Friday, April 22, 2011

Beautiful Macau

Macau gets alot of tourists these days. And I do mean ALOT!

The tourists from mainland China are literally pouring in across the borders. They are arriving by boats, trains, buses and on the planes.

Yet surprisingly, the small enclave of Macau really doesn't feel that packed or crowded. The thousands upon thousands of tourists charging into Macau have certainly made the place more lively, but not to a detrimental level.
Macau has still kept its colonial feel. The streets still have the old cobble stones, the buildings have not been torn down and replaced with glass and steel monstrosities and there is a beautiful combination of Portuguese and Chinese buildings. I love being able to wander around in this amalgamation of Europe and Asia. It makes me feel as though I'm somehow wandering through some sort of alternative universe where Europe and Asia developed in unison.
Strangely enough, I also get the same feelings I had when I was walking through Istanbul. However, there the coming together of East and West was more subtle and blended, whereas here there were stark contrasts between the Western and the Eastern.
From most vantage points, the evidence of the growing modernisation of Macau could be seen.

Standing at the very top of the ruins of St Paul's, you can see the imposing silhouette of the enormous Grand Lisboa.

This huge casino is one of the many casinos that has brought the tourists to Macau. It's also one of the reasons that I'm able to enjoy Macau without too much distraction.
In a strange paradox, the tourist boom that has resulted from the casinos has also protected Macau from being completely overwhelmed. The casinos have had the effect of containing the tourists within their own complexes. The majority of the people coming to Macau find themselves moving from one casino complex to another, with only quick tours to the important tourist checklist items. The casinos have become self contained worlds for the tourists that do not need to be exited. They cater to every gambling need and want.
For me, this entire situation is fantastic.

Macau feels livelier for the tourist influx, but still buffered from feeling overwhelming.

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