Our vacation was over, so it was time to head back to the tour. Our next stop, Macau. Known as the Vegas of Asia. I was quite looking forward to this city. It was about an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong and only ten minutes in a taxi to our hotel.
The hotel was very swanky. It was part of the Contai Sands Resort, which was connected to the Venetian, where Shrek was performing. You didn’t need to see sunlight on the ten minute walk through the malls from the hotel to the theatre. The malls were lined with very high end shops and restaurants.
We would be staying in Macau for three weeks. Since we crammed so much into Hong Kong we decided to relax by the pool, then head to the theatre for tech in the evening. The next few days had a busy work schedule. Press, opening night and double show days at the weekend.
There wasn’t really a lot to see in Macau apart from casinos and night life. Of course, neither of these would be of interest to Olivia and Eliana, so three weeks did seem like too long in this city. Also, our per diem was given to us in credit which could only be used within the Sands/Venetian resort and only at restaurants on a provided list. There were only two restaurants on the list the girls would eat at. One of them would use our entire day per diem for one meal. We ended up ordering a lot of room service. After spending so much money in Hong Kong and Thailand on our vacation, I didn’t want to venture out too much.
Our schedule in Macau was pretty easy once we were through the opening and first weekend. Tuesday – Friday evenings, Saturday and Sunday both matinee and evening performances.
We spent our Monday off visiting the Ruins of St Paul and the Historical town. It was nice to walk around, but really hot.
In the evening we went to see The House of Dancing Water. This was the highlight of Macau and I’m sure will be what the girls will talk about in years to come. I’ve never seen anything like it. A water show with divers diving from ridiculous heights, acrobatics, motorcycles, circus acts, dance, and music. You have to see it to believe it. As if watching this show wasn’t spectacular enough, we were given a backstage tour, so we could get a glimpse of how the production happens. It was worth going to Macau for this show alone!
After what seemed like quite a long three weeks, we were on to our next city. The first of two in mainland China, Guangzhou.
Guangzhou is only a couple of hours from Macau, but you have to pass through Chinese immigration to get there. We had to walk quite a distance from where the bus dropped us for the immigration terminal. Draging large suitcases, kids in tow and the heat, it was really difficult. We waited in the long immigration line and faced another long walk to the next bus once though. The journey took about five hours in total.
Our hotel in Guangzhou was really nice. The check in process was the fastest we had seen yet. The friendly staff were organized with our room keys when we arrived. We were given two rooms, actually suites, in this hotel. They were next to each other, but they didn’t join. The girls loved it. They kept calling me on the phone every couple of minutes. It was so good to watch TV at night once the kids had gone to bed. A luxury I’d lived without for a few months.
Guangzhou was very different from how I imagined it. The third largest city in China, it looked like any other major US city, but without Westerners. I was expecting it to be old and to appear as one big China town.
We didn’t get any time for sightseeing in Guangzhou. We only had one full day off, but Olivia was needed for press events.
There was no shortage of good food. We ate almost all Japanese and hot pot. The hotel was about 15 minutes from the theatre, but both areas had good restaurants and were really nice to walk around.
I would like to have spent a little more time exploring the city, but we were really getting quite homesick knowing that we only had one more week with one more city to go!
Our final city was Xiamen, located on the Southeast coast of China. It’s a popular tourist destination for the Chinese.
We took two trains to Xiamen. The train station was large, modern and clean with exception of the toilets which smelt so bad I almost threw up. I didn’t drink for the rest of the day just so I didn’t have to use a toilet again.
We arrived at our hotel in Xiamen around 9pm. Everyone was so hungry. We hadn’t had a meal since our late breakfast. Just snacks during our journey. The hotel was in a very quiet part of Xiamen, located across from the theatre, where the conference center was also situated, rather than a tourist area. We decided to get some food at the restaurant in the hotel. It was hard even getting a menu, they just didn’t speak English. Even when we pointed at the items on the menu, we really didn’t know if we would get what we asked for. It was a complete disaster. We were all very cranky and forty five minutes later we hadn’t even received our drinks. Other cast members were having the same problem and left, but we waited it out. We all needed to eat and there were no other options locally.
The following morning we went to the local mall where there was a supermarket to stock up on snacks for after the evening performances. I didn’t want to get caught out again. The mall was also really quiet. I’m not sure where all the people were, but it had a couple of nice restaurants and a Pappa John’s. Pizza had never tasted so good!
Our final sightseeing trip of the tour was to the Nanputuo Temple. I really enjoyed walking around this ancient temple, but climbing more steps in heat was really getting to be too much for the girls.
The hardest part of the tour in Macau and mainland China was the attention we received. It could get really uncomfortable in elevators where people would actually point at us, not even trying to pretend they weren’t talking about us. It wasn’t that people knew Olivia was in a show. They’re just not used to seeing people with blonde hair. They just wanted to touch the girls and take photos with them everywhere we went. Olivia didn’t mind it so much, but Eliana really did. Strange since Eliana is the “watch me, watch me” child. She only wants it under her own conditions. Olivia on the other hand, was very gracious once I explained the reason behind it, she said she was an ambassador for the blondes.
At the Temple we were constantly being stopped and asked for pictures. By this time even Olivia had enough, so we politely declined posing for pictures with anyone.
It was the day before the final performances. Alex, the Stage Manager had arranged for Eliana to play Grumpy in the Matinee performance on the last day, but Eliana didn’t know. She came to our dressing room with Christian (Farquad) and the Grumpy costume to ask Eliana if she would like to go on. Eliana was so excited. I nearly cried. It was the perfect way for this tour to end.
After watching every performance from the wings, Eliana was about to go on. She was so nervous, but she loved it so much. She asked if she could go on for the final performance too. Alex said yes.
The Shrek International Tour took it’s final bow. Over eight months, one hundred and thirty six performances in eleven cities. Istanbul, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Macau, Guangzhou and Xiamen. It was time to go home. All that stood in the way of us and NYC was the thirty six hour journey to get there. What an incredible adventure it had been!