Travels in Asia, Hong Kong and Macao

Posted on January 12th, 2010

Well, we just got back from a tour of Asia- principally Macau and Hong Kong. OK, the weather wasn´t as great as we expected (it´s chilly there too! – although not as cold as it is in Beijing we hear). But all in all, we had a fantastic time. And what really hit home, was how that part of the world is powering ahead while we all seem to be moaning about the crisis in this part of the world.

U.S. casino Big Boys Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have appeared to have made a shrewd bet in Macau (or Macao). This casino town has not only overtaken Las Vegas as the world’s top casino market, but its gambling palaces are rebounding strongly as gambling in the US remains stuck in the mire.

In October, Macau gambling revenues hit record $1.59 billion and that´s not even including The Chinese New Year holiday, which lasts for about a fortnight from Valentine´s Day- traditionally one of the busiest periods of the year and as Chinese holiday makers flock to the former Portuguese enclave en masse.

The Chinese believe that on New Year’s, “If you have luck, then you’ll have luck all year.” So “Kung Hei Fat Choi!”, as the Cantonese say around these parts around New Year.

The continuing growth of Macao — which is around 50 miles to the west of Hong Kong— as a massive casino party town is just one sign of the Middle Kingdom’s economic strength these days and reflects the spending power of Chinas’s 1.3 billion citizens. With the country´s population and growth prospects, frankly if you are not here, you are starting to look like a lame duck.

One of the wierd things we noticed while playing in Macau, was all of the superstitions that people follow. You might notice people changing the colour of their clothes for example — (red is lucky here and is used at weddings, white is associated with funerals- to give you an idea). So you are unlikely to see someone wearing a white tux. And if someone is winning, don´t touch their back! Many Chinese believe that this could rub their luck off (but then maybe it´d rub off on you).

Chinese believe strongly in fate and luck, and that´s one of the reasons that they are so into gambling. Baccarat is hugely popular because it is a game of pure chance rather than skill.
Gambling in Macau is deadly serious. You are unlikely to find that many people who are here just for the shows. The average punter bets around 3 times as much as his or her equivalent in Las Vegas.

If you get the chance: go & visit- it is well worth the trip, and combined with a shopping and sightseeing trip to Hong Kong, and maybe a beach stop over in Thailand or Malaysia, this is a holiday that we reckon is hard to beat.

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