No wow Macau

Trip Start Aug 03, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Macau,
Friday, March 2, 2012

I decided I would take a day trip to Macau to take in the old Portugese colony, sample some of the famous egg tarts and take a cursory look at what has been described as the Las Vegas of the Far East (the Casinos in Macau actually take far more money than their counterparts in Vegas).

A stroll down Nathan Road, before the masses and hawking tailors busily plying their wares were awake, proved most enjoyable, as did a tranquil trip across to Hong Kong Island on the Star Ferry followed by an amble along the raised walkways (surrounded by immaculately dressed HongKongers busily scurrying to their offices) to the ferry terminal where, amongst the throng of Mainland Chinese looking forward to a bumper betting weekend in Macau, I procured my ticket.

A shortwhile later, having cleared immigration, I found myself sat on the ferry looking out of a window at a thick bank of fog... no harbour sightseeing would be enjoyed today - but we were soon underway and the ferry rapidly got up to speed for the hour long journey.

Arriving in Macau the fog/mist/cloud thing that was going on had deteriorated with visibility an absolute shocker. I again cleared immigration and strolled down towards Fishermans Wharf which can only be described as a hodge podge mix of tacky tourist resconstructions that included a delightful Roman Ampitheatre nestled alongside a Volcano, a replica of the Forbidden City and various other slightly weird and wonderful buildings.

I left the wharf, deciding to take in a few of the more historical highlights. I headed towards the Penha Church, high on a hilltop on the Macau peninsula. Now they might be able to do good Casino's in Macau (I'll come on to that) but viewpoints, they are definitely not their strongest calling. I came across three on the way to the church and if admiring peoples laundry and horrendously ugly buildings is your thing - come to Macau. The Church conquered I headed into the Central Downtown area where after sampling an egg tart I enjoyed watching the hoards of people (having a little gambling break) cruising the narrow streets and squares admiring the architecture - at this stage my assessment is that should you wish to see classic colonial Portugese architecture, you should go to Portugal - harsh but true!

Walking around town I had seen the usual big branded Vegas style casinos but after my cultural excursion decided to head to the Sands casino to witness the Great Chinese gambling frenzy in full swing - I cannot describe (and no cameras were allowed) the scale of the Chinese gambling machine. In a casino the size of Wembley Stadium there were literally thousands upon thousands of people betting on pretty much anything you could imagine, cards, dice, roulette - the usual casino offerings but also some uniquely CHinese ones, Sic Bo (3 dice combination game - Yahtzee for money if you ask me) and Fan Tan - when they bet on the number of plastic buttons the croupier will have under the metal cup - bizarre indeed! Seeing only one other Westerner in the casino I felt as if I stuck out a little - but after watching and trying to understand some of these odd games I turned my hand to a couple of rounds of Sic Bo whilst a cheery toothless Chinese lady looked on, most amused - sticking to the form shown at Wednesday's races, I lost (note to self at this point, probably not wise to go to Las Vegas later on this trip).

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