Do chinese people gamble?

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

We woke at 7.30am and set off to the Macau ferry terminal to meet Rorie and Emer. We had arranged to meet outside the ferry terminal. Surprise surprise there were about four or five entrances so we waited in one place while they waited at another. After a quick walk around we found them and decided to go and book a ferry. I dont think any of us thought a great deal about it but Macau is essentially another Special Adminstrative Zone in China and therefore we needed passports to get through immigration, customs etc. We therefore had to do a quick detour back to Mongkok to pick up the passports.

Back at the ferry port we were looking at prices and there were a number of booths selling cheap deals so we walked over to a rather excitable man who was selling ferry tickets much cheaper than the actual ferry companies (sounded very dodgy but he was behind a tourism desk so we knew he wasn't a complete fly by night). After trying to figure out why a return would cost pro rata more than a single (it was still at about a 45% discount) he simply told us "I don’t have time to speak to you, I have to sell more tickets, just give me the money". This rather rude approach made us want to rip the absurdly single long hair out of his neck (it must have been about a foot long) but instead we paid up. We were then given some very odd looking vouchers to exchange for return tickets at the terminal on the way back. After getting more stamps on the Chinese page of our passports that page is now full.

The hydrofoil ferry was fairly quick and stable conisdering the wind that was blowing. The ferry was however full of Indians with huge suitcases (full of cash maybe?) who were singing, dancing and drinking all the way there.

Well what do we know about Macau. Macau is currently taking more money in its casinos than both Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined. I would suspect it has fewer casinos but some of them are huge. It is rumored that a major % of this money (greater than 50%) is bribery and corruption money from mainland China where it is practically impossible to receive corruption money without the senior government officials in Beijing getting wise. So for example if a westerner wants to build a development in Chengdu he may be able to obtain planning permission if he places a few hundred thousand dollars at the Lisboa casino in a certain name say Mr Smith. Mr Smith will then take one of his mistresses away to Macau where she can buy what she wants from the shops (expensive watches, designer clothes etc) Mr Smith can gamble incredible amounts of money at the tables. This has led Macau casinos having some of the highest turnover high end watch shops in the whole of Asia. Specialist limited editions are often sold here. All these allegations have been explained to us by a third party so we have no sources for this info. Macau also has hit the restaurant scene by storm for example the Lisboa has three Michelin starred restaraunts, the highest number under one roof anywhere in the world.  We considered it for a while but they didnt have an all you can eat option on the menu.

When we arrived we jumped a shuttle bus to the Venetian. The Venetian is huge (3 times the size of it's LasVegas big sister) and has indoor Gondola rides (however look closely and you can see the propeller that drives them) and a shopping centre that probably rivals many UK towns. Obviously on our budget we didn’t gamble, we used the free shuttle busses and had a McDonalds for lunch. It was however a very very interesting day. Personally I wasn’t a huge fan, whilst the buildings are very impressive and well done the place feels a little bit shallow and almost artificial (think of the Trafford Centre on steroids, the painted ceilings like the sky, the fake 'street scenes'). If you have suitcases of cash I’m sure you will have a wonderful time but you cant get a pint for less than about 7 quid (I actually had a beer stood outside an off license on the street for about 70p). After a while wandering the incredibly vast casino floors and seeing the many thousands of pounds being gambled by individual players each casino and hotel gets a little bit same’ish.

Unlike Las Vegas the casinos are more spread out across the city so it isn’t as easy to explore. The place is vast though and you get the impression that like so much of China there is going to be some serious money spent further 'developing’ the city and soon Las Vegas will look like a poor relation. We also visited the Sands, Lucky dragon, Ocean, Saw the MGM Grand, Hard Rock Casino, terribly named ‘City of Dreams’ casino amongst many others.

As the sun set we had a chance to take some night time pictures we headed back for the ferry terminal via free bus. We traded in the tickets for our return passes for the next available ferry to find that one of the vouchers was incorrect. We let Emer loose on the lady at the ferry counter and she let rip although it became apparent fairly quickly that we would have to pay for a return. As the ferry was leaving in about 3 minutes we paid ran through customs and immigration and sprinted to the boat. Last on the 20:30 and one hour later we were back in Hong Kong, ready with arguments of “just trust me” and ready to rip that long hair out of the old mans neck. He wasn’t there but after a quick apology a full refund for the ticket we had paid for was given much to our astonishment.

We got the metro back to Chez Tunstall and arrived at 11pm. We woke LIn up though because like drunk teenagers we couldn’t get our key to work, the only difference was we are both in our thirties and hadn’t had a drink.
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