September 08, 2009

Visiting Macau

I was in Macau for a day, having arrived from Hong Kong via catamaran. It does not take long to realize that this is the gambling capital of Asia. Competition is fierce in the high stakes world of wealth redistribution. At the ferry terminal, buses from various casinos wait to take visitors to the pits of sin. I first went to the Venetian, the largest casino in the world, before making stops at a few others. Macau has its own currency which has a fixed exchange rate with the Hong Kong dollar. Since the HKD is accepted everywhere on the island, day trippers from Hong Kong can go directly to the casinos without the hassle of first visiting a foreign exchange.

Apart from the still developing under construction Cotai Strip of casinos, the former Portuguese colony is nowhere near as well developed as Hong Kong. It still has a homely feel to it. I wandered the streets and visited a few of the sites which were not gambling dens. The Macau Tower, a replica of Auckland's Sky Tower, has the world's longest bungee jump. While chewing on a chocolate bar at the base of the tower, I watched a few people jump from the outside of the observation deck. The Macau Grand Prix Musuem was very impressive, with cars driven by Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher on the city state's famed street circuit on display. I tried the racing simulator to experience the high speed thrills of Formula 3 car racing. The public bus had a sofa, so I finally sat down after a long day walking around town. The bus driver had to rouse me at the ferry terminal, as I had dozed off on the couch.


"The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice is so pleasurable, that I assume it must be evil." - Heywood Broun