Travel 2006 – Macau, Day 3

Monday, 13th November 2006 – Macau

Monday I got up just before 8 and went off to investigate the hotel gym. It proved to be precisely 5 pieces of equipment, none of them a treadmill, on the 23rd floor, with the French windows open to the elements and more importantly the humid Macanese air. I settled for a warm-up on the cross trainer, then 35 minutes on the exercise bike. In those conditions I was dripping sweat within 5 minutes, but I kept going anyway. A shower – in the enormous bathroom – was just the thing after that, and then we headed down to breakfast, which was a somewhat chaotic affair. The food on offer was nowhere near as good as that of the Holiday Inn, where we normally end up staying, and which supposedly has one star less, and the organisation was pretty shambolic.

We bumped into Charlie Kimball at breakfast but didn’t get a chance to talk much (though he did very sweetly say I was looking “incredible” and tried to claim he didn’t see me to start with because I’d “disappeared”). Anyway, after breakfast a vague plan of sorts started to form. We walked to the photo store in search of batteries, and with intent to price up digital cameras, and then attempted to walk to the Macau Tower for a lunchtime iced coffee. It proved almost impossible to walk there, largely because we couldn’t find a way round the multitude of building sites/moped parks that seem to occupy most of Macau at the moment. We finally snagged a cab, and got there just in time to watch some fool doing the sky jump from 233 metres. He was yelling all the way – he may even have enjoyed it. He certainly didn’t seem able to stop grinning afterwards.

Coffee drunk, we sauntered along the Pearl River towards the Jetfoil terminal, but not before we booked a table for dinner in the revolving 360 Restaurant at the top of the tower for Wednesday night. Having bumped into Jan Magnussen in the street, we sidled into the Mandarin Oriental where the WTCC drivers tend to stay, and ran into Duncan Huisman, who asked if JJ Lehto had arrived yet… What? Why? Tell me he’s not a late entry, please! If he is, I want to go home now please! We then set about trying to achieve the things we’d gone there for; booking a table in their excellent Italian restaurant, the Mezzaluna, for Friday evening, and investigating the Spa. We’d tried the one in the Rio, only to be told “men only”, which has caused Lynne to suggest a campaign to re-label all the “spas” in Macau so they say “brothel” or “not brothel”

Given the confusion Michelle and Vicky from Carlin caused when they tried the same thing, this wouldn’t be a bad idea! The Mandarin is a real spa, and I’ve booked a full sports massage there next Monday, which will apparently be 1 hour and 50 minutes. I think it’s going to hurt, but I know I’ll feel so much better afterwards. They also suggested I should arrive early so I can use their sauna and steam room and other facilities beforehand. As they have a much better gym, I might see if I can get a run in before…

All of that sorted, we walked a bit further to go and look at the newly opened Fisherman’s Wharf complex, which seems to consist of a number of very small scale rides, and a lot of shops and restaurants all designed to part you from your money. Oh, and the inevitable casino of course! There’s quite a nice photo/bike exhibition commemorating 40 years of the Motorbike Grand Prix here, but other than that, and the fact that the architecture is very pretty, it’s not that impressive really…

Back at the hotel I went for a swim, and then spent some time painting my nails. We got the hotel to book us a table at the Naam Thai restaurant in the Mandarin (there’s a theme here, isn’t there?) then spent forever trying to get a cab, also never a problem at the Holiday Inn. We finally got one after I ran after it and proved faster than the middle-aged Oriental who was also after it. And that was with me in heels! I knew all that fitness training would come in useful one day…

We were early enough to have a drink at the bar, where Huisman and co. were settled in, seemingly for the duration. Tom Coronel was there too, so it looked pretty dangerous to me. Yelmer Buurman was with them, which we thought was unwise, but then we figured he works at the Zandvoort skid pan, he knows these guys, he must know what they’re like! We left him to his fate.

We sat and had a drink with some of the officials instead, just missing Jo Bauer from the FIA, though we did at least manage to say hello as we passed each other. On the way to dinner we had a chat with Andy Priaulx, and he solved the mystery of the guy who has been in touch with me through my Flickr site. Turns out he’s Andy’s brother-in-law, so that settles that question. Andy said he liked the site, so that was nice too. And so to dinner.

We had fishcakes, and grilled salmon marinated in sweet chili sauce for starters, then rack of lamb with green curry, Pad Thai noodles with prawns, and some boiled rice. We drank a very acceptable Sardinian red wine, and couldn’t finish our meal. They tried to persuade us we should attempt dessert, but we threw the towel in at that point and wandered back to the Rio, where the bar was filling up with Manor, Signature and Carlin boys, and one argumentative Welshman (Anthony “Boyo” Hieatt, Team Boss of Raikkonen Robertson Racing). He spent most of the evening trying to wind people up, demanding they bought him beers, and offering Oliver Jarvis all sorts of stupid deals for 2007. When Lynne and I gave up and went to bed at 1am, they were still at it. They may still be there for all we know!

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