Manny Pacquiao v Brandon Rios: Macau is Sin City of the East – but without the sin
Macau’s tourist board has been going to great lengths in recent years to try and show the town is more than simply the Las Vegas of the east.
That is a hard sell, and one that won’t be helped when the eyes of the world turn in the direction of the Venetian Macau on Sunday, and alight on what is little more than a brick-by-brick replica of it elder Las Vegas sister. While Pacquiao and Rios come to blows, Chinese gondoliers singing Verdi arias will propel honeymooning Chinese couples down indoor canals past branches of Zara and Sisley’s.
It wasn’t always thus. Whole millennia eased past while the island was little more than a series of sleepy fishing villages. Then the Portuguese arrived, 500 years ago this year, in fact, and set about turning what was then a little peninsula at the Pearl River Delta into a trading port of world importance, and a metaphorical bridge – and a two-way one at that – into the heart and soul of China. The two empires swapped culinary secrets too: Macau fried rice comes with huge chunks of Iberian sausage – delicious.
Macau still has an old town, where pretty little Mediterranean style churches with lemon-coloured columns open on to whitewashed plazas. Its first settlers, so they’ll have you believe, were guided to the island by Matsu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen, who took one step on dry land and disappeared in a ball of flame. Now the Chinese tourists meet at a temple built where she vanished, light incense sticks and pray for good luck when they hit the tables.
The casinos are newer than Vegas but they look older – they get more use. When the Sands Casino Resort opened in 2004 – the first of the big international brands to do so – a 15,000-strong crowd desperate to get to the tables broke through the plate glass doors before the official ribbon cutters could get to the front. On every financial comparison, Macau wins, but it feels a lot less fun. Eastern pockets grow ever deeper than Western ones, but to be the world’s Sin City you need to broaden your offering. For drink and drugs and women, it’s still hotter in the desert.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...