Jackie Chan in a fight? America’s Next Top Models visit Asia? Gangsters running the blackjack table? Classic Macau. Or at least, so it would seem.
We arrive to Macau without a plan, but palm trees swaying against the blue sky was exactly what I wanted to see. Paradise, no? Meandering about the hotel for a while, we finally approach the concierge since otherwise we’d clearly spend the day wandering the hotel and not Macau.
“Do you have a walking tour of the city?”
“Walking tour?” She says, pulling out a map, and circling things we should see.
So we become our own tour guides. Even better.
Space exists in Macau– people don’t run into you for standing still to examine architecture. Old Portuguese buildings versus the traditional Chinese versus the new glitzy casinos. Completely photo-worthy and I have a phone and Photoshop. Done.
The Portuguese egg tarts are good. Brazened, I try to eat meat in Macau, a pork bun, which isn’t that great, but a delicacy of Macau that people have been telling me to try for years. If you visit Macau, try the Portuguese egg tarts. Those, everyone likes, even if you’re allergic.
“What’s the difference between Portuguese and Spanish, then?” I say.
“There is no difference,” my friend says. “Okay, very little.”
We climb the stairs above church ruins not knowing where it leads. At the top of the city, we sit on a stone ledge and sing acapella while the sun sets.
The sign to the casino says, in large chinese characters, Entertainment Centre, then in english, Casino. There is a proper term for Casino in Chinese characters but they don’t use it. As if it’s just plain fun in there.
We are downstairs waiting for our ride to the ferry, and they blast air conditioning and loud party music at us. As if everything will work out as long as you live at the casino to empty your pockets. Store psychology says if you change the type of music you play in a retail store, you change the way shoppers behave– whether shoppers move in and out, or stroll along the racks. Perhaps this is casino psychology.
I look at the gamblers sprawled on tables consumed by the sights and sounds and I wonder how many are wasting away their daughter’s college funds and how many are sons of millionaires.
This is a Stephen King maze. How many are trapped in their own horror movies?
Macau would be a hard place to live in. Each surface is a facade that peels away if you stand underneath a tad too long. The casinos, the lights, even the people. If you check back the next day, you’ll see a new batch of people that renews itself. Don’t forget the party saxophone music that no one is dancing to.
I realize that I haven’t taken any photos of the casinos.
I get the feeling that if you’re not careful, a city like Macau could suffocate you. We lust for the easy glitzy glamour, until it becomes too difficult. We only see when our favourite musicians perform for thousands onstage, never when they’re dead-tired from jetlag, ill from frequent travelling, or have arms that might as well be made of jelly.
In the end, it is easier to pay attention to what matters most, to take what we love in stride, as things should be, rather than spend our days longing for the flashy lights of a city like Macau.