It’s not everyday that leggy, drop-dead gorgeous beauties dressed in Miss Universe costumes stand in a row, clap, sing, cheer and pose with you, welcoming you at the reception of a 5-star hotel.
And it's not everyday that such beauties turn out to be – as my tour guide Alorino described them – “man in woman’s body”.
Indeed, I thought I had my Bachna Ae Haseeno moment, until they said, “Welcome to Star World Hotel!” in the most masculine voice I’d ever heard.
Such is Macau, and its sinfully naughty delights. The who's who of Bollywood who’re in the city for the just concluded IIFA Awards, might call the city as Las Vegas of the East, but in Hollywood parlance, I'd rather call it the American Pie of tourist destinations. Casinos, massage parlours, night clubs, sky-diving, a Grand Prix to its name - Macau is a playground of indulgence for adult travellers.
Alorino put it succinctly, “You want to make money, you go to Casino. You want to spend money, you go to sex shop. Vice versa!”
I didn't have to go to such lengths. But I'll remember my 5-day tour of Macau for many firsts.
Like, it was the first time I stayed in a 5-star hotel, in a deluxe room all to myself. As soon as I entered it, I spent 20 minutes clicking pictures of the room. And as I relaxed later in the bathtub, I felt like I was John Abraham in No Smoking.
Like, it was the first time I saw a semi-nude women pole dance within 3 feet of my squirming uncomfortable self, and my travel companions - female journalists most of them - called up their husbands back home and screamed in sadistic pleasure, “You know what! I just saw a pole dance! I bet you’ve never seen one! Muhahaha!”
Silly wives, I say.
Like, I realised that gambling in casinos can become addictive. Looking at the plethora of grand casinos all around – they are one of Macau’s highest revenue sources, recession be damned - one is tempted to throw in a few dollars and set the ball rolling in the roulette. Although I didn’t try my luck there, some of my travel-companions became poorer by several dollars in consequent attempts after having kissed lady luck at first go.
Like, it was the first time I had an octopus for lunch. Sure, I was overwhelmed with the deluge of prawns in every meal we had - Macau's a manna from heaven for seafood and wine lovers - but octopus salad surely made me feel I'd soon improve my multi-tasking abilities.
Like, the first time I noticed the sky in Macau has smoke detectors. Well, not really, but when you're in The Venetian, a mall-cum-city-cum-hotel-with-3000-rooms-cum-largest-casino-on-this-planet, you could get easily fooled into thinking so, while experiencing the delights of Venice in a gondola ride.
Like, how not a single vehicle honked on the street, no matter how crowded the roads may be or how the peak hour traffic might be testing the drivers’ patience. The streets are an exercise in discipline – no litter, no honking, no bonking.
It was also the first time I interacted with Chinese people so closely. I entered into the kitchen of every restaurant we ate at, thanked the chefs for the wonderful meal, posed for pictures with the pretty waitresses, only to realise that there's more to Chinese women than Lucy Liu. Not only are they as pretty as dolls, but they’re also mother to babies so cute that I cooed in pleasure every time I saw one.
There were times during this trip that I became so obsessed with clicking pictures of Chinese kids, that I'm sure the locals must have mistaken me for a paedophile or something.
Alorino noticed this, and on our way back to the airport, comforted me by saying, “Chinese women - very rich and pretty. You marry one of them and she give you nice baby. Training, training, it bring gold from Olympics.”
“They’ll be such cute kids,” I replied, showing him some Chinese kids' pictures I'd clicked.
"What if the kids look like you?" he asked, giggling.
My travel companions roared with laughter.