After paying MOP 788 each for a show we’re not sure Rockstar will sit thru, we try our best not to be late. Just like umpteen other people.
Having come down 10 minutes early, we’re sandwiched right in the center. My throat starts to close up. I hate crowds. Rockstar grumbles a little because no one’s moving but for the most part my son is holding up better than I am.
A middle-aged woman passes by in a pink brocade cheongsam with a red feather boa before I can snap her pic. I only just barely manage to catch the couple in red, in full Chinese dress. None of them are speaking Putonghua (in fact, we hear almost no Putonghua among the many guests we pass for the duration of our stay)… The majority of conversations around us sound Thai.
(My parents took basic lessons in Thai long ago - like many Penangites, they like to hop over the border and go shopping in Hat Yai and Bangkok because Newton’s Law of Going Shopping dictates thou shalt always enjoy shopping in the country thou does not live in.)
The next day, the lady in the Zaia gift shop remarks, "We had maybe 1,000 Thai visitors at the last minute. It's not usually so badly crowded even on weekends."
There’s also a group here and there from India, plus a smattering of overheard conversations in Singlish and Cantonese.
Then we’re off to the races. There is a horrendous crowd, but we encounter no pushing, no loud conversations. Everyone waits patiently to walk in.
I get stopped while trying to catch Rockstar on my iPhone when two clowns wearing globes over their heads land in the audience. The man in front of us, part of a couple I’m almost sure is Thai, is asked to put his video cam away. He grins and speaks with a heavy accent, “Excuse me, I don’t speak English.” The attendant repeats the request politely (in English) and the video cam disappears.
Several minutes later, the lights dim and the real show begins.
I pull out my iPhone at least 3 more times during the show, to send text messages. No reaction. All around me, eagle-eyed attendants continue to discreetly request the audience not take pictures.
We’re sitting just several rows from the stage, in center aisle seats – quite a few Zaia performers pass near us, some engaging the audience as they go. As they approach, I feel Rockstar (who sat on my lap for a better view and left his own seat empty for the majority of the show - the seats were a little low for him) tense at their costumes and makeup. From behind Rockstar, I shake my head quietly.
The performers don’t miss a beat, all quickly avoid eye contact with Rockstar, discreetly detour or remain a few feet away. They’re just a little brilliant.
There weren’t many kids in the giant auditorium, and Rockstar was the littlest by a long shot, that we could see as we scanned the audience. We were later asked by other tour participants how Rockstar found it – well, he loved it. The first few acts were a little less entertaining for a 3 year old (though no less impressive for grownups) but there’s a large screen behind the stage with a starry backdrop that occasionally moves and changes. Any “I want to go”s were easily kept at bay by drawing Rockstar’s attention to other parts of the stage.
The later acts had Rockstar at the edge of his seat throughout. It was a great first circus show for him. We’d go back.
Rockstar with Heart - I snap this quickly as people are filing out. No one stops me til I shift position and the stage is captured in my frame - then I'm politely stopped immediately. At the end of the show, some heart balloons fall into the audience. To my dismay, I miss catching one for Rockstar. The same Thai man with the video cam hands Rockstar his balloon and I thank him profusely.
Such a small gesture from a stranger – but one that further shapes my entire impression of the show. (“Circus” is the first thing Rockstar talks about when he wakes the following morning.) I hope Thai guy won big at the casinos.
Then it’s a supper of room service Wantan noodles in soup (absolutely loved it – though wouldn’t particularly recommend the Margherita pizza we ordered earlier – and btw Room Service’s default language is Putonghua) and on to the next day where we finally make it back to Qube.
10am the next day, we're almost the only ones there. It's nice and quiet, and the place looks spotless.
The under-5 section Rockstar spent most of his time in... (This is a pic from the flyer - looked nicer than my blurry pictures trying to capture Rockstar as he scrambled around in here.)
When he wasn't up here...
Or down here... (Daddy loves pool)
It's our only encounter with Putonghua (from other guests - not a few hotel staff address us in Putonghua before switching, with varying degrees of comfort, to English - Kings speaks quite a bit of Cantonese to them too) during the trip, when a boy who looks to be about 10 starts taking the balls from the table.
But it's something we've also encountered (thankfully n-ot too often) in other play areas around HK, with children speaking various other Asian or European languages too... By this time, it's almost 11.30am, Rockstar's been here about 90 minutes and quite happy to break for a snack and then we go back to the room and checkout.
When we reach the ferry terminal, Kings eyes the queue snaking outside from where we would have redeemed our free ferry tickets with the coupons given us by the hotel. Rockstar is crashing fast, so we ask the (nice and friendly) cabbie to bring us to another terminal, where we purchase our own tickets. The coupons are valid for that day only, so we pass them to the friendly cabbie.
Rockstar is asleep before we reach the waiting room and then board the ferry.
Ever hopeful, I dressed Rockstar in his school uniform under the jacket – but nope, it just wasn’t gonna happen.
I notice quite a few people decline the food offered on board. The woman sitting in the aisle seat next to mine complains in Cantonese to the ferry attendant that the tv is too loud. I can’t tell if the 3-4 carat “diamond” with 2 other “diamond” side stones that she’s wearing is real, so I look for other clues in what she’s wearing. Nondescript head-to-toe black, with velvet loafers embellished with crystals. I can't see her handbag. Nope no clue. She doesn’t eat the food either.
Kings has the pork with rice; when I decline my portion the attendant helpfully plies me with a ham and cheese sandwich, of which I eat half (partly because it’s heavily buttered which I don’t go for, partly because I see most people around us not eating).
As he-of-the-more-sensitive-stomach-of-the-two-of-us naps, I feel mild discomfort. The ride isn't particularly rocky (and I never got seasick til I came to HK and got stuck on a boat with a bunch of private bank clients from China in what probably passes for Rush Hour On Victoria Harbor – every time the boat pitched, they were yelling and stamping their feet exuberantly, it was a real party) but the graphic sounds of some poor soul throwing up throughout the ride keep me from dozing off.
I love the Gondola and shops area... It's like a Magritte picture, with the bright blue sky and darkened shops... Even though I know it's fake, I'm still getting the feel-good vibe... We should look into painting the ceiling in our apartment that way...
And now the million dollar question:
Would we go back to The Venetian-Macao sometime for a quickie vaccie?
Yes. It took a freebie to get us over because we would never have thought to come here with Rockstar on our own. But now we know to come back on our own.
We’re hoping the highway will be ready next time so we can drive over though.
Rockstar developed an itchy red rash all over, that his pediatrician has diagnosed as an allergic reaction, either to new food or soap/lotion. Kings and I used the same stuff in the hotel without any problem, just I usually pack Mustela or Johnson & Johnson for the Rockstar and forgot to do so this trip. If your child is sensitive to some perfumed products, you may want to BYOM (Bring Your Own Moisturiser).