Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the self-imposed macau marathon

a few weeks ago, i went to macau for the first time. i didn't really know what to expect, but by some stroke of perfect timing, the macau badminton open was ongoing and i was able to watch the semis. it was interesting, to say the least. i mean: try clapping for the danes when you are surrounded by a very vocal crowd cheering for the chinese team. just try and see if that doesn't scare you in the very least. i never got past one half-hearted clap disguised as a mistake ("no! what am i doing? clapping for the white guys? nevah!!! go china!").

oh but this isn't about the tournament.

this is about a nightmare that came true.

honestly, this was one of my worst fears coming to life. (a giant starfish did not walk up to me in the streets of macau. just to get that out of the way.) (and now the visual is in my head. AAAACCCCKKKK.)

my ferry back to hong kong was due to leave at 6 pm so i decided to be "smart" and give myself a lot of time to "find a cab." i started hunting for a taxi at "5 pm." the terminal was just 10 minutes "by car" so you could see that "in theory", it was really enough "time." no, i am not "bitter" and "traumatized."

at around 5:10 pm, the sinking feeling was starting to materialize in the pit of my then-acidic stomach. ALL THE CABS WERE FULL. and there were no taxi stands. even the hotels were useless. they couldn't hail any empty cabs as well.

again, i thought i would be "smart" (ok, i'll stop it with the needless quotes, i promise) and started walking towards what in my mind's map was the ferry terminal. after all, maybe everyone was looking for cabs in the wrong place. ha ha. ha ha haaaaa.

by around 5:30 pm, with my big overnight bag slung over my tired shoulder, i was semi-panicking. in my mind, plan B was to just walk all the way to the terminal. as unappetizing as that was, it was really the only option, as i was dying to go back to my hong kong apartment. so anyway, i entered a store and hurriedly asked the store owner, "doyouspeakenglish?"

"yes?"

"can you tell me how to get to the ferry terminal? can i walk from here?" (like if he said "no", i would've done anything else)

"yes, just go straight down this road until you get to the water."

in my mind, i rejoiced upon hearing this – the water! yey! a ferry would need water! yey!

after thanking him profusely, i started walking in the direction he told me to walk. after 5 minutes, i realized it was going uphill (dagnabit, not another hill!) which was not exactly where a body of water should be, unless you were aiming for niagara or something.

i went back, all the while cursing myself for being so stupid (for not knowing it was impossible to get a cab at 5 pm on a saturday?). i found another english-speaking macau resident and begged for a clearer set of directions.

i finally found the road that went down to the water. and at approximately 5:45 pm (when i was supposed to be BOARDING), i found it. the river.

"yahooooooooooooooooooooo. i'm here! ... NOW WHAT???"

in my dismay, i saw that the terminal was still a long way off. farther when i took off my glasses. positive orange was saying, "at least you could see it already!" i have since then bound and gagged her. i contemplated swimming to hong kong, but i didn't want to wet my socks. oh and also, there's the issue of the giant starfish ...

so i kept half-running, half-jogging towards the goal. midway, i stopped to ask a couple, "can i get to THAT building if i keep going THIS way?"

"yes," said the man who clearly did not speak any other english words.

and at 5:50 pm, still on that pathway by the water, i met ... A ROADBLOCK. the path was closed off because of some construction thing going on. so much for "yes."

needless to say, i had to find another way towards the terminal. and of course, OF COURSE, that other way involved flights (plural, take note) of stairs. S.T.A.I.R.S.

i desperately want to describe my relief that i decided to wear trek shoes, and my deep regret for wearing full-length jeans, but there are no words. no unprofane words, at least.

by some miracle, i got to the terminal just a few minutes before 6 pm and felt like i was trapped in the second-to-the-last scene of some poorly written romantic comedy. i found myself running through the halls, asking anyone who looked remotely like a ferry-related person, "HAS IT LEFT YET? HAS IT LEFT YET?"

the ferry was still there when i got to the gate.

in my paranoia, i struck up a conversation with a 50-ish white guy (not my lead in the poorly written romantic comedy, fyi) who was also in line for the ferry, "is this going to hong kong?"

"yes," he said (and i'm sure this wasn't his only english word), "you ran a bit, eh?" i realized with horror that he was pointing to the profuse sweat on my neck.

but did i care? NO (*profane word*) WAY. i mustered a weary smile while i tried to catch my breath. maybe i was crying and didn't know it. there was already too much salty fluid running down my face for me to notice.

(p.s. i will gratefully accept delayed-sympathy hugs when i get back home in a few days. call me.)

1 comment:

iceman said...

ayan....pwede na tayo pumunta sa Kota Kinabalu! :D