So I had returned from Brazil and the next tournament was already selected, Macau Open GPG would be the next and likely last trip for the year. Sujay wanted to play doubles together so we were going to do that, last minute he wasn't sure if he would be able to attend though. Through all the chaos and uncertainty he ended up being able to go but in the intermediate stage I had invited somebody else to accompany me in order to keep the hotel cost down. So this meant that we would be sharing a room and Sujay would be on his own. The day came and it was going to be a long journey but one that I have flown at least 12+ times already. Flying Calgary to Hong Kong and then would have to catch the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. All in all it was only about 18 hours of traveling which wasn't too bad. This time I would have some wonderful travel company so that was something new minus traveling with Jason in the summer.
The flight to Hong Kong was rather smooth until we approached Hong Kong and were put into a holding pattern due to weather. Eventually we landed and couldn't cut it any closer with just making in time to get our luggage onto the ferry. Once the time came we boarded the high speed ferry which zipped over the darkened bay on route to Macau. Like a scene out of a movie the Las Vegas of Asia grew from a single point of light into a multidimensional city with flashing lights and bright buildings. The waterfront view was amazing and at the same time a welcoming sight that we were finally at our destination. The tournament representative picked us up and drove us to the tournament venue for some odd reason but it was nice to check out the stadium where I would be competing. It was well put together but preparations were not finished at that point. After a short discussion they took us to our hotel, the hotel was quite grand. Nothing compared to the giant casino hotels mind you but still impressive in its own regards. Sujay got in the following morning and we arranged to go have a practice session on the main courts of the hall.
|Under the bridge to the Macau ferry terminal|
|View from the hotel room|
After a solid practice session things were looking good, had another day to kill before I would have to play my match against my Malaysian opponent in the main draw. But first before that would happen there was a big event to attend to. The opening ceremony and dinner for the 2013 Macau Open Grand Prig Gold. It was being held at the MGM Grand casino in one of the ball rooms, all the players were in attendance along with some special guests. We boarded the bus and drove off to the MGM where we were greeted with a gigantic ballroom with tables upon tables upon tables. The dinner itself was a 10 course affair. The food just kept on coming as delicious as each dish was evoking unique tastes and building upon the last. The highlight of the night for me at least was the fact that Lee Chong Wei and Taufik Hidayat were in attendance, while they were not playing in the tournament they were there for publicity reasons. I was fortunate enough to get a picture with each of them and exchange a few words when they each asked where Trinidad and Tobago was and other things. It was a legitimate fan girl moment if anything describes it, of course I didn't show it on the outside but on the inside I was happy and was a dream to meet them. Dinner came to an end and we retreated back to our hotels in order to prepare for the start of the tournament the following day.
First round matches came along and I was up against Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin of Malaysia, it was going to be a tough one. I went in there and did my thing playing to my abilities but in the end he was simply a caliber above me and nothing really threatened him. It was a big sign that I needed to change a lot in order to threaten and compete with the big boys. In the past two tournaments (Sao Paolo International and this Macau GPG) I was knocked out by players who were in the top 50 in the world. The thing is that when playing them I couldn't put as much pressure on them as they could on me and when I was able to put pressure on them I couldn't compound it and finish the points. The experience overall was a good one to see what I was lacking. Me and Sujay also played doubles together and had to qualify for the tournament as we didn't have a world ranking. We played against a pair from Hong Kong and for our first time playing together things turned out pretty well actually. Although we lost the match it was a fun time and we may play together in the future who knows.
After the tournament was done there was some time to sight see around Macau. The day after me and Sujay were knocked out of singles we went to one of the stadiums that was built for the Asian games when it was held in Macau. It was massive just beyond the size of anything in Calgary or to stadiums in North America with the exception of some of the Olympic stadiums. That was a good session and got to see the Malaysian team along with Lee Chong Wei practice.
After that it was time to go sight see, first up on the list were the ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral which proved rather elusive for us to find. After thinking that we were on the right path and following signs we ended up at a fort overlooking the city. The view was amazing and the fact that it was already night meant that the city was already lit up and the hustle of thousands of people was in full swing. So after taking some pictures from up there we ended up spotting the ruins in the distance all lit up and not too far from where we were. The hard part was finding a route to get there through the winding and narrow streets. We went one way but it ended up leading us right in a circle so we tried the “back way” which with all the luck led us right to the ruins. From the ruins it led us back to Seanado square which is a giant shopping and open area in the heart of Macau. This being November meant that yes there were already Christmas decorations set up and the place was feeling and looking like Christmas.
The following day we had to leave Macau back to Hong Kong to spend the night there and then catch our flight back to Calgary the following day. So morning came we did our final preparations and ate the last meal in Macau not to mention all had a farewell drink in the hotel lounge before leaving to the ferry terminal. Boarded the ferry and set off on the voyage back but there was some rough waters and a little bit of delays. We arrived and headed off to the airport hotel just for convenience sake so that we wouldn't have to travel early the next day to catch our flight. Once checked in and all fueled up the trek down to the harbor to see the lights started. It didn't take long and was a nice bus ride there. Thankfully it wasn't too cold outside but still warranted needing a light jacket, compared to Canada where there was snow on the ground. The harbor lights were great as always and drew in a huge crowd not to one’s surprise. After spending some time there and taking in the sights we walked around a bit and enjoyed the sights then proceeded to catch our bus back to the hotel for the night. Once back the rest of the night consisted of me finishing off school assignments as it would be my final semester and I had already taken time off the month before to go to Brazil for a tournament.
The day of departure came quick and once again we were in the airport catching our flight. After checking in the usual activities occurred and headed off to the lounge to relax and eat. Jivanya hadn't spent much time in the lounges at airports that are available for the elite travelers so this was a fun experience for her and she took full advantage of it enjoying all the amenities available. We stayed in the lounge the whole time and then only headed out to the gate a little before boarding checking through a few shops before that. The flight heading back to Canada was rather full and while heading to Hong Kong we had a row of 3 seats all to ourselves this time somebody else was also in the row with us. After boarding the flight I pretty much passed out only waking up to eat for the first half of the flight, while watching movies for the second half.
Overall it was a learning experience, playing players in the top 50 makes me realize how big of a gap there is. Even playing players in the top 100 or 200 the difference in their skill and strategic play is very noticeable. Macau would be my last international for the year but I didn't know it at the time. I was going to try and fit one more into the schedule and that would have been the Puerto Rico international but stupid me I didn't sign up and it ended up being a great tournament to attend points wise. With that being said this was my last semester of university I had finished all my core courses and was just taking options to finish off my degree. Heading back to Canada the end of November from Asia meant that finals were coming up soon and I would need to study for those as well as finish projects that I had missed and assignments that were due. I would be looking forward to graduating and finally being done with school to pursue work and badminton as full time now.