A couple of words is ought to be said about casinos. I went to a few (Sands, CIty of Dreams and Venetian), did not spend any money and even grabbed a free water bottle, which I later smuggled into the Cirque Du Soleil show (that’s what I call being cheap!). Sands at 11AM Wednesday morning was an interesting sight – quite crowded with many people looking like they spent a night there. Wednesday. 11AM. Inconceivable. Next on the programme was City Of Dreams, a huge building consisting of a casino, several luxurious hotels, a concert hall and numerous shops. Very chic, very modern and very posh. House Of The Dancing Water is the show they currently have there. I did not go to that one, but the trailer
But the most interesting of all was Venetian. It is one gargantuan entertainment complex designed to meet your every need, if you can afford it of course. Here again you can find a hotel, an insanely long boulevard full of designer shops and top-end restaurants, Renaissance type ceiling paintings, an indoor river (with gondolas naturally) and even an artificial sky, which actually looked passable. The scale of Venetian is simply massive, you could spend days indoors without venturing outside. I could not decide whether all this luxury was awesome or way over the top. Probably a little bit of both. Now if they only made this thing more nature-like (the artificial sky and river are the first steps) and self-sustainable, we would have the first biosphere.
Anyways, Cirque Du Soleil Zaia was the reason why I went to Venetian in the first place. I found out about the show completely by accident from a German room-mate and was fortunate enough to buy one of the last tickets for the same day’s show. A bit steep price for a budget traveller in Asia, but you cannot measure a unique experience like this with money. The show was simply mind-blowing and was totally worth the price. Dancing Chinese lions, a cosmonaut, flying bicycles fueled by sparks, a floating polar bear, an Arctic yogi, romantic love – Zaia had it all. Much better than Saltimbanco which I saw last year. I whole-heartedly recommend it, if you ever get a chance to see it. Coincidentally the show marked two months of my travelling. Nice one.
Macau is an odd beast. Only a walk away from the mainland China, it feels like a China Town somewhere in the heart of Europe. Portuguese architecture, catholic churches and bilingual signs are enough to make you forget that China is not that far away. There are plenty of heritage sites, beautiful architecture, peaceful gardens and labyrinth-like streets that make Macau a very nice place for just walking around. Old architecture is starkly contrasted with casino-entertainment complex and impressive skyways and bridges. This small patch of land is full of casinos, designer shops, luxurious hotels and everything else that is designed to make you part with your money in a more or less pleasant way. As for infrastructure, there are three impressive wavy bridges connecting Manau peninsula with the Tapai island. The longest one is over 5km long. A bit surprising to see something like this in a small place such as Macau, but this is China.
Despite the fact that Macau is the densest populated area in the world, there is a sizable park on Tapai island. This is partly due to hilly terrain, but I saw signs of development there as well. Hopefully they will keep that area as it is. Unlike Chinese parks, this park is actually a forest with a few maze-like jogging paths. I spent hours in it trying to find a way out, reaching the point when I just wanted to get out of there. Macau itself is not any better from the orientation point of view. Forget Chinese grid cities, Macau is medieval Europe at its best with its narrow abruptly ending streets going in all directions with no clear plan or logic. I still have no idea about Macau’s downtown geography, it is all one big maze to me.
All in all, a surprisingly lovely city and it makes a nice place to visit even if you are not into gambling. Plus t is apparently considerably cheaper to fly to/from Macau than Hong Kong due to lower airport taxes. Unfortunately I found out this only after booking a flight ticket from Hong Kong, but I will save this information until the next time