Indian banyan trees, dog races and typhoons in Macau (Macau Diary)

May 7th, 2008 - 9:59 am ICT by admin  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
Macau, May 7 (IANS) This swanky Chinese gambling enclave, which was once a Portuguese colony, has a quaint Indian connection - banyan trees, brought from Goa over a hundred years ago. The trees dotting the city’s wide, clean roads look incongruous in the midst of world-class hotels, skyscrapers and fast cars. But for locals, they hold memories of the early settlers.

Some of these trees have been replanted in posh residential neighbourhoods. There they are cherished and no one is allowed to cut even a single branch.

Travellers from Goa, which again is a former Portuguese colony, brought the trees here. The ageing trees seem to bring a touch of heritage to this bustling, booming, modern city.


Gambling is the favourite pastime of people here. At any given time, crowds can be seen at spacious, multi-layered casinos in the over two-dozen world class hotels. Or they can be found betting heavily at horse races and a rare dog racing facility.

The sole greyhound racing track here is said to be the only one in Asia. Located in the northern part of the city at Canidrome, it is considered one of the largest in the world.

At first glance, it seems people are reading pamphlets or newspapers, but a closer look shows that they are actually reading the history of the greyhound, including about the dogs’ parents and grandparents.

The 500-yard oval track has two grand stands, several private boxes, a VIP lounge and a coffee shop. Races are held here four times a week - Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday - with over 300 dogs racing each day.

Races are broadcast over radio and TV from studios that are located within the complex.

The lean but mean looking greyhounds, with their mouths muzzled, chase an artificial rabbit around the track. For the owner of the winning dog, a photograph with his “prized possession” at the end of the race is a must.

For lazybones, betting on one of these dogs is just a phone call away!


Unlike in India, where rickshaw pullers are poorly paid, they are privileged people in this territory facing South China Sea.

Used mostly by housewives, who shop twice a day to buy fresh vegetables, fish, poultry or meat for lunch and dinner, rickshaws - much smaller in size than those in India - charge triple the amount of a taxi.

But as the women don’t want to dirty their cars, they prefer rickshaws, which are exclusively used for this kind of travel. No wonder most customers are the wives of rich businessmen.


As the Macanese take pride in their heritage, most of the old structures built mainly by the Portuguese have been overhauled but outwardly retain their original look. While the fa

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