Back and forward between HK and Macau

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
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Trip End Mar 11, 2011


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Sunday, November 7, 2010

We spent a week in Macau a couple of weeks in Hong Kong and again a few days in Macau. We go back and forth between the two former colonies that now belong to China. Linda's parents live in Macau so there is no escape in visiting them. We also have tons of little things to take care of in preparation of the wedding banquet. Let's explain the concept of a wedding banquet so that you can visualize the idea. Basically it is a big dinner party, that is produced by a decoration company. So you need a theme, a color scheme and flashy decoration ideas. It is almost a show production, with lighting, music, entertainment and more. We have decided to keep it as simple as possible. Our theme is therefore simple and cost effective, “less is more”. We have chosen a venue that has an awesome banquet hall that has style-full decorations, the Four Seasons Hotel.

We had to book this venue a year in advance, and even back then not all dates were available. We ended up getting the 27th of November. There are basically a handful of hotels in Macau that provide venues. There is the Wynn, the MGM grand and the Venetian. We spoke to the MGM first, and what a farce that was. They could not even secure a date as they did not know if the hall was needed by some VIP gamblers other event. The room was funky and had all kinds of horrid purple and gold decorations, very tacky. After the MGM we spoke to the Wynn, this was a disillusion. I expected a certain level of service from the Wynn. But no such thing, the reception by the event planner was cold, and almost rude. It was basically a case of take it or leave it on their offering, no room for discussion or changes. The Venetian was no option for us, it's just too kitsch, so we sent to the neighbors, the Four Seasons. Here we got what we were looking for, an event planner that showed interest and was flexible.

So here we are almost a year later, planning the final bits of the party. It was a great challenge as we had to do most over the Internet, via email and phone calls. But we managed to find a decorator, A2 studios in Macau, we even managed to find a band through some word of mouth advertising. So it looks like all is set. Well almost, except for a million little things that need our attention. So this is what is entertaining us here in Macau.

Back in Hong Kong we have a little space to breathe. We went back of on th 7th together with Linda's sister. We had a nice family Hong Kong style BBQ that evening at her place in the New Territories. The New Territories is basically the Hong Kong country side, and Linda's sister lives in the far back end of those, almost in China. Still it is only half an hour drive without traffic,. During rush hour this would probably take two hours. For her sister and her husband this is no issue as they both work in the New Territories, so they do not have to commute back and forward to central Hong Kong. The houses in the New Territories are a lot more spacious then the ones in Central or Kowloon, so for a lot of people the trade off of commute is compensated by living space.

Besides planning we spend a few days doing fun things as well. We spent a day on visiting the Big Buddha. For this we had to take the MTR down to Tung Chung on Lantau island, close to the airport and Disneyland. When we exited the subway we found a big outlet mall called City Gate. We first had some food in the food court before continuing our journey towards the Big Buddha. After lunch we made our way to the cable cars that bring you to the site. It was a little wait to get on the cable cars, but eventually we got into a glass bottom car that brought us over the hills to the little tourist town at the Buddha site. The ride is spectacular, we had what they call 'millionaires weather' so we had clear skies, and little haze from the pollution as we had an amazing view from the cable cars. When it takes off you see the Hong Kong airport behind you, and soon you are taken over the water into the hills. After the second hill you get the first glimpse of the Big Buddha situated on a hilltop to your left. Below through the glass bottom of the cable car you see the little road that was used to build the cable cars. And before that this road was the path that the monks took to reach the Buddha, on foot. I prefer the cable car, although it is a bit touristy, it is a hell lot more comfortable than hiking the Hong Kong hills. Our car was blessed with the presence of a couple of French girls, whom behaved truly French, annoying, not taking notice of their environment and blocking peoples' views, typical. We tried to ignore these people and enjoyed our ride to the tourist town. Although the little landing town is basically a line of souvenir shops and restaurants, it has a tranquil feel about it, far away from the rush of central Hong Kong. We climbed the stairs up to the Buddha and had a short walk though the little museum. The museum has a big collection of Buddhist prayer books written on wooden planks. All in Chinese of course, so very entertaining to the western public. The views from the Buddha are magnificent, and the ticket contains a coupon for an ice cream and a bottle of water as well. So we enjoyed our water and ice cream on the top of the hill before descending down. We decided to take a bus to the ferry at Mui Wo, and take this ferry back to Hong Kong island. The bus ride took a good forty-five minutes and we were just in time for the five o clock ferry. But not before buying a little snack of siu mai and fish balls to enjoy on our way back. Visiting the Buddha is a great escape from Hong Kong hectics, but only to be enjoyed during weekdays, as during the weekends it is just too crowded.

Last week I had to work a bit, I was invited to chair a section and moderate a panel on the cloud computing world forum in Asia so I spend a couple of days on that. It was an interesting introduction to the Hong Kong IT world, and I got some new contacts from it.

One evening we took a taxi out to the new territories to the little town of Sai Kung. In this part of Hong Kong, the roads are windy and there are no six lane highways cutting through the mountains. We visited this former fishing town for a nice seafood dinner. When we arrived we saw the little boats moored against the harbor wall and the people selling their fish and seafood from the water side. Sort of a floating market. It was busy but not crowded and we were just in time for the sunset. We walked on the pier from where we saw the eagles hunting for their slice of seafood. A beautiful sight. For dinner we found a very nice seafood restaurant that had seats for us at the water side. Here we had to pick the creatures that we wanted to have cooked up from the large aquarium tanks outside. We picked some razor clams, a nice sea bass, a lobster for sashimi, some sweet shrimps and some other shrimps, all together a huge feast. The food was awesome, and the service friendly, certainly a place where we shall return when my mother comes to visit.
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