So after an hour long boat ride that I pretty much slept through, I arrived in Macau from Hong Kong. I changed my money (but I've seen found that it's not unusual to find places that take Hong Kong dollars or list prices in two currencies) and caught a taxi down to the hotel. I thought about walking and for a while was looking at buses on the map I picked up but ultimately decided that I should just find someone who knew the way since I'd get a sense of the place in a few days anyway. And it hasn't been too hard though it's somewhat startling to find a bus ride costs 3.20 Macau pataca when a bus ride in Zhuzhou costs 1 yuan. It's also annoying that 10 cent coins here are teeny little things so finding that 20 cents has been a little tough and at times I've had to just drop in a 5 pataca coin and get on. My head's still a little funny, but the sun's come out in Macau and that's been nice.
Though I've never been to Portugal, it has been kind of nice to be somewhere with a more European influence. On my first night here, I bought a package of presunto (cured ham) and a cider to enjoy. Weirdly, imported beer here seems to be a little cheaper but soda is more expensive (5 pataca for a sprite as opposed to 2.5 yuan). The tiles along the streets and some of the arcades remind me at times of wandering through Italy too. I've come to like it here since it's got a lot of things available but the parts I've been through don't feel as overwhelming as Hong Kong. There are signs of the coming new year everywhere. I passed by a spot where they're setting up a flower fair (which sadly, as I chose to go to little DuoYiShu for new year's week I'm missing the flower festivals and big events going on down here), there are lights and zodiac animals (sheep especially) everywhere, and signs are posted for the firecrackers and festivities that are coming later this month.
Aside from wandering, I've made it out to one casino/hotel, walked to Jardim Lou Lim Leoc (Lou Lim Leoc Garden), seen the ruins of St. Paul's, and have been eating all kinds of junk. One of my favorite places to wander through is a market near the hotel where I've been able to pick up all kinds of lai see, eat cheaply, and stare hungrily at the roast meat carts. It's also where I've been getting a simple but filling chicken soup quite cheaply and I feel pretty good every time I grab a cup.
Macau has also been my opportunity to connect with distant (in just about every sense of the word) family. I tried to call my distant cousin before leaving on break but either I forget the code I needed, was told that all Macau numbers needed another 6 digits, or when I finally got through, was unable to communicate and was simply told "BYE BYE" when I spoke English. I had an address, but I wasn't sure if I would need to find out the address in both Chinese and Portuguese or not in order to send a card. I decided not to take chances and was told that the address I had was for his office so I made up my mind to take a day to go find the office and ask about my cousin. The first day I went out there was the weekend, so though I discovered that the place was a 7 minute walk from my hotel, everything was dark and shuttered. So I tried again on Monday, found the lights were on but no one was there so I decided to eat a late lunch and come back. I found a woman and a man at work and said "Hello" and asked about Hin but they didn't look to sure about what I wanted until I showed the card I wrote to the man who asked if I wanted him to give that to my cousin. Not being totally sure what else I should say or do, I said yes and thank you. So if nothing else, he has a "gong hay fat choy", a cell number, and a mailing address from me. And he'll also know that I'm on the mainland until June. Maybe I could have done this better to communicate my presence, but I wasn't sure. I really wanted to say something to him earlier but this works as well. But for knowing next to nothing about Macau, I have to say that finding a hotel a short walk away is pretty good.
I'm a 3rd year WorldTeach volunteer.