Dang this China trip blog thing is getting long… and I’m not even done yet!
This morning we got up a little early to squeeze some playtime in before checking out and we were greeted with a really stunning sunrise.
Tommy and Bill donned their swim trunks and we walked a little ways to the resort’s Kids Club. This place was pretty awesome. Three small swimming pools with two only half a meter deep. The other one was just over one meter deep. There was a waterside, a playground and a clubhouse with rooms of toys for kids of all ages. There was even a snack bar. This place was essentially a resort just for kids, complete with room key entry and gates to keep kiddies somewhat contained.
I guess we were there pretty early as we were the only ones there. Tommy played for a little while, practicing his “swimming” since in the shallowest pool, he could touch the bottom with his fingers.
The water slide was actually closed at the top… but Tommy was content with my placing him on the last few feet of the slide so he could splash into the water.
This is his, “hey, I can touch the bottom!” face.
We headed to the breakfast buffet for a quick meal before checking out of the resort.
The guy who works for Ga-Ling gave us a ride to the Sanya Airport, about thirty minutes from the resort, Tommy slept the whole car ride and it took me a while to get him out of the car.
We boarded a Sichuan Airlines A320 for the one hour flight back to Zhuhai. Tommy was still in need of a nap and he fell asleep for the last thirty minutes or so of the flight.
Reading up on the safety procedures for the Airbus 320.
Comfortably passed out… as we begin our descent.
There’s something I’d like to know. Why is it on some airlines the armrests have to be down during takeoff and landing? The flight attendant was lucky that my kid stayed asleep when I had to move him and put the armrest down. Bill told me that Virgin America does it too. Someone explain to me the safety protocol on that one.
We made our way back to Say-Goo-Ma’s place to change our clothes and get some laundry started. Then we headed right back out again to meet up with Anthony and his family for dinner. Say-Goo-Ma and Say-Goo-Jurn joined us too. We had a wonderful dinner at the Noodle and Congee Corner in the Grand Lisboa hotel/casino.
This place specialized in noodles made from scratch in a style that is from northern China. Noodles are hand-pulled or shaved from a hunk of dough right into giant woks with boiling water. The kitchen area was behind large panes of glass so we could watch. It was pretty rad to watch them work.
Folded in half and stretched… and again and again.
Anthony brought a set of construction vehicles as a gift for Tommy and they kept him and the girls occupied while we waited for our food to arrive.
When they were done with the toys, the iPad came out. I think they were watching The Fresh Beat Band again…
Before the food arrived a guy came over and poured a cup of tea. I wasn’t told about this until it was happening, so I didn’t get any good shots. But this guy had a super long-spouted teapot and he swung it around and spun it around his body and then poured the tea. The guys who do this are advertised as “Kung-Fu Tea Masters.” Nice!
It was pretty cool. I wish I had known about it beforehand so I could shoot some video.
Dinner was delicious with Tommy eating a whole order of soup dumplings by himself.
Soup with noodles made from tofu skin:
Hand-pulled, stir-fried noodles:
Plain old noodles in soup… except in this bowl, it’s all one super LONG noodle! There’s definitely something amazing and delicious about noodles made from scratch.
Pan fried dumplings and Shanghai-style soup dumplings.
Shrimp that were battered and fried in a coating that contained preserved duck egg yolks. It was a very unique texture, and was really delicious!
A dish made with salted egg whites. The yolk on top was mixed in when it got to the table.
Some sort of dumpling made with mochi:
After dinner Tommy rode back to Anthony’s apartment with his wife, daughters, and Laikwan to play while Anthony took Bill and me to see something “unique” to Macau. The only hint he gave was that what we were going to see is all over the world, but how it’s done here is unique.
Utterly confused, we both followed with a little apprehension.
We walked to the Old Lisboa casino; the first big casino to open in Macau. We walked a little ways and ended up at a small, underground shopping area that connects two casinos; with a jewelry shop, a luggage shop, a noodle soup place, and a place that sold fresh fruit juice.
Anthony explained that this small strip of hallway is where local prostitutes cruise. They have a set space that’s approximately 40 meters long where their profession is “tolerated”. If any of them walk beyond the boundary, they have to be going home or security will apprehend them. So the prostitutes literally walk up and down the hallway. Once they get to the boundary, they stop and turn around. And repeat. While I’m not a fan of the profession, it was utterly hilarious to watch these women stop in the middle of a hallway and simply turn around.
After that bit of hilarity, we headed back to Anthony’s apartment where Tommy was playing with Kimberly and Levanna and they had a big box of Legos strewn on the floor.
Bill also played with Anthony’s camera equipment for a bit. So many fun lenses.
We played for a little bit and then walked across the street to Say-Goo-Ma’s apartment to put Tommy to bed. Once he was settled, Bill, Anthony and I picked up Anthony’s wife, YoYo and we headed to check out the casinos. We ended up at the Galaxy casino and walked around. We tried to find the most obnoxiously Chinese slot machine and went on to lose 200 Hong Kong dollars (about $25). We watched some table games where Baccarat is the big game that’s played here. There were only a few blackjack, roulette and craps tables.
From there we went in search of some street food to munch on. We hit up a juice shop and got some fresh squeezed juice, Bill had mango, Anthony ordered lemon & grapefruit and I had orange. Then we stopped at a random cart selling deep fried goods… chicken wings, crab balls, eggplant, sausage and wonton skins. We joked that the oil probably hasn’t been changed in a thousand years, which is why everything kind of tasted the same, but still tasty!
Since it was already past 1am, we decided to make just one more stop. It was a cart selling steamed shu-mai dumplings and rolled rice noodles called churng-fun. They were doused in Hoisin sauce and sesame paste. They were so delicious.
One thing that I thought was a little sad was the small quantity of street food vendors out on a Friday night. In a city like Macau, I expected more… or at least one narrow little street that had a few of them all together. Bill explained to me that many of them stopped selling their food because the big casinos have taken their customers. I guess very few people want to step away from their gambling to get street food anymore. Bummer.
We were up a little early (considering how late Bill and I went to bed) to meet up with Anthony for breakfast. We ate at a little tiny restaurant that only sold jook (rice porridge, aka congee). That’s all they made; even the savory fried donuts are made by someone else. Tommy and I shared a bowl that had pieces of fish, julienned ginger and green onions. It was so delicious and a great way to start the morning.
I call this: Still Life with Jook and Excavator
Bill, Anthony and Laikwan had the traditional porridge that has shredded duck meat, green onions and preserved egg in it. I love the duck, but I’m not a fan of the egg.
The elderly man in the front who collects money from the customers is the original owner of the little restaurant. He’s the one who makes the savory donuts for the place every day.
Giant vat of jook, outside too.
Walking around Macau:
After breakfast Anthony took us to one of the oldest neighborhoods in Macau. Shops in this area sell different kinds of meat jerky, cookies, pastries and candies. The Koi Kei Bakery is, I’m told, the most famous.
Bill and I sampled a couple different kinds of pork jerky (yum!) and ended up buying a couple of pounds of it. Then we later found out that US Customs prohibits people from bringing any kind of meat products into the US. Boo!
We watched a guy making almond cookies that are famous in Macau. He mixes the powdery mixture together with his hands… composed of mung bean flour, almond powder, powdered sugar and some other ingredients.
The powdery mixture is pressed into molds…
And the cookies placed onto the bamboo thing they will bake on. From my understanding, they are baked only to dry them out so they will keep from falling apart. The finished texture is very crumbly and powdery. It’s definitely a unique texture and, for me at least, they tend to suck all of the saliva from my mouth. I’m sure I would enjoy them more with a tall glass of milk. I wonder how many Chinese folks do the same.
Many of the cookies and pastries have a lot of Portuguese influence. We picked up a few different kinds including some peanut-brittle-type candies that are really delicious. The package is still sitting at my parents’ house and I want to eat some right now.
Hmmm… what else do I want? It was really funny how many different people kept giving Tommy free samples of cookies and candy. Why did we even bother with breakfast!?
Across the street was a cart selling some other cookies. The woman there was making thin, wafer-like cookies from scratch that were folded like an envelope and cooked in something that looked like a waffle iron but completely flat.
Tommy thought it was fascinating and loved her even more when she gave him a free cookie.
We walked around this neighborhood a little bit enjoying the cozy feeling and taking photos…
He didn’t want to hold hands anymore…
We drove around Macau a little bit more stopping at Senado Square to take some pictures. The square is one of the largest in Macau and marks some sort of cultural center of the city with a lot of European influence in the architecture and a beautifully preserved look and feel. Buildings that surround the square include St. Dominic’s Church, The General Post Office, a tourism center and the Holy House of Mercy. It was a 16th century medical clinic.
Anthony had promised some ice cream to Tommy and there was a Haagen Dazs shop right there. So while they snacked on some amazing ice cream (I got to finish Tommy’s), I snapped some photos.
I would have loved to take some photos of Senado Square at night, but it’ll have to be on another trip.
Next stop was the MGM Grand and it’s new butterfly exhibit.
This dome-pavillion-exhibit-thing opened last Spring and I read somewhere that it was closing in October of this year. Admission was free and it was really fun to see so many butterflies flying around.
The butterflies freaked Tommy out… he has an aversion to all bugs right now.
In another part of the room we were in, you could see all of the pupas growing in a window. It was fun to see them wiggle each once in a while.
Us grown ups chilled for a little bit while Tommy and his second cousins ran around and played.
Inside the MGM Grand. The entrance to the casino is through there.
Anthony had to get back to his office, but he dropped us off at a Portuguese restaurant where three aunties and an uncle were waiting for us. Once inside, we learned that this place was just fancy enough that they didn’t allow men to enter if they were wearing shorts. I guess it was okay for ladies to wear them, but Bill, Tommy and Bill’s uncle were all wearing shorts.
The aunties were trying to work out a way to borrow some long pants when Bill stepped in and suggested we just go somewhere else. He joked to me that he was on vacation, he didn’t want to wear long pants!
We ended up at a fancy dim sum restaurant nearby. It was perfect for me too since I really wasn’t hungry; I would just take a few bites of a few different items. Tommy enjoyed his favorite item: low-mie-gie. It’s a chunk of rice, meat and a little sauce rolled up in a banana leaf and steamed. It’s kind of like the Chinese equivalent of a tamale. The meat varies on the person making it. It’s usually pork but I have also seen Chinese sausage, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms and occasionally an egg yolk. Tommy adores it!
Next we headed to Say-Goo-Ma’s place to get packed. Tommy fell asleep in the car and even stayed asleep as Bill carried him upstairs, put him in bed and we changed his diaper. He was a tired boy! We packed while he slept.
And we took a photo that show how we’re terrible parents.
That’s a $1000 bottle of cognac under his arm!
By about 4:30 we were ready to go. I tried very hard to pick him up and lay him on my shoulder so he would stay asleep, but I guess he’d slept long enough that he was ready to wake up.
Anthony’s driver was waiting for us and we all headed to the ferry terminal where we boarded our TurboJet ferry toward Hong Kong. It was chaotic getting on board with people pushing and forcing their way to the front which irritated the crap out of both Bill and me. Bill was carrying Tommy and pulling a small suitcase and I was pulling a big suitcase. Everyone had assigned seats, why the rush?!?
Upon Anthony’s request, the driver had stopped at a bakery to pick up some Portugeuse egg tarts for us before taking us to the ferry terminal. We had wanted to hit up the bakery ourselves, but we ran out of time.
The traditional egg tarts we get at dim sum restaurants (dahn-TAHT in Cantonese) are a little different here in Macau. The Portuguese residents put their own spin on it using puff pastry instead of a pie crust and they bruleé the tops to give them a crunchy, caramelized taste. These were so amazing… and we didn’t even get a chance to eat them while they were still warm. I can’t even imagine the deliciousness.
The ferry ride was just about one hour and we watched the hazy evening fade into night. When we got into Hong Kong harbor we were greeted by the beautiful lights of the skyscrapers.
Tommy: Mommy, that Hong Kong?
Me: Yes, it is.
Tommy: Hong Kong is buildings?
Me: Yes, it has a lot of buildings.
Tommy: Woah! I have to go swimming to go Hong Kong!
It was chaos again leaving the ferry as we got our bags and Tommy off the boat in one piece. We made our way to the taxi stand and headed to our hotel in Kowloon. We could have taken the subway (MTR) and it would have been cheaper, but we really didn’t want to deal with the MTR with our suitcases.
We got to our hotel and we were all tired and cranky. There was some confusion with the hotel and us trying to get a rollaway bed for Tommy. They wanted too much money for it, so we just made a bed for him on the floor. The in-room internet access was also misleading. There was no wifi in the room, just a place to plug into their broadband service. Which I don’t have the appropriate port for on my laptop. Oh well, at least they weren’t charging us for it. There were free wifi zones in the lobby and restaurant.
We needed to get some dinner before going to bed, but Tommy was in a crappy mood. To avoid any running off or meltdowns, I wore him on my back as we set out in search of some dinner.
Not even 30 yards from the hotel’s entrance was a Chinese barbecue restaurant; the kind that has ducks and pork hanging in the window. We picked up some duck, barbecued pork, soy sauce chicken, roasted pork, bok choy and some fried rice and headed back to the hotel. The food was delicious and exactly what we all needed.
While I got Tommy ready for bed, Bill walked Laikwan down to the train station so she could head to her sister’s place where she was going to be sleeping while we stayed in Hong Kong. Then we all crashed. Welcome to Hong Kong!