The only indicator of time in Macau, it seems, is daylight or darkness. Nearly everything stays open 24 hours, and people really do gamble all night long, taking brief naps in nearby armchairs before getting up to throw away more money. This, plus our messed-up body clocks and late working hours, means that getting to bed before 4am seems like the most difficult task in the world, itself a huge achievement akin to winning back £5 at the roulette table.
This evening we packed down after another three gigs and got the bus to downtown Macau, where we embarked upon my new favourite place to eat seafood. We sat around a large round table next to an unexpected harbour with two Argentinian clowns, and wondered what had happened for us to get here. From the outside – and, actually, the inside as well – it looked like the sort of place you’d avoid like the plague, through fear of catching the actual plague. The tables were outside, round the back of the building, covered in cellophane instead of table cloths, and the chef was topless except for a well-used apron to accompany his Adidas tracksuit bottoms. If someone hadn’t recommended it, you’d never know to go there, unless you were a local. Like a soup kitchen with boxes of fish heads, eel guts and lobsters out the front, this was the best food I’ve eaten since being here. The staff barely spoke a word of English between them, and given the standard of (or complete lack of) our Chinese, ordering didn’t seem particularly easy. Luckily there was no menu on offer anyway, and our beloved clown friend knew exactly what he wanted following a previous visit. Squid, lemon chicken, shrimp, prawns, deep-fried pork, noodles, rice and veg… It was delicious. The whole evening (meal, beers, taxi, bus) came to roughly £6 each. The uninformed are truly missing out.
There are now only two days of shows left – six gigs. By the time we finish, we will have played a grand total of 36 gigs over the past two weeks. During our many hours in the dressing room at the Venetian we’ve met performers from China, Argentina, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Israel, Spain, USA, Canada and… Cumbria. It’s been a bizarre yet comforting environment to be in, and I’m more amazed every day by the sheer amount of talent and technical capability in that one tiny room, at just about every type of creative performance imaginable. New Year’s Eve in this crazy neon playground with all of these people was the most weird and wonderful experience in the world. I’d do it all over again if I could, but it could never be the same. The daily routine of dressing up and performing three half-hour shows in the same outdoor space has become relatively predictable, but there is nothing predictable about what happens every day and night in Macau. How strange home will seem in just a few days time.