Sunday, 11th November 2007 – London, Hong Kong, Macau, Day 1
Well, we’re here. Of the flight, there’s not much that can be said. It was the usual – watch a film, eat plastic food, take a sleeping tablet and wake up a couple of hours before landing… We got to Heathrow in good time, as we always do, and managed to buy the emergency exits seats, which at least means I arrive in Hong Kong still feeling as if I own my own knees! Our luggage was fractionally overweight, and my carry on bag definitely was, but the check in girl was prepared to be reasonable about it, merely saying “Just try and make it look like it’s not heavy!” This made sense because the thing making it heavy was the laptop. Otherwise, all I was carrying was a pashmina (much nicer to wrap yourself in than the average airline blanket), a spare set of underwear, a clean shirt and my iPod. Oh, and some sample sized cosmetics, like a lipsalve, a toothbrush and toothpaste, some moisturiser and the world’s tiniest deodorant.
We then did our usual stop at Chez Gerard for lunch (smoked salmon, a lamb tagine with couscous, both well enough done), before we sat out the rest of our wait in the business lounge, downing as much water as seemed possible in advance. Mind you, this morning I still feel as if my eyeballs are actually dehydrated, so there’ll be lots more water drinking yet…
Once settled in on the plane, I watched “The Counterfeiters”, which I’d wanted to see for some time. It’s hardly a cheery watch, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. Brilliant acting from the main characters, despite the essentially unlikeable nature of most of them, and a well told story, though slightly lacking in a neat resolution (which is what happens when you tell a true story, because life rarely wraps things up neatly). I started watching “Breach” before settling down to sleep and really can’t understand why more people haven’t seen this either. A very well acted, tense piece of work, telling a tale of more pretty unlikeable people, but it held my attention. I finished it over breakfast…
By the way, if travelling on Virgin Atlantic, unless you really have to, don’t order the low fat meal, as it really seems to be the low flavour meal… I’m going to cancel my meal request for the return flight and take a chance on whatever they have that has fat in it!
We arrived at the hotel after minimal disruption (the guy picking us up was waiting at Gate B as he’d been told, while we were at Gate A), to find our suite is everything we’d hoped for. We’re staying in the Bonsai suite at the Pousada de Mong-Ha, a small establishment run as part of the IFT to teach the students all about working in hotels. It’s government owned, so there are no taxes to pay, and it’s about half the price of anywhere else on the peninsula. There’s a lounge with a desk, a beautiful dark wood bureau, a huge flat screen TV, a comfy sofa. a kettle for making tea and coffee (with plenty of both), a large mini-bar/fridge, and a lovely Sino/Portuguese mix of decor. It’s nicely air-conditioned with a balcony overlooking a roof garden. The bedroom has a large wardrobe, another flat screen TV, and a massive, comfortable bed with lovely cotton sheets, and a soft, fluffy duvet. Again, there’s a balcony. There’s a large entrance hall, where we’ve put both the empty suitcases, and the bathroom is also huge, with bath/shower, two sinks, and when I counted, at least twelve towels! Not a bad deal at all at 1,000 Hong Kong Dollars a night including breakfast (around £60)! We ordered sandwiches from room service last night (smoked salmon, ham and cheese), and they arrived with the most massive supply of mixed peanuts, almonds and cashews, and that along with a white wine from the Dao was supper.
Eight hours later, I feel quite perky and am ready to go out and try and get our bearings. Unusually for Macau in our experience the only sounds are the air conditioning units in both rooms and the birds in the roof garden twittering away to themselves and each other.
And as we’ve just discovered, breakfast is a haven of calm and quiet too, with a good choice of cereals, yogurts, milk, teas, coffee, cooked food (including freshly cooked omelettes), and breads, jams and butter. All very civilised… Overlooking the herb garden/roof garden at that. We’ve just had a stroll and are about to head off to run a few errands (we must lay hands on some cash, Lynne needs a new bag because her carry on bag has died, Carol asked us to get some purple silk for her, I want a new lens cap for the long lens, and some cosmetics because they’re a lot cheaper here), which just coincidentally might mean we end up having iced coffee at the Cafe Madeira at the Macau Tower (where we have to go to book dinner on Wednesday)… But first I must read the South China Morning Post that appears to also be included in the price. It’s a tough life, I tell you!