Macau, the Portuguese equivalent of Hong Kong, is only 65km and an hour away by ferry, but feels much more European. An old fort and churches, cobbled streets and little plazas, and all signs in Portuguese.
But the casinos there are another thing. Apparently it now out-Vegases Las Vegas. The Venetian has life-size replicas of all the famous buildings in Venice, including The Rialto Bridge and the tower in St Mark’s Square, plus canals and gondolas, complete with gondoliers of course.
Macau used to comprise the Macau peninsula and 3 islands. Big Taipa, Little Taipa and Coloane. Through land reclamation, the three islands are now one, called Cotai.
I now get up at 6.30. My 25-minute journey to school starts at one end of the Island line and finishes at the other end, so both ways I’m guaranteed a seat.
The level of English at primary school here is so much higher than in Madrid. They’re reading books meant for native English kids and discussing them with no trouble at all.
I’ve got a lot better at getting through the crowds on the pavements. Having played rugby helps.
December 10th: It’s quite a bit cooler. 15C min, 22C max. Still clear and dry – great weather. Apparently the really cold and damp stuff doesn’t hit until February, not that it ever freezes.
Everything is up here. So many people living in such a small area means it’s not just flats and offices above ground level. We bought most of our furniture from a store on the 15th floor and near our house we found a fantastic Indian restaurant on the 5th floor.
And because everyone seems to eat out, the sheer number of restaurants is incredible. There must be, seriously, 100 within 5 minutes of our house.
There are a significant number of people who earn their living by pushing stuff along the streets on metal barrows. They’re everywhere, men and women, young and old. There’s something Victorian about it - such a contrast to the hi-tech side of things.
On the MTR, 4 out of 5 people are on an I-phone/Blackberry/PSP. I have a lowly 200HKD (20 euro/15 quid) mobile so it stays in my pocket.
To answer the phone, say ‘Wai?’ but no-one Cantonese ever phones me (and I wouldn’t understand anything they said after my opening gambit) so I don’t use it.
Teng means stop – useful in a taxi but be careful to pronounce it right, as Deng is apparently not the politest of words.
Tai O is a fishing village on Lantau Island with tin-clad houses on stilts. It has the feel of a hundred years ago.
December 14th: Temperature down to 6C at night!
A middle-aged woman burped in the post office - the kind of burp the lads would be proud of. And nobody even looked. Must be normal behaviour.
Last hiking of the year - sections 5 and 6 of the Hong Kong trail.
My school has a room called Englishland, which includes a pets corner. I do playground duty there and have been given a position of responsibility – I am in charge of Helen
PHOTOS: here - click on them to see the info.
After 9 hard days at work, holidays have finally arrived. So that’s it for the blog until January. Happy Christmas everyone and see you after Thailand.