Fishy Nibbles

In all honesty I thought it was just a bit mad, I mean do people really pay to have that done? I mean it has happened to me before by accident when I was on holiday in Cyprus, and whilst it was not altogether unpleasant, it was something of a shock and not something I ever though I’d find myself actively volunteering to do.

But here we were in the ‘Shoppes* at the Four Seasons’ hotel searching out the place. (*just so you know I haven’t made a typo there they do actually call them ‘shopPEs’).
I had done a little research and in fact this is one of the ‘hottest’ new spa treatments available and all the bright young things are putting their best feet forward and having a dabble, so why the heck not eh?
We paid our money and had our feet very professionally washed and cleansed and were given some specially disinfected spa sandals to take us to the therapy pools. And then it was time.

I was a little nervous as I lowered my size 41’s into the warm clear water. In less than 2 seconds I was laughing hysterically as around 50 – 60 fish were all chomping away greedily on my manky feet.

Garra Rufa at work
The fish on our feet were about 10 times that size

It is the most bizarre sensation, somewhere in between tickling and scratching not at all unpleasant and after you get used to the initial tickle, a most relaxing and enjoyable 30 minutes.

Fishy nibbles or,to give it it’s correct title, Icthyotherapy has its origins in India and Turkey, both of which are the native home to the ‘Garra Rufa’ or ‘Doctor Fish’. These fish feed on dead or diseased skin and are increasingly being used by patients in the treatment of psoriasis and dermatitis as they only consume the affected and dead areas of the skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow.
Of course on the back of these benefits the ‘spa’ industry has jumped on the bandwagon and promoted the use of these little nibblers as part of the ultimate pedicure, and after just 30 minutes I can’t say that I disagree.

The Fish Spa at the Four Seasons Macau

I feel like I have new feet. Gone are the rough scaly heels and the solid edges on the big toes that many hours of past grooming have failed to remove and my feet feel, well, nice. Even the excruciatingly ticklish process of opening my toes wide to let them nibble inside was well worth the few minutes I could bear. Moo was fascinated, but only managed to dip one foot in for one tiny munch before freaking out, but Hubs looked like he was in fishy heaven, even though he couldn’t quite manage opening his toes for fear of squishing a fishy if it was just too much for him to cope with.

As an odd experience it’s up there with the oddest, but it’s also something I can recommend with both feet.

A Bientot.

I’m a classy bird at times, but I do scrub up well.

The storm of Thursday gave way to beautiful clear skies and hot sunshine of Friday. Mrs C and I decided to wander up to the City of Dreams and see ‘the boys’ for lunch, with a brief visit to the mermaid and a dance in front of the fountains we headed round to stage door. Master C was dispatched to the office to get lunch vouchers for the guests, and we went off to get our visitors passes. Lovely.
Then we tried to get in.
When canteen security took one look at Molly it threw them into a panic. This was not usual and no-one seemed to know if children were actually permitted in the canteen or not. With much calling on radio and mobile phones and general consternation occurring it was getting rather embarrassing and Hubs was growing increasingly cross as his lunch break was rapidly disappearing. After 5 minutes with no resolution forthcoming, we gave it up as a bad job, handed in our visitors passes and headed round the corner to another hotel. I had no idea it was going to be so complicated to get a sandwich.

The hotel round the corner happened to be The Hyatt and I felt extremely under dressed in my shorts and t-shirt combo as we walked into the plush ‘cafe’ dining area that was full of suited and booted business types. Thankfully a group of loud shirted bermuda wearing tourists arrived to spare my blushes, at least I had matching shoes on. When Mr. C arrived and the waitress already had a particular kind of tea ready for him, I guessed they had been here a few times before so began to relax a little and feel a little less out of place.
The staff were attentive and my Ceaser salad was delicious, but I’m extremely grateful to Mr and Mrs C for picking up the bill.

When ‘the boys’ had all gone back to work Mrs C and I took Molly for a slow stroll down to old town enjoying the sights and sounds and brand new short cuts we found along the way. Moo was enchanted to see a couple having their wedding pictures taken in the park and was loudly admiring the brides candy pink frilly frock whilst I silently prayed that by the time she gets married she may have developed a more…..subtle taste in gowns.
By the time we reached the town square we were all rather hot and sweaty but as luck would have it there just so happens to be a Haagen Daas cafe located over the road. How fortunate, and not at all what I had in mind all along oh no, just a happy coincidence. After a restorative two scoops we decided it was high time we found a park for Moo as she had been very patient with all our wanderings. Luckily there seems to be a playground every 500 meters or so, and it didn’t take long for Moo too be running around climbing frames and tumbling down slides. Mrs C. and I adopted a supervisory approach to the park experience and took up vantage points where we could keep a good eye on small one as she frolicked. What a stroke of luck they happened to be rather nice sunny spots suitable for a little ‘bathe-ing’.

After an hour or so it was almost time to go and meet ‘the gang’ after work in the R Bar. Much more comfortable surroundings with large sofas comfy cushions and waitresses in t-shirts rather than suits. We still had a little time to wait so a G&T was ordered and a chat was had. When Hubs arrived it turned out that we were still waiting for a few more people to arrive, so another G&T magically appeared in front of me. By the time the next few people arrived it became clear we would be here a little while so food was ordered for Moo, and more drinks arrived for the grown ups. It was a merry little gathering and it was nice to catch up with a few of the folks from Antwerp and chew the fat.

A couple of hours and many drinks had passed and people started to drift away, and when I tried to stand up I realised it was all a bit wobbly. Oops. I made it to the taxi without incident, but the ride home was like something from a science fiction film. My head was swimming and the lights of the passing traffic all had trails, like in those artistic night-time city pictures, but there was nothing pretty about this picture. We made it to the hotel and I stumbled out of the cab and , thankfully past reception and round to the lifts. It was at this point, I am ashamed to admit, I fell over in spectacular fashion and banged my head rather hard on the wall, not that I noticed at the time as it took Hubs to revive me and manhandle me back to the apartment. I was dispatched to the bedroom with stern ‘sleep it off’ and I went and did just that. My utter embarrassment was complete when I was later told that it was only around 8.30 pm.
Thankfully hubs was later able to see the funny side and a bout of relentless teasing has begun, and I have learnt a painful lesson, Sitting out in the sun, not eating very much and copious amounts of gin are not a good combination. I also need to remember that its a very long time since the days I used to go out and I just can’t do that any more. I have promised to be on my best behaviour from now on. Let’s see how that goes.

Saturday came around and with no hangover to speak of, but a painful lump nonetheless, we set off for the markets of Macau. I have been here a week and a half and this was the first time I would actually cross the water to the other Island. This was more like I had expected with busy streets and hoards of people dashing in and out of the tiny shops. But still there were the surprises of the brightly coloured, very European, open ‘town squares’ and park land. Its a place full of surprises.
We were initially looking for a gift for Hubs’ boss and his wife, Mrs. C, who were hosting a dinner to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary that evening, and dipped in and out of the many antique shops. A few of them were well outside the budget, but fascinating still. The history of a place can be seen writ large in these kind of shops and with a mixture of Chinese and Portuguese, Buddhist and catholic alongside the maritime paraphernalia, it’s an antiquers heaven. We settled on a modest 100year old varnished cherry wood spice basket, but I have no doubt that Hubs will be haunting those shops for his own treasures very soon.

With a gift secured we set off in the direction of the ‘Three Lamps’ district, renowned for it’s street markets and bargain priced clothes. The packed streets were a hive of activity, and I would imagine you could find just about anything you ever dreamed of there, as for me, I scored some lovely shorts, a t-shirt for Moo and Hubs got a nice shirt for this evenings do. I could have wandered round for hours, but we were not even half done when Moo’s tired legs, (and the urgent need to get home and play with her new ‘Ben 10 car’, got the better of us all and we headed back. I will return.

All of a sudden there didn’t seem much time and after a hasty brush up we headed out to a very posh hotel for the anniversary party. I think the word that would best describe the evening is sumptuous. From the cushioned rattan chairs and ceiling fans of the covered terrace, to the 5 star barbecued buffet, and I haven’t even mentioned yet that there was a choice of 8 puddings. Eight. Well when I say a choice of 8 we were free to mix and match from the 8, and rest assured I mixed and matched well. I should really speak here about the frighteningly efficient staff I think you must have to have some kind of extra sensory powers to work there as every time I went to move there was someone ready to pull out my chair and fold my napkin for me, and yet all done in an eerily understated manner to suggest they weren’t even there. ‘The ghost waiters of the Westin Resort’.
After the meal, and after Moo had been holding court to half the guests, came the coffee and cigars for the chaps and the ladies gathered at the tables over coffee. How terribly. I’m ever so glad we went ‘scrubbed up’ as there were no bermuda shorted visitors to ease my discomfort in this location. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening, beats listening to cows that’s for sure and it’s most definately better than banging your head against a wall.

A bientot

Ow’s and ooh’s and aah’s

After a long chat and lots of cuddles with Hubs on Monday night, Tuesday dawned much brighter, It seems that we will be spending a bit more time here in the Summer than we had originally planned. Hubs is only contracted till the beginning of August, but the reality of the situation may be different, we just don’t know, and its the uncertainty that’s been making this bit so hard for us both. There are so many ‘if’s’ ‘buts’ and ‘when’s’, that is hard to make plans, but what we both know for sure is that it will be easier to deal with them if we are together.

The sore throat that had been getting steadily worse throughout the day was now rather swollen, but, armed with the funky Chinese throat spray, we headed out to explore more of the island. After a protracted wait for a non-existent bus, we changed stops and destinations and headed of to the south of the Island to find the beach.
The bus ride was epic and took us on a tour of the old town, and airport, past Hubs work on the Cotai strip then finally down to the peaceful bustle free Coloane.

We had a stroll along the coastal road, meandering around the old town squares and taking in a few temples that are dotted around the place, then I whipped out the tourist map and we set off to find the beach. Coloane has two beaches, Cheoch Van and Hac Sa, although we had wanted to visit Hac Sa and see the black sand it looked a bit too far for small legs so we went to the other instead. The walk took us up the lush green mountain path so high we were walking through the warm mist, then back down the other side to the beach. It took about 5 minutes for us to be soaked up to the knees running through the surf unsuccessfully dodging the breaking waves. We stopped for lunch at one of the beach side restaurants and watched the fishermen and swimmers then headed to the other end of the beach for a bit more frolicking and shell collecting. As we walked back up to the top road it was clear that this side of the beach was the ‘posh end’ with beautiful houses and restaurants carved out of the rock overlooking the bay, I wonder just how much one of these new houses would go for, and I shudder to think!
The bus came for us and we got on and a very kind lady gave us her seat. There is no question that this will happen if you have a child with you or are infirm or elderly, someone will get up, that’s just the way it is done. How nice.
As the bus progressed towards Taipa, I couldn’t have been more grateful for that seat as at each stop it got fuller and fuller. The stated passenger capacity is obviously merely a suggestion and by the time we got to our stop I would estimate that there were around 150 people on the bus. And I thought it was crowded in London! After a brief skirmish we managed to get to the door and popped out onto the pavement. Note to self, in the future avoid getting a bus at around 5 pm.
That night was spent mostly on the sofa drinking ice water and coating my throat with curious medicines in attempt to calm the infection, Thankfully by morning it was starting to feel a little less angry, but I was a little tired as we met up with another ‘theatre widow’, Mrs C, who is here at the moment with the intention of going out for coffee, but the weather had other plans for us. As we sat in the dining room it grew darker and darker until the storm broke with a window rattling crash of thunder. For the next hour we were held hostage by a fierce storm rolling around us, and I realised exactly why there is a step up into the apartment from the balcony as, despite there being a drain, the balcony steadily filled with water to the point it was almost coming in. I never imagined you could get flooded on the 16th floor.
The storm abated slightly so we headed out into the complex park with rain mac’s and big smiles. After lunch we wandered into town and did a little light grocery shopping then it was back to the apartment to exchange a brief kiss with hubs before he packed me off for another massage session. I cant begin to explain how 45 minutes can be so utterly good for the body and soul. When I explained to the lovely lady that I had a sore throat, she spent the next 5 minutes tending to it, and although I have no idea if it will help it feel better in the long run, it was certainly doing the trick right then.

I got back to the apartment just in time to see a fireworks display from the balcony, a stunning 20 minutes display that had us all ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ like little kids on bonfire night, and each time we thought it was the big finish came another, more spectacular, selection. There was a fair bit of cloud above Macau and so the effect of the shimmering colours lit up the whole sky for many miles around, although I’m glad the wind wasn’t blowing in our direction as the resulting plume of smoke may have rivaled that of the recent Volcano.

They certainly don’t do things by half here.

A Bientot.

Blue Monday

After the highs come inevitable lows. That would be Monday then.

After a glorious and unexpected 3 days off it was back to normal and Hubs was off to work. Hubs slightly sore throat of the day before had become a full blown nasty and I could feel mine beginning to follow suit. Moo was firmly and rather grumpily rooted in front of the morning cartoons and it made me remember just exactly why we don’t have ‘TV’ in France. Trying to pull her away for breakfast was something of a chore, even the lure of eggy bread did not seem to hold nearly the sway of yet another episode of ‘Ben 10’, (in the last few days she has gone from being totally oblivious of its existence, to becoming it’s biggest fan), and breakfast time was not a happy affair.

I had a lovely chat with Mum and dad on Skype who were still in the land of Sunday night, and tried to show them a bit of scenery on the web cam but my little notebook struggled to cope with both audio and video so we gave up on that idea. Without the video link working properly it seemed a very long way away, and whilst I know they ARE a very long way away, it normally never seems quite that far.

We eventually headed out to visit Taipa’s old town area, which is a pretty Mediterranean style village harking back to the days when Macau was a still Portuguese colony. The small multi-coloured houses surround the town square’s bustling open air cafe, although with Moo proclaiming ‘it smells like dog food’. There was little hope we would be eating there today. When I saw a pair of golden arches, they get everywhere, I was fully expecting small one to insist on lunch, but to my surprise she agreed to visit one of the restaurants instead , I’m fairly certain that may have had something to do with the fact I told her she could get a coke float, and the thought of coke and ice cream together in a glass was much more exciting than a cheeseburger. She wasn’t ever so impressed with her tuna sandwich when it arrived, far too much other stuff on it, but ‘helped’ me with my chicken and noodle miso soup until it was all gone, just as well I’m not to fussy about tuna salad.

We wandered some more and back in ‘new town’ found a beautiful walled garden a series of fish, frog and turtle filled ponds encircling a small stone waterfall.
There were ‘cloisters’ around the edge of the gardens with the obligatory exercise equipment and a multitude of delicate bonsai trees on plinths to admire while you work on your joints.
Of course a there was a playground area and it was fully utilised for the next hour or so.
By this point in the day my throat had become rather sore, and I was getting a little grumpy. There was something not quite right about me today, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was feeling very out of sorts. We got back to the apartment and, as normal,I made some tea for Moo, Hubs was having a couple of drinks after work, as normal.
There’s that word again, normal. Everyone doing normal things and having a normal day, the only thing that was different was that we are living together as a family.
The reason for my ‘odd’ feelings today came sharp into focus.
What other people take for granted as normal family life is something that is now so alien to me that it feels strange. When we are at home in France it’s just me and Moo. When Hubs is here it’s just him. When we are together its always when one of us is on holiday, either from work home or school. Our normal time is everyone else’s vacation time. I have to come on holiday to see my husband. And it feels like it’s been like that for too long.
We knew this was not going to be an easy couple of years, but I didn’t know just how hard it would be. The thought of going ‘home’ and resuming ‘normal’ life again without hubs brought the tears to my eyes. I don’t know what the answer is but something needs to change.
A Bientot.

The weekend

Pleased to report that I have not seen the dawn again yet, however the ‘crash and burn’ effect has gripped us in the last couple of days , with Moo, Hubs and I sleeping happily till 11.30 on Saturday. After a very late breakfast we headed out into the very misty day to see the mermaids.

The mermaids appear daily gliding and floating through a magical underwater panorama 20 meters high and about 50 meters wide. There are 4 or 5 of them taking it in turn to amaze and delight the crowds with their aquatic grace. Moo was enchanted and almost convinced. The stunning display is in fact on a video wall inside the entrance to one of the casino buildings, nothing more than a sideshow to welcome the guests, but spectacular nonetheless. It’s a land of smoke and mirrors.

After Moo had her fill of the display we headed upstairs for a spot of lunch and enjoyed a wonderful ramen dish (noodles and pork with vegetables in miso soup), that was filling and delicious. Then, with lions girded, we made our way to the main event of the day. We approached the queue with much trepidation. It seemed to be taking people an awfully long time to get in and there seemed to be an awful lot of flapping paper. When it was at last our turn, we had to sign a liability form, produce our passports and purchase a pair of socks for the idiot who turned up on a warm day with only summer shoe clad bare feet. Once the price of the socks had been applied to our automated swipe card payment system, and the said socks were applied to the correct feet, it was finally time for our entry to be authorised and we were allowed through ‘passport control’ at Kids City. After all that rigmarole it had better be a darned good soft play area.

Fortunately it is and Moo spent the next two hours running around like a loony, throwing herself down what would be perilous slopes without the copious amounts of foam matting cocooning the children. Hubs and I hid in the cafe for a while listening to the joyous yells coming from around the corner, Moo appeared to breathlessly tell us she had been down the zip line 3 times, but didn’t like it any more because she bashed her face, then zoomed off to the bouncy tent.
When it came time to leave sweetness and light was replaced by tired and grumpy in the flick of a switch. By the time we got to the supermarket ‘the grown-ups’ nerves were beginning to fray. When Moo decided that it was far too smelly in the supermarket that she had to walk around pinching her nose and declaring at every opportunity ‘ it really smells in here’. It had been a bit of a theme for the last couple of days, as the smells here are indeed very different, though at times no less noxious, than rural France and it has been a lot for her to take in. But both mummy and daddy were getting near the ropes end as she paraded around with a look of utter disgust on her normal placid face.
When shopping was over, Mummy and Moo were dispatched in a cab back to the apartment while daddy went for a long massage. I will admit to being a little peeved at this at first, but after a while I realised that we all have a lot of adjusting to do and after such a long time away from the mood swings of a 5 year old and her mummy it must be very hard for Hubs to deal with it all, all at once.

By the time hubs returned we were all in a much more pleasant frame of mind. Moo was dispatched to bed and Hubs and I fell onto the sofa and fell fast asleep in front of the football. It seems quite ridiculous that I have to come all the way to China to be able to watch live premiership games, but it’s just one more of the many odd things about this place.

On Sunday morning I woke before the others and enjoyed a little ‘me time’ on the balcony. Once again the mist was so thick you could barely see to the other side of the bridge, and the tops of the buildings were wreathed in cloud.
Its strange, but of all the weather types fog and mist hold the most fascination for me. There is something unearthly and eerie, yet utterly peaceful. I remember a time when I was younger, out on a family dog walk and the mist suddenly rolled in surrounding us and cutting us off from each other. For just a few moments everything but my own self had gone, there was nothing to cling on to, no direction to be found, the stillness was both wonderful and terrifying. Total dislocation, cut off from everything around you and even though you knew everything was still exactly where is should be there was, for me, the slight fear that when the mists cleared nothing would be the same. Of course when the mist rolled out everything was exactly where it should have been and all was normal, but the feeling of dislocation is something that has always resonated.

Hubs was up next and we had a lie on the sofa waiting for Moo to emerge. It was so nice just sitting together that before we knew it it was 11.30 again and the thought of getting Moo to bed that night hauled me out of my comfy spot to rouse her. A trip to the supermarket was on the cards today, but not the ‘smelly one’. Hubs had been tipped off about a new one so after a little investigation it was found and plundered. Rather bizarrely it is full of ‘western’ goods, mostly from waitrose and mostly cheaper than waitrose, go figure. Hubs was in delight as he cruised the aisles and stocked up for a Sunday roast, and just happened to pick up a block of cheddar and some branston pickle on the way. It amazed me that here, over 6000 miles away from UK shores, the stock of UK goods was much better and much cheaper than I can get in France. Another Oddity of Macau for the list.

The Pizzas we picked up for lunch can also go on the list. Have you ever had a pizza with the cooking instructions involving steaming in a frying-pan? Well I now have, and it was most peculiar I can assure you.
Hubs began the preparations for the evening meal, then we headed out to the apartments playground. There are playgrounds everywhere, each apartment block has it’s own and there are little area dotted all over the island. Judging by the almost pristine condition of the equipment, I don’t think there has been much call for one at this complex, but we will soon put that to rights.

Hubs and Moo headed off back to the apartment and I headed to the sauna for half an hour for a bit more mist. When I returned you could smell the roast as soon as the lift doors opened and it wasn’t too long before we were all full of wonderful food and back on the sofa again. Does it get any better than this?

A bientot.

morning!

‘Mummy, It’s time to get up, It’s breakfast time and I’m REALLY hungry’
My eyes opened a fraction to see Moo looming over me, bright eyed and full of life, I couldn’t see a lot else as our bedroom was dark, but maybe hubs had shut the curtains before we went to sleep. I was a little hazy on the details.
I got up and stumbled through the unfamiliar apartment, and when we reached the living room I realised that the curtains here were fully open, and it was indeed still dark. Hmm. The digital readouts of the apartment clocks were giving me widely varying information confusing my addled brain even further. I ask you, what kind of a house has all the clocks telling different times, that’s just ridiculous…..

I still had no idea of the time and whilst fervently hoping that in this part of the world it stays dark for longer in the morning, I dished up the coco pops, put the kettle on and went in search of some temporal verification. When it turned out that it was indeed the microwave clock that was telling the whole truth all along, rather than be grateful to it for it’s honesty, I sincerely wished it was a red faced liar. By now we had been up for around half an hour and the microwave was cheerily blinking numbers that were far too small for my liking. 03:13, and what does the 0 stand for ? O my gosh it’s early.

The very early morning passed slowly with Moo exercising her artistic talents seated at the large coffee table drawing a vast array of mythical creatures while I tried not to fall asleep on the very comfortable sofa.
The apartment is quite honestly amazing. It is extremely large and very tastefully furnished. We are blessed with 2 large bedrooms both en-suite and a study/guest room and another bathroom for the guest. There is a large living room area with the aforementioned comfortable sofa and coffee table, and a large dining area. There is a separate cloakroom in the entrance hall that is bigger than the living area of the flat that hubs and I started out in in London. The kitchen is terribly modern, spacious and very well appointed. There is even a laundry room and a bathroom for the maid (not that we have one, but just in case you did the clearly she would need her own shower room). Oh how the other half live. I shall very much enjoy being a guest and I’m almost sad that hubs’ contract will ever come to an end. I could get used to this, but I don’t think our bank manager would like us to get too comfortable, thankfully the company are picking up the accommodation tab. Hubs did have a house mate up until last week, but he has been shunted to another apartment for the duration of our stay by the very thoughtful man who organises staff accommodation.
It’s all terribly nice, but my favourite spot is out on the balcony. When you step out and look to the right you see before you the exotic and exciting looking casino’s of Macau Island lighting up the night sky with their stunning neon displays well into the small hours of the morning, but the view straight ahead is in stark contrast. You see straight ahead, about 500m across the muddy river is mainland China. Not a hint of neon to be seen, just lush green grass along the stony shores all the way to the hillside quarry. It’s quite a bizarre sight to see the two views side by side, so close together separated only by a river, yet so very very far apart in so many ways. I was wondering out loud what all the little round white buildings were on the China side of the river, and hubs rather chillingly informed me they were gun turrets. One would guess that is quite a strong deterrent for those who may have been thinking of illegally emigrating across the river.

That morning however the balcony was no place to be as at some point between going to bed and getting up the sultry night heat had given way to a bitingly cold wind and showers of rain. Just as well the plan for the day is mostly sleeping. Moo finally hit the wall around 1 pm and we crashed for a few hours before going off to meet hubs after work for tea.
Strolling through the casino and hotel complexes was adding another layer of surreality to my day. Waterfalls cascading down the front of buildings and the dazzle and glitz of a billion light bulbs assaulting the senses, then we were strolling past gondoliers punting their way round the interior of the Venetian hotel. It wasn’t just Moo open mouthed in wonder.
By the time we got back to the apartment I was fit to drop, but Moo was still running on all engines, I snuggled up with hubs on the sofa and it wasn’t long before I was snoring in his ear. We got Moo off to bed and very soon followed looking forward to a long nights slumber.

‘Mummy, It’s time to get up, It’s breakfast time and I’m REALLY hungry’. I peeled back my eyelids and tried to adjust my eyes to the light, but then I realised that there wasn’t any. Here we go again. 2.30am on the dot. This time we did not proceed to the kitchen, but I steered Moo to her bedroom and attempted to convince her it was still bed-time, but she wasn’t having any of it. I gave in at 5am and led her to the coco pops and colouring pens. By around 9 I was beginning to flag and was just about to try and get her (and me) to take a nap, when the weekly cleaners arrived to do the floors and by the time they had gone the moment had passed and she was no longer willing. Hubs has been given an extra day off by his lovely boss so we could have a bit of family time, so we all pottered about getting slowly ready to hit the town. Today was a treat day for me as I was off on my own to see a lady about a massage. I headed of alone in the cab and a few short minutes later was face down with an tiny Indonesian genius crawling all over me battering me with her fists and digging her knees into my shoulder blades. 45 minutes of sheer utter bliss. When my time was up I was almost unable to get up, but found that when I did I was around 2 inches taller. When I left Moo and Hubs had arrived having walked in to town to meet me, then it was Hubs’ turn on the table and Moo and I loitered in the area until he practically dribbled through the door.

A quick stop for a bacon sandwich and we were off again for a stroll through old Taipa town, which looks more like a Mediterranean fishing village than the centre of a Chinese casino town. The Portuguese colonial roots of the island are more than evident and the whole area has a very western European feel as well as look to it. Until you walk round the corner of the Red Army barracks and see the soldiers standing guard with machine guns at the ready, just in case anyone forgets that although Macau is not really governed by China, it is still very much under it’s control.
Time for a quick pop into the Venetian for Moo to see the changing colour of the faux evening sky and watch the lights come on behind the façade of shutters lining the phoney passageways and to wave at the singing gondoliers ferrying their passengers around the fake canals. It was at this point I shared with hubs that this was the 4th ‘Venice’ we had been to together. One of them was even real.
By this time, Moo was fading fast and we decided to head for home. Moo had been kept up all day in order to try and kick this jet-lag into touch and hopefully get a good nights sleep for us all, and with the effects of not much sleep and the most amazingly relaxing massage, I wasn’t faring much better myself. A quick tea, finished, a quick film, almost done, and it will be time to hit the sack (although hubs is already one step ahead on that front napping next to me on the sofa as I type). I’m very much hoping that as pretty as it is, I don’t witness the dawn first hand, but I’ll let you know how that goes.

A Bientot.

Toothache, heart-break and warm welcomes

On Tuesday I wandered into town to pick up a few last bits and pieces and somehow found myself in the Disney store purchasing a brand new shiny pink princess bag that was ‘just exactly the right thing’ for Moo to take on the plane, apparently. I’m sure that wasn’t on my list.
I decided to pop in to my old place of work while I was in the vicinity and was not surprised to see that it was was busy, it was nearly lunchtime after all. It was good to see a couple of familiar faces behind the till and catch up with all the things that had not changed since I left. I was a little surprised when one of the customers I used to help came up and gave me a big hug and asked me how I was getting on in France. For some reason I did not expect her to have any recollection of me and certainly not my family circumstances, but she even remembered Moo’s name. We had a long chat about life in general and as I left she took my hand and told me that she would never forget how kind I had been to her when I worked at the shop and how much she missed seeing me in there. I never thought of chatting to her when she came in as particularly kind, I was just doing my job and being polite. It just goes to show you how many echoes your actions have, and how such small gestures can make such a lasting impression.

In the afternoon we went to the cinema, I thought it would be a nice treat for Moo to take her first love to a film. ‘I’ll get some sweets for them to share’ Thought I, ‘that will be nice’. A big selection bag was duly purchased and Moo, in the interests of quality control, had to try them out. She picked a big yellow chewy thing, bit into the end and screamed. It was not exactly the reaction I was expecting, and on further inspection, the ‘chewy’ sweet appeared to be fashioned from a substance akin to concrete. The adverse effect this had on her teeth was soon apparent as a previously un wobbly tooth had barged it’s way to the front of the tooth fairy line. It took about half an hour to calm her down, but it was the thought of missing her cinema trip that helped stem the tears. The offending bag of sweets had been consigned to be distributed amongst the staff on JJ’s office, but I would urge caution regarding the yellow chews.

Fantastic mister fox came and went as did the box of emergency ‘not so hurty’ smarties hastily purchased en-route. Thanks are due once more to JJ for sorting out the tickets.
When it came time to leave, Moo was adamant that she had to give first love a big hug, although, being nearly 7, he was just as determined this was not going to happen in public. After a frantic chase around she managed to rugby tackle him to the ground and a big hug was had. That’s my girl.
We said our goodbyes and for the next 2 hours Moo was inconsolable. The tears began almost as soon as he was out of sight, and despite the reassurances that we would see him again soon, they continued for the whole way home and lasted through bath time and hair wash. It was only when I told her it was time to get out of the bath and have tea that she stopped weeping about her friend, but only because she was now crying bout having to get out of the bath. I was really hoping this wasn’t going to last or it could make our imminent very long journey much, much longer.
Thankfully the tears dried in time for a quick tea while I had a shower and made sure all our bags were packed into the car, and then it was time for a slow roadwork strewn drive to Heathrow.
Check-in went relatively smoothly after a little weight juggling between bags, and it was time for a coffee and to say another goodbye. I can’t thank JJ enough for all the driving and housing assistance, it would have been an awful lot more difficult without her. I would also like to thank her for her cheery goodbye, I know she didn’t really feel like waving us off with a smile, but I’m so grateful for her thoughtfulness.

So it was off through security then the long walk to departures. Molly kept asking if we were still in England, and the length of time it took us to get to the gate, I’m not really sure that we were. Moo was thrilled to bits with her backpack full of goodies, and whilst I appreciated the toys and book and watch she got, and the flight socks toothbrush toothpaste combo wash bags we were given, I was wondering just how much more luggage we would end up with before we got on board.
With boarding, stowing of the many bags and Moo into pyjamas all accomplished it was finally time for take off. We watched London recede before our eyes and about 30 seconds after we broke through the clouds Moo was sound asleep. I had a very nice meal, availed myself of the complementary bar and joined her in the land of nod.

I managed about 5 hours sleep in all which is not too bad, and had two uninterrupted movies before Moo woke, just in time for breakfast, although by now the local time was was around 2pm, sausage and eggs were much appreciated. I have been truly blessed with a daughter who takes travelling in her stride and she plugged herself into an in-flight movie for the rest of the journey.
She was a little annoyed when I disturbed her to get her clothes on, but thankfully there was time enough for the end of the film before we landed. We began our descent through vast amounts of cotton fluff clouds and I wondered just how much lower we could get when all of a sudden we saw the sea right below us. By the time we broke cloud we were close enough to see the faces of the fishermen and despite Moo’s small concern the we were about to land on the water, the airport island suddenly appeared and we touched down thankfully, although only just, on dry land.
We got off the plane and made our way to the ferry terminal and, as our flight had landed early, when we checked in we had been bumped to the earlier sailing. By the power of free WI – FI and social networking I managed to let hubs know we were going to be early, and we were transported by the ‘magic’ driver-less train to the waiting ferry. We left behind the bright lights of Hong Kong international airport and headed out to the, by this time, very dark sea. Moo’s initial excitement soon turned to drowsy napping when she realised it would be a little more than the 5 minutes she thought it would take to cross to the water. In around 40 minutes the darkness was replaced by a dull brightness in the sky, which soon grew to a huge neon glow as we approached the shore. We watched in open mouthed wonder as we passed the technicolour flashing neon wonder that greets you, colours and shapes scaling and cascading over the vast casino buildings, each more spectacular than the last.
We were still open mouthed as we disembarked into the heat of the night and desperately hoped that our case had make as smooth a transition to the earlier sailing as we had. After passing through Immigration we were greeted with our successfully transferred luggage and a digital display that welcomed us warmly to Macau and informed us that it was just after 8pm, the temperature was a balmy 19 degrees and the humidity was at a, quite literally, breathtaking 94%. A warm welcome indeed. But the welcome I really wanted was waiting just around the corner and all thoughts of heat and heavy bags disappeared as we both ran into the arms of my beautiful Hubby.

A Bientot.