For years, I have carried a torch for Macau. My inevitable answer to any variant of the question, “Where would you like to visit?” was always Macau. Followed by some attempt to explain where in the world Macau was and why the hell would I want to visit it, over such stalwarts as Cordoba or Milan. Had I ever been there?
No. I have never been there. Besides a book or two and some photos on the internet, I know precious little about Macau. And yet, I have always been drawn to this tiny peninsula near Hong Kong. Here was glorious European colonial history [portugese] unbroken for over 400 years, living next to the Chinese imperial one. Here was a city imagined globally and locally; where East and West hung out for the longest time. For an empire geek such as myself, I just wanted to read gravestones for days on end.
Sadly, my imaginary trip to this variously imagined city has to be cancelled. Macau, or Macao, NYT tells me, is bigger than Vegas now – with 10 gajillion dollars of gambling from 2.2 billion people who live within five hours of flight from it. Or something. As a result, my hermetically sealed colonial time-capsule is now going to get “new luxury hotels, giant casinos and V.I.P. suites to cater to the apparently enormous gambling appetite of the mainland Chinese.”
I am sure those unread gravestones will soon give way to shiney gambling tables. History, in more ways than you’d think. Yes, you can file this post under, Lament, City.