After spending time in some fairly out of the way and off the beaten track places in Asia, arriving in the wealthy Chinese region of Macau is something of a culture shock. Coming from towns where power was frequently sporadic, transport was always basic, and roads were often made of little more than dirt, it’s jarring to find myself in the ultra plugged-in, built up, casino covered money sprawl that is Macau, a former Portuguese colony of China.
For me, my arrival here heralds the start of a new chapter in the journey through 2012. While I am still very much in Asia, this is the beginning of my trek through countries that I’ve called ‘money Asia.’ That is to say from now on the countries I will visit are generally much wealthier than those in Asia I’ve seen thus far.
With a reputation as being something of a playground and gamblers paradise, Macau is a city state that is clearly in a time of massive expansion. Vast casinos and gigantic hotels dominate the skyline with new developments being constructed in huge areas reclaimed from the sea. The countries Portuguese heritage is in danger of becoming almost indistinguishable from the imitations and fakery of themed developments like the Venetian resort and casino complex which is the sixth-largest building in the world by area, the largest single structure hotel building in Asia, and home to biggest casino on the planet.
So todays picture is a my gentle introduction to this part of the world. The Tian Hou Temple that stands amidst the Sea Pai Van Park which, as far as I can see, looks to be one of the few places in Macau that hasn’t yet been levelled and redeveloped. Maybe that’s because it’s a holy place, or maybe it’s because the developers just haven’t gotten around to it yet.