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Caribbean Cruise Discounts!
by: Ieuan Dolby
A failed or neglected city springs to mind when walking around Macau during the
day time. Around the outskirts of the Islands the doors of modern buildings
never seem to open. Hotel restaurants tend to sole customers with reluctance:
public gardens remain empty except for the lone tramp rooting around in the
bins, roads remain unsullied with tyre tracks and the silence is loud all
around. Inside and up the hill cracked and uneven pathways run along to meet the
next, weeds compliment the falling cement on graying walls. Unpainted fences
balance precariously around crazy paved basketball pitches whilst graffiti gives
color to an otherwise drab setting.
The Portuguese gave the place some amazing buildings when they ruled and
controlled, in fact Macau was the first European Settlement in the Far East. The
Portuguese beat the Dutch and the British by a hairs breadth with their
establishment of this well positioned and soon to be rich trading post. Hong
Kong, Singapore and .Malacca followed many years later as the British, Dutch and
other nations established a presence in Far East Asia but at the beginning Macau
ruled the roost. The Dutch tried many times to get hold of the Islands as did
the Spanish and the British once or twice. A prize jewel had Macau become and
Portugal managed to retain control throughout, only really giving it up in 1999
when they handed it back to mainland China.
China now rules Macau under what has become known as a SAR. This stands for a
Special Administration Region and basically comes under the Mainland Chinese
Policy of “one rule, two systems”. A status-quo in which Macau governs itself
for the most part, and it makes and lives under its own laws, but it belongs to
China however it is run or seen to be run.
Today it is a little paradise steeped in history and culture. Large imposing,
century old structures now vie for space amongst the tattered remnants of
shoddily built 20 century brick houses and classily built modern glass offices
that reach to the sky. Massive and squat stone offices of a colonial era sit
regally and steadfastly among haphazard and leaning towers of steel girders:
gray stone snubs orange brick and the slate roofs still keep out the water were
the tin cladding has long since failed.
New roads lead around the coast in smooth patterns, over long and impressive
bridges they flow before swooping gracefully in arcs around flashing
advertisements and over reclaimed land that oozes intent. Newly built high
speed, two-lane, motorways pass futuristic glass structures and cloud hitting
spirals, they zoom over decorated spanned bridges that are a feat to modern
engineering, they whiz past glittering hotels that invite money to be spent and
all before lowering themselves in stature to greet and pass over to times gone
Working inwards and upwards modern tarmac meets old cobbles as the flat ground
turns into the steep climb. Little lanes hobble through culture that crowds-in
upon itself. Houses of times past squash and bulge against each other and hang
precariously over paths that defy the eyes to follow. Hanging baskets swing
delicately from balconies that threaten to pull down the houses that they belong
to, whilst open windows give glimpses to the crowded life beyond.
The modern steels and glass facades of hotels and office blocks, the colonial
stone museums and Portuguese Officialdom of yesteryear that grace the flatlands
around the coast are left behind when walking inland. The hilly centers of the
Islands house the main population: looking at houses from many years ago the
place strikes chords of a fishing village in Portugal when looking one way and
China Town the next. These small houses built along old cobbled streets crowd in
upon each other and bring life and activity all around.
But all is not as it seems. From the heat of the day, when cool drinks and light
foods go together with a swimming pool and air conditioning, the evening brings
change. From the dull and fading brick work and overgrown flowerbeds, from the
graffiti and flaking paint on shop walls springs lights of dazzling proportions.
From a forgotten City lying to waste in its own decay grows a glittering display
of neon power, one that transforms the place and everything within. As the sun
sets on the horizon people come out to play, tourists put aside their bathing
towels and no longer think of cold air, workers get ready for the night ahead
and hotel lobbies transform from desolate halls to crowded and bustling bee
hives filled with action and intent.
Public Gardens become noisy meeting points for those going out on the town,
overloaded buses groan along roads that are a mass of spinning wheels and alert
taxi drivers fight for the needy customers with skill and adeptness. Policemen
wipe the sleep from their eyes and come out of their cubby holes, ready and
watchful for the evening ahead. Bars stock up with large muscled men who hang
around the doorways with folded arms silently saying, “make trouble and you will
have me to deal with”. Hopeful jewelers open their doors and invitingly offer
tourists the once in a lifetime chance to buy gold at the cheapest prices in
Asia, the Indian on the corner suggests that he can measure and make a suit in a
day and the electronics stores beckon where they had not during the day.
But what is really going on? Aside from the tourist scene, apart from the night
life and the activity that springs up after the sun hides away, what is really
going on. What makes Macau what is today and why do most people prefer to sleep
during the day, workers and tourists alike and what changes the city from a
neglected and desolate place under the sun to a fun filled bundle of activity in
It is all about Gambling. The Macau government makes seventy percent of its
revenue from Gambling. Most Hotels are built with gambling in mind and thus they
boast many a casino and gambling dens on its premises. Limousines carry the rich
gambler to his seat for the evening, the one who has not yet sniffed defeat.
Hotels lay on special packages for those with money to loose and girls lie in
wait to help spend money that prospectors may have had thoughts of keeping. Bars
keep drinks flowing to loosen punters stiff fingers, fast food flows to produce
contentment and security in the high rollers and the large muscled men act
positively when throwing out the losers.
Banks close down and turn over their business to rows upon rows of fast acting
machines that spout out money like it is going out of fashion. Urgent and edgy
punters queue at these machines, itching to get into the action, worried that
they have no money left. Security guards watch metal detectors closely and
search handbags with vigor, hidden cameras turn circles as unaware gamblers
throw their money on luck and doormen’s arms ache as they ceaselessly open doors
for the excited newcomers and help the defeated out. Receptionists check-in new
arrivals by the hundreds as tours from Mainland China pour off trains like ants
from a mole hill. Airport-staff sweat freely, as planes land in quick succession
to throw out more determined miners from Taiwan, the Philippines, from Singapore
and other corners of the world.
Newly arrived punters race against time to grab their bags, get through
immigration and to catch a cab for their hotel and the casinos next door, above
or beneath. Time is precious and time is money – money that will be spent
despite dreams that suggest otherwise.
Not all arrivals and visitors to Macau are gamblers on a mission. Some visitors
are genuine tourists who wonder why the city is so bare and drab during the day,
those that have no idea as to the other face of Macau. And from Taiwan and other
expensive Asian economies comes another bunch of visitors, the group or package
tour and should one see the tour as it engorges itself from the plane, one will
notice that it is all men. These men are on a mission, they will also be all
over the age of fifty and the average age will probably be about seventy. This
is a specially arranged tour that may for example start off from Taiwan and fly
to Macau for a three day visit. And it is special in that it is for men only,
that they are going to Macau to get a woman, to have three days of sex and romp
and then to climb back onto their plane alone and back to Taiwan: maybe to
repeat the process in a years time, if they can afford it or their wives don’t
find out. Yes, another side of Macau; the availability of prostitutes who
service the Taiwanese or overseas visitor or who relieve punters and gamblers of
any change that they may still have jangling in their pockets after the gambling
halls have shut for the night.
Prostitutes hang around doorways and exits from casinos, they balance
precariously on high heels that defy gravity and they are covered in layers of
make-up that gives competition to a skilled plasterer. Skimpy skirts ride high
on slim legs and breasts push eagerly against tight tops that are all but not
present. Little purses swing invitingly from hands that wander fleetingly as
males pass by, smiles are issued freely to those that look and glares are given
as those looked walk on.
Innuendos are made and promises of a new life are given as punters exit casinos
for new ground or with nearly empty pockets. New entrants are given the choice
of female company as they prepare to spend and while away the night and whatever
one can think of it is there. Slim girls with long legs, short girls with big
busts, tall girls with big busts and short girls with long legs are all around
leaning against doorways and offering hope and suggestion in husky voices. Slim
waists peek out as hips thrust invitingly, nipples protrude as tongues are run
along lips and eyes smile to all who see. Men dressed as woman, large woman with
massive breasts and large men with even bigger breasts stand in the background
for those inclined and little girls with spirit and enjoyment run around
touching bottoms and kissing cheeks like they are in love.
A neglected city it may be during day light hours, but prostitutes, bouncers,
gamblers, airport staff, taxi-drivers, croupiers, fast food hall owners,
barkeepers, bus drivers, doormen, receptionists, bankers, service engineers,
thieves and security guards need to sleep during the day so that when the
sunsets they will be ready for a new night of action.
And the only daylight customers are the tourists who never knew the other face
of Macau and the cleaners who must make the city ready for the next plane load
of enthusiastic passengers and the next train full of excited amateurs with
their pockets full of cash and dreams of a rich and enjoyable future ahead of
About The Author
Ieuan Dolby, from Scotland is an Engineering Officer in the Merchant Navy. He
has been travelling the world for 15yrs on an endless tour of cultural
diversification. Currently based in Singapore he writes various articles for
magazines and newspapers and is working on a marine glossary.