My friend Aditya (Ok fine, best friend) has gone to Saudi Arabia from work. He’s talking to me from there now. You know what it’s like to be in a different city/country on work. You have a fancy hotel room, an hour of work in 24 hours, you have free weekends in an unknown city, and the best part – you’re all alone.
Yeah. I said best part. It was only after talking to him that I realised I miss Macau. I miss the luxuriously spacey room, the massive double bed on which I could roll around and not fall off, the carpeted floors, the lamp shades at the bed post, the TV i could watch as I lay down on the bed, the breath-taking view of hills and port-side from my grill-less window, the well thought-out colours of the walls and the furniture, the massive-yet-inconspicuous painting hanging above the bed, the table and chair with a pen stand holding a bunch of pens and pencils for my work, and an open suitcase lying in the corner of the room.
Don’t even get me started on the bathroom and the bath tub in it.
I had one hell of a time in Macau, despite arriving in Bangalore ceaselessly complaining about the luxury and the waste of precious resources there. I was just trying to be a smart ass. I realised it’s alright for them to have luxury because the island city doesn’t have 99% of the population suffering in poverty. They all have enough to live a comfortable life, unlike in India, and they have every right to that luxury.
I lived at Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central, which belongs to a luxury chain of hotels called Sands Macao. And when I say luxury, I mean it. It’s the kind of place a really wealthy person would go for a honeymoon at, with outrageous room tariffs ($2,000 HK). Or like something you’d see in a depiction of a fancy room in Vegas in a Hollywood movie.
My hotel had everything I
needed could dream of – a lovely room on the 20th floor just for me, a magnificent foyer with a few too many chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling, a courtyard where Dreamworks characters danced around, a choice of around 20 restaurants to eat from, a gym, three pools, a jacuzzi and even a casino to pass you time! I had time to explore all of this, and all by myself, when I wasn’t with the other Indians I went with.
You see, it was a media junket (google it if you’re not familiar with it). I went to the two-time IIFA-host city with 15 others from India, and we all got rooms to ourselves. I had never travelled alone before, with just strangers. I have always had my family or friends with me and this was a refreshing experience! I had the freedom to not compromise on what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be, and how I wanted to spend time. When I’m with others, I usually let them decide what to do because I don’t like to be guilty if they don’t really enjoy the thing I decide to do. I don’t like that liability. So I usually compromise and it was awesome to not have to do so here.
I realised only after speaking to Aadi that it is such a pleasure to travel alone. When you’ve lived with your family all your life, this gives you a sense of freedom like none other. Note that I’m not complaining about being with my family. It’s just a nice change. I’m sure my dad feels it too when he travels to Delhi every now and then and lives on his own terms without my mum and me nagging him. But I’m sure he’s equally happy to be back to us. It was the same case with me.
Every morning I’d wake up (I was there for only four days) from the deepest slumber, get out of the warm, clean, blanket, waddle out of the five pillows on the bed (believe it or not, the pillows were labelled ‘soft’ and ‘sturdy’), admire myself in the huge mirror in the bathroom, sit at the window sill, watch the clouds move and make space for a clear view of the sea as I brushed my teeth, pour water into a kettle to make black tea for myself and get dressed and go down for breakfast. On days that I came back to the room early, I’d put on my swimming costume, go to the fourth floor, sit in the jacuzzi for a while, swim in one of the three pools, come back to my room and get ready for a nice dip in the bath tub.
I carried my portable JBL speakers with me. So one day, I played piano music, took a Wodehouse book, sat in the tub and read for an hour. As I type, I feel it sounds like I’m just typing a ideal moment in my life, something that cannot be achieved. But this is how it actually was. It was so quiet and peaceful.
But I’m not saying you can have nice alone-travel only if you have luxury. I could be in the most local hotel room in some hill station and still enjoy it, because of its simplicity. Even in my house, I find peace in the middle of chaos. All I have to do is put on my noise cancellation ear plugs.
Even while walking around in the local market in Macau, I disintegrated from the group and roamed around by myself, staring at the strange things people ate. It gave me time to think and form my thoughts about everything I was seeing. Most of the times, when we travel with others, we’re always fed preconceived thoughts and opinions and have to think hard to form our own opinions. It might not be like that with you, but it is with me. I’m easily influenced. So this time, I had the freedom of thinking whatever I want.
It’s seriously amazing to travel alone and you don’t have to be a loner to do it. You could be the most social person, and you may still love travelling alone. You’ll never know until you give it a shot. My cousin Hrishi, travelled all around the world (literally – he went from UK, to Japan, to New Zealand, to US, and other places I can’t even remember) and he did it alone. My sister asked him why he was going, and he said, “To think.” Haha! My sister responded saying, “Oh! I just do my thinking in the bathroom.” Who knew thinking could come at a hole-in-the-pocket cost eh?
Anyway, Macau, as I see it today, was an eye-opener. Although it didn’t open my eyes back in May when I went, it did today. And I’m glad I went and enjoyed however I wanted to. I found peace even in the noisy, half-constructed, casino-infested city.
You should try it too.
Just remember, don’t let strangers into your room. Stay safe.
Until next time.