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All Alone in Macau
Tabytha Towe

How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home, like a complete unknown....
-The Rolling Stones (sure hit the spot, ouch.)

Yesterday was the first lonely day I had experienced over the last few months since I've passed by a few countries flying solo. Despite being on my own then it was different in Europe. Hong Kong is very Westernised and people speak/read English ( British ruling untill 1996) but it doesn't mean you really meet them, or for that matter have a desire to, unless you go to a bar, in which, that's where I've met all of whom I know here. Instant new friends for an hour or two.
I'm usually trying to avoid eye contact from the guy who will leave his seat across the room and pull up the barstool beside me when there are six available and willing stools around, tools, fools. Or I simply want to be alone and have a decent drink with my book, though a bar scene isn't really appropriate. This city has a livley vibe I have just discovered, people dancing till 5am on a Monday night.
Yesterday I went to Macau, a former Portugese Colony island an hour away by a nauseatingly rocky turbo-jet ferry. Bizzare to see things written in Portuchinese, like signs saying 'rue de la ian hon'.

Macau is so seperate from Hong Kong. It's hard to describe in fact. I didn't really know what to do there because it was two whole worlds apart from each other. The infamous gambling area which every building is a hotel or a flashy, elaborate casino, fucking gigantic these places! Vegas-esque appeal. The shopping again, no doubt enticing and of course phenomenal. However I have lasted this long without entering a single store so why would I bother now? So for someone penniless who doesn't work the slots (I could have a clever comment here!) who cannot shop or dine in this wonderous and jaded place such as Macau, what else was there for me to do really?

Go to the other part of town, dive into the dive you could say, see how locals live. I did and that's probably why I felt lonely, I was a complete anomally being the only non-resident walking around, careful not to get hit by a scooter or pick-pocketed. It's a shame that I had pre-judged the locals already being there only 10 minutes, for I felt vulnerable. They are lovely people going about their day doing their own thing, but I felt like the only Westerner there that wasn't in a casino or Gucci shop, so I got a few glares, glances really, and I'm half Chinese for crying out loud! No one, needless to say, attempted at hijacking my bag and no crazy driver aimed for my ass, though came close cause they whip by terribly fast without warning. So I realized that my paranoia of being out of my comfort zone agitates the mind. I was in a new surrounding and it was cool, so chill the fuck out lady! Then my frantic pacing and losing my direction was all good, I had nowhere to be, so what was I looking for anyhow. It was annoying however that it was entirely barricaded by high rises. I could not see the sky unless you looked up directly vertical. You can get a stiff neck very easily. You walk, you lose, you find, repeat. An in-depth perceptive on daily life of where you are though.
Ever fourth business there is a mechanical shop it seems. I thought France and Sapin had a lot of scooters, but shite in comparison. That's why I guess I thought I was being chased by one of them on every block. There was no escaping. Just dodging.

I wouldn't recommend visiting this place to anyone who's... well a princess. I tried not to be when I had to go the washroom and it was a hole in the floor, which was fine, I need to do leg squats some time, but I had nowhere to put my bag, (not on that filthy piss infested tile.) I saw a mother carry her daughter around a bunch of parked scooters and pulled her pants down to pee through the gutter. Ingenious, a five-year-old doesn't care about class, just relieving her bladder. I am not one to judge when I am a city girl and never had to do that. The restaurants and grocery stores are another story. A 10 foot by 20 foot shop resting in an alley selling expired juices and unripe bannanas. How do they survive or pay their rent with bad fruit?

Eating out consists of street vendours or again tiny store fronts on the road side with unrecogniseable animal products. It doesn't appear to be the most hygenic, and all have that buzzing, yellow tinge, like a when someone is about to get his ear cut off in a horror. The lighting makes the place seem dirtier.

I understand that I have a lot of adapting to do before I ever go to India, or wherever else in Asia I may end up. I won't be having two showers a day in Thailand that's for sure. Rather than pussy footing around a new environment I should really engage with the experience, maybe not eat pork from off the counter right outside a bus stop, but try to embrace it. That's why I'm here, to learn, to observe, to see different landmarks, mountains, parks, streets, people, explore new cultures. Don't take it for granted and never let yourself get freaked out by something you are not used to, you don't have to get used to it yourself afterall.
So move on.
I admit I appreciated Macau much more after I left. I was happy to get stamped back into Hong Kong which now seemed like home after my surreal venture to that island. I felt torn because it was just one extreme to the other, not a shock, not an anxious sensation, just a blank feeling. It wasn't a bad place, maybe I just went with a bad attitude or a different expectation. All I wanted when I finaly got off the ferry at 11pm was a goddamed drink then I could shake this wary gut and sleep it off. I don't know why, but I was absolutely frustrated, at everything.

Walked into a noisy pub to discover it's actually a dance club filled with fat white, business men hoping to pick up tiny, young Asian women, who apparently fall for it more than think, money has it's face value and I mean that literally. I got pissed off at my theatre of repulsion, so I left and was ready to head to bed when, in an angered stomp, I heard some music around the block. All of a sudden my tension released and I smiled sincerly for the first time all day. The bar was empty, but the guys were rocking, and what a fantastic pair, a middle aged, big Kiwi and a skinny, gawky emo Phlip. Music is a universal language we all understand, and that totally made my whole day worth it.
When I heard The Stones cover I truly listened to the lyrics for the first time. I am aware of things I do in my daily life that I do take for granted, like peeing on a clean toilet seat. I had an ever clear moment of being content with where I was and how it was. My epiphany was just this: to be on your own, it's a brilliant thing, it's not flawless, but it is boundless. I have the next 356 days of complete freedom and this is a journey I wanted. Not just aorund parts of the world, but exploring myself. I never would have thought that Stones lyrics would ever make me come to inner peace, maybe it was the scotch, or maybe I'm just growing already, having to adapt to a new way of life. It's only the start of this trip but being here in a foreign place alone is hard to accept, but then you wake up and dream all the while. Can't wait for my next stop, next step!
Take care and maybe go out and buy yourself a drink somewhere you wouldn't usually go.
You'll see what I mean.

© Tabytha Towe Feb 1st 2008
Tab is a mixologist in Vancouver BC

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