28 May 2009

A Tale of Three Cities – Part 2 三城故事-中卷


Macau is a rustic peninsula hugged by a muddy, silt-laden estuary of the Pearl River. Petite, laid-back and never prosperous, the middle sister exudes a touch of quaint Mediterrasian charm. In the mid-16th Century, Portuguese merchants turned the sleepy fishing village into a leading entrepôt for the silk and silver trades between Europe, China and Japan. But Macau’s heyday lasted until 1842, when British-controlled Hong Kong, with a deeper harbor and better-run government, dethroned the sandy peninsula as the gateway to the Orient. From then on, Macau was relegated to the role of an adjunct city of Hong Kong and would forever live in her big sister’s shadow.




In the post-war era, Macau survived on revenues from government-sanctioned gambling and the sex trade, making a name for herself as Asia’s Las Vegas and a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah...
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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.



13 comments:

  1. and the Macanese seemed so powerless to the situation. Central government won't and can't help them. there're no civil activities fighting for a better political mechanism and social well being. i would be very unhappy these days if i am a Macau citizen.

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  2. Macanese are powerless indeed. Just look at how the controversial anti-subversion law, Article 23, was passed in Macau without a hitch. The people will have a new chief executive this summer. But little, if anything, is expected to change.

    Jason

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  3. A Tale of Three Cities...
    Hong Kong's gonna come next for Part 3?
    Tempting~

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  4. Somehow, in this article, I fee that Macau deeply disgusted you. Or more precisely, the Casinos did. It's kind of heavy and dark, or even moody, until the part on the prostitutes. That is definitely a bit of humour in a tragedy.

    It sounds like you didn't even have the mood to take any photo of that sister to document your views during your visit.

    I am guessing and hoping the next one will be Taipei then. Will it?

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  5. Phil,

    Thanks for your comment. You are right to point out the dark tone that permeates the article. But it wasn't done out of disgust. It was done out of sadness. Between the Portugal's abdication of duty and Stanley Ho's arrogation of power, the city has really backed herself into a bit of a dead-end. I don't know what the future will hold for her.

    As for taking pictures, I did take quite a number of shots during my day trip, a selection of which can be viewed on my Facebook album titled "Thru Jason's Lens: Macau (January 2009)."

    Yes, an article on Taipei is already in the works.

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  6. Thanks, Sally. I'm not sure if I need a separate "Part 3" on Hong Kong, because my entire column is already devoted to recording my thoughts on our city. We'll see.

    Jason

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  7. As I have also recently visited Macau, it was interesting to read up on your thoughts on the city. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read about your feeling towards Grand Lisboa - because I also felt the same myself! The outside structure is really as tacky as the decor inside. It just goes to show, money can't buy class! Look forward to your next series on the tale of the city

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  8. Dear anonymous reader,

    I was amazed at how the design could sail through the various approval committees within the organization. Then again, perhaps there was none. If Stanley Ho wanted tackiness, architects and interior designers probably gladly complied and overcharged him on imported granite from Italy and crystals from South African. No one else would bother to contradict the big honcho.

    If you like my view on "money can't buy class," read my earlier article titled "A Matter of Taste - Part 1."

    Jason

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  9. Jason, as a lawyer you should know better than the average blogger that all pictures on the web are copyrighted unless specifically included in the public domain by the photographer. It is rather shocking you did not even give proper credit to the pictures you use here and on your facebook account.

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  10. Hi Eddy,

    Thank you for your concern and sorry for "shocking" you. Despite your rather dramatic response, you did raise a good point about the use of other people's pictures that are widely available on the Internet.

    There is a legal concept in intellectual property law known as "fair use" and while the concept has its limits and is certainly not a carte blanche for anyone to freely use others' copyrighted work, I do believe my use of other people's pictures in my online column falls within that rubric. I would be happy to argue my case in a court of law should anyone decide to take me on.

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  11. another wonderful and well-written piece, jason.

    a small quibble about the street names:
    it may be silly and cumbersome to carry on with the practice of bilingual names (to streets and public areas), but undeniably such signages and street names provide Macau its quirky charm and character. too much of what one sees in macau is pre-fabricated or even imported 'in toto', so i hope those signages won't ever be taken down or replaced, as they continue to provide tourists and residents alike proof of the city's european (or hybrid) heritage.

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  12. Thanks, Lorenzo.

    I agree that bilingual signages can be charming, but in this case bilingualism goes beyond a tourism gimmick and becomes an unnecessary burden on everyday life.

    Jason

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  13. Love your work....
    Before 1999 Macau to me was like the Shire in Middle-earth. After the hand over is like Mordor with the Grand Lisboa being the eye of Sauron so the all mighty Mr Ho sees all and control all...

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