What happens in Macau...stays in Macau

Trip Start Dec 30, 2006
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Flag of Macau  ,
Monday, June 25, 2007

Welcome to Vegas-lite.  Macau is, I think, a bit of an anomaly within China.  Due to the Portuguese influence of the city, it has a very Mediterranean feel.  Some areas of the city felt more Portuguese than Lisbon did.  Large plazas, Portuguese influenced architecture and lots of catholic churches with a cool laid-back atmosphere.  Then, in the other half of the city, there are exact replicas of massive Vegas casinos like the Wynn Macau, The Sands, Venetian and the (soon to be completed) MGM Grand.  In addition to the Vegas copies there are a number of other large casinos that don't exist in Vegas.  It's a weird and crazy dichotomy.  Macau may not be as well known as Las Vegas or other world cities but I can guarantee there is no place in the world like Macau. 

Macau even seems to be getting the large gaudy tourist attractions that Vegas is so well known for.  A huge water fountain near the casino district gives a performance four or five times a day set to music and lights reminiscent of the fountain in front of the Venetian in Las Vegas.  And, even odder, near the harbour, where most people arrive from Hong Kong, is a volcano and roman-themed amusement park/amphitheater/convention centre/monstrosity.  You know you have arrived in a different city when the first thing you see when you clear immigration is a huge fake volcano and roman theme park.

I have been to Vegas a couple of times and one of the things you notice is the large number of tourists who are gambling but are not very good at it or don't know what they are doing.  They never gamble at home and don't know how to but - when they get to Vegas - they assume they are gambling gods.  Not so in Macau.  I ended up going to three different casinos in Macau and never ran into one of these "Vegas tourists".  Everyone here is pretty serious.  Just a lot of people with some serious money to gamble.  I think this helps to explain why last year Macau actually passed Las Vegas in terms of the amount of money earned from gambling despite less actual people coming to Macau to gamble vs Vegas.  Even more impressive is that there are only currently twenty-five casinos in Macau.

I have to admit though, it was nice to sit at a blackjack table and not have a couple idiots wreck the table when they start hitting their 14 or 15 when the dealer is showing a 4.

Three casinos and a few hours later and I was able to walk away with just over $2k HKD, which almost paid for my entire stay in Hong Kong/Macau.  I would have won about a thousand more but I had a run in with a roulette table at one of the casinos.  That was unfortunate.
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