15.05.2006 20 °C
Macau was a total mystery to me, not knowing what to expect from it as an ex Portuguese colony, handed back to the Chinese in 1998.
Arriving the immigration was tougher than anywhere we'd been before (well they actually asked us a few questions and wanted to see our tickets) so I thought it's be very Chinese Style police state. Yet it was nothing like that at all. I never realised that gambling is illegal all over China yet legal in Macau, so the place is very rapidly being taken over by the Las Vegas Casino groups. There was a huge Sands palace and several others I'd seen in Vegas. They have really gone to town, giant ferris wheel on top of casinos, huge theme casinos (one shaped like a giant volcano that explodes every few hours, a full sized replica of the Imperial Palace and a huge Caesar's palace with a full scale replica of the Colloseum!)
We didnt see a single police or army officer on the streets the whole time we were there, everyone seemed happy and free, the Chinese like they have in Hong Kong have basically left the place alone to run itself and just cream off the profits! Human Rights are allowed when you make that much money from the people lol!
Aside from the casinos there wasnt much else to see there, the harbour views were nice but nothing special, a few nice old churches and an old fort on a big hill in the middle. It is tiny and you can walk pretty much all around it in a day. We spent 3 days there and that was all you needed.
There was no Portuguese history there at all as apparently it was a right hole when owned by the Portuguese and China initially refused to take it back as it was so overrun with crime and poverty, only eventually taking it back when they agreed they could gut the place and turn it into a giant casino.
So my first taste of Communist China turned out to be more Vegas than Beijing! Not quite what I was expecting.