I decided to include Sunday as a travel day, because we left about 8 PM on a bus for Zhuhai. We were worried about getting through immigration lines at Macau in time to be at the airport by noon, so we decided to sleep in Zhuhai the night before. Zhuhai is the town that adjoins Macau. To get to Macau from Zhuhai, you walk across a footbridge. Except if I didn’t know it was a bridge, I wouldn’t be able to tell. It seems like a big square to me, typically Chinese with lots of wide open space and concrete.
It was a breeze going through China exit procedures, but then the building where Macau Immigration is located was full of people. Each line (of about 20 lines) had backed up as far as the back of the building and then snaked along the back wall. It was hard to tell what was a line and what wasn’t. In fact, the first time we tried to wait in line, we got the shortest line only to discover that it wasn’t a line at all but a group of confused Chinese people (or perhaps they were hoping that they could take cuts). So, we went to the back of what then seemed to be the shortest line. Some man said something to me in Chinese, but he didn’t speak English and I couldn’t understand what he was saying.
After fifteen minutes our line hadn’t moved a bit. I began to get concerned about whether we could catch our flight, at this pace. I wondered if there would ever be any accomodations made for people who are about to miss their flight. Most of the people in front of us were carrying fresh vegetables in their bags, as if they had gone to China to shop for their morning groceries. I couldn’t imagine going through immigration to shop for my morning groceries, but I also thought they probably didn’t have the same time constraints I did, either.
After awhile, we noticed that lines 1 – 10, which had the most people in the beginning, had shortened considerably in the time we had been waiting. Those lines were moving, and ours wasn’t. It was Clarissa this time who suggested that we move. I agreed, and we did. Good decision. The new line moved right along, and it only took us half an hour to get through Macau Immigration. Here is a photo:
After we got through Immigration, then it was a quick cab ride to the airport. But I only had 14 Patakas, the currency of Macau, and didn’t want to take time to go to the ATM to get cash. I asked the cab driver if he would take Hong Kong Dollars, and he agreed. He spoke really good Mandarin, so good that I asked him what part of China he was from. He laughed and said that he was from Macau. He was really friendly; I think he liked it that we spoke Chinese. When we arrived at the airport, he got out of his cab and lifted my suitcase out of the trunk for me and set it on the sidewalk, wheels upwards. I gave him 40 Hong Kong Dollars for the 38 Pataka fare; he kept the change. "Stupid Americans," I guess he was thinking. But I was at the airport in time to catch my plane, and I was happy enough.
Then all we had to do was ride on the plane, eat a snack on the plane, study on the plane, and then go through Immigration etc at Bangkok. Here is that part of the day:
You know you’re in Bangkok when the ultramodern, brand new airport has Guardians at the entrance to Immigration, and the hotel has to post a sign at the desk saying that Durian is not allowed.
You also know you’re in Thailand when the people are friendly, some of them speak English, you can ask a waitress for suggestions about what to order on the menu, everyone loves the king, and you order a lemonade and it’s made just right with lemon, sugar, and salt!
But today was special for a different reason than traveling. I told Munchkin she was lucky to have been born on Chinese New Year in the year of the Dragon. Her birthday always falls during Chinese New Year, and today was the big day.
We asked the hotel to recommend a restaurant where we might celebrate a birthday, and they recommended a famous restaurant set in a traditional Thai longhouse setting. It was a long drive, and it did have an interesting atmosphere. It was upstairs, outdoors, and there was an aroma something like aerosol bug spray. There was a big screen TV which interspersed film footage of the King and Queen doing charitable works with a wrestling match in which some guy resempling the Hulk mamed and mutilated his opponents. I decided just not to look in that direction, which was to my left
Worse than this, the food was a disappointment, and there was nothing on the menu that Munchkin could eat. We ordered Thai Chicken Wings which are deep fried and she loves them but she said these were spicy. I couldn’t tell, because the Green Curry was so spicy my mouth was burning already. I confess, however, I did learn to enjoy the Mango and Prawn salad even though the "prawns" were in fact whole tiny freshwater shrimp that had been deep fried with shredded shrimp paste.
The Hotel had told us there was a Dairy Queen nearby where we could get an Ice Cream Cake, but we couldn’t find it. Munchkin found a McDonalds instead, and ate a Happy Meal, then we all had an ice cream. On the walk back to the Hotel, we found the Dairy Queen. Drat! Well, maybe there will be a better birthday celebration when we are settled somewhere in the next few days. I told Munchkin she was going to have to have a birth-week celebration instead of a birth-day celebration. Perhaps we’ll do something every day!