## Tuesday, May 08, 2007

### Macau--Small in size, big on charms (Part 2)

Getting a room in the swanky hotels was out of my shoestring budget. I knew (through http://www.augusters.de) accomodation was affordable in the old city districts--only obstacle was in locating the exact place. Navigating narrow winding streets, I finally came upon a rather dingy apartment that had a signboard spelt "Augusturs Lodge--Floor 3J".

It wasn't that straightforward to locate Floor 3J, whatever that was, as there were a few staircases leading to different "Floor 3". On one such foray, I was greeted by a grumpy old granny who, together with the apartment on offer, could have walked straight out from a Wong Kar Wai 60s film set. I made out through her thick cantonese accents that she had quoted me HK$20 (S$4)-- nirvana to the miser in me. She grew edgy as I fished out 2 HK tenners, and jabbed 2 fingers into my face while mouthing "leong baht leong baht!". I said no, firmly believing that Augusturs Lodge would have a better offer, and left, leaving behind a fuming old lady who must have thought me mathematically and financially challenged.

I finally made the correct staircase (leading to Floor 3J), and came upon the steps of the elusive Augusturs Lodge. A Filipino girl was sitting behind a counter in an apartment that finally looked more like a tourist lodge. Her friendliness and English tongue made me feel right at home, even more so when, upon signing the guest book, I noticed many Singaporeans had previously left their trail in it. Quoted HK$50 for a private room, this was truly a steal. Augusturs International (Floor 3J), a big hit with Singaporeans who know how to sniff out gems from the Net. This room, with 2 double-deckers, a fan, TV and a table, gave many a traveller respite for the night. The view was not great, facing the back of yet another dingy apartment block, but what more could you ask for with HK$50?

With my accommodation worries out of the way, I started planning to spend the rest of the night hitting casinos and UNESCO sites in equal measures.

I consider myself a Texas Holdem fanatic. At least I could fold my hands properly, hiding my disgust with the nonchalance of a hand flick -- just like a pro. Desperately wanting to get some poker action, I first approached Waldo, then Sands, asking if there were any "Texas Holdem" tables. One time, I was given the quizzed look, the other time, a firm "There is no Texas Holdem in Macau...yet." sufficed.

Still, I managed a peek into Sands. Call me uninformed, (euphemism for "suaku"), but I had never seen the business of gambling on such a large scale before. I was bowled over by the number of jackpot machines lined up, stretching as far as the eye could see. Every machine held the complete attention of a frayed soul hunched over it. The table section was no more impressive, of which Blackjack was the predominant game. The Chinese take their gambling seriously. Those seated at the tables rarely spoke to each other. They wore studied countenances and cursed politely when the need arose. The more boisterous tables had European and American tourists who were there simply to soak up the atmosphere.

I too, badly wanted to try my luck at the tables. Unfortunately, the cheapest table, at HK\$100 per hand, priced me out of any fun. Choosing the next best thing, I grabbed a complimentary milo and cup noodles which came my way, proceeded to enjoyed a good free supper, and went off in search of my elusive poker action.

I went into Wynn next. I found no poker action there, but was seriously stunned when a pair of the most exquisite eyes looked back at me as I spoke "Excuse me, do you have any ......". The pretty girl may not have an inkling of what I was asking about, but it didn't matter. A million questions were racing through my mind. "Are you free for supper tonight?" "Have anybody told you you looked vaguely like Cecilia Cheung, only prettier?" "I am a movie director, and I would like to cast you in my blockbuster. Let's discuss somewhere more private." I chose, not instinctively, but wisely, to say, "Thanks", flashed a goofy smile and slithered away.

The ubiquitous McDonald, found in every city in the world, so why not Macau?

Fruitseller by night

The city planners have done a tremendous job in keeping the old while ushering in the new, resulting in a unique blend of old and new architecture in casual co-existence.

Macau is embracing herself with the onslaught of visitors. Rapid changes are inevitable, whether the old world romantics like it or not.

Built around Mount Fortress, the old city with its narrow streets and steep slopes, is mildly reminiscent of HK's Lan Kwai Fong district.

The Ruins of St Paul is to Macau what A Farmosa is to Malacca is to what Merlion is to Singapore.....not!

In the mood for love? Grab a lover, steal a kiss, right under this colonial lamppost.

The Macau government obviously deems it necessary to coax more polite greetings out of Macauese. They aren't actually particularly rude. In fact, they seem to smile more readily than their HK counterparts (which isn't saying much).

#### 1 comment:

Louisa said...

haha did u mistake the lamppost for a mistletoe?