“I tell you, Alvin, you’re the best. How are you always able to locate these secret gardens? I’m so impressed!”
“Haha, you can say I’ve developed a special interest in secret parks. I hate crowded places. I seldom go to, say, countdown events for the New Year, or shopping centers when there is a sale.”
“Then we’re on the same wavelength. How about you, Misha?”
“Yup, I also like peaceful places, especially since Shicchan and I have become best friends~!! Since we talk in sign language, we don’t make any sound, so~ I’m now very used to quiet environment! Wahahahaha!!!”
Except that she just turned the quiet environment into a noisy one.
“Shhh!! Turn down your volume, Misha.”
Hisao told me that Yamaku High School is a tranquil place, vastly different from the city where we’re living in. I’ve never been to Yamaku; if the three of them invite me, I think I’ll pay a visit.
“But where are we anyway? I can’t read the sign. Is it in Portuguese?”
“It is Portuguese, and I can’t read it either, but the Chinese words below it says Pigeon Nest Park. Next to it is a cemetary, and we’re visiting it too.”
Macau, the casino city, was a colony of the Portuguese until 1999, when its sovereignty was returned to China. The local people here mostly speak Cantonese only (which is also the spoken language in Hong Kong), but the roadsigns always contain both languages.
“Cemetary? Are you sure, Alvin? I don’t know; I think I might have to pass this one.”
Since his heart attack, he has become exceptionally cautious dealing with his health. Yet he is putting his life on hard mode by chasing one of the toughest girls in the world. I wonder he manages to handle her.
“Haha. You think cemetaries are scary huh. But not if it is Christian!”
“Yeah. The Christian cemetary we’re visiting is the resting place of Robert Morrison, the first missionary of modern Christianity to China. He translated the Bible into Chinese, and wrote an important Anglo-Chinese dictionary. He suffered a whole lot during his 25 years of missionary, and finally died in China. He baptized the first Chinese Christian ever.”
Shizune, who’s holding her guidebook, nods to show her agreement.
“I see. You know a lot of stuff, Alvin.”
“Nah. I searched Morrison with the hotel’s computer last night.”
We returned to the hotel pretty late last night after watching the fabulous “A Symphony of Lights”, and he was kind enough to sacrifice his rest time to read information on the computer just to serve as our guide. His generosity prompts me to chip in a well-deserved compliment, giving him a thumbs-up.
“Thanks for all the hard work. You’re the best, Alvin.”
My tutorial center colleague smiles bashfully as we enter the central part of the garden, edging closer toward said cemetary and Morrison’s grave.
At 6:30 this morning, I was delighted to receive a warm-heartening morning call from Alvin, although I was already awake by that time thanks to my music alarm. After waking everybody else up, the five of us had a simple breakfast downstairs before hurrying towards the ferry pier (by hurrying we mean walking at a slightly faster pace, because we need to accommodate Hisao), where we boarded a ferry to Macau. We were so tired that all of us slept through the 1.5-hour trip, so nobody knew what happened in between. After landing, we took a shuttle bus straight to the most well-known landmark of Macau: The Ruins of Saint Pauls’, which is the remains of a burned church. The ruin itself isn’t particularly attractive – it’s just an old wall – but it bears a huge symbolic meaning; it’s like if you don’t visit here, don’t tell others you’ve been to Macau! We took a group photo in front of it (well, what else?), then, instead of following the crowd of visitors back to the main streets, Alvin led us through the wall to the back of the site, and, after a ten-minute walk with the surroundings becoming increasingly quiet, we finally reach this garden.
Alvin is one of the most interesting boys I’ve ever gotten to know. True, he can be clumsy and careless at times (which he hasn’t shown during the trip so far), but he also has many positives. For starters, he knows a lot of stuff. Not only can he play the piano, he is also highly skilled in the guitar: He plays it just as well as I play the piano. He manages to bring us to delicious restaurants every time, whether we are in Japan or in Hong Kong. During this trip, he is able to locate so many peaceful secret gardens for us. He knows a lot of sports: soccer, basketball, tennis, table tennis, golf, badminton, just to name a few; he doesn’t necessarily play them well, but at least he knows all the rules. He’s also a potent swimmer; he revealed it yesterday while we’re chatting, and Misha has shown interest in testing his abilities in the hotel swimming pool before the end of our trip.
In addition, his academic performance is excellent. He has topped his schoolmates in every single term, and has already received enough scholarships to cover both his tuition and accommodation fees. When he told me about all these two days ago, I was shocked to hear that he never revealed his scores to any of his schoolmates, including Hisao. In the university, due to privacy concerns, teachers usually refrain from announcing individual exam results in front of the whole class. Whenever Alvin’s friends ask him about his exam scores, he simply replies something generic like “alright”, “not too bad”, or “I need to improve”. He’s trying to be humble and friendly towards his friends. Now come to think of it, there’s no surprise he scores so well in tests: he’s the best math teacher after all! Without a doubt, he’s going to have a bright future.
However, what he attracts me the most is, of course, his caring and gentleman nature, as shown two day ago during Hisao’s accident. While I was completely stunned and couldn’t do anything useful for my ex-schoolmate, Alvin managed to fend off the driver and then consolated me by hugging me tight. I never told him afterwards, but at that moment, I pretty much settled down on my future husband choice, despite still being a university student myself.
And that’s why I’m so keen on learning Chinese right now!
“Here it is, Mr. Robert Morrison’s grave.”
Alvin’s right. Despite standing in the middle of a cemetary, I don’t feel scared at all. Rather, I feel sacred. The atmosphere feels solemn, pure, and maybe even divine. I’ve never had this feeling at all. Are there angels surrounding me right now?
In front of us are three gravestones. The middle one is Mr. Morrison’s. The left one buries his wife Mary, and the right one rests their child John Robert. The gravestone in the middle reads, in English, the following:
A stone tablet with Chinese writings stands next to the three graves. I can recognize some of the characters, but the words make no sense to me.SACRED to THE MEMORY of ROBERT MORRISON, DD.,
The first Protestant Missionary to CHINA,
Where after a service of twenty-seven years,
cheerfully spent in extending the kingdom of the blessed REDEEMER
during which period he compiled and published
A DICTIONARY OF THE CHINESE LANGUAGE,
founded the Anglo Chinese College at Malacca
and for several years laboured alone on a Chinese version of
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES,
which he was spared to see completed and widely circulated
among those for whom it was destined
he sweetly slept in Jesus.
He was born at Morpeth in Northumberland
January 5th 1782.
Was sent to China by the London Missionary Society in 1807
Was for twenty-five years Chinese translator in the the employ of
The East-India Company,
and died at Canton August 1st 1834.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth
Yea, saith the Spirit
that they may rest from their labours
and their works do follow
“Alvin, does that tablet say the same as the gravestone?”
“Hmm… let me read… Ah, it’s a memorial tablet for Mr. Morrison a hundred years after he passed away. The text here is a bit hard to read, but I can figure it out… Wow… Um, to be honest, the content is quite touching.”
“What does it say?”
“I’ll try my best to translate. Mr. Morrison was a missionary sent to China. In order to complete his mission, he studied astronomy, medicine, and Chinese in advance as preparations. In 1807, he travelled for 220 days to China using the identity as a merchant, but secretly preached Christianity after he arrived. He was under close monitoring by the Qing government and Roman Catholic, but he remained unfazed. He established a printing press, translated the Bible and related publications, and found the Anglo Chinese College. During that dark and autocratic age, he worked bravely without fear, which was impossible without God’s help. His health was poor, the living condition was difficult, and he had no relatives next to him except his first born son. His family tried to communicate with him more than 200 times, but only two letters reached him. Under extreme conditions, his diligent work established the foundation of the Chinese churches. He passed away on August 1st, 1834 due to sickness. On his death bed, only a few crying disciples accompanied him, but he consoled them, saying the number of believers will multiply to 10000 times after a hundred years. His piety in his belief was extraordinary. It is now 100 years since his passing away. The Chinese Christian churches establish this memorial tablet as an eternal respect to Mr. Morrison. Sorry, my translation probably isn’t very accurate, since the Chinese used in the tablet is of an ancient form, so I can’t interpret some of the characters.”
“That’s good enough, Alvin. Even though I’m not religious, I’m still so touched by the words. He deserves such respect.”
“Not to say that his prophecy actually came true. The number of believers in China did multiply to 10000 times one hundred years after his death, and I think it might fulfil again in 2034, given that there are already around 100 million believers in China right now.”
This is another reason I like Alvin so much. He tries to make every event meaningful. We’ve visited quite a few museums and parks already, and I’ve been educated a lot about Hong Kong and Macau. When I return home, I’ll have a lot to share with my parents, who may then given me green light to develop a relationship with him, assuming that I can complete my mission by the end of the trip.
“Rest in peace, Mr. Morrison.”
All five of us stand in silence. Even the noisy Misha doesn’t utter a word; she probably realizes that the appropriate action for her is to keep quiet.
After reading such a touching story, I feel a little bit guilty about not being a believer of Christianity. Who is Jesus, by the way? I’m curious. Nobody told me about Jesus. I don’t think any of us is a Christian, but I heard from Hisao that his blind friend is a Catholic. I’ve never met her before. Maybe I’ll ask Hisao to introduce her to me after we return.
While practicing the sentence over and over again, I try to squeeze myself into the crowd in front of the famous shop. Unlike the Japanese, here in Macau (and Hong Kong) people don’t properly line up, so you have to compete with others if you want to place your order earlier.
Finally getting into position, I glance towards Alvin who gives me a thumbs-up, take a deep breath, and boldly talk to the shopkeeper.
“Ng5 ko3 jü1 pha2 pau1. (5 pork chop buns)”
She takes my HKD banknote (Macau has her own currency, MOP, but people here also accept Hong Kong dollars, HKD, in the ratio 1 to 1, although HKD is slightly more valuable than MOP, around 1 to 1.03), and returns me the HKD change that equals the difference between the value of my banknote and the cost of five pork chop buns. (If given HKD, they usually try to kindly return HKD if possible, but if they run out of HKD, then they give out MOP. However, MOP is not acceptable in Hong Kong. Therefore, if I receive any MOP here, I need to find a way to spend it before we take the ferry back.)
I made it! That’s another sentence down!
I triumphantly take the five freshly made pork chop buns to my groupmates, taking one for myself in the process. Everywhere around is so crowded that there is no space for us to sit down, so we hide in a corner nearby to enjoy our food. Almost immediately after I take my first bite, I understand why the shop is so popular: This bun is amazingly good! The juicy boneless pork chop in the middle is one of the best meat I’ve ever tasted; seriously, how did they manage to make this? The softness is exactly right. There is almost no grease at all. Not too salty, not too bland. Almost every aspect about it is perfect. And it couples nicely with the two pieces of bread sandwiching it. The only problem with the product is that there are no vegetables, but with a price of 25 HKD, I can’t complain.
It looks like my groupmates are sharing similar thoughts with me. Misha’s eyes are visibly flowing with tears.
“I’m such a lucky girl~~ to be able to taste this~~ Macau hurray!!!”
Shizune adjusts her glasses, then gives me and Alvin a thumbs-up. If even the picky Shizune is satisfied with her food, then it has to be really good. Of course, my potential husband always picks the best food for us.
One pork chop bun is not going to fill our stomachs, and we certainly don’t want to eat only pork chop for lunch, so our tour guide leads us back to the main tourist area of the Senado Square (Largo do Senado), where we dropped off the bus this morning to visit the burned church. We first enter a famous Chinese restaurant called Wong Chi Kei to enjoy some tasty noodles, as we’re still hungry. Then we spend some time walking around the area, visiting historical buildings such as the Holy House of Mary (built in 1569), the General Post Office (1929), and the Leal Senado Building (1784), where we’re able to find a few seats to rest on and consume snacks that we bought along the way. Noticing that some of the cake shops are flooded with visitors, we naturally want to get in to take a look, but Alvin says we’ll eventually encounter the same brands later in the evening and buy souvenirs, so it’s unwise to shop here and burden ourselves with luggage for the rest of our journey.
After filling our hunger and resting sufficiently, we set off for our next destination at around 1:30pm. First we have to walk along the main road (that’s Avenida do Infante D. Henrique) for around ten minutes until we reach the Grand Lisboa Hotel, which is the first casino we’ve visited in Macau so far. Before the trip, Alvin solemnly requested that we do not participate in any gambling activities, or else he will not bring us here. However, we do need to enter this casino building because we want to get tickets to one of the free casino shuttle buses that carry visitors around gambling venues to throw their money away.
Macau is a small city with a population of about 600,000 and an area of 33 square kilometers. It is composed of three main areas: The Macau Peninsula, where we are right now; Taipa, which is linked to the Peninsula with three bridges; and Coloane in the south. Macau is known as the “gambling capital of the world”, with gambling tourism being its biggest source of revenue. Famous casinos in the Macau Peninsula, besides Grand Lisboa, include MGM, Wynn, Casino Lisboa, and Sands. However, the biggest casino, where we’re visiting now, is in Taipa. With so many casinos scattering around the city, citizens and visitors make heavy use of free casino shuttle buses to travel between places. I wonder if the public transport here still makes money.
Along the walk towards Grand Lisboa, I noticed a lot of pawn shops on either side of the road. Most of them only consist of a door and a counter which is almost two meters tall (as Hisao, even with his bit of stray hair taken into account, is not taller than the counter). Unlucky gamblers who lose all of their money in the casinos can visit one of these pawn shops to exchange their valuables for cash. The counter is deliberately set so high for security reasons. The symbol (neon lighting) for these pawn shops is usually a bat holding a coin: The bat signifies fortune (“bat” and “fortune” are homonyms in Chinese), while the coin means benefits. I think such fortune and benefits usually belong to the pawnbrokers and casinos instead.
We don’t want our possessions to be taken by pawnbrokers, so we pass by all the slot machines, roulettes, blackjack tables, and baccarat tables towards the free ticket counter, while resisting the temptation of throwing away our funds (I’m actually quite proud of us, by the way). And, no, we cannot just wait for Alvin to collect all the tickets because one person can only get one ticket. Then we take the return trip, passing by all the potential gold mines again towards the shuttle bus stop, with me daydreaming about whether the 100-dollar banknote on my hand can turn me into a millionaire by multiplying itself 10000 times (sorry, Mr. Morrison).
“Iwa-chan, you don’t need a refresher class on probabilities, do you?”
He knows what I’m thinking. Well, who needs a slot machine if you have someone like him next to you? Marrying him will probably be my biggest fortune.
“I guess not, dear.”
The bus ride only takes around ten minutes. After crossing one of the three bridges, and passing by casinos after casinos, we finally arrive at Taipa, where we’ll spend the afternoon in. Several kilometers after, I finally get to see the second largest casino in the world. I simply cannot believe my eyes.
This is a casino? No way! Three glamorous golden blocks of at least 30 floors in the formation of a quarter of an octagon, this is none less than a luxurious hotel! I wonder how much they charge for one night.
“Shizune says it gets better when you go inside.”
Alright. Let’s go. Front entrance. Okay, not too special. A lot of people blocking our view. Into the casino area: Generic roulettes, blackjack, baccarat; pretty cool, but I’ve seen similar stuff a while ago. We go up the escalator towards the shopping mall: The escalator hall is octagonal, with four long escalators and a staircase in the middle, and everything around, except the escalators, is decorated completely in the color of gold, shining in extravagance due to the strong lighting.
Into the hotel area and the shopping mall: Shizune is right. This is simply fascinating! In the middle is a small clean blue river. Either side of the river are numerous shops of three floors, with the upper floors decorated in European style: The walls are either brown or yellow-brown, with pentagonal windows (thin rectangles with triangular tops) aligning in groups of three to four. Some of them have balconies in front of the windows, and flowers are decorated in the open space of the balconies. These upper floors are probably reserved for the shopkeepers or the staff around here, as they are inaccessible to the public. The ceiling is a painting of a clear blue sky. I feel like I’m in Europe right now!
What on earth? This is a casino!?
“Iwa-chan, come here!”
My lover calls me over to a bridge across the river to take a group photo as I’m busy setting up my camera.
Standing on the bridge, I can see more of those window designs, with slightly different variations: Rectangular ones, arc-shaped ones arranged in a spiral, just to name a few. If I show my parents this group photo, they’ll never believe we’re actually inside a casino.
“Wow, Alvin, I’ve never seen something so grand. What can I say? I don’t regret spending the time and money to join this trip.”
“Thanks, Hisao. It’s also possible to join a tour, but you might be forced into some of those shops and must stay inside for like fifteen minutes before you’re allowed to leave.”
“Huh? What? But why?”
“Simple. The tour guides get paid by the shops by introducing tourists, so they can kind of force tourists into the shops, taking advantage of the fact that tourists usually cannot find their way back to their hotels. Some of them even threaten tourists to spend money inside or risk being left behind for the rest of the trip.”
“Really? Does that happen often?”
“I don’t know about Macau, but I’ve heard about it in Hong Kong, although not too frequently. But usually the guides only give you like one hour to look around, and if fifteen minutes are wasted waiting inside some jewellery shop you’re not interested in, then that’s already a quarter of your time down the drain.”
“How could they!”
“That’s the downside of joining a tour. You’re unfamiliar with the area, so people take advantage of you. That’s why I prefer making my own trip.”
“With such a great tour guide on our side, nobody can take advantage of us~!! Wahahahaha!!!”
“By the way, speaking of shops, you’re now free to shop. We can walk together, or we can split into groups. If we split, then we’ll meet up at this spot, okay? So, it’s up to you guys.”
“Yay~~!! Shopping time~~~”
While a spinning Misha is completely absorbed into the joy of shopping, totally ignoring Alvin’s request of making a decision, Shizune ponders for a while before signaling her two ex-Yamaku schoolmates to follow her.
“Wait! Are you not shopping with Iwa-chan~?? No!!”
Shizune firmly shakes her head. That’s unexpected.
A loud snap of fingers, followed by some seemingly random hand movements, causes everybody to flinch, even with the surrounding being so noisy. I guess she means “no arguing”.
Shizune then grabs the arms of her two friends and, with a strength not matching her tiny stature, she pulls them into the boutique nearby and quickly vanishes from my sight, while I’m left totally dumbfounded.
Alvin and I take a look at each other. He’s similarly unsure what just happened.
Wait! Is Shizune setting us up?
My potential soulmate for the rest of my life shrugs.
“Hey Iwa-chan, how about we go buy some dessert for the group while you can practice Cantonese?”
Private time with my lover? Of course yes! I nod, and boldly wrap my left fingers around his right arm. He doesn’t resist, and points to supposedly our destination.
Passing by boutiques with price tags way higher than I can afford (one of them seems to be an official store of a famous soccer club in England), we arrive at a small dessert stall next to the river. It’s so popular that I can’t see the end of the line.
Huh. I thought we’re entering one of the European style shops, but instead we end up with a stall.
Nevertheless, I trust him. He’s never disappointed me.
“Margaret cake shop. There’s a restaurant in the Peninsula, but since we missed that, we can settle for this stall instead. There’s some history about this shop, but I’ll talk about it later. You take a look at the food first. I’ll line up.”
“A box of egg tarts please.”
A tourist with blonde hair orders egg tarts as I skim through our options: Not many. It looks like we’re dealing with an egg tart specialist here. Considering that the line is so long, and that the people sitting around are all eating egg tarts, that’s probably what we’re going to order.
After reuniting with Alvin, we take a look at the surroundings while waiting in the line. It looks like somebody is riding a boat on the river next to us.
“Hey Iwa-chan, how about we take a boat ride after we feed our companions?”
“Really? So you can ride the boat here?”
“Sure. Of course we need to pay, but I’ll do it.”
“Thanks so much! Our friends will be thrilled!”
“So, how do you like the egg tarts?”
“I don’t know, it’s certainly popular, but there are some black dots among the egg yolk. Are they burned? Are burned egg tarts really that tasty?”
“No, dear. It’s actually caramel, the result of baked sugar. I searched the web yesterday, and found that this egg tart has a bit of history. Its origin was actually not from Portugal. There are egg tarts in Portugal alright, but it was Englishman Andrew Stow who invented this variation. He came to Macau in 1979, and married a local named Margaret Wong. The couple modified the Portugal egg tart recipe with less sugar and a different kind of egg yolk. They proceeded to open an egg tart shop with the new recipe. It became a great hit, and the couple became famous. Unfortunately, they could not agree with each other’s business ideas, and they divorced, with Margaret going her own way to open a shop under her name, while Andrew continued keeping the old shop. The recipe has now been passed to numerous fast food shops, most notably in the southeast Asian area.”
“Interesting! So, what’s so special about this egg tart?”
“Well, for starters, the caramel smells great. The outer bread crumble is crispy, while the egg yolk inside is soft. I don’t know how to describe; you should try it out yourself. I’m sure Misha will love it.”
“Sure! Let’s buy a few more for them. How about two boxes?”
“That’ll work. Now it’s time to teach you how to order egg tarts in Cantonese.”
After managing to speak another Cantonese sentence in front of the stall lady, we brought back two boxes of egg tarts (but nothing else, as the other available desserts are too generic compared to the egg tarts) to meet up with our friends. It looks like, instead of a bunch of dresses, they have instead bought a lot of candies and snacks as souvenirs to their university friends; among the souvenirs are egg rolls, peanut candies, ginger candies, pork floss, sliced pork loin, beef fillet, sesame biscuits, and others.
Alvin puts his hand behind his head in regret. What’s wrong?
“I didn’t realize there are these cake shops here as well!”
Uh huh. Then what’s the problem?
“I forgot to tell you that we’re going to the same souvenir shop in a couple of hours! You don’t need to buy them here!”
Ah, he’s talking about the souvenir burden issue again. Well, it’s irreversible now.
“Shicchan says it doesn’t matter~ We have Hicchan to carry all the stuff for us! Wahahahaha!!!”
Hicchan, or Hisao, shakes his head in defeat as Misha playfully mocks at him. I wonder how many times he was bullied by the two girls during his one-year stay in Yamaku. Alvin was kind enough to offer him some help.
“I’ll help you with the gifts.”
“Thanks a lot, Alvin.”
It’s time to for us show them our trophy as well. I reveal the dessert that I’ve carefully hidden behind me.
“Here you go, some nice egg tarts for you.”
The attractive smell of the tarts immediately draws Misha’s eyes, as she hurries to unpack one of the boxes and take one. Each of us then takes one, and, fortunately, there is an empty table for us just a few steps away.
As expected, the egg tart is one of the best desserts I’ve ever tried.
“Mmmmm~~!!!! *takes another bite* Maffffffau is yummy~!! *hand is already on another one* Can I take anofffffer one, please~~??”
“Your hand is already on it, how can I say no?”
“We can shffffare one if you want to~~ Or I can shffffare with Shiffffchan too!! *takes another bite* We shffffould eat them while they’re hot, rffffight~? Rffffight!! Wafafafafa!!!”
“But we’re taking a boat ride along the river. Will you be alright with a full belly?”
“Of course!! No problffffem!!!”
I smile in amusement. When Misha eats, she loses all of her sanity.
“Did you say we’re taking a boat ride?”
“Yeah. Around fifteen minutes. Doesn’t cost too much, It will be a wonderful experience.”
“Can I read your guidebook, Shizune?”
Hisao proceeds to take a look at Shizune’s guidebook and continues.
“Enjoy a romantic ride on a gondola at The Venetian and listen to Italian Opera music as you cruise through the Grand Canal Shoppes.”
Ah, so the name of this shopping center is Grand Canal Shoppes. Makes sense, as we have a canal in front of us.
“Sail past grand palatial buildings inspired by Venetian Gothic architecture. You may choose between three picturesque sailing routes: (1) The Grand Canal, (2) The San Luca, or (3) The Marco Polo. Relax as your gondolier serenades you with class Italian opera. Duration is 15 minutes. Costs 120 HKD/MOP per person, and 540 for a private boat. Maximum capacity per boat is 6.”
If we hire a private boat, that’s 108 HKD per person. It’s a bit expensive, but since the first two days of our trip were essentially free (barring traveling expenses), and we didn’t waste our money on casinos, we can afford this ride.
“What is a gondola?”
“Hold on, there’s more… here it is. The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat. It is similar to a canoe, except that it is narrower. For centuries, the gondola was the chief means of transportation and most common watercraft within Venice. In modern times, the iconic boats still do have a role in public transport in the city, serving as ferries over the Grand Canal. Now their role is to carry tourists on rides. It is estimated there were 8 to 10 thousand gondolas during the 17th and 18th centuries. There are just over 400 in active service today, virtually all of them used for hire by tourists.”
Should’ve read Shizune’s guidebook before I came!
“So, which route is the best?”
“I think all of them are pretty much the same. Just randomly choose one.”
“Of course!! All of them are equally tasty~~ I’ll randomly choose one!!!”
“Hey, Misha, don’t grab all the egg tarts!!”
It’s too late to stop her, as the bubblegum hair who completely ignored the context of our conversation already took a bite of her third egg tart.
“Well, she’s not going to be able to enjoy tonight’s dinner.”
“Dinffffer? Wafafafafafa!!! Don’t worrffffy! I haffffe a sffffomach for dessfffferts and one ffffor dinffffer~~!!!”
Our host shakes his head and shrugs.
“Hisao, if you want more egg tarts, I can buy some for you.”
“Nah, that’s fine. I’ve had enough sugar for the day already.”
Yeah, we’ve forgotten about Hisao’s health. Now I feel a bit guilty for not being able to do so, especially since I was the one who caused his health issue.
“Fair enough. Let’s finish up and go for the boat ride.”
This is the second time in this trip I’m standing at the top, watching the glamorous night view of a city. Instead of a bunch of skyscrapers, this time I have all the famous casinos in front of my eyes.
“What’s wrong, Misha?”
Instead of enjoying the spectacular view of Macau casinos with us, Misha somehow elects to stay behind at the center of the observation deck.
“Uh… I’m… I’m…”
Shizune presumably tries to persuade her friend, but Misha is still hesitating.
“Shizune, we should accompany her.”
The pair walks over to their bubblegum hair friend.
“Don’t worry, Misha. We’ll stay close to you, so you don’t need to be afraid.”
I see. Misha is afraid of heights. She didn’t panic though when we visited The Peak last night. Well, the context is quite different. Yesterday we’re on top of a mountain that’s not very steep, and, with so many tall buildings around, it didn’t look as scary; tonight we’re up on top of a tower, and, with everything around us being not quite as tall, the difference in heights makes standing at the edge of the tower, despite completely shielded by glasses, admittedly pretty terrifying.
With the encouragement and escort of her friends, Misha slowly steps forward towards me…
“Look, isn’t the view amazing?”
“Uh… uhm… Ahahaha… Misha’s not afraid~~ With Shicchan and Hicchan, why should Misha be afraid~~??? Wahahahahaha!!!”
She is obviously still quite scared, but she’s trying not to be.
Believe it or not, I somehow find Misha’s behavior a bit strange. I’m not talking about her fear of heights. Rather, I’ve a feeling that she’s always putting on a mask to cover her true self up. I have no evidence; this is just my sixth sense.
Anyway, while the America based girl is trying to deal with her fear along with her two friends, I turn around to face the boy who’s only five Chinese sentences away from being my boyfriend. I’m sure he wants some private time with me. Or, rather, I want some private time with him.
“This view… reminds me of a song…”
We both look towards the lake below us…
…which is next to Grand Lisboa, Wynn, and MGM…
“Not a classical music piece.”
…and Sands is further away.
“I thought you’re only into classicals. I didn’t know you like pops too.”
After finishing the boat ride, which was pretty cool but in my opinion not worth 108 HKD (like 60 HKD would be more reasonable), we went on to visit yet another romantic garden behind Venetian, which we failed to figure out the name, before walking for ten minutes to reach Cunha Street (Rua do Cunha in Portuguese). It’s a shopping street featuring a lot of restaurants and souvenir shops. We spent some time there, with Alvin and me visiting the cake shops that our friends went to back in Venetian, while the others bought something from a nice gift shop. We then split into boys and girls to continue on window shopping before reuniting to have dinner in one of the restaurants in the street. Despite claiming to have another stomach for dinner, Misha didn’t enjoy her meal at all, probably because we ordered relatively healthy food for ourselves, with Shizune brutally stopping her from increasing her BMI even further. Also, Alvin made the promise of treating me dinner because I pronounced “History Museum” correctly yesterday.
“No, it’s pretty old. Almost like a folk song. It was a big hit at that time though.”
We walked back to Venetian to take a casino shuttle back to Grand Lisboa, and then walked around a lake to reach the Macau Tower, killing some of the calories we’ve taken throughout the trip.
“English or Japanese?”
The Macau Tower is 338 meters tall, with an observation deck which costs almost 200 MOP per person to enter (again, not sure whether it’s really worth it). The bottom five floors of this tower are accessible for free. The fourth floor has a café, a theater of capacity 500, and eight event rooms. The third floor houses a Chinese restaurant and another eight event rooms. The second floor is an exhibition center. And the basement is… you know what? Slot machines! How (un)surprising!
The tower has three big elevators with capacities of 50 persons each to carry tourists to the observation deck, which is the 58th floor. Below us is a glass surface, so that we can enjoy the view directly below us. There are three floors above the deck. The 59th floor has bars and restaurants. The 60th floor has a restaurant called “360 degree café”. The top floor is outdoor, where people can perform skywalking and bungee jumping. We don’t want to risk our lives there though.
“Hmm… I don’t know.”
On the 58th floor watching the magnificent city view both in front of me and below my feet, I feel like I’m on the top of the world right now.
“Ah! I see!”
Of course, the “only explanation I can find” for me being “on the Top of the World, looking down on creation” is “the love that I’ve found”. “Ever since you’ve been around, your love’s put me at the Top of the World”.
Thanks a lot, Alvin, for the trip!
I notice that Shizune is staring at me. I look over to her.
She’s smiling while adjusting her glasses.
She definitely set us up this afternoon.
I give her a glance at the boy standing next to Misha, and point towards Shizune and then the boy. This is the only “sign language” that I know.
Shizune seems to understand what I mean, as she very slightly blushes, then brushes it off quickly, adjusts her glasses again, and goes back to her Misha escorting task.
I continue staring at her for a while before switching my sight back to the casinos.
Shizune, you know you’re also on the top of the world, don’t you?
Chapter 60: Ocean Park Hurray~~