Friday, September 28, 2012

The Two Faces of Macau - Part 2: Modern Gambling Mecca

In my last post I explored some sights of historic Macau. Now let's look at how these islands got transformed into a modern gamblers' heaven.

After the British established Hong Kong in the middle of the 19th century, Macau gradually lost its importance as a trading post. It dwelled in obscurity of over one hundred years, until the islands were handed back to China by the Portuguese government in 1999. The change in regime, brought prosperity to the Macau once again. With the liberalization of Macau's gaming industry, and the relaxing of travel restrictions from mainland China, it has become a bustling gambling destination.  You can find several  big name Las Vegas casinos having set up business here.  There is a Wynn, MGM Grand, and a Venetian. Gambling revenues have made Macau the world's top casino market, even surpassing Vegas.

We had dinner at the Wynn (lovely restaurant, 
superb service, forgettable food).

Also looked inside the Grand Lisboa, which was only grand on 
the outside, inside it was a smoke-filled gaming monster.  
Though I suppose that was the look they were going for.

With the motto "go big or go home", we decided to check out the 
Venetian Macao, the largest casino in the world.

It is modeled after its sister-casino, the Venetian in Las Vegas.

I found the Venetian Macao less smoky than the Grand Lisboa, 
and smoking is also prohibited in all non-gambling areas

There are of course the requisite canals, bridges (including the Rialto)
and the occasional Chinese gondolier.  

St, Mark's square comes with a painted ceiling with little 
white clouds. The opulence and elaborateness had us amazed, 
the whole thing made us chuckle.

The real Venice, Italy is one of my favorite cities in the whole world. It is funny and disturbing at the same time, to see it recreated out of plaster, gilt, and illusions.

All in all, Macau gave us an enjoyable visit to two islands with a famed past, a gilded present, and a seemingly limitless future. 

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