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Published: March 11th 2012
We flew in on a rainy morning from Hanoi to Hong Kong.
We bypassed immigration and customs in Hong Kong airport by going directly to the high speed ferry to Macau
and cleared immigration there.
Macau along with Hong Kong, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China. It lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong-Kong which is to the east, bordering Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south. Macau was a Portuguese colony in 1887, and is both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.
Macau's economy is based largely on tourism. Other chief economic activities in Macau are export-geared textile and garment manufacturing, banking and other financial services. The clothing industry has provided about three quarters of export earnings, and the
gaming, tourism and hospitality industry is estimated to contribute more than 50% of Macau's GDP, and 70% of Macau government revenue.
As we waited in the taxi cue, we noticed that the taxi back door opened automatically. We learned later from our friend Irene that efficiency is highly valued in Hong Kong, so much that auto door openers are in every taxi.
Within minutes of entering the hotel lobby, we were greeted by Suzi’s childhood friend Brendan, and his girlfriend Irene; they now live in Hong Kong and work as journalists. Just a minute later Niina, our Finnish friend and manager of our resort in Koh Yao, Thailand arrived. Niina was in Hong Kong renewing her Thai visa. After getting settled in at the hotel, we all ventured out to a fantastic authentic Portuguese restaurant for dinner. The city was an interesting juxtaposition of high-rise glitzy casinos and charming cobblestone streets with signs written in both Chinese and Portuguese. It was great to catch up with everyone over dinner and learn more about life in Hong Kong.
We were then off to try our luck at the casinos. A few years ago, Macau surpassed Las Vegas in
annual gambling revenues. We’re delighted to report that we did our part in helping equalize this imbalance by doubling our money that we used to play with! The casinos were really large, with many ‘new’ games I hadn’t seen before in other casinos. We stayed with what we knew, and had a great time at the craps table. Everyone was on a roll and it was a fun way to end the evening.
The next day we explored the old town squares, sampled Macau’s delicious egg tarts, and saw the Grand Lisboa hotel, where Stanley Ho’s diamond (218-carat D-color flawless cushion shape) and emerald (210-carat) were on display. Stanley Ho is an entrepreneur in Hong Kong and Macau who has led Macau’s gaming business community for years. In 2011 he was the 13th richest man in Hong Kong with a net worth of US$2 billion. He is also Macau's wealthiest person and amongst the wealthiest in Asia. It is also estimated that his enterprises employ almost one fourth of the workforce of Macau.
After lunch we gathered our bags at the hotel and headed for the ferry bound for Hong Kong! We were only in Macau for
24 hours, but what a ride!
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