Wandering Goat

Travel stuff by Miguel A. Villarreal

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Location: New York, NY

Monday, July 18, 2005

Macau Boy

Macau Special Adminstrative Region

Yesterday I got off the mainland finally flying out of Kunming and jetfoiled it over to Macau. Kunming (the "eternal spring" city, capital of Yunnan province) sits at the southeastern corner of the himalayas, so it's in the mountains yet is also the crossroads into SE Asia (Laos, Burma, Vietnam, etc)so it's got a lot going for it. Kunming was thought of as a backwater hellhole where the communists would exile nationalists in the old days and as I said before was the end of not only the Burma Road but also the end of the famous Hump Airlift. The only problem was that people liked it and didn't want to go back. So now instead of a dirty backwater it's a popular vacation spot for domestic tourists and backpackers alike due to climate (70's in the summer) and location, and sports a Mazerati dealership on the Renmin Road. Hell, my own accomodations, which were mid range when my guidebook was written 2 years ago, were 5 star by the time I pulled up on Friday. (Chinese 5 star means only a little bit of water damage on the floor - although that is nit picky, it was excellent for the mainland).

Like Chengdu, Kunming is a laid back place but with better weather. Also a thriving nightlife scene featuring a maze of bars and carousing. Early on my last evening there I ended up dining, by random circumstance, with my new friends Karl and Zhang (incidentally, I plan on introducing a line of mens thongs in China under the label of Karl Zhang one day, they'll be so gay they're practically straight). Karl was a large teuton who ate most of my noodles by accident. Zhang was a museum tour guide. Unfortunately, Zhang was setting us up for the oldest trick in the book by offering to show us his museum later that evening, and one that I was vigilant against a few weeks ago but had forgotten about. Zhang's museum was of course not so much of a museum as a giant gift shop - which only makes it about 10% different from many actual tourist sites.

I politely extricated myself from that situation, abandoning Karl to his fate, and headed for the main Kunming party area, which is basically a maze of bars & clubs where young Yunnanese drink to excess. As a lone gaijin, I had no trouble approaching and befriending groups of locals - generally a line like "Hello" or "So, you're Chinese, huh?" worked quite well. A moment of glory was attained when one of my new friends pronounced that I was like "Tom Calooze". Of course this accolade was conferred by a 28 year old male office manager, so I decided to keep my Dianetics in the bag at that point.

Then it was on to Macau the next morning, where I am now. It's basically hot as hell, loaded with Portugese buildings and Portugese language signs (which must be by some legislative ordinance), and filled entirely with Cantonese. I haven't met one Portuguesa speaker yet and I've been dining at portugese restaurants and asking around as it's an excuse to eat Western without feeling like a hayseed. Anyway, this has its benefits, as it has allowed me to claim to them all that I am the son of a Brazilian diplomat, and so I then insist on ordering in Portugese. Of course, I speak no portugese and can only read it simply because I can read Spanish without much trouble. So when I pretend to speak it, I use Spanish and just put in a bunch of "owww" sounds where the "o" would be in spanish and use a lot of "shhh" instead of s's. This has worked fairly well thus far.


Anonymous Tio Cristobal said...

Hola Miguel Tio Cristobal Aqui!

Sounds like the journey of a lifetime is moving along nicely.. i just got off the bike here on marthas vineyard after driving six mile into a 25 mile and hour headwind....pales in comparison to your mountain jaunts, but your stories kept me moving..I looked like a bad version of the wicked witch in The Wizard of OZ pedaling through the tornado.....lance armstrong need not worry about me breaking his record......hope you continue to have a great time..tray and the girls send their love....adios amigo....

1:34 AM  

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