Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Where VEGAS, BABY meets mainland China - Team Taylor celebrates 5 years in Macau - Part 1...

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. The Bull is flat exhausted tonight, as he's pulled down 24 hours in the last 2 work days. Now granted, that's not nearly as bad as what Hairless, P-Dawg, and all the Insane Clown Posse of HRO has been puttin' in, but by the Bull's standards, it's been a long road to hoe. Wild Card - look at me adding value like a rabid banshee...if rabid banshees actually ADD value.
Regardless, it's time to recap the weekend, which was truly an AWESOME experience. But let's not spoil the surprise, eh? Let's just go straight into the magic, the mystery, the misunderstandings that - Macau.
So for those of you not familiar, Macau is a pair of islands about 20 miles off the coast of Hong Kong and mainland china. Citizens of Macau have their own passports, currency, laws, and tax codes, yet it is considered part of "Greater China" (meaning the People's Republic). You don't need a visa to visit, however, as it is considered a SAR - Special Administrative Region. Translation - THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN GO TO GAMBLE, DRINK, AND RAISE HELL LIKE HAVANA IN THE 20'S. Even stranger, EVERYTHING is written in 4 languages - Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and...PORTUGUESE. That's right - it's a former colony of Portugal, and the locals speak the language of Prince Henry the Navigator as a first language. OSC - you would have LOVED it.
So the Bull and Striker had a 3 AM wake-up call and a 3:45 taxi. We rolled into the Budget terminal for the second weekend in a row, and true to form we marched STRAIGHT for McDonald's. What, praytell did we eat? That's right - McGRIDDLE'S, BABY. 900 calories of fat, calories, fake sausage, odd colored eggs, and all the plastic syrup pockets within biscuits you can handle.
The flight was on time, and so my faith in Tiger is slowing being restored. It should be noted that we were THE ONLY TWO WHITE PEOPLE ON THE PLANE, and CLEARLY the only 2 cats who didn't speak any form of Chinese. Yeah, we got a LOT of stares...We arrived in Macau right on time at about 9:30, at which point it was ON LIKE DONKEY KONG. First stop was our hotel - Casino Lisboa. So here's the deal with this place - built in 1970, it was THE ORIGINAL GRAND CASINO in Asia. For 25 years it was the only game in town, but now it's obviously overshadowed by the "big boys" from the Silver State. Mom, Dad - it's kind of like Circus, Circus (our hotel is the squat building with the two funny towers in the distance), but filled with Chinese people smoking and lots of hookers dressed in nothing wearing red lipstick that outshines the sun.
We dropped our bags and headed for their casino, considered "the original" in Macau. I had my game face on and was ready to ROCK some craps, but as fate would have it, that wasn't an option in this casino. In fact, THERE WASN'T A SINGLE GAME IN ENGLISH OR THAT I'D EVER HEARD OF. There were dominoes flying around, people throwing cards, people throwing cigarettes everywhere, dudes picking their noses and flinging boogers all over the place - it was a small version of Asian hell. Jenny looked at me and said it best, "I've never actually been in one, but I'm pretty sure this is just like an opium den." I laughed for 10 solid minutes, making some of the locals afraid of "the tall white devil."
We then wandered out of that casino and into the next one - the Crystal Palace. Sounds nice, right? It was actually more like a 1 table joint with a family around it, all of whom HATE EACH OTHER. There was lots of screaming, nashing of teeth, and bewilderment at the 2 Americans suddenly in the room. 30 seconds later, we were outside.
Then, however, things improved DRAMATICALLY. Our next stop was the Wynn, which was BEAUTIFUL. Both the Wynn and Encore are here, and they are comparable in size to those in Vegas. This place DEFINITELY felt like Vegas, and the gaming floor (located between the 2 hotels) was MASSIVE. We wandered through it, and it took us about 15 minutes to make the trek. We then rolled over to the MGM Grand, which is an EPIC building. We stopped for lunch here, deciding upon a buffet in an area built to resemble the Whale's villa at the MGM grand in Vegas. The food was AWESOME - sushi, shellfish, and SALAD. That's right - you don't often find salad out here, so when you do you make it count...and cover it in Bleu Cheese dressing. Also, I got to try Macau Beer, a local rice brew that was actually pretty fantastic. I would definitely buy this in a store, but I'm pretty sure China doesn't allow exports so they can protect Tsing-Tao.
After that we FINALLY hit the tables, only to realize that the minimums were WAY above where we wanted to start. Craps was hard to find, and the minimum bets were $12 ($100 HKD). Now that doesn't sound like much, but when you consider that means you've got $65-$80 on the table each time the dice is rolled, it gets expensive in a hurry. Instead we did what any Americans who don't speak Chinese would do - go play a game you've never heard of in a language you can't understand.
So there's this video version of "Traditional Baccarat," and we sit down to play. Now Steve, I know that you play Baccarat, but it's a TOTAL MYSTERY to me (ESPECIALLY IN MANDARIN). So we sit down, and the rules seem simple enough - you pick either the banker's hand or the player's hand. Whichever one is closest to 9 wins. Simple, right? Well, not really.
So here's the thing - each player gets 2 cards, but sometimes, for NO APPARENT REASON, they can get a third card. I would love to have understood why, but all the machine kept saying was something like "Shing gow pai pai" OVER AND OVER AND OVER. We seriously spent 90 minutes trying to figure this bad boy out, but to NO AVAIL. Consequently, we both walked away $60 USD lighter. Details, as it was HILARIOUS (and I don't think the Chinese cats were too happy we were there).
We then rolled back over to the hotel and checked in, where we were shown a stocked mini-bar with all drinks complimentary AS LONG AS WE DIDN'T TAKE THEM OUT OF THE ROOM. Basically, if the can is in the room during cleaning, then you're fine. If it's not there, you're charged. Don't ask me, man - I just work here.
We then walked over to the newest monstrosity in the old town - The Grand Lisboa. Owned by the same cats who owned our hotel, this thing was WAY newer and more impressive. We walked into this place, noticing in HUGE LETTERS the sign that said no one under 18 admitted, and then crossed into the main gambling hall and the reason for the warning became apparent - THERE WAS A STRIP SHOW IN THE CENTER OF THE CASINO.
So seriously - you would pay SERIOUS MONEY in the US for what was on display in the center of this place. Jenny and I were simply TRANSFIXED by these 3 girls WORKING POLES and shouting out. Now granted, they weren't totally naked, but the pasties didn't leave much to the imagination, if you know what I mean. Again, Jenny's line was GREAT: "If I didn't think I'd get in trouble, I would SOOOOOO take a picture right now." Tell me I'm not the luckiest guy on Earth, eh?
We played some roulette here before wandering back over to the Wynn, where we hit some fun slots and just started to relax. Now it should be noted that, despite everyone smoking like a chimney, NO ONE DRINKS IN MACAU. Seriously - finding a bar was damn near impossible. At the Wynn, however, there are servers, and the first thing they asked was "would you like beer or wine? It's on the house." HELL YEAH!!! I LOVE THIS PLACE! And so begins the descent into the Vegas mood, with the Bull and Striker (I'm gonna start calling us the B & S or just BS - I like it) knocking back 5 drinks a piece and even making some money on the slots before calling it a night around 11 PM. Oh, and lest I forget - dinner that night? McDONALD'S, baby. THAT'S RIGHT - twice in one day.
It was then back to the opium den, where Team Taylor hit the sack (in a bed harder than the Great Wall) and PASSED OUT for 12 hours. I will be honest - when I remember epic sleeps, this one's gonna be right up there with that 12 hour snooze at the Intercontinental Park Lane - good times.
Now I know I should continue and wrap this puppy, but it's 11:20 and I've got some other stuff that's got to get done this evening. Consequently, you're all going to be subjected to another blog of our antics in Macau tomorrow, at which point I'll give you the Sunday and Monday recap.
Lastly, it should be noted that I finished "Tai-pan" tonight. Simply put - THAT BOOK WAS AMAZING. I currently have it squarely in my Top 10, and I think it might move into the Top 5, as I am currently only able to think of 3 books that I've enjoyed as much or more.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny

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