Monday, September 01, 2008

I'll have a Macau please

I really didn't want to come to Macau, in the People's Republic of the Venetian, but - oh my god - I'm so glad I did. This place is a BLAST. For anyone I haven't moaned to in the last three weeks (no one), the back story is this: I have come half way across the world to help a new PokerStars employee settle in to his new role as me. Unfortunately it became totally obvious that this was a flawed plan on the part of Senior Management when JP refused to pole-dance at last night's APPT Macau Welcome Party. This is a mandatory pre-requisite for "being me". Oh well.

I also knew I was going to totally love Macau when I received some spam from the Sands Casino on my mobile phone to enter their monthly Slots Tournament while I was still standing in the queue for immigration. Brilliant.

Hass got here a few hours earlier than me and immediately immersed himself in local culture by learning Mandarian in 15 minutes and then accidentally immersing himself in fifteen main dishes at a local restaurant. This then involved him in the internally-recognised debate that goes: "Ah sorry, I can't actually pay that bill. Can you wait here while I go back to my hotel and find a credit card that didn't max out while I was in Vegas." Although trying to use a dud one dollar bill can get you life imprisonment in China, not having any money at all to pay your dinner bill is not a big issue.

So, despite the best effort of the Chinese people for everyone to learn English by the end of the Olympics, this has in no way spread to the Grand Waldo Hotel. It took me over half an hour yesterday to mime: "Coffee with milk, please" so I am taking the bull by the horns (ancient Chinese expression) and learning Cantonese and a smattering of Mandarin. The Mandarin is for those occasions when the Cantonese is simply impossible to pronounce. For example, "Thank you" is impossible in Cantonese but pronouned "Shi Shi" in Mandarin. So Mandarin it is. Plus it impresses the bar staff because they now think I'm bi-lingual.

The bar staff (and my cleaning lady) might be the only people I get to meet in Macau but that doesn't matter. You can learn a lot from bar staff. Yesterday, for example, I learned how to set the bar on fire and how to order tequila shots. There is also a lovely Chinese girl on the PR team who has been helping boost our language skills. Yesterday, she taught us how to say "Grand Waldo Hotel" in Chinese in case we ever leave the Grand Waldo and then want to come back again. ("Gum Doh")

The tournament starts today and looks set to be a sell-out, record event. My body clock is totally fucked though so I'm not sure exactly what time. I managed to request a wake-up call from reception before passing out last night but they have woken me up half way through yesterday so now I have to go through the whole thing again. Yippee.