The past few trips I’ve taken, there’s been a weird transition between finishing up a vacation and sliding back into my normal routine. I’m caught somewhere in between. Before, it seemed so clear cut - “Ok vacation is over, now back to work,” and there I was, back in my normal routine as if I had never left. But over the past few years, I’ve started to become aware of my thoughts and dare I say it, feelings concerning the trip I had just taken.
I think it’s because after I finished my trip through Egypt, I knew that would be the last trip with my good friend Jarrett Wilde - we’ve been through something like eight countries together. Similarly, having just finished traveling with my brother, someone who I’ve seen once in the past six years, I find myself reflecting on our recent trip, much like I did with Egypt.
Did I do everything I wanted to do? Did I create a good travel experience for him? What would I have done differently? Did I say everything I wanted to say to him, not knowing when I would see him again? Was I a good travel partner and, more importantly, a good older brother?
Through all the trips I’ve taken, this trip was especially significant because I not only got to share my life in China with my brother but also travel to new places with him, allowing both of us to explore Macau and Sanya together for the first time. Plus, how often is it that you get to celebrate your brother’s birthday on an island in China?
Though sparse, I’m grateful for the time I get to spend with my brother, and I hope in the future, we’ll find more opportunities to experience new places together. Happy birthday, Mackenzie, and thanks for an awesome two weeks!
Macau is great. “Oh, it’s so tiny, it’s boring!” - Don’t listen to the haters. Macau is beautiful, and it has the same charm as Hong Kong and Taiwan, without being too overbearing. And yes, the Portuguese influence is alive and well. Everything is written in Portuguese and Chinese, and there were several Portuguese/Chinese restaurants throughout the city or region, or country, depending on your politics.
The language thing was confusing. I initially kept speaking Mandarin but found that most people either had a super strong accent or didn’t speak it very well. I finally asked a lady at 7/11 what language people preferred, and she said: “We’re like HK, Cantonese first, then English, and maybe Portuguese if you can find someone.”
Casinos. There are a ton of casinos in Macau, and although as extravagant and glamorous as those in Vegas, they are very, very different. First, Baccarat dominates about 90% of the floor space, along with the 3-dice game. Additionally, through a series of visits to various casinos, not all of them serve free alcohol. Some only have beer, some will only serve you if you have a ‘casino card,’ some will serve you but only every 30 minutes, and others will kindly shake their head and offer you tea or cola.
Macau isn’t Vegas, but it’s fun, full of culture, and interesting to see thousands of Chinese people gamble sober.
As far as beaches go, sure, Sanya has one, but is it better than literally any beach in Southeast Asia? Hard no. I’m not sure what to say besides: Sanya is too Chinese and strangely enough, overly-catered to Russians. Everything is in Russian - the signs, restaurant menus, the people on the street offering massages even speak Russian. It was unexpected.
Additionally, the beach we went to had a large loudspeaker system that would play a Chinese mandolin song for about 15 minutes and then dive into a 5-minute speech in 5 different languages telling you to be careful in the water and to not leave your keys and phone unattended in case of “bad thieves.” It sort of ruined the relaxing aspect of laying out in the sun by the beach.
Shoutout to Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park, which was super fun. Both my brother and I hadn’t been to a waterpark in years, and it was awesome to re-experience that sense of adventure and adrenaline again. Our flights were in the late evening, so we had a day to kill after checking out of the hotel, and for anyone in the same situation, I’d highly recommend spending the day at the waterpark.