One day in Macau, ‘Las Vegas’ of China, 2008

Macau is one of the most surprising megalopolises I’ve ever seen. From the former Portuguese colony, the region inherited narrow European streets with unusual names. Invaders had been the owners of that piece of Chinese ground for more than four hundred years. Only in 1999 Macau was returned to China and got a status of a special administrative region like Hong Kong. But if the latter with its English “basis” was, at least in a very small degree, clear to me, Macau seemed surrealistic due to interwining of incompatible, by all appearances, cultures, languages and traditions. It just blasted my mind how those civilizations, which originally had been in different parts of the globe, could coexist in this warm corner of Southeastern Asia.
About corners, by the way. In one of photo posts, which, for some reason, attracts dozens of spambots every day, there are a lot of photos with views of Macau. Then, I didn’t have time for writing a detailed report about that visit. See the post if you missed it. The post was popular not only with search bots.
Tourism is one of the main income items in Macau and amounts to 40% of gross domestic product. At present, Macau is growing by leaps and bounds and is famous mostly for its legal gambling industry. In America, the Indians were presented casinos not to feel hurt with “typhus” presents. In Macau, casinos helped China to keep that newly gained “step-region” administered. Now, multiple “owners of plants and ships” (cited from a children’s poem “Mister Twister” by the Soviet poet S.Ya. Marshak) from all parts of the country come here to spend their money. The industry’s scale is enormous, almost non-human. Recently, the revenues yielded from only one gaming table in Macau has happened to be five times bigger than from one gaming table in Las-Vegas. The number of hotels in Macau is ten times as many as in Las-Vegas. To create all that industry took mere ten years in contrast to one hundred years in Nevada. Super casino magnate Steve Wynn (Wynn Macau) decided to move his headquarters to Macau in spring of 2010.
It is a usual thing in Asia to see a great contrast between luxury and poverty. In whole, I don’t think that in a former Portuguese colony people live in poverty or on the breadline but one can easily meet a fruiterer with a barrow near the entrance of a luminous forty-storeyed building of a casino shaped as a flower-bud’s burst. China is China. One of the main problems of the city is overpopulation. To be able to live in the center I had to settle in a “closet” (a room about the size of a broom closet) — imagine a big room divided into smaller rooms by high partitions being not so high as to reach the ceiling. The audibility there is something, I’ll tell you that… Narrow streets, which the city got from medieval invaders, are still used far and wide. The main transport vehicle used there is a moped à la Vespa. Bikes are not in fashion for some reason, and cars are stuck in traffic jams.
I spent three days in Macau. I strolled about its suburbs, climbed the hill, walked down to the seafront, ate strange octopuses in a restaurant and almost bought a stupid Chinese dog. I am sure to come back there. By the way, from Russia (from Moscow) one can fly to and fro in mere five hundred Euro (a screenshot). I think it is very cheap. I saw the price in Russian version of Momondo. I really recommend it to you. It is a ticket search engine of high quality and it is customized for Russian air carriers. It works without fees, scans 800+ sites and is so, like, web-two-zero interactive. Now, I more and more often start all my searches on Momondo.
If you start looking for a flight, look for the one to Hong Kong. From there you can easily get to Macau by an express ferry. Just keep in mind that money and visas there are different. At the border, when you are to pay a visa fee you cannot make payments with your credit card, you will need cash. I didn’t have it so I had to go to a utility room to “negotiate” the fact with an officer and convert at the wildest rate. From Àomén (it is a Cantonese name of the city) one can go back to Hong Kong or to the “continent” — to China. I went to Nanning by bus to go straight to Vietnam. In a day, I got to bustling and absolutely rural, as compared with Macau, Hanoi.
The post is continued with many pictures and their descriptions, which, at last, have been sorted out and refined. The post is now like old school posts which, once, have used to be more numerous in this journal.
1. The ferry is approaching the northern part of Macau.  There is no charge for a ride on a bus to the nearest casino (it is a gigantic building on the background).
2. But when I got to the casino I had to find out about the local transport schedule.

3. We are entering the old part of Àomén on a regular bus. The city can be seen through the wind shield, if you click on the photo.

4. Some buildings are high and odd, and others are even higher and odder.

5. A view of the city center.

6. The central street of the old part of Macau.

7. As you can see, the city stands on hills.

8. A new building in the coastal part of the city.

9. A big building being constructed in an underprivileged district. After having strolled on the hills I walked down and went there to see the contrast between that district and a thoroughly cleaned center.

10. One of the squares of the city. In the foreground, there are Chinese inscriptions, and on the white building aloof – Portuguese ones.

11. A cozy small  yard with benches. The best cafes and restaurants are usually located in such secluded corners.

12. Figured balconies with flowers.

13. Winding back streets and THE mopeds.

14. A composition involving a window, a ladder and a tropical plant.

15. A very European piece of China, in my opinion.

16. Walls of many houses are laid with ceramic tile. If you click on the photo you can see it better.

17. An old woman near a small store’s entrance. And here I am, in the district that you have seen in the beginning of the post on the photo of a constructed building.

18. A stranger in a red T-shirt is dozing after having dinner in a cook-shop.

19. A small piece of a street art.

20. A banana-guy.

21. A Chinese room on the ground floor.

22. Typical dwellers of such Chinese corners.

23. A repair shop for repairing mopeds.

24. A young lad is having a rest in the marshaling yard.

25. Contrasts, contrasts, contrasts… Think of shining glass-concrete buildings in the center and a cosmic tower.

26. Narrow streets, wires and narrowness. This part reminds Hong Kong.

27. 28. Balconies with grates. One can assume that it was done for safety reasons. But in fact, it can be so that it is just done, like, for example, in Vietnam they like to frame roofs with small ornamental balconies.

29. An honours board near a local school. A rainbow and happy faces of children. For some reasons, rice and fish on the ground, being dried by the sun, are left unattended, absolutely by themselves.

30. The school walls are laid with tile. The red cat didn’t know how to get down, it was afraid of jumping down and was sadly mewing up there for a long time.

31. Schoolchildren are walking home, the day is drawing to a close.

32. The lights come on in sign boards and shop windows with jewelry. In contrast to Hong Kong, there are not so many charlatans in Macau, who tug at people’s sleeves and offer faked Rolexes or electronics.

33. One of cosmic casino buildings.

34. I hope that when you see the photos you will be able to feel all the difference between these magnificent non-human constructions and common proletarian districts. For the umpteenth time, I’d like to remind you that you can purchase any of the photos, of any size: just feel free to write me a letter. 

35. A historical building two blocks from Lisboa Casino. 

36. You’ve seen this building in the beginning of the post. It is VERY big. The lower spherical part reflects running images of playing cards, card suits and easy money.

37. 38. Night cafes offer fish from aquariums and simple entertainments. The Chinese like eating at nights.

39. 40. 41. The city center is expensive, luxurious and gigantic.
42. The same picture as in the beginning, only in blue. That’s all for today.
I’d like to remind you that I am not an office worker, I am a freelancer. So, if you or your acquaintances from glossy magazines and from not very glossy magazines have got any ideas about the utilization of my abilities and talents, or if you just liked the photos (or descriptions) for the post, feel free to write me a letter, and we’ll think of something. Thanks.



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