Saturday, March 31, 2012

Final Blog

I have edited the blog and will post a final copy now. I have somehow moved Day 3 to the bottom of the list and have wasted too many hours trying to work out how to get it back in order, so please go to bottom for Day 3 :-) Hope you have enjoyed a short overview of our holiday - see you next time xx

Day 3 - 12/3/2012 - Macau

Macau Tower
A bit about Macau to start off this blog. Macau has a mixed background of Chinese and Portuguese. It is split into two islands, Taipa and Coloane. The old city area is on the Taipa side, this is where the ferry terminal is situated as well as the Macau Tower and a few of the older Casinos like MGM, Wynn and Grand Lisboa.
We are staying on the Coloane island which is where the newer developments are. The City of Dreams is made up of 3 hotels, each with their own casino. There is the Hard Rock (4 star), the Hyatt (5 star) and Crown (6 star). The Venetian and Four seasons hotels are opposite and then further down is another massive casino called Galaxy. There is a Holiday Inn, Sheraton and Conrad also being built ready to open in a few months - this is a HUGE gambling Mecca for Asia. We tried to put $20 Macau in a pokie but it rejected it! That is the extent of our gambling:-)
It seems like a growing and fast developing place. They also have nice new anti-smoking laws which means you do not smell stale tobacco every where. They can smoke in the casinos but they have great air con which makes the smell much more subtle, unlike Las Vegas!
Shops at City of Dreams
Each of the hotels has a massive shopping mall attached. They seem to all contain the same high end shops - Tiffany's, Prada, Chanel, Hermes etc... Most of which have very few customers inside, although they probably only have to make 1-2 sales per week to break even?!
This morning we had a nice casual breakfast at the Paradise Coffee Cafe (their version of Starbucks, but much nicer coffee).
In a taxi off to play Macau Golf and Country club. Weather was cool and overcast. No rain so we did not get wet but did wear our wet weather gear as it felt misty or foggy.
Macau Golf & Country Club
We had a great caddy called Lawrence. He was Phillipino and very knowledgable. Neither of us played really well, also the greens had been cored some weeks ago but because it has been winter the new grass has not grown back - took a bit of getting used to! In stableford points I won the match, but it was only the first game and I expect Sean to fight back strongly :-))
17th Hole - very pretty
Sean & Jane
Scenic on the water
Overall the course was quite scenic. The 17th hole was right along the water front, very pretty and the other side had views of the airport runway which has been built right out onto a peninsula of reclaimed land in the middle of the ocean - sounded a bit like RQ!
We had lunch at the club afterwards and then caught a taxi back to the hotel for a shower and change. Food is very cheap over here. Have resisted shopping for anything else yet, will wait for Hong Kong and China.
Galaxy Casino
Went and had a look around Galaxy, Crown and Hyatt - nothing too exciting unless you are a high roller! My knees and hips needed a rest so back to our hotel for a little rest then out to dinner. Decided to go local again do that I did not have to walk too far, very nice :-)
Back to room and started to pack everything up. We are playing golf at Caesars Golf Course tomorrow, then getting on the turbojet to go to Hong Kong. I have enjoyed Macau and it was definitely worth a short visit but looking forward to the buzz of HK again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 15 - 24/3/2012 - China, Hong Kong, Home

Final day of holiday. Up early (not as early as the 5:30am wake-up call we got which was not ours!!). Breakfast in usual place, checked out and our car arrived promptly at 9am to take us back up HK.
Got to the border and the driver told us to get out and follow the large queue of Chinese people through customs and immigration. Apparently, twice a year the residents of Shenzhen can apply for a 7 day visa to go into HK for shopping. They always choose to do this on a Saturday - word of advice to anyone leaving China, don't go Saturday morning!
Toll booth
The queue snaked around for ages and at first it moved ok. They don't know how to queue properly so they are all trying to push past to get 2 people further ahead. Then they shut the doors to allow the queue inside to clear, so we stood packed in like sardines for about 20 mins. Then a fight broke out, amazing really as there was not much room to swing a punch, but they did! A bit of blood and a lot of shouting later we moved forward again. Almost got to the entrance when they shut the doors again, so another 20 mins of standing around. At least I was taller than all of them so I could see over the top and didn't feel so squashed. Once they opened the doors they all swarmed forwards, if you had fallen over you would easily have been trampled! Once inside we were through in 10 mins as we were visitors so didn't have to queue with them all. Found our driver then headed across no man's land to the Hong Kong border. Didn't even have to get out of the car here, you just wind down the window so they can see your face then off you go!
20 mins later we arrived at Kowloon Airport Express Station. This is the best system I have ever seen, as our flight is not until 10:45pm we were still able to check in our bags and get our boarding pass etc... Then we can head off and spend the day doing what we want without worrying about luggage. Every major city should have a city check-in, it encourages the tourists to go shopping and spend more money :-)
Said goodbye to Mike as he is flying home via Singapore, we all arrive home tomorrow at roughly the same time though!
Sean and I got the MTR to Jordan and had a look in the Wing On department store that we didn't get time to look in last week. We then walked up to the ladies market and had a wander through there again. Back on the train Tsim Sha Tsui and into Delaney's Irish Bar. Had lunch and watched the end of the Waratahs v. Stormers then Crusaders v. Cheetahs for 30 mins before they put the Rugby 7's on. Watched for a while then went out for a wander, found a whole street of golf shops that we did not know were there :-) Eventually got the airport express out to airport and was able to sit and have a lovely long black coffee in the Business Lounge waiting for our flight home.
Overall we have had a wonderful trip. Great weather, great fun and some wonderful memories, especially of the beautifully kind hearted and lovely Chinese people. They stole the show for me.
See you on the other side xx

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 14 - 23/3/2012 - Mission Hills

Awesome - best word to describe our last course and last day at Mission Hills.
Usual start to our day with buffet breakfast. Weather started off very very humid and overcast. Showers were forecast but again we were very lucky and no rain came. It certainly came over very dark for a while and the wind came up, humidity disappeared completely and temperature dropped. Can't believe we have been so lucky with the weather, it only rained for 20 mins on our first day in Macau and has been fine since :-)
Tee time of 10:36 on the Greg Norman course. We had been told by many people that it was the hardest course here and they were right!!
Zou, Li, Sean, Ne & Mike
Met up with our 3 favourite caddies and set off. Very long holes, very deep bunkers and greens which were very sloped, making putting extremely treacherous (as if it wasn't hard enough!!).

Mike, Jane & Sean
Sean was the star again today and he had 30 points which was very impressive on such a tough course. Mike had 25 which was also pretty good and I was very happy to make 19. I drove the ball beautifully and was getting to within 1 shot of the green then putting them in the bunkers which were so deep that the people on the green could not even see the club when you swung it, just a little puff of sand. They were mostly too deep for me and whilst I ordinarily like bunkers these were just too hard!

Par 5 - 14th Hole - Index 1

Great fun though, really enjoyed the course, very different from all the others. For Sean and I that was 10 courses played this fortnight and for Mike it was 6 this week, so I think we all did well just to survive. My poor old knees are protesting now though!!

Awesome Par 3 - 4th Hole
Drinks and snacks in the bar then up for a shower and change.
Got a car to go to Guanlan for dinner. It was about 20 mins from Dongguan Resort. Nice driver this time, we got him to stop at a group of golf shops on the way, didn't buy anything, would have been good to go there and have a good look around earlier in the week.
The customer service rep at Mission Hills recommended a restaurant for us- Hong Fu Luo Seafood Restaurant - very funny trying to get them to understand our English, I even resorted to animal impressions for chicken and cow which they found hilarious. We saw them later demonstrating my actions to other staff. Whole meal only $40 Aus including 2 large beers for the boys. Best Peking Duck I have ever had - yum!
Wandered around the shops for a while after. Mike bought another 2 golf shirts, he has by far been the best shopper so far :-)
Caught a taxi back to the resort, still driving fast but nothing like the terrifying journey back from Shenzhen earlier in the week. I can completely understand now why Chinese drivers in Australia have so much trouble!!
Cheeky monkeys :-)
Finished packing ready for the trip home tomorrow. We have had an excellent week and I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Sean won the weeks golf by one point from Mike with me happily bringing up the rear, but not unhappy with how I played.
Looking forward to Coke Light tomorrow back in HK and then more shopping before the trip home tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 13 - 22/3/2012 - Mission Hills

Yet another wonderful day in this amazing place. Later start today so bit of a sleep in before heading over to the clubhouse for our breakfast. Another perfect day with the weather, sunny and warm at 27 degrees, but a nice breeze kept the humidity away.
World Cup Course
Tee Markers
Caught the 10:30am shuttle to Shenzhen Clubhouse to play the World Cup Course which was designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Met up with our 3 lovely caddies from the other day, we had asked them to caddy for us again. It is such great fun trying to communicate when neither of you speaks the other language, but I learned all sorts today. My caddie, Yu, lives in 1 room with 6 other caddies, she said her husband does also live in Dongguan but I am not sure that he actually lives with her. She has a 2 year old daughter who lives 4000 km away with her mother. She only gets 1 week vacation each year to go and see her child - amazing stuff!!
Jane & Yu
Anyway, back to the golf! Beautiful course as you would expect. This is the only course we have played so far that did not have green renovations happening so they were a real treat.
The Shenzhen caddies
Mike played really well and had 38 points. He had a birdie on the 12th which was great. Sean also had another birdie today on the 5th but did not hit the ball as well today and had 26 points. I struggled today with the knees and joints and felt very happy to manage the 24 points that I did. I still could not putt, even on the nice greens and also struggled to chip. That is golf !! Once again though, it was well worth playing and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.
We caught the shuttle back to Dongguan and had a nice quiet drink in the bar before heading up for shower and change. Dinner tonight back in the World Kitchen. Very nice evening. Last day tomorrow, playing the Norman Course which is supposed to be very difficult - have to get some extra energy for one last game :-)

18th hole

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 12 - 21/3/2012 - Mission Hills

Caddies ready for corporate day
View from our room
Wow, what a fantastic day again today. Had our usual breakfast (this is held as a buffet in the main dining area - World Kitchen -in the clubhouse). As we were walking back to our rooms to brush our teeth we saw all the caddies lined up under one of the billboards having a photo shoot. All the golf carts were ready to go, and there were loads of golf bags being unpacked from a trailer. We are not sure what event it was but it certainly looked impressive.

Faldo Course
Headed out on the shuttle which drove us 10 mins to the Mid Valley Clubhouse. This one has 2 courses, the Faldo which we played and also the Peter Dye course which is private and only available to Chartered Diamond Members!!

We were joined by a really nice guy called Alex. He lives and works in HK but as there are so few golf courses in HK he joined here and comes over on the shuttle twice a week to play.

We met our lovely caddies, all new ones as they only work from one of the 3 clubhouses and this was our first game here. Very nice as usual. They loved Mike, must be the grey hair making him look distinguished. My caddie asked how old he was and kept saying he was handsome, very sweet.
It was a great golf course, very interesting, each hole very different.
16th - Island green

Looking back down 18
18th at Faldo
We all had some good and some bad. Sean finished with a birdie 4/5 on the 18th to have 33 points. Mike also had 33 points. Mike and I both had a par 3 on the 16th island green and then I followed up with a par on the 17th for a 4/4. I had 29 points. I became quite fatigued in the middle of the round and had 2 bad holes which threw my score a bit. Also, I still can't putt on these greens - they are all sanded and the downhill putts are super fast while the uphill putts are super slow. Happy to be scoring at all if I am honest :-).
18th green
We had a drink and a snack in the bar afterwards with Alex then caught the shuttle back to Dongguan. Shower and change then off for Teppanyaki. Very nice dinner, back to our room and watched Little Fockers which was on TV. Bit of a sleep in tomorrow as playing World Cup Course.

Day 11 - 20/03/2012 - Mission Hills

Another great day. Up and about earlier so we could play early and then go shopping in Luohu in the afternoon. Misread our tee time and were slightly late but all was ok.
Sean & Jane
Leadbetter Course
We had paid our caddies well on Sunday and asked them to caddy for us again today (they only work at one of the 3 clubhouses at a time). The Leadbetter Course is at the Dongguan Resort where they work, so it was nice to be greeted by 3 lovely smiling faces for our game.
It is a very technically difficult course. Very undulating fairways so most shots are played on uneven lies, either down or up hill. Quite challenging. Mike won the day with 30 points, Sean had 28 and another birdie, and I had 27 - I really struggled with the putter on the sandy greens. If I had sunk a few I would have had a pretty good score, but that is golf!!
Finished and had lunch in the clubhouse, quick shower then we had booked a car to take us into Shenzhen so we could go shopping at Luohu. The driver talked or texted on one of his mobile phones the whole way there, then dropped us off where one of his contacts was waiting to start harassing us to visit his shop.
Sean and I have been shopping there twice before so we knew not to engage the touts in conversation or to make eye contact with them because they will harass you for ages. Mike said hello to this tout and that was it, come this way, see my shop etc... I refused to speak to him or acknowledge him and after a while he finally let us carry on our way without him being 5feet away from us!
It is a very confronting place, they are constantly in your face, calling out "Missy Missy, handbags and watches, you come in and look" etc..
Sean and Mike got a few golf shirts each but there were much fewer golf shops than the last time we went, very few ladies shirts and none my size. I did buy one shirt, 3 golf hat markers and a LV Wallet to match my handbag.
Luohu Shopping Centre
We left there and headed across the road to the Shangri-La Hotel, had dinner over there then went to ask for a taxi to take us back to the resort (about 40 mins away). The first 4-5 taxi's did not want to take us that far then we found one who would for a fixed price. Driving in China is quite an experience, they drive like maniacs, hands on horns, don't follow lane lines or speed limits etc... The trip home was quite scary, this guy was driving sooooo fast, but we got home in one piece which was great.
Had another shower as felt very grubby after being there, time for bed now, has been a busy day :-). Playing the Faldo Course tomorrow which is situated in the middle clubhouse.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 10 - 19/03/2012 - Mission Hills

Wow, another awesome day on another amazing golf course. We had a lovely buffet breakfast then caught the shuttle bus over to the Shenzhen clubhouse of Mission Hills. We are staying in the Dongguan Resort which has 5 courses, Shenzhen Resort also has 5 courses and there are 2 others at the Mid Valley clubhouse.
Golf Reception - Dongguan
The World Cup
Shenzhen Resort is actually closed at the moment for renovation. The golf courses are all still being used though :-). The Dongguan Resort is about 18 months old and is quite spectacular as per the photos.

The 19th Hole
You don't have to carry your clubs from place to place, they know where you are playing the next day and your clubs are there waiting for you at your tee time - very efficient system.
Ozaki Course
Anyway, we played the Ozaki Course today and it was certainly picturesque. Sean had 34 points and Mike and I had 31 each. Mike had his first birdie today which was good. We all played pretty well and yet again the caddies were wonderful - I definitely want to bring one home!!
We were joined by a 4th today, a guy named Tony who lives in Hong Kong and is a member here. He was very nice and could help us translate with the caddies if they had trouble understanding our English (or the Aussie accents).
Had a nice snack and cool drink in the Japanese restaurant afterwards then caught the shuttle back to Dongguan.
Weather was again wonderful, warm and sunny , slightly overcast early on but that kept it a little cooler than yesterday which was nice.
Mike, Tony, Sean & Jane
Shower and relax for an hour then off to dinner in the Chinese Restaurant in the resort. Tony told us it was very good food and he was right. No diet coke (or coke light as they call it in Asia) anywhere at Mission Hills, so I am drinking lots of green jasmine tea, they must have topped up my cup at least 20 times and when I finally said "no more thanks, I will need to swim home" they all laughed - would love to know what they were saying to each other. The staff are all so friendly and helpful even if they don't speak much English it is amazing how well you can communicate using sign language and simple words - great fun :-)
Earlier tee time tomorrow so that we can go shopping to Lo Wu in the afternoon - yeah! Have been there twice before and can't wait to go again. We are playing the Leadbetter Course tomorrow.