Friday, 18 March 2011

Macau and a Day of Gambling

On our last day in Hong Kong, Matt and I picked his passport up with his Chinese Visa enclosed and headed to the ferry terminal to board a catamaran bound for Macau, which would be the seventh country of my journey. The last time I was on a catamaran with Matt was when we headed across the Baltic from Tallinn to Helsinki, this time it's warmer.

Macau is another Special Administrative Region of China and was handed back to China from the Portuguese in 1999 under a similar agreement that Hong Kong has where the region will have a high government autonomy except for foreign affairs and defence for fifty years. The country is well known for as a gambling haven for the rich Chinese who head there and take advantage of it's numerous casinos which are legal whereas they're not in China or Hong Kong. It has been hailed as the Las Vegas of Asia and reportedly makes more money. Unfortunately the rain had come and it was completely overcast all day long but being in Macau gave me respite from all the noise and business of Hong Kong and China. There was nothing on the roads and nobody walking around, I think they were all shacked up in the casinos either working or gambling. Matt and I spent the day there walking around the dead streets and in and out of casinos trying to find excitement. The casinos were not exciting whatsoever, the tables were all the same, rich Chinese men gathered around with the look of addiction in their eyes, idly throwing more and more chips at the croupier. Matt found a slot machine where he places his first bet and immediately doubled his money. Matt being Matt he cashed it in straight away.

The Grand Lisboa, Hotel & Casino... Ugly..
Later on we went into the Grand Lisboa which is the grandest, some would say ugliest, casino on the island we were stunned by the amount of ladies that wander the floor just purely looking hot. They have their route and stick to it, back and forth all day, every day. Matt and I were looking for a roulette table as they're always fun and we managed to find just one, out of all the casinos we went in. We tried to place a bet with 10 Macanese Patacas but were told we could only place bets in Hong Kong Dollars. What is that all about? They won't even accept their own currency, it's useless. We placed the bets with HK$s and I laid my one and only chip on ODD hoping the 50/50 chance would fall my way but was told that the minimum I would have to bet was $20, I'm not a gambler, I don't really care too much for it so I stuck it on a single number and surprise surprise I lost it. I wasn't happy with that as the odds were obviously stacked well against me and I wanted a greater chance on winning some money so I found a slot machine, one which I really didn't understand, stuck $10 in it, pushed a few buttons and astonishingly walked away $200!!

Happy with the win and feeling that we had exhausted Macau's casinos, we walked out of the casino and made our way back to the ferry terminal to get back to Hong Kong. On the way back Matt and I picked up a couple of Macanese Egg Tarts which are absolutely amazingly delicious, here my love affair with Egg tarts was reborn more powerful than I could have imagined.

When we arrived back in Hong Kong, we met up with Raymond who also had his gambling head on and had discovered on the internet that there was a poker club near by and wanted to check it out. We went along with him as back up only, not to gamble, although Raymond is adamant that poker isn't gambling. Just around the corner from our hostel we found the unlikely looking building that hosted the club. Nevertheless, we continued as per the instructions and entered the building where we were struck by the intense smell of marijuana. We got into the lift for the 12th floor and we got out into a small landing with two only one locked door. Raymond checked the address was correct before he rung the door bell. A young well dressed Cantonese man cautiously answered the door, exiting and being careful to close the door behind him. The man spoke with English accent and was confused as to how we had found his establishment. He asked with a clear sense of concern in his voice how Raymond had discovered his place. Raymond answered his question but it did not seem relieve his concern, but he lightened up and invited us in to have a look. The place had a small bar with seating along the glass wall which overlooked Causeway Bay, the room ended with a stage with musical instruments and a small concealed room joined where the game was in progress. Raymond went in and observed for a while before brokered a deal with the owner and we all walked out for Raymond to get money from the ATM. Raymond decided not to in the end, which I think was the right move as he could have ended up losing a lot of money. On the other hand, he could have made a lot of money. Who knows...

Next time: Goodbye Hong Kong and hello again China.

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