Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Macau, China’s gambling mecca, is a former Portuguese colony so just as in Hong Kong signs are in Chinese and English, here they’re in Chinese and Portuguese, which is strange to see in the middle of Asia. We stayed in the Cotai area, an area of reclaimed land which is being developed into Macau’s new Vegas style casino strip. We were in the Venetian, home to the largest casino in the world, a high end shopping mall, mini golf course and of course a Venetian canal complete with gondolas.
The casino was huge and seemed to be filled with gambling Chinese, no matter the time or day. On Monday lunchtime it seemed just as busy as the night before and this was not just the casino in our hotel, we also visited some of the others and it was the same everywhere. Around two million people visit every month, mostly day-trippers from mainland China. Considering the population of Macau is just 624,000, tourism is the main industry and unemployment is basically non existent. The tables had high minimum bets (and were mostly baccarat which we have no idea about) but we found some cheaper machines to have a gamble on, the big wheel and roulette were our favourites, and balancing my run of bad luck and Dean’s run of good luck, we came away up which was a surprise!
Aside from gambling, we paid a visit to the old town of Macau which has a completely different feel and where the evidence of Portuguese rule is unmistakeable. The food also has a Portuguese influence, with egg tarts being sold everywhere. These were a definite hit with Dean.
We also visited the original casino area- until 2002, there was a monopoly running the casinos and now it’s opened up to other owners, they ran out of space, hence the new area being developed! Here we visited the Grand Lisboa, the Wynn and the MGM.
Macau was a fun place to spend a few days. I was surprised by how different it felt to Hong Kong, both in the well preserved Portuguese areas and in the new casino areas. It was the first place we’ve experienced the huge Chinese tour groups on our trips, moving everywhere together in the matching caps, following the leader with a flag – even through the casinos!