Taking A Break

I don’t know about you but I find it very hard to take a real holiday in Hong Kong, by which I mean a complete break from work, no emails, no mobile phone, just total relaxation. Whether there is something in the air, or in the water (apart from lead that is) I don’t know, it just seems natural to work like hell as soon as you set foot in our city.

Now in my seventh year of "retirement" I still spring out of bed every morning at around 5.30 and can hardly wait to get into the action. I seldom get my head down much before midnight.

Long ago I used to take the occasional local leisure holiday but this invariably involved hiking (both Maclehose and Wilson Trails completed) or visits to outlying islands and country parks with the children. In a 17 month spell as Hong Kong’s first Commissioner for Tourism in the late 1990s, I did get out to see a lot of the local sights and learned that every district has some fascinating places that are well worth a visit. But that was work, you see. Now that my time is nominally "free", I’m too busy to go. Curious, eh?

By contrast I feel the complete opposite in our neighbouring city of Macao. When there I often sleep peacefully past seven in the morning and have been known to take both mid morning and afternoon naps before retiring well before 11 in the evening. This is only possible by staying away from those parts of Macao which have become like Hong Kong on steroids i.e. packed to the brim with hordes of visitors. In other words, steer clear of the casinos. The other day when lured briefly into the maelstrom of downtown Taipa I saw 40 hotel guests queuing to store their luggage with the concierge before entering the gambling hall. Get a life!

Luckily there is a little oasis on the southern side of Coloane, a resort near a beach famous for and named after its black sand. There is an adjacent golf course for those of a sporting disposition, a shallow swimming pool with adjacent bar for those who are not. There is a very famous sea food restaurant a short car ride away – they even send a vehicle to collect you – and a newly opened Portuguese restaurant barely five minutes away on foot. Macao aficionados will know the 200 room boutique hotel I am referring to, which I am not going to name because I don’t want hordes of Post readers turning up and spoiling the tranquillity. The staff actually remember regular guests and greet them by name on arrival and in the coffee shop "Welcome back! How nice to see you again". When did you last get that sort of treatment in one of the mega branded hotels? Do you know there is one on the Cotai Strip now with over 3,000 rooms? That’s not a holiday resort, it’s an accommodation factory.

Fans of the Iberian peninsula are familiar with the Spanish word manana. It doesn’t mean "tomorrow" which literally it should, but actually means "not today, some (unspecified) time in the future". There is a Portuguese word which is defined as "similar to the Spanish manana, but without conveying the same sense of urgency". Perfect. Sounds like my holidays in Macao.