During my time at Sheffield, I have acclimatised to its sudden rains, whipping winds and chilling temperatures despite the sun being out.
Arriving in Sydney for my study abroad, I was quite shocked to find it was 17C in the middle of July. And someone said this was supposed to be winter? By the time exams were over in November, the temperature had soared to almost 40C. It had also rained just 4 times.
This year, I chose to spend my Christmas vacation taking a “summer” course . Located in Macao, I left Sydney for a 7 hour flight to Asia believing that crossing back to the Northern hemisphere might cool things slightly.
I was wrong. With higher humidity than Australia, I walked out of Hong Kong airport at 7am in the morning to be punched in the face with heat. I was almost tempted to scuttle back into the comfort of the air-conditioned award-winning architecturally stunning airport and take the airport express MTR (Mass Transit Railway) into town.
Live like a local and take the bus, I told myself… well these locals must be walking refrigeration machines. My pain was short lived as the bus was punctual and brought with it two deck’s worth of air conditioning. Seeing Hong Kong wake up was beautiful. Crossing the bridges into Kowloon, I wondered why I didn’t chose to become an Architect as I admired the jaw-dropping suspension cables leading to the top of the bridge. My eyes caught the open sea and crinkled in joy as it met the rising Sun. To my other side was an array of hills and mountains of all sizes. Some say Sheffield was built on 7 hills. Well, Hong Kong is probably built on 70 hills, acres of reclaimed land and a vast subterranean network of pipelines, tunnels and flood defences.
Formerly a British colony, the first stop on my journey to Macao has evolved over the years to become a fusion expert in food, language and music. Here, everything seems so similar yet different. The streets lined with the same double yellow parking lines and traffic lights, but the shops selling irregularly shaped dragon fruits, star shaped foods and large spike balls known as “Durians”.
A few days later, I took the ferry to Macao. It was chaotic as people tried to secure seats and keep track of their luggage at the same time. During the short one hour trip, I met some German travellers sitting next to me. Who would have thought I would be able to practise meinem Deutsch here?
Macao was just having their Grand Prix and hearing the sounds of V8 supercars, Formula 3 machines and motorbikes zoom around the circuit was enough to get me excited. If you have never been to a race before, let me tell you right now they are LOUD. Every now and then in Sheffield, you will hear someone with a modified renault making spluttering loud noises. These cars are probably 4 times as loud and crazy.
During my time in Macao, I got to visit the science museum, the cultural center and the more famous landmarks. Being a former colony of Portugal, there were signs in Portuguese everywhere, yet not many locals spoke Portuguese…
I also got the chance to visit the Venetian, a shopping, food, casino, theatre complex in Taipa. Modelled after Venice in Italy, it was like Meadowhall on steroids. Beautiful drawings that seemed to be half 3D jumped out at me as gondolas took people on indoor canal boat trips. (Yes, indoors)
A short distance away, I could see the opposite shore with mainland China. The proximity was surprising and I could make out the street lamps. At certain points, the crossing was similar to crossing the river Thames in Westminster.
If you are thinking of visiting Macao, I strongly suggest you buy a couple of Portuguese tarts and visit the adjacent cities in China. The differences are both intriguing and each city has their own speciality.
After a week of amazing classes in the cultural center learning about intellectual property law, it was time to go home.
Returning to Sheffield, I was struck by how cold it was. Then I was struck by the fact that it wasn’t even anywhere near freezing or snowing temperatures! Travellers be warned, studying abroad to Australia and coming back after 5 months will induce at least a week of “temperature” jet lag! After hoping for cooler weather for so long, I started to wish it was hotter! Some things are strange indeed…
With that I conclude my blog, I hope you have enjoyed reading it. Every so often, I wake up in the middle of the night smelling glorious bread buns and cannot wait to visit again…