The night is forever young in Macau

May 23rd, 2008 - 10:23 am ICT by admin  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
Macau, May 23 (IANS) The international gambling hub of Macau, with its twinkling Las Vegas style mega resorts, turns into an enchanted city as the sun sets. The fresh night air intoxicates in this booming Chinese enclave, beckoning people to step out. A stroll around the Avenida Da Amizade, which has the Star World Hotel, the Wynn and the Lisboa, is mesmerising as thousands of coloured lights on these world-class hotels make the street dazzle.

The lit-up hotel buildings, the stunning-looking hostesses and transvestite parades inside and the dancing fountains on the roads make this former Portuguese colony - just a one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong - make this island thrive at night.

There is no fear of being mugged, waylaid or molested. The wide, clean roads are pedestrian friendly. Not for nothing did it attract 27 million visitors last year.

“It is so much fun here. Every weekend we come here. It is full of life, especially at night. We don’t come here to sleep, just to enjoy,” said Robert Luzviminda, a Filipino who works in Hong Kong.

The variety it offers also makes it a hot favourite for Indians with a penchant for gaming and adventure. In 2007 alone, 45,473 Indians visited it. This year, the number was around 14,208 in the first quarter.

It is common to see tourists going from one casino to another, as entry is free.

After a roll of the dice, many like to relax by sipping Portuguese wine and watch skimpily clad girls twirling on the stage or listen to European and American artists belting out popular Western songs.

Some plush hotels have luxury shopping and convention centres and showcase nightlong entertainment spectacles with topless dances, striptease artists and more.

Many with a penchant for gambling can also be found at the unique greyhound racing facility in Canidrome, considered one of the largest in the world.

“After the casinos, the best place I like is the greyhound race. It is so thrilling and exciting. Every weekend we are in Macau with friends. There is no doubt this is my favourite place,” Luzviminda’s friend Mary added.

Many go for shopping or a leisurely stroll to the main square opposite the Provisional Municipal Council of Macau, near Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro.

A little to its north is the shopping area and market, which has everything from high-end luxury boutiques to traditional shops selling Chinese delicacies like dried shark fin. It also has several small churches and a cathedral.

A panoramic view from the top of Macau Tower, which is 338 metres high and is the 10th tallest freestanding tower in the world, is a must. An early dinner at its revolving restaurant called 360 shows off the dazzling city and the picturesque coastline.

Since its reversion to Chinese rule in 1999, and the liberalisation of its gaming industry in 2002, Macau has been on the path of economic development.

In late 2006, it overtook the gambling revenues of Las Vegas. By 2010, a dozen hotels, casinos and retail operators being built on the Cotai Strip - reclaimed land that will fuse two islands and cover four square kilometres - will add to its area.

At the moment, there are 85 accommodation premises offering 17,313 rooms. In another 10 years, it is estimated that a total of 41,682 rooms will be available.

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