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Vegas of the (far) East アジアのヴィガス

October 23, 2009

I had a friend in town at the end of September.  She’d been living in London for several years and took the time to stop over in the big Lychee enroute to her return to Oz.  Since neither of us had been to Macau before, we figured it was a good opportunity for a bit of an adventure.  I had pretty much knocked Macau to the bottom of my “must see” list because I figured it would be a rehash of Hong Kong for the most part, albeit with casinos (of which I have no interest).  I was happily surprised that it surpassed expectations.


It was quite interesting to see that while it is obviously part of southern China in terms of feel and architecture, there are things that definitely set it apart from Hong Kong.  There is an underlying feel of Europe from the subtle accents to the buildings and the use of blue and white ceramic tile as road markers.  Of course, there’s the liberal use of Portuguese everywhere.  One aspect that was a bit disappointing was the lack of European style cafes.  We found a few but expected more.


The old part of town and the southern peninsula are worth walking around.  We walked down to the southern peninsula thinking that we’d see the A Ma temple and then have dinner at one of the highly recommended Macanese/Portuguese restaurants, A Lorcha.   The god A Ma Gau (also known in Hong Kong as Tin Hau) is where Macau gets its name.  Well, we got there too late to go into the temple and too early to get into the restaurant.  We wandered and went back to the restaurant 10 minutes past opening.  It was already packed and there was a 1 1/2 hour wait for a table.  This, we figure, is partly due to the “Lonely Planet” effect:  A Lorcha is the highest rated restaurant in the Lonely Planet guidebook.  We walked down the street to #3, Littoral.  We still had to wait about a half-hour for a table.


With cod (bacalau) being a Portuguese specialty, that’s what we decided to order. It was a bit of an adventure.  First, we ordered a caesar salad.  Now, a caesar salad is fairly universal in its preparation and presentation, right?  What we received was, while tasty, nothing at all what one would recognize as a caesar salad.  So too the Macanese version of grilled – it was deep fried.  Overall, it was interesting to try new food.  It helps not being too terribly picky.  Might have to plan ahead for A Lorcha and make a reservation next time.


After dinner we hopped a taxi (no seat belts!) and headed over the bridge to the island of Taipa and the Cotai strip which is supposedly modeled after The Strip in Las Vegas.  We only had time for one destination – The Venetian.  This is the 17th largest hotel in the world yet smaller than the original Venetian in Las Vegas (that one’s #5).  It’s still huge and the opulence is mind boggling.  No wonder it’s a favourite of the nouveau-riche mainland Chinese.


Now that I know what’s on offer and how easy it is to get to (only a 1 hour ferry ride), I’ll definitely head back.  I wonder how much a night at one of the new casinos costs?


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