Friday, March 18, 2011

How did we end up in Vegas?

Before we started this trip, Juan spent an afternoon creating a complicated Excel spreadsheet containing a list of every country in the world and a column for each of us showing how many we had both visited, how many we would visit together on this trip, and so on.  Obviously, my trip with Danielle gives me a serious numerical advantage and Juan is quick to complain when we go visit a country he’s been to already but I haven’t.

So, in the spirit of love and compromise, I agreed to take a day-trip to Macau with Juan.  I visited Macau on my boondoggle trip to Hong Kong in 2005 and really enjoyed the old Portuguese squares, free almond biscuit samples, and my daring jump off the Macau tower.  I’d been warned how much it had changed but I still wasn’t prepared to arrive in Vegas. 

Apparently, Macau overtook Vegas in terms of gambling revenue back in 2007.  All the big name casinos line what looks like a miniature version of the Vegas strip.  They have the weird water shows with accompanying opera music that the Bellagio popularized, free shuttle buses from the ferries to facilitate easy access to their casinos and overpriced food.  The only thing they don’t quite have yet, is girls walking around in scantily clad outfits bringing you drinks.  Probably because the Chinese take their gambling seriously.  This is a place to win money – not to drink free drinks, ogle women and party at nightclubs.   I didn’t see a single Chinese gambler having an alcoholic drink.  They order a limeade and hunker down to focus on the game in front of them.  Does this mean that Macau now does Vegas better than Vegas?

To be fair, some of the beautiful Portuguese architecture still exists – the ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral are still well-preserved and the mosaic streets are in great condition.  Most importantly, almond biscuits are still free.

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