Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ah Diversity

Korea is a nice place. China is a nice place. But I have to say, it is certainly nice to be in a more cosmopolitan city again.

(From the peak on Hong Kong island.)

It's nice to see people who look different, dress different, have different skin colors, different religions, different mannerisms, and look at the world from several different points of view. It is even nice to be in a place where people speak several different languages even if I don't understand any of them, OK maybe I understand English. Hong Kong may be Chinese in origin, and largely British by design, but it does stand as a city of the world.

(And they aren't afraid to put art installations like this.)

I have been to Hong Kong a few times now, so it is all pretty much old hat to me now. OK, slight exaggeration, but I didn't have to worry about much. I was in Hong Kong as the end of my China trip and as a jumping off point for more of Asia. The next stop would be Cambodia. The travel agent booked me some pretty cheap tickets that went HK > Singapore > Siem Reap (overland) Phnom Phen > Singapore > HK. I didn't actually want to come back to Hong Kong. I was hoping to go from Singapore to India. But the travel agent said I should just take the booking and throw out the last ticket because it was cheaper this way than one way tickets. Fine by me. Cheaper is always better. I would later rue that decision to not come back to HK, but that is another story.

There wasn't really much I wanted to do in HK since I have been here before, the last time about three years ago. But in all the times I have been to Hong Kong, I never visited Macau. In fact I always used to think that Macau was to the east of HK.

Ahhh, not so intrepid but not so geographically smart world traveler.

I figured I had better go this time since who knows when I would be back this way again. So I hopped on a ferry headed west. Macau is like the poorer cousin of Hong Kong. Not as big, not as shiny, not quite as modern, but it is still interesting, especially because it is not as modern. Oh sure there are several large shiny buildings, most of them casinos, but it is the smaller, older architecture that makes going to Macau worth while, for me at least.

It is interesting to see the mix of Chinese and Portuguese culture as opposed to Chinese and British culture. The older houses and churches make for a nice mix as you walk around the city. The fact that they have kept a lot of the older buildings, and incorporated them into the modernization of the downtown area, is certainly a plus for the tourism industry.

That is if people actually venture outside the casinos. Being one of the big draws of the city, I am not so sure how often regular tourists actually leave the air conditioned comfort of those dens of sin (Look who's talking. I grew up in "Sin City."). I noticed that several big name casinos from the ole' stomping grounds have a presence in Macau. In fact one of them, the Wynn, looks like a scaled down copy of casino in Las Vegas.

However, I don't know if the casinos are the same inside. In Las Vegas, the casinos have large open doorways where swarms of people can file in and out at their leisure. In Macau though, the entrance to the actual casinos is usually a small hallway where you have to go through a metal detector and a bag search. I was intimidated by the big burly men in tuxedos. Slightly embarrassed due to my dress of shorts, sandals, and sweaty t-shirt. Concerned that they might look down or scoff at me when they would have to rummage through my dirty backpack only to find my lunch of peanut butter, crackers, and fruit. So I didn't venture inside an actual casino.

But then I thought about it for a while. However I looked, my entering would be paying their salary. Who are they, working peons, to scoff at me, the international world traveler. Be afraid of entering casinos? Ha! I scoff at them. I grew up in the real casino city. The city that all other casino cities hope they can be. I have been inside casinos probably from the time I was 10 years old, or maybe younger.

I still didn't go inside one, though. I just didn't feel like it.

Most of these pictures are from Macau. Hope there is something that strikes your fancy.

Labels: ,


At 8:32 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I know exactly what you mean about diversity. After eight months in Korea, with my Daewoo toothpaste, daily kimchi and dolsot bibimbap, Samsung TV, Lotte cookies and LG telephone, Hong Kong was like heaven...with fish and chips and bread that didn't taste of sugar.


Post a Comment

<< Home