Home Macau Macau – East meets West

Macau – East meets West

Macau has become over the course of the last decade a venue for wealthy tourists in need of cheap thrills. Rien ne va plus in Macau, the modern casino-based tourism has taken the upper hand leaving to one side the historic and cultural relics of its rich past.
Having said that, there are still beautifully restored Portuguese buildings and churches open to the public for the more adventurous travellers, keen to amble down narrow lanes, climb hills to catch a glimpse of the views, discover small unspoilt churches. Here it is still possible to dream of by-gone times when cultures from all over the world lived and traded together in relative peace and harmony.

Beyond the casinos

Although the former Portuguese colony can no longer be called “the gamblers’ hell” (nickname coined by the French film director Jean Delannoy in the 1930s) and which offered a choice setting for many novels and feature films, it could be referred to today as “gamblers heaven” representing a real tourist industry that generates 70% of total revenue within the region of Macau.

Casino Lisboa is undoubtedly a local institution. It is one of the last casinos in Macau to offer customers a feel for how things used to be back in the 1930’s. Today, even though it is still possible to take in all forms of entertainment around the clock, casinos are rather more sophisticated and more geared towards their customers’ needs.

The Chinese triads

macau new oldSimilarly to the Sicilian mafia, triads are local secret societies originated from Hong Kong as well as Taiwan and Japan. When Macau was still under Portuguese control, they had identified up to 115 different triads with a total of over 4,000 affiliated members compared with a police force of only 3,000. How did this situation arise you may ask? Because casinos were considered to be an unparalleled opportunity for money laundering.
A number of private gambling clubs were often not legally registered. Another practice of the time consisted of selling false receipts to “legalise” large sums of money that could not be accounted for otherwise. Adding to this the possible “legal” profits and losses that the casino tables produced, with the opportunity to lend money at extravagant interest rates to gambling addicts eager to regain their losses, with the risk of having to pay back the loans or suffer the consequences!

China regains control over Macau

Suffering from the negative press prior to the retrocession of the colony to the Chinese “motherland”, Beijing launched a large scale clean-up operation which consisted of arresting over 100,000 people.

Western cultural heritage

Before the handing over to China, the Portuguese renovated a majority of their ancient monuments built by their ancestors. Starting with the churches in true catholic fashion, as well as administrative and colonial buildings, theatres, etc. They even opened new museums which can still be visited today. Everything was done to preserve their heritage in contrast to Hong Kong. In an attempt to protect them from the Chinese authorities and unscrupulous promoters. Macau truly is where East meets West.