This photo makes Macao look like a very nice place. Do not be fooled.
I’d be willing to bet that most people have never heard of Macao. It’s always been Hong Kong’s poor cousin, another former European colony that’s now been returned to China.
For some reason I cannot explain, I’ve always been far more fascinated by Macao than by Hong Kong. It seemed more exotic, maybe because it was a Portuguese colony instead of being a stolid, boring British colony.
And now Macao has gained some cache because it’s Asia’s new gambling mecca. Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson have pretty much abandoned building new casinos in Las Vegas, but they’re building like crazy in Macao.
So I talked Jamie into taking a one hour hydrofoil ride from Hong Kong to Macao. “It’ll be cool,” I said. “We’ll go over in the morning, walk around and see the sights, grab some lunch and come home by mid-afternoon.”
Bear with me as I digress momentarily.
Most of you know that we’re leavng California and that we’ve been looking for somewhere cool to settle. We’ve visited Boise, Idaho, Fort Collins, Colorado and McKinney, Texas.
I work with a great young art director named Chris Sutton who lives in Las Vegas. One day he asked me in an email what cities we were looking at and I sent him a list that included Reno, Nevada. As a Vegas resident, he took umbrage at that so I asked, “What’s wrong with Reno?”
He sent back this reply:
You asked me what was wrong with Reno. The better question would be “What’s right with Reno?”. The answer is nothing.
It’s a small town with nothing to do besides the old, dirty hookers at the brothel, terrible food and lackluster, rundown casinos that are barely holding on by the $4.99 Prime rib buffet.
Well, having now visited Macao I can say that Reno is to Las Vegas as Macao is to Hong Kong.
Wynn and Adelson may be making billions of dollars here, but I can’t figure out how. Macao seems kind of tacky and run down, the casinos are empty, and there doesn’t appear to be any of the energy that Hong Kong’s so famous for.
Our lunch at Wynn’s Hotel & Casino was delicious, but we didn’t see any old, dirty hookers. In fact, as far as we know, we didn’t even see any young, clean ones.
So depending on how you feel about hookers, Macao probably tops Reno even if it doesn’t top Hong Kong.