going there I had no real idea, except that my friends were working there, on a big casino, for the big bad man. making lots of money.
Rachael gave me a little introduction, there’s lots of Chinese, it’s China. they speak Cantonese and there’s Chinesey food. as usual, she’s spot on.
I also read in a Bill Bryson book about Australia that where we have the most sparsely populated continent (apart from Antarctica) with 6 people per square mile Macau is the most densely populated country in the world.
I had just come from health camp, where my parents own a 200-acre property that is mostly forest and has a normal population of two. a bit of a shock to the system.
it’s tiny though. I walked across it a few times, but jam packed. with people and buildings and scooters. and buildings under construction, and footpaths under construction… and karaoke bars.
I stayed with jonny first, then Rachael, in their funny fancy apartments that have water views and crazy don bosco furnishings. I loved it.
the Portuguese allowed gambling. it’s known for it’s casinos. so people have been going there to gamble for some time. 90% of its income is generated from gambling, and it’s market is growing and growing richer since it has been handed back to the fatherland with the relaxation of travel restrictions on the Chinese mainland.
in the late 1990’s triad gangs were blowing up cars and spraying bullets at each other in shopping malls. a sleazy centre for gambling, prostitution and money laundering. now it is expected to overtake Las Vegas this year in expected casino revenues.
and there is that sense of boom. building like crazy, with forests of cranes and pile drivers, laying foundations for the new Venetian and a host of other foreign owned casinos as people try to get in on the biggest new money market...& tour buses galore. the population is almost doubled each day with tourists, mostly from the mainland but heaps of stopovers from Hong Kong. it seems Chinese people love to gamble, or can’t help but gamble, and luck is big.
you do occasionally see the mobsters, a convoy of big shiny black cars will pull up, unloading suited men with bodyguards that exude a kind of ‘don’t dare even look’ aura. & you pass them in the street sometimes, someone who just emanates evil beyond anything I’ve come across, that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up while you avert your eyes and get out of the way.
I spent most of my time just looking around, pretty lights, and dirty, polluted, and noisy, and kind of sleepy too. you see the Portuguese influences, but mostly its china all over. people talk loud, and don’t think twice about staring openly at a freak like me. from little kids, to cute young punks to sweet old ladies, they united in their fascination or disdain for a strange looking foreigner with long blonde hair. if I smiled at people they would generally reply with the biggest friendliest grin you’ve ever seen, but if you give them nothing, they give you nothing back but a good hard looking at. and fair enough too.
I loved the people, I made lots of friends, cause Rachael (no. 1 teacher) taught me a few handy phrases, like very beautiful, very delicious, thank you and no problem. so they loved me. not only a total foreigner but one who tried to learn a few little niceties. and told them they were beautiful right back when they said it to me. charmed them I did. oh yeah, they laugh at you. openly. ridicule you. the smallest thing you do, could be the funniest thing to them. a little disconcerting. as is the staring when you’re not up to it. maybe they look at me like that cause I confound all their notions of what a Russian prostitute looks like. no tight white jumpsuit, j lo glasses and stilettos, and my blonde hair is messy messy messy, not sleek sleek sleek.
felt like a bit of a blot on the landscape of gorgeous tiny girls and they openly stare at you to remind you of it.
the girls and boys are so damn gorgeous. everywhere you go you get a new crush. and those little kids are like the cutest little dolls. with pink ribbons and the prettiest clothes. the cuteness has spread like a disease from Japan. with a million good t-shirts ruined by mickey mouse. and a million genres and colours and patterns going on at once. (that I loved).
and I loved the school uniforms that either look like sailor suits, marching band or some gangster posse uniforms.
it’s a great place for people watching if you can handle being watched yourself. building sites teaming with workers dressed as action heroes with shirts off and tied up around there waist, Rambo vests and cowboy shirts, a surreal detachment from reality or our understanding of it. so many movie references in everyday life. shy middle aged ladies wearing marble wash commando jeans with a hundred zips and pockets and the most outlandish bedazzled t-shirts with ROCK and diva splashed across them. English phrases that confound and amaze and are just plain wrong. I saw a cute young girl with a t-shirt ‘my dick wants to buy you a drink’ also ‘girl uncle early date’ wrong wrong wrong...
I have always had a romantic fascination with china its art, people and history. there is still a little of that remaining even after thinking about oppression and human rights abuses and a very rapid embrace of capitalism. the cheap products and the very real pollution from the pearl river delta and the industrial monster that is neighbouring Guangdong province. I had no desire to take a daytrip into zhuhai for cheap shopping, it’s the antithesis of everything I hope to stand for.
Macau is a good place to visit especially if you know someone who lives there. great food, funny great people, big crazy casinos with pretty lights… its all prosperous and touristy las vegas but in china, great people and confounding wonderful Chinese ness. but I missed Simon.