Macau – The Chinese Sin City

23rd September 2014, Tuesday

Since Macau was an hour away from Hong Kong (by ferry), we happily devoted a day to the gorgeous region. The not so gorgeous part was the actual ferry ride– check that; the ungracious people we were sharing the ride with. There were heaps of tourists (mostly from the mainland) who needed a huge dose of the ‘chill pill’. They were so anxious and ill-mannered. They pushed and they elbowed. They ran. Yes, they were literally running towards the ferry, dragging their luggage. This sight was actually quite incredulous, because seats were already allocated. And once the Macau ferry terminal was in sight, a whole bunch of them got up and hurriedly gathered at the exits. We were beyond perplexed. Everything was a competition. And don’t even get me started on the Immigration lines. That’s another ordeal by itself.

Macau Tower + Bungy Jump

It was past 11am after clearing immigration. Our return ticket was also issued for a different ferry terminal than what was planned, so we had to reshuffle our itinerary around. The first destination was to the landmark Macau Tower – to grab lunch, but primarily because I had a bungy jump booking at 1pm.

After lunch, we paid the entrance fee of $135MOP to the observation decks. Hong Kong currency is widely accepted in Macau, so thank god for that.


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Hong Kong – Organised Chaos

20th September 2014, Saturday

School was out for the week (recess week), and I took it as a reason for a much-deserved family trip to Hong Kong. The 4-hour flight to Hong Kong was quite bearable, and upon landing, we took a bus down to the heart of Hong Kong to meet our landlord (who was found via airbnb). Also, thank god for the Octopus Card (which holds a stored value) that can be easily used to navigate the country by means of public transport.

Apartment (Yau Ma Tei)

The great thing about our apartment was that it was very conveniently located near the Yau Ma Tei train station and along Temple Street– which hosts one of the many night markets in Hong Kong. The real disappointment, however, was that it was TINY! The photos posted on airbnb were deceiving; in the sense that it looked spacious. Ironically they even advertised that it could house up to 6 guests. In reality, there was hardly any room for the 4 of us.

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The entire apartment was about the size of the master-bedroom of my place back at home.

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My Week, Down Under (Melbourne)

Sydney, New South Wales | Melbourne, Victoria

5th August 2014, Tuesday

Caulfield

We landed in Melbourne (Tullamarine) around 7pm in the evening. My cousin, who has been living in Oz since 2002, picked us up from the airport. From there, he drove us back to his apartment in the Caulfield suburb. And since pretty much everything – less the bars and certain restaurants – closes early in Australia, we couldn’t do much! We just had dinner at a nice restaurant before returning back to his place.

I should also mention that this was our first time visiting our cousin in Australia. I have heard stories about this puppy he bought – a labrador retriever.

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He was an old man (of 10 years) by the time I got around to actually meet him. Oh, how time flies! Continue reading

My Week, Down Under (Sydney)

Sydney, New South Wales | Melbourne, Victoria

3rd August 2014, Sunday

Our dear friends, Debbie and Edward, picked us up from Sydney International at around 11am. They gracefully accommodated us in their beautiful apartment in Birmingham Street, Alexandria. We first settled down in their guest bedroom and freshened up from the overnight flight.

Bondi Beach

The first stop of the day was at Bondi Beach. The area was bustling with locals and tourists alike. I was truly amazed by the surf culture in Australia – winter hadn’t managed to fend off the surfers. Here I was covered in layers while a considerable number of people were down to their wetsuits, without even flinching.

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Misery Loves Company

The recent spade of airliner tragedies has taken a toll on many; from disappearing acts to being shot down. Never did I imagine anyone close to me would have been affected by these events. Turns out, my sister’s psyche has – ever so slightly – been swayed.

Having bought air tickets to Sydney, Australia preceding these tragic occurrences, my sister is now paranoid. She implored me to join her on her travel escapade. Apparently, she would prefer not to die alone; she’s taking me along if it comes down to it.

Being the wonderful little brother I am, I booked my tickets today. Might I add that I got the short end of the stick as my airfare was almost double than that of hers.

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Just as I got to this screen, my friend sent me a text message with a link. It read, “Air Algerie plane crashes with 110 passengers aboard: Algerian official.”

If that ain’t an omen, I don’t know what is. 

Death Amidst Wanderlust

“Are you alright, my dear?” the lady, in the seat next to mine, asks. “You look like you’re about to die. Are ya afraid of flying or something?”

I consider her for a second. She seems like the overtly chatty type. After months of solitude I thought I would be more open to such social interactions – I thought wrong.

“I am, actually. About to die,” I say. She jerks her head back, shocked. “I don’t mean it like I am going to blow up this plane or anything. What I meant was that,” I swallow, “I am dying from a terminal illness.”

“Oh,” she pauses, “I am really sorry. I must now seem so crude for the earlier comment.”

She probably expects me to waive off her callous remark in return. I simply ignore her.

“Cancer?” she asks. Relentless.

“Hep V.”

She superimposes her hand over mine. The warmth from the contact; it almost breaks me. I pull back my hand and cover my mouth to suppress the gasp that escapes my mouth. I can’t recall the last time someone touched me. A single tear drop rolls off my left eyelid in response.

“Why aren’t you with family at a time like this?” she asks.

So I tell her.  Continue reading