe, I had to stop looking at that point and fish is off the menu for now. There were also lots of dried products, I have no idea what although some of them must have been herbs or fish. I saw in a restaurant menu a picture of a dish which was goose web and pork, I couldn't imagine what goose web was until I saw another picture and realised it was goose feet, I'll try most things but I couldn't face that!
Chopsticks are definitely the thing here, no knives and forks in the restaurants we have been in; I'm sure we could have asked for them but we have managed fairly well most of the time, if getting a little messy on occasions; mind you, that seems to be totally acceptable. Just hold your plate right under your chin and shovel it all in! Tim said he could see where Hoover had got their original idea from having watched someone eating some noodles and literally just sucking them in.