The Gambler

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Sunday, 31 July, 2016

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

I just had a week off from work and wanted to use it wisely. I’ve never visited Hong Kong before, which is pretty insane as it is practically next door to where I live, has a Marks & Spencer (Taiwan does not) and boasts the world’s highest bar (which we will get to). Therefore, the location was a no brainer.

All that was left to do now was choose my travel team. Who aches for my company and cries everyday I’m not at home? Well, my family of course. So I suggested the trip to them, and they jumped at the chance of a reunion – the tickets were soon booked and their tears were now of the joyful kind.

Family time for as long as I can remember has usually involved bars and Hong Kong was no different. However, my parents decided to notch it up a gear in terms of glamour this time around and took us to the OZONE bar – the highest bar in the world (located on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton).

The view of the city is phenomenal, but the drink prices – oh buddy. A beer was a tenner and a cocktail was twenty quid! There was a posh girl sat next to us, who made an exit with over half of her drink still sitting in her glass – I had my ruler up against her leftovers and estimated it to be twelve pounds worth of cocktail! I couldn’t believe it!

I get the impression we were from different backgrounds – I assume her best nights as a teenager weren’t spent at ‘a pound a pint’ nights in Leeds. I could have had twelve pints on what she left; I would have been absolutely off my rocker.

I’ll tell you one thing though, never have I known our family to nurse a round quite like that one – it took us all about an hour to finish. We wanted to catch the sunset and this just wasn’t the kind of place where you splash out on three or four drinks – it would have cost a month’s wage.

However, us sipping our beers slower than a man having his last ever pint on death row, did allow me a chance to visit the toilet. The bogs were just as fancy as the bar itself. The window next to the taps had a view so good that two blokes were stood there, phones out, taking panoramic pictures.

I decided I would treat myself to a little sit down wee – mainly because the toilets were really posh, but also because the urinals weren’t overly far from the two lads spinning around taking photos. I wanted to avoid running the risk of being captured taking a leak at the end of somebody’s latest, braggy Facebook upload.

As I sat myself down on the toilet, I noticed a mirror in front of me – apparently rich people love to watch themselves taking a crap. Naturally, I instantly thought it was weird. Yet, I still couldn’t help but monitor how I appeared in such a predicament, as I’d never previously thought about it. If nothing else, it has saved me ever feeling the need to reposition my bathroom mirror. I now already know which of my dumping features need improvement.

I raised my head a little, and there was another mirror placed on the ceiling – well, if you’re offering cubicle, I would love to see what I look like on the toilet from above. As I tilted my head back, my sunglasses fell off my head and smashed on the beautiful, but rock hard, marble floor.

I then sat head in hands as I waited for my pee to finish – toilets, cheap sunglasses and vanity are a terrible mix. They had a lovely selection of flushing buttons too, but I was just not in the mood to appreciate them at that point.

Bar review: amazing view, expensive drinks, dangerous toilets.

As well as Hong Kong, we also took a trip to Macau, a Chinese region with a huge Las Vegas influence – many of the hotel themes are identical to its American counterpart. The country is also only 29.5 km², and yet, still holds 33 casinos. Basically, I wouldn’t advise this place if you’re reckless with money.

I saw the bright lights and instantly had dollar sign shaped pupils. I then pictured my first purchase – marble proof sunglasses.

My problem was that I’m not exactly a big spender – one pound being my limit. Therefore, I was going to need a lot of luck if the sunglasses were ever going to become a serious option.

My dad had no desire to gamble, and instead went for a beer in the food court with my mum. He did, however, notice my potential and invested in the dream – he offered me £15 to play with. At 7, I got a couple of quid for an ice cream. At 27, I was being offered 15 large. I am the luckiest child adult alive! He also gave my sister the same – he had to prevent appearing to favour one child, I guess.

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If I did win big enough for sunglasses, my own yacht, etc., I had already decided that I would give my old man twenty quid, you know, an extra fiver as a thank you for the good faith and what not. That’s just the kind of bloke I am.

After getting ID’d about ten times and being told off for taking numerous sly pictures, we were finally at a roulette table, and my confidence was extremely high – much like every other gambler an hour before placing their passport, car keys and wife on the table.

Thankfully it never got that intense for me, as I can’t drive and I’m not married. It would have been pretty awkward going back to the food court and asking my old man if I can borrow his car keys and my mum, due to a bad run of luck.

I’ve never really played roulette before, but I soon discovered that it’s pretty much just watching your money burn away in front of your eyes! I was £4 down within twenty minutes. I was devastated and soon decided to change games.

We went onto the craps table and within half an hour I had made my £4 back. I had broken even and I was over the moon! My sister put in a fiver and gained a pound. Our natural craps ability was frigging incredible! Cash out, please!

We went to the counter as champions and were both as smug as can be. Sure, there was a bloke behind us in the queue with like fifty chips in his hand, but who cares about that show off. I was on £15 and Harriet was at £16. We were up by a quid!

Unfortunately, the key to being a successful gambler is that you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. We didn’t.

On our way back to the food court, we lost our heads as we were passing the craps table. We decided we could go beyond our one pound win and lost everything. All that hard work just flushed down the toilet. Gambling is for mugs!

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