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Before: Macau Primer

The two things I know about Macau:

  1. It used to be a Portugese colony
  2. It’s close to Hong Kong and China

Which is to say that I don’t know much, and well, I like to know a little bit about where I’m going because I think it makes the experience of being in a new place or city just that much richer. I’m not too much of a history buff, but if you’re interested, you can read about it here (or maybe this will be the time when I actually get Bear to write a post!) 

Here are some of the things that I did find interesting about Macau.

Macau (also spelled Macao) is one of two special administrative regions of China. Hong Kong being the other one. What this means is that Macau has it’s own currency (the pataca), immigration policy, customs procedures and legal system. China is responsible for Macau’s defence and foreign affairs only. Which means that we’ll be collecting 2 different stamps for our passport in 3 days! I love collecting stamps so this is good news. And fortunately, as Canadians, we won’t require visas to enter either country (like we would for China), which is great, because I’m guessing that that would’ve been a rather expensive proposition.

The gambling industry in Macau started in 1962, and today, Macau is the world’s top casino market with revenues surpassing even those of Las Vegas…and this is despite it’s much smaller size. With 50% of tourists coming from mainland China and 30% coming from Hong Kong, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Chinese like to gamble. The fact that gambling is not allowed in China only increases these numbers I’m sure.

The Venetian (where the Bears are bedding down for a few nights) is the 6th largest building in the world. It also happens to be the biggest casino in Macau. We’re not gamblers, but maybe we’ll pop a few patacas into one of the 3400 slot machines on offer.

Macau has the second longest life expectancy in the world, which is interesting. It would seem that gambling industry = longer life. At least in Macau. Curious. AND in a last little piece of information that made me very unhappy…Macau is the most densely populated region on earth. Ugh.

So much for escaping the crowds of Korea and getting some peace…

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