The frigid breeze of December has escalated the altitude of the unobtrusive atmosphere as I was promenading somewhere miles apart from Pearl of the Orient. With my hands tucked inside my pockets, it was a fearless attempt to just wander right at the center of the district where posh hotels border me. I was confident—even though I was a total stranger—no one would harm me, not even a pickpocket for he wouldn’t be fortunate enough if he ransacked me.
In a city like this, I surmise almost everyone owns a luxury vehicle. One reason why I can count people doing the same thing I was doing with my ten fingers. I continued until I reached a traffic light, waited for the green light, and then proceeded walking again.
After passing through the tunnel of darkness for some time, stars in different forms and tones came to life. That moment, stars were closer. I can almost touch them. Okay. I am just kidding. There were no stars that night. What came dazzling to my eyes were the conspicuous lights that orchestrated the buildings dotting the area. It was inescapable even from a distance.
The sign “City of Dreams” was very evident while I was crossing the pedestrian towards Venetian. Was I dreaming when I reached this city? No. I came here in flesh. Did I fulfill my dream in this city? Yes. A dream to travel abroad. Besides, it was my first out of the country trip.
As soon as I entered the Venetian hotel, a man in black suit greeted me. I just nodded and smiled because never did I understand any single word he uttered. Language was one of the barriers I dealt with during my entire stay here.
It was my first time to enter a Casino hotel. Although I did not intend to play and gamble, with the infectious alacrity of the people inside, I got tempted to try. I was a spectator at first until I pulled 20 pataca from my pocket only to be abashed and dissed by the two men beside me who betted their 1200 pataca. By then, I surrendered my money inside my pocket and decided to remain as watcher for the rest of the night.
As the evening collapsed, the milieu was becoming livelier. The new world I entered looked like a big social event. And I was like an unidentified walking object (UWO) because I was speaking a different language. While most of them were having fun, after an hour, I’ve gone enervated.
Minutes later, I suddenly felt the rush for bedtime. I started to hear murmurs from angels, enticing me to rest. It was my second night in the city. Meaning, second night of pampering myself, enjoying the buffet meal every breakfast, sleeping without being bothered by any phone alarms and calls, and thinking nothing except for the places I shall remember so I could write and share something in my virtual journal—here. I stayed in a four-star hotel. Too bad five-star hotel was way expensive. Even though it appeared elusive at that, right time will come that I will catch it.
I lay down just after having a refreshing hot bath, stared blankly on the wall, leaving no signs that I was prepared to take yet another uninterrupted snooze. While ceiling gazing, in my mind I was mentally computing my expenses for the past 2 days and how much I only had for the next 4 days as I will be spending 3 nights in Hongkong beginning next morning (hahaha!). Kidding. But seriously, it was part of the equation, though much dealt with the experiences I have had.
My thoughts went as far as to the churches and monasteries I visited that day. Some Filipinos I interacted with when I was tracing my way to the renowned landmarks of the city; the Macau Museum that served as my immersion tool to the culture of Macau; the Ruins of St. Paul steadfastly perched at the end of the stalls filled with local goods— Rua de S. Paula was my favorite street in Macau because it satisfied my cravings for local delicacies without having to spend a single penny, everything was gratis so long as you don’t bite offers of the merchants; the Senado Square filled with energy due to the contagious spirit of Christmas and protesters barricading a portion of the square. I found some protesters lying with placards containing characters unknown to me accompanied by a background speech of some sort being played using large speakers.
I spent the whole day walking, starting it from Venetian during the long morning and ending it in the same place. Of course I did ride cabs while touring Macau but doing in on foot—albeit exhausting—was more enjoyable as it helped me see the place in a more precise angles.
I ought to forget about the food I consumed that day except for the McDonald’s burger and the buffet breakfast being served in a hotel where I stayed.
Everything was vivid in my mind, especially the scene when I had to gust towards the portion of the city where enthralling edifices congest. For the record, I had crossed five streets just to have a glimpse of it and ran back and forth for five minutes from where I was because I had to get in the queue of taxi’s bay before mounding passengers occupy my spot.
Somehow I have had regrets. Earlier that day I planned to take jaunt on Macau Tower to experience the world’s highest bungee jump, but I had strike the plan before reaching the tower due to budget scarcity. Back story has it that unintentionally, I had given a wrong direction by a fellow Filipino or maybe I only misunderstood the instruction passed on to me. While I was at the Ruins of St. Paul, I got rerouted to another place where I found stores selling authentic perfumes for very cheap prices. Since it was Christmas season, I decided to buy each member of my family (me included) as my Christmas gifts. I spent six thousand pesos for perfumes alone which is why I abandoned my plan to bungee jump and just devoted my time looking for cheap finds. I don’t think the cliché “the more the merrier” was propitious in my situation. Because the more I find cheap souvenir shops, the shorter the list of places in my itinerary has become since I had to convert “places” to “souvenirs.” Like, instead of going there, better spend the money for this (souvenir). That was my mindset.
Tired of thinking and ceiling gazing, when I was about to sleep, I received a text from a friend who was about to arrive in Hong Kong same date as mine, prompting me to veer away from my reminiscing-stage-of-what-happened-in-Macau for two days and inciting me to make a backup itinerary in case new travel companions join me. But I was too lazy to get out of bed, pull a pen from my backpack and create a scratch out of the expensive-looking notepad the hotel provided. Above and beyond, I was already in my sleeping position. So I immediately turned the lights off and closed my eyes just to be prodded by another thought that my things gone wild all over my room and I had to pack them right away since I was scheduled to leave early for Hongkong the following morning. I ended devoting another 30 minutes to make sure that all of my belongings are packed and everything is ready for my next destination. However, that 30 minutes gave enough leeway for sleep to escape. And no matter how I fervently prayed for sleep to come back, it has gone out of reach. Oh, such is life sometimes.
So there, for another hour or two, I made myself busy looking at photos I took in Macau until my eyes finally retired. I knew I was smiling while asleep because I can’t contain all the wonderful things happened to me that day.