Qi and I are in Macau (or Macao – both spellings are used) for the weekend because one of Qi’s best friends from INSEAD, Josie Zhao, is getting married here. Josie is Chinese, and Mark (her husband-to-be) is Portugese-American and they both live in Hong Kong, so Macau (as a former Portugese colony and now part of China) is an excellent location for the wedding.
I had not been to Macau since 1998 or 1999, and the place has changed completely. Especially the waterfront next to the ferry pier is unrecognizable. Since Macau’s ‘return to China’ in 1999 several new gambling licenses have been issues, and this has had a huge impact on the city. Sands was the first company to set up a Las Vegas style casino here, and its huge USD 240 million building dominates the waterfront. Many other companies will follow soon, making Macau the gambling capital of the world. I was told that gambling revenues are now already higher than Las Vegas.
Luckily the old city has not changed too much, and most tourists to Macau don’t come there anyway (most of them come from Hong Kong or mainland China on a day-trip). It’s still very pleasant to stroll around the narrow streets and look at the mix of European and Chinese buildings. We walked up to the fortress and the Museu de Macau, from where you have a nice view over the city and to Zhuhai (mainland China). It’s only a 10 minute up-hill walk from the city center, but we that seems too much for most people because were almost alone there.
Before dinner we went to the old Casino de Lisboa, which had not changed at all. I seemed to be the only Caucasian in the whole place, every table was filled with chain-smoking Chinese. Most games I did not understand, and we left after half an hour already. First we planned to go to Sands as well, but time was running out. Qi had a wedding preparation meeting at 9:30 PM, and we still needed to have dinner. So we headed back to the hotel, where we met up with Jim Feldkamp and had a great seafood dinner with him (oysters, mussels, salmon, lobster, shrimp and tuna – among others).
This afternoon the wedding will take place in an old church in the city center (we went there already for the rehearsal yesterday), followed by a dinner and party in the hotel. Many of their friends have flown in, so I think it will be a great event today.