Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hong Kong Day 9-11: From peak to trough

I was supposed to go on a three day, two night trip to Macau with my parents, my buddy Lam, my aunt and uncle, and a couple of business partners they were bringing along.  All I knew was that my uncle was taking care of everything, and that he had scheduled us to stay at a 5-star hotel.

My first inkling that this was not going to be a regular trip was when we set foot on the ferry for the hour trip to Macau...and were promptly directed to the first class deck.  I had no idea this was part of the plan.  On the Macau ferry, first class is in the upper deck while everyone else is on the main deck.  But since first class has the luxury of leaving the ferry first upon arrival, the commoners regular people non-ballers economy class must stay behind a rope and watch with envy as those first class jerks descended from their first class throne.  Well, I was one of those first class jerks descending from my first class throne.  I rather enjoyed it.

My second inkling that this was not going to be a regular trip was when I was walking from the ferry towards immigration, and was told we should hurry because our cars were waiting for us.  I did not understand why the term "cars" was used instead of shuttle bus since I had been told that there were shuttles going everywhere in Macau and I would rarely, if ever, need a taxi.

Something must have been lost in translation and "cars" is probably just an abbreviation for any transportation, and we want to hurry to avoid having to cram into a loaded shuttle with a bunch of those common folk economy class passengers, I thought to myself.

I passed through immigration and discovered, no, my uncle definitely meant cars.  And by cars, I mean City of Dreams had sent two of their drivers to pick us up in their BMWs.  I had no idea this was part of the plan.

My third inkling that this was not going to be a regular trip was when I arrived at the Crown Towers.  There was the five star hotel I stayed at while in China...and then there was this, which completely blew that hotel out of the water, both figuratively and literally.  Never have I experienced luxury like this.  I had no idea this was part of the plan.

My fourth inkling that this was not going to be a regular trip was when I opened the door to our room.  I can tell you with certainty that we were staying in the Deluxe Room...because the bathroom looked exactly like this.  A few days later, my mom was wondering how much the room had cost and asked the front desk.  The answer was not what I expected: "You cannot book these special rooms.  These are reserved for our VIPs only."  I had no idea this was part of the plan.

My uncle was apparently a VIP at the hotel, and this led to my fifth inkling that this was not going to be a regular trip.  I was told that we could go to the special lounge on the top floor at our hotel for free breakfast and late snacks.  You literally could not visit the top floor unless you were a VIP member and cardholder or were visiting with the cardholder.  Good thing I'm staying with the cardholder then, now isn't it?  I had no idea this was part of the plan.
Having taken care of our ridiculous accommodations, it was now time to do some sightseeing and photos.  First up, our hotel at night.
The Crown Towers, Hard Rock, and Grand Hyatt are part of The City of Dreams.

Across the street is the Venetian.
There's a small golf course on top of the non-hotel part of the Venetian.  Seriously.

A quick shot of the Wynn taken later.
If you look closely, you can see the MGM in the background on the right.
Enough with the silly pictures.  It was time to get down to business.  And by business, I meant we were on the hunt for a poker table in Macau.  Easier said than done, however.  Only the Venetian had a Texas Hold 'Em poker area (baccarat is the game of choice here), and that's where we played.  Two main takeaways from my night of poker:

  1. It is easy to play poker with the nuts.
  2. It is easy to play poker with tourists who don't really know what they're doing (it was a Saturday night).
Even though I bought in with 1500 HKD and was playing at a 10/25 table, I walked away early Sunday morning with 3000 in winnings.

The next day, I went for a quick breakfast on the exclusive top floor, followed by a trip to the Macau Jockey Club for a day of regular horse racing.

Or so I thought.

I thought it was strange that my uncle said he was coming with us, but would only stay for a bit.  Why come if he wasn't going to stay long?  Well, whatever it was, it couldn't possibly top the hotel he just put us up in, right?

He was coming to escort us here.
I'm an honorary racing steward!

My uncle was putting us in a box with horse owners, catering, and a not too shabby view of the racecourse.
I suppose this will have to do.

Oh, did you want a view of the hotels too?
That would be the Venetian in the background.
Having taken care of us, my uncle departed so we could get our gamble on.  And by get my gamble on, I mean I made 10 HKD (approximately $1.50 Canadian) bets on races.

After a couple of near misses, I finally hit in Race 4 on #11 for a return of $99.  Since I was averaging one 10 HKD bet per race, and there were only eight races on the card, this meant I would be walking away with a bit of money in my pocket even if I lost every race afterwards.

Taking a look at the program for Race 6 and making an attempt to handicap how the race would unfold, I liked how things would likely break for #9, so I made my usual bet.  For some reason, not a lot of the betting public seemed to have the same opinion as me about good 'ol #9.
This means I bet 10 HKD on Race 6 for #9 to win.

The race starts...and well, there's no point in having me narrate the race when the video is available online (just be on the lookout for Turquoise Profit with the jockey in a teal shirt).

If anyone was looking towards the Honorary Racing Stewards' Box during that those one minute and nine seconds, they would have seen me become progressively more and more excited until I was losing my mind down the stretch with the horses racing towards the finish line.

Why?  Well, because I had taken a look at the odds right before the race, and knew that if my horse won, it would lead to this.

Turquoise Profit indeed.

There's no way this day could get any better, right?

Well, turns out there's an owner in our box with a horse running in Race 8.  He tells us he's going down to the paddock area to take a look at his horse and have a chat with his trainer and jockey before he saddles up.  Would we be interested in possibly stepping in some horse crap going with him?

This trip is absurd enough as it is.  Why not go hang out with some horses?
If you look closely, you can see #5 galloping right by the finish line.   That was the owner's horse.
Where the winner's photo is taken after each race.

Sadly, the owner's horse didn't win even though he received a Chantastic visit prior to the race.  This was sad on two levels:
  1. Since I had visited with him, I threw down my usual $10 on him to win, and his final odds were 45 to 1.
  2. If he had won, I would have been allowed to take part in the winner's photo.
That night, I went back to the Venetian to play poker.  Unfortunately, it was now Sunday night instead of Saturday, and thus all of the easy tourist money had left.  A few hours of play and a loss of 400 HKD later, it was time to go home.

The next day, we checked out of our room but left our luggage at the hotel to do some sightseeing.  As we left the hotel, I couldn't help but wonder if this was the peak of my existence: first class travel, exclusive five star deluxe room, VIP treatment at the hotel, winning a few bucks playing poker, sitting in an owner's box and walking inside the paddock with a horse owner, and hitting on a 77 to 1 longshot.  Does it really get any better than that?

We spent the day walking through the tourist parts of Macau, from the Ruins of St. Paul's to Hac Sa Beach, which literally translates to Black Sand Beach.  It was there that I needed to use the restroom, so I found the park washroom and walked inside.  Even I could appreciate the stark contrast.

I had gone from 5 star treatment to peeing into a trough.

Upcoming for Day 13 (Day 12 featured some shopping and nothing else of note): lunch with more distant relatives, followed by another round of horse racing at night.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Try to be Chantastic by leaving a comment!