Friday, September 6, 2013

8/20/13-9/5/13: Macau

And so our time in Asia draws to an end with our final stop of the 2013 Asian Summer Tour - Macau.

If you've never been to Macau - think of it as a very spread out Las Vegas.  There are tons of incredibly grand, ornate and fairly gaudy Casino Hotels spread out over both of Macau's island areas - but to be fair, they are not nearly as 'touristy' or gaudy as the ones in Las Vegas.  The rest of Macau is a mix between Portuguese and Chinese cultures - and you can find many little restaurants and shops throughout the area.  But the main thing to do in Macau (besides see us) is gambling.

Not being much of a gambler myself, I decided to spend my first golden day while in Hong Kong!  Hong Kong and Macau are very close to each other - just one 45 minute ferry ride separates the two.  In fact, on the tourist sites for both countries - they list tours and attractions for the other - so they are kind of synonymous.  My fellow cast-mate, Aaron and I took the ferry over to Hong Kong and made our way to Lantau Island - which is home to the world famous, Tian Tan Buddha (the Big Buddha) - the worlds largest outdoor seated Buddha figure (112 ft tall).  To get there, you have to ride on a cable car system the takes you OVER three different MOUNTAINS.  It was incredibly exhilarating and absolutely terrifying to be so high and basically held up by a wire.  But the view was comparable to nothing else - even on a misty/foggy day like we had. Before we headed up to the Buddha, we took a tour of a small fishing village located nearby the site.  It was pretty cool to see how they live - which is very, very simply.  Apparently the village is thriving and supplies Hong Kong with 90% of the dried fish products that they use - and Chinese cooking uses ALOT of dried fish. Next we hiked up to the top of the hill where the Buddha sits.  There were alot of stairs and it was hotter than Hades BUT it was worth it to see the Buddha up close and see the view of the village sitting  below it.  It is one of the top 10 Buddha figures to see/pilgrimage to in the world (and one of the top 5 in China) - so I highly recommend a day out there if you are in Hong Kong.

Back in Macau itself, I did take a day to walk around and see some of the hotels - the MGM Grand, The Oriental Mandarin, the Sands and a few others.  Some of them are just breath taking - especially at night.  Another day, a few of us went out to the ruins of Saint Pauls College - Macau's most famous landmark.  All that is left of the college is literally one wall.  But it is so magnificent that you'd think that the wall was erected to be a monument to begin with.  Its quite a site - especially since it sits right in the middle of the windy, cobblestoned, store lined streets of central Macau.  The architecture alone is worth taking a trip out that way.

However, the best part of Macau had to be my trip to a little, out of the way restaurant called Fernando's.  It is homemade Portuguese food at it's very very best.  My mouth is watering now just thinking about it.  A group of us took some cabs out that way - you drive for about 20/30 minutes and end up on a winding, deserted, jungly road that spits you out right at Fernando's door.  The restaurant itself looks like a little hole-in-the-wall place (doesn't even have A/C).  We ordered family style (which is what I suggest if you go - so you can try a bit of everything).  There were mussels and shrimp and chorizo and chicken and suckling pig and veggies and flan and fruit - and best of all - THE DRUNKEN STEAK.  It had to be the best steak I've ever had in my life - ever - I seriously mean EVER.  Add two carafes of Sangria to the night and it was heaven on a plate - literally.  

Show-wise, we were performing at the Macau Cultural Center for two weeks.  And boy did they go all out with promos for the show - the most impressive was the Grand Staircase that led up to the front lobby and was painted with our show logo.  Very cool.  Audiences here were, as they were in all of Asia, incredibly appreciative - though quiet.  This was the first place in Asia where we ran into the quiet audience that we'd been expecting the entire run - which is funny because its the one place in Asia where I thought we'd have the more rowdy crowds....with it being IN Macau, which is gambling central and so close to Hong Kong - which is the New York of Asia.  But the venue was nice and the so were the crowds and the locals.  Not to mention the pool at our hotel - the most luxurious one yet - complete with water slide! Not a bad way to end our stay in Asia.

And so Asia comes to an end (for now). The saddest part will be leaving behind some of our cast and crew who will not be returning next season with us: Jeremy, Phish, Alicia, Eric, Jim and Josh.  We will also loose Kit, who was our Asian liaison for this leg of the tour.  Brittany, our makeup department head, made sure she went out in style though and made her up as an Ancestor for one of the final shows.  We'll miss you!

There have been some absolutely amazing times with absolutely amazing people that I will never forget - there have been some less than spectacular times that I also won't be able to forget.  All in all, though, I'm glad that I had the experience and the chance to bring joy and the American art of Musical Theatre to a continent that I never thought I'd see.  Though after 11 months of straight touring, I'm very excited for my 5 weeks at home.  See you in October!  America here I come!
Celebrating our 200th Show and the end of our Asian Tour