Saturday, February 28, 2009

China, Macau, and Hong Kong Pt2

We had booked our accommodation in Macao weeks earlier at a place called Auguster's that seemed to be getting good reviews on various websites. We booked three nights over the internet and when we showed up we paid for the three nights in advance. However, our first night turned out to be our last. The owner was keen to rent every available square metre of floorspace if he could find people to fill them. Andrea and I both had to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. We almost kicked a sleeping body in the head on our way out. This Auguster's place was just an ordinary apartment in an ordinary apartment building. The three rooms all had bunk beds in them. There were three bunk beds in our room plus four in each of the other two rooms. There were also three people sleeping on folding beds in the common area/office area outside the three bedrooms. That's a total of seventeen people. There was one shower and one toilet with one basin in one bathroom for all to share. When we awoke in the morning we had to queue to use the bathroom, along with two extra people who had just arrived, and we all waited around in the dark while the three other bodies in the common area kept sleeping. It was pretty awful and I didn't sleep well in the cold bedroom with only a single thin blanket for warmth. The next day we started looking around for a new place to stay. On the Thorn Tree forum of the Lonely Planet website we found out about a place not far away called San Va. It turned out to be a peculiar place, an older style guesthouse with partitioning walls that didn't reach the ceiling. However, it was very friendly and we got our own room with access to multiple bathrooms for slightly less than we were paying at Auguster's.

Here I am on the street outside the San Va guesthouse. The street is famous for having been used as a location in the Indiana Jones movie "The Temple of Doom". Cool. In the movie the street is used as a location in Shanghai.

Here is Andrea by the fountain in Largo Senado, the main square of Macau. The fountain has been dressed up for Chinese New Year.

And here's me trying to work out how to use somebody else's camera. You often get asked to take somebody else's photo and I have no qualms about making the same request of others. Note that I am still wearing my gloves because it is still very cold. I don't know what that large decoration behind me is about but the bright decorations in the square do make the place seem a little warmer.

There are many casinos in Macau and where there are casinos there are ridiculous follies like this. Inside a walled Arabian compound where you could buy popcorn from what looked like a very short minaret, a Blackhawk (correct me if I'm wrong) helicopter had crashed and two statues of alert American soldiers guarded the site while two guys dressed as American soldiers alternated between sitting and standing around trying not to look like boredom was getting the better of them and failing miserably. Other ridiculous follies in the vicinity include a Romanesque shopping centre and amphitheatre, a mini-Potala Palace (the real Potala Palace is where the Tibetan Dalai Lama is supposed to live), a volcano that erupts every evening, and restaurants and shops themed on towns from around the world. It's very international in the worst way.

This is a famous Macau landmark, the facade of the old cathedral built in honour of St Paul the apostle. The image of this facade appears on a lot of souvenirs of Macau. Apparently the cathedral was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835. Now it's a piece of world heritage listed with UNESCO. To be honest the facade of St Paul's was less interesting than the baked egg tarts that are sold at several shops on the road leading up to it; they're delicious.

More Chinese New Year hijinx. A man readies himself for his part in a performance by the dragon.

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