Macau Trip

I will paste all of the posts connected with my Macau trip (June 16 – June 24)

Macau Speech 8/1/15

BOH-ah NOY-teh, my name is Jillian Rogers. I am 23 years old and will be attending the University of Cardiff in the fall to obtain my masters in Creative Writing. I recently attended the Youth Encontro de Macau. The experience was one I will never forget. I would like to personally thank UMA for the opportunity to learn about the amazing culture my ancestors came from. The experience to visit not only Macau but China as well was very eye opening. Up until this year, I didn’t have that big of an idea of what it meant to be Macanese. Because of this trip, I was able to connect with my Macanese roots and learn about the rich cultural heritage that is Macau.

When people think of Macau, it is normally centered on this idea of gambling. Macau is in fact the gambling capitol of the world. It is even getting its own Eiffel Tower (like the one in Vegas!) But it is so much more than that.

I am not big on gambling. When I heard about this opportunity, I only thought about the historical buildings I might see and hopefully some of what Macau was like back when my mother was there.

This was my first time outside of the US. I had no clue what to expect. Coming from foggy Bay Area, I rarely got to experience humidity. When we got off the plane, we had to take a bus to the Ferry Building in Hong Kong. It was such a shock to get outside, after being in an air conditioned plane for thirteen hours, and to experience the intense humidity. Ninety degrees over here is nothing compared to how it felt at 80 degrees over there.  After a long day of traveling, we all wanted to go to bed. I unfortunately had to get up earlier than the others in my group because I was the chosen leader of our chapter. I got to meet the consulate of Macau and listen to his very kind words about keeping the heritage alive. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to witness this.

I was very impressed with the transportation. When we went to Macau, we had to take the Turbo Jet, which was this pretty big ship. All the transportation was very cheap and easy to navigate. I’ve always been interested in travel and I was so happy to get to experience this aspect of travel. When I was in Hong Kong after the trip Encontro, it only cost $40 to cross three bridges, each bigger than the bay bridge. I’m sure if I took a taxi the same distance here it would cost $200. Also in Hong Kong is the longest suspension bridge in the world. That is so cool!

There were several amazing places that I got to see. From the A Ma Temple to the Ruins of St. Paul, there were plenty of awe inspiring sights. There was one place we went to called the Mandarin House, which had 65 rooms in it and was how a house looked like when Macau was first getting started. The house had Chinese and Western influence. Definitely a place I would have loved to stay in… if it had TV and internet. There was also the dragon boat races. Our own Bay Area dragon boat team was in attendance at the races! Man, did I really enjoy dragon boat racing! Galaxy NUMBA ONE! It was too bad it rained on our chance to actually dragon boat ourselves. There was a Typhoon warning that changed most of our plans. We did get to visit a temple that looked like it was from that movie “Skyfall.” And we visited a Macanese house. I even got to experience a very interesting way of making coffee. So the rain didn’t totally “rain on our parade.”

Our trip consisted of plenty of activities, museum viewing, and oh yeah. The food! It was amazing! We had all kinds of Portuguese dishes, Chinese dishes, and Macanese dishes. I didn’t know how much I love Egg custards until this trip! I even got a free copy of a Macanese cookbook, which I intend to make use of right away with some Minchie. The dinners were very organized and it seemed like all they wanted to do was fatten us up. One dish that I did not like at all was the Snails. Snails over there are ten times bigger than the ones over here. I have an irrational fear of snails and I had to sit next to a guy who was eating a whole plate of them at the closing ceremony. His name was Julian and every time someone said my name or his name, we would both look up. It was kind of hilarious.

There were plenty of activities that we did over the trip. We did an Amazing Race game, go to a soccer match, and also folk dancing! I’ve been in a quite a number of musical plays and know how to follow steps. This dance was crazy intricate. I always forgot a step or miscounted. It was so fun though! The Amazing Race game was something I will never forget. Halfway through the game, my teammates left me and I had to walk by myself to the next checkpoint. Even walking through the streets of San Francisco alone makes me scared, but somehow I felt okay. There were plenty of signs and friendly people who were willing to help point the way.

The trip was very educational and fun. I learned that the Chinese government has a plan to help connect the countries more efficiently by creating bridges that run from Macau to China, helping to reduce the amount of traffic in the area. They are also trying to make China more Eco-friendly. They are already starting up their work on new buildings that are environmentally friendlier to the Earth. Their hope is to create a better China by at least 2017.

I went to Macau to get closer to my roots and to connect with where my grandmother was from. Recently, my grandmother, Maria Conceição, passed away. My grandma was an amazing person and she is truly missed by me and my family. While in Macau, I felt like I was at home. The people were very welcoming and I had this feeling that I was meant to be there. The second to last night, I found what I was looking for. I went on a walk to the Ruins of St. Paul at midnight. I forgot my phone and all I had on me was my wallet. Halfway through the walk, I felt like I was being watched. When I did finally reach the ruins, I could see a bright light illuminating the ruins. Maybe it was just the light behind the structure, but I knew as I walked up to it, that it was my grandma looking over me the whole time.

One of my favorite souvenirs from Macau was this picture frame. I had this picture from when I graduated from high school. I hold it very near to my heart. It’s of me and my grandma. Every morning I wake up and see this and remember her. It always reminds me of how proud she was of me. It gives me courage. On the trip I even brought along a letter she gave me when I graduated college last year. It reads: “To my dearest granddaughter Jillian. Hoping, wishing you a very bright future. Love you very much as always, Nana and Balbino Cruz.”

This trip inspired me to be more involved with my Macanese heritage. It is a beautiful thing to be Macanese. We must not let our heritage die out. By supporting Macanese youth to go explore our heritage, we are continuing our traditions and hopefully our children’s children will be as involved with our Macanese heritage as I hope to be in the future.

As the leader of our group, I got to go on stage during the opening and closing ceremonies for pictures. We even got our pictures on the front page of the Macau newspaper. I am so glad that I got to be the leader of our group. I wasn’t sure at first, but in the end it turned out that it was a fun experience being the chosen leader.

Everyone was really nice on the trip and we all got along nicely. There were people from Canada, Australia, Rio De Janerro and Portugal. The people from Rio gave these amazing gifts to each of the leaders. I got a little bottle of Portuguese Tequila, a pen, chocolate, and some coffee beans. Each casa had their own leaders. We had three leaders in the USA alone. It was great to hear from all of these different groups about what their casas were doing.

I would like to also say how great it was to go with Emily and Stephanie, the other youths who went on the Encontro. They were very nice to be around and were very helpful whenever I needed advice. They were also very helpful when I cut my trip short. I was supposed to spend four extra days in Hong Kong, but plans got changed. Emily and Stephanie missed their flight home and stayed overnight in Hong Kong. They graciously let me stay with them so I would have company before I left for home. I’m so glad that they were to help me out. I could not have asked for a better group to lead.

I am so happy and thankful that I got to have this experience. I learned a lot about not only my heritage, but also about what I want to keep doing in my life. I want to travel more and see the world and what it has to offer. I will definitely go visit Macau again and hopefully bring my mom and sisters with me. If I could travel back in time and relive it again, I would. Thanks for listening to my amazing experience and I hope you all have a wonderful evening.

Macau post 6/26/15

So here we are dear readers. I have failed in my attempt to catalog every day of my trip. I got really busy having fun and learning about Macau. I have to tell you that I went home early. I could not take it alone in Hong Kong. But, I will get to that later. This trip was an amazing experience for me. I learned so much about the different cultures of Chinese, Portuguese and Macanese. Honestly there wasn’t that much free time between visiting different regions of Macau and participating in the various activities. I will go back to Day four, since that is where I left off.

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Day 4:

The Amazing Race. I won’t forget this day. We had to go around the city and find various checkpoints. The team with the most points and less time wins. I was a group leader and so I had to randomly pick out two names out of a hat. Both of my teammates were boys. I am not a competitive person, so I knew that they would somehow suck the fun out of it by being too competitive. We started out saying that we were going to take it slow, but it was apparent that they really did want to win. They wanted to win so much that they told me to meet them at the next check point so they can run. I was so confused and in shock that I let it happen. We were disqualified because they left me. They did get yelled at, so I guess they got what they deserved.

Learning Portuguese Folk Dancing. This was fun yet tiring. I looked at the photos and man do I look confused! I kept losing track of the steps and doing some weird things with my feet. Plus it was really hot. The downstairs was so hot and smelled like sewer and fish. I am so not used to it being extremely hot and humid.

Overall, this day was okay. A lot of running and also being let down by teammates. I was so tired from all that running and walking that I didn’t have the energy to even try to cuss them out. I was really hurt by what they did. I was fine though. Didn’t get hurt or harassed.

Day 5

  

             We got rained in! Seriously, we were supposed to participate in dragon boat racing, but there was word about a typhoon and so we had to cancel that. Instead, we got to sleep in and enjoy a meal at a monastery. We did have to walk in the rain while we were visiting this amazing temple. But it was still nice enough where we didn’t need a jacket. Oh and their snails are humongous! I have a huge fear of snails and that just terrified me. Basically all we did was visit shops and we also got to visit this museum of this Macanese house. I would have loved living there.

People kept leaving and not telling others where they were going. I don’t get why anyone would do that. It is rude and inconsiderate. Plus, you’re there for the Encontro, not on vacation. Some people didn’t get that memo I guess. I’m glad my two group mates didn’t wander off.

Day 6

  

     COOKIES! We got to learn how to make these Macanese cookies called “Genete” which were really really good. They tasted a lot like those butter cookies that my grandma always had around the house. Seriously, I will make some of my own and show everyone. If you don’t know the kind of cookies I’m talking about, I’m sure you can find them in Costco. I know my grandma had a huge can from Costco that she put out for Christmas.

Meeting the Consulate General. We got to go to the Portuguese Consulate and talk to the general. He was so nice and he had some great things to say about the Encontro and the Macanese. Sitting in on that was amazing because it made me appreciate where my relatives are from. I want to help preserve that culture and bring awareness towards people of Macanese decent. I will gladly tell people that I am Macanese and that I do belong to a certain racial identity. I was always split when it came to explaining what racial background I fit into. But now I know that I can say that I am Macanese and proud. I’ve already started trying to learn some Portuguese, so I’m on my way.

Closing Ceremony. Man, what an adventure! I don’t really want to talk about the closing ceremony but I will because I should. For prosperity sake. I don’t want to talk about it because I hate endings. I’m like the Doctor. I realize that everything has to come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that I want it to. I started this journey scared that I wouldn’t belong and I would be homesick. But with this group of people I didn’t feel so scared. I was happy to share this experience with every one of them. The ceremony was mainly speeches and pictures. Great food though. Except the Escargot. Ewww! Remember how I said snails over there were bigger? Yeah… imagine my terror when I saw that on the plate next to me! I was supposed to do a speech but Stephanie wanted to do it so I let her. I do regret it only because when I heard everyone else’s speech, I realized that I wanted to put my voice out there. But I’m glad Stephanie got the chance to.

Day 7

Oh man. Here comes the part I was dreading talking about. The night before this day, I had planned with this girl from the Vancouver Casa to meet up at 11 am in the lobby so we could go to Hong Kong together. She was staying an extra two days and had kindly said she would hang out. When I got to the lobby, however, she was nowhere to be seen. I tried texting her, but I never got a reply. I waited for an hour and realized that she wasn’t going to show. I was bummed. I ended up going with some of the Australians to the Ferry. I took the Turbo Jet to Hong Kong and went to the hostel. It was really isolated and on top of a hill. When I booked the hostel, I thought it would be okay since it was cheap and I didn’t want to spend so much money. But when I got there, I had some doubts. The room was cramped and I thought I was going to run out of air.

I thought that I would just try to stay out as much as possible. But when I took the shuttle to the Ferry building, I didn’t really feel a good feeling in my stomach. I walked around and did some shopping. I didn’t feel that scared and some of the people seemed nice. But it didn’t seem like something I could do every day for the rest of my trip. I tried to contact the girl again, maybe in hopes that there was a mistake. I did write her about how horrible it felt to be left with no message whatsoever and to worry that something went wrong. I always worry that people are going to get hurt and so I was a little worried that maybe something bad happened to her.

Anyways, as I was searching up things I could do, I get a text from Stephanie about how they missed their flight. They said I could stay the night at their hotel so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. I quickly took a taxi to the hostel. However, the driver didn’t know English so he thought I said Yacht club. I ended up having to pay twice as much because of that mix up. By the time I got to the hostel, I was pretty scared. I called my mom crying that I wanted to go home. At first I thought maybe it was just homesickness, but I did cry on the shuttle down from the hostel, earlier that day. I was homesick then and gave myself time to settle.

I just could not stand staying in that hostel and being ditched really dampened my spirits. I know I planned the trip so I was alone, but the fact that I was in an isolated area and hardly that many people understood me, really scared me. So I ended up leaving the hostel and staying with Stephanie and Emily. I booked the same flight they were on, with help from my dad, and now I am home. I got home earlier today at 9 am. I got to live Thursday twice. I’m totally Doctor Who! XD.

I feel bad that I had to buy another ticket home, and that I didn’t stick it out, but in the end, you have to do what is right for you. I overestimated how I would feel being alone and I will definitely not do it again. If I do travel again, besides going to Wales to study, I will go with a group. And maybe I will try travelling alone another day. They say that this was a once in a lifetime chance, but who knows that really? I’m only 23 years old. You are never too old to travel or live the life you have always wanted. I have to stop letting other people’s opinions dictate who I am as a person.

I am also glad that I did write to that person about how I felt. We should not have to walk on egg shells if someone hurts you. If someone hurts you, tell them how you feel. Do not worry if you hurt their feelings. Get those feelings out. The difference between being immature and telling someone off is the way you phrase it. If you go out of your way to make that person feel like (pardon my French) shit and tell them how worthless they are because of what they did to you, that is immature. But if you call someone out and tell them that they hurt you and that you are upset, that is the way to go. I did not cuss her out and I didn’t say she was stupid or anything. I was as diplomatic as I could have been, while getting my point across. I’ve learned to not hold these things in… well, in some cases.

To the people who made this trip possible, thank you so very much! This experience will live with me forever. I am so glad that I got this opportunity to enjoy this and to learn about the Macanese culture. Next time I travel, I will definitely pick a hotel. I also want to say that I feel closer to my grandma and I will always hold her in my heart. I love you Nana, and I know you were with me the whole time. I went to the St. Paul ruins around midnight one of the days and I forgot my phone. I felt this guiding presence the entire time and I swear it was her. Thank you for protecting me.

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Macau 6/21

Apparently I missed a blog post yesterday so here it is. Yesterday we had a Macanese youth meeting, lunch, watched dragon boat racing, went to church and ate at this awesome Portugese restaraunt. It was excruciatingly hot and most of the time was spent griping about the heat. I loved the dragon boat racing. The community part was amazing. I had so much fun rooting on the team.

This trip has been a blast so far. I love the atmosphere around this place. I feel at home around this place. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. I was so scared about going to another country, but I feel like it’s something I can get used to. Traveling I mean.

I don’t have much to say because I’m still exhausted. But I will get some more writing done later on.


6/19

Hey there precious readers! It is my second whole day in Macau. Let me say it was a blast. I mean literally. I was blasted by the humidity of this place. After getting up early in the morning, we headed to China. It was a long trip that consisted of being checked twice for passports. Though the trip was long, we got to see some amazing sights. Like the new university campus and so many bridges.

We visited museum after museum about the history of China and China’s new plan for the future. The Chinese government wants to create an eco friendly environment where each part of Chinese rule is brought together. I can definetly tell the beginning process of this. Though parts of Macau and Hong Kong have parts that are old and decrepit, the countries are slowly being renovated. My favorite part of today’s journey was the trip to this rich guy’s house that was turned into a museum. It was a great location filled with an amazing view of the forest.

There are plenty of things that I learned today. One is that Chinese toilets are….different. Instead of a toilet bowl they basically have a hole in the ground that you squat to pee. I tried it and let me just say that I almost had to take off my pants completely. I also learned that exchanging money is so confusing. I went to convert money into Chinese dollars and I got $300 cause I wasn’t sure how much that was. Could have just gone with $100.

There has always been a debate on whether or not I look Chinese. Some say they can’t see the Chinese and others say they think I am. When I went to the bakery this morning the lady tried telling me she could only give me change in Macau dollars…in Chinese. It wasn’t until I hesitated when trying to answer that she realized that I couldn’t speak Chinese. This has happened to me before. I always just go with it because why should it matter? I just thought it was something kind of interesting.

Man, I love the food here. We went to luch in China and they kept bringing out more food. Soooooo good! I never finished everything but man was it awesome! And I went with Emily from my casa and a bunch of Australians and Canadians to dinner at this Portugese restaurant. That was so amazing! I was going to go with a different group to this one star restaurant but it was $106 US dollars.

The nightlife is pretty much how I feel Vegas does. Oh and there is an Eifell Tower being built so it basically is Vegas. It’s been a very hot and humid day. I will leave you at that dear readers since it is late but stay tuned!

 

6/18

Here I am, writing about my amazing adventure. You might be wondering what I’ve been up to, oh dear reader. Well let’s see. I went to the airport around 9:30 am on Tuesday to catch the 1:45 pm flight to Hong Kong. After meeting up with Emily and Stephanie, we waited for our flight…only to wait three extra hours. We spent the time charging our phones and people watching. If you have ever people watched before, the best place is the airport. The flight was 13 hours long and we also had to take the ferry to Macau. Man, what a day. We ended up getting to Hong Kong at 9:20 pm.

When we finally landed in Hong Kong, we were pretty exhausted. I did not get that much sleep and had just found out that I had to be up at 8 am for a leader meeting. We missed the ferry from the airport so we had to take a bus to the ferry that was open 24 hours. I had to exchange some money for bus fair and man was I surprised. I gave them a $20 bill and they handed me $141 in Hong Kong dollars. Honestly that went a long way compared to what I could have gotten in the US. Wow. Still kind of shocked by that.

When we did get to the ferry, we got confused by how to properly pay for a ticket. It was really annoying, since it’s really hot here. Oh and I should mention it’s very humid. It’s so sticky I don’t know if I showered correctly. After boarding the ferry we had an hour trip to Macau. By the time we got to shore all I wanted to do was sleep…and put my bags down. We were told there would be a shuttle to get to our hotel but we couldn’t find it so we took a taxi. It was $33 so a little over two dollars.

When I got to the hotel I found out I wasn’t staying with the girls from my casa. So I was expecting to have to tiptoe into my room. It took me about five minutes to get the lights on since you have to put your key card in this slot to activate the power. I had the room to myself, but would later find out that my roommate was just staying with her boyfriend in his hotel room. I guess I lucked out.

The next day I was so confused as to what we were doing. The leaders of each casa, which I am one, got to visit the consulate. It was cool hearing from these Macau dignitaries. Afterwards we went as a group to the Mandarin house which is a representation of how houses looked back then. It had 60 rooms! It had a mixture of Asian and Western architecture. After that we went to lunch, which was amazing. I had to say something in front of the group which was nerve wracking.

After lunch we went to this garden on a hill dedicated to this women called Ah Ma. Then we went to see the church ruin. It was a really hot day and we weren’t allowed to wear shorts. The island of Macau is so pretty and very hot. People here are very nice. After the church ruin we went to the opening ceremony. It was fun, except I couldn’t understand what they were saying since they were speaking either Portugese or Chinese.

There has literally been no real down time today. From traveling to get here and the different activities I don’t have time to sit and relax. Macau is so much more than just gambling. It’s a thriving country that should be appreciated for its rich history. The buildings are amazing. I find it kind of poetic how the old buildings are juxtaposed next to the new buildings. What I have noticed is that Macau is very densely populated. I mean there is a ton of people in San Francisco but this was insanity.

I’ve had tons of fun today and I’m glad I’m spending some extra time here. Tomorrow we are going to China so I should get going. I will tell you guys more about my adventure later.

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