Saturday, December 06, 2014


Explored the old center of Macau today, charming in Graham Greenian ways. This little peninsula had its finger on the pulse of history for half a century, a long time ago. All the wealth of trade between China and Japan, the Indies and the West, flowed through it; Matteo Ricci began his relationship with China here. And then history moved on. But the place stayed, Portuguese and Cantonese speaking, Portuguese Catholic and part of the shambolic Portuguese empire. I'm not sure at what point it became one of those shadowy places where smugglers and gamblers hung out, but that was so much its character that Portual apparently had to wait years before the PRC would take it back. Now it's casino central, awash with the gold of China's new rich (though anti-corruption campaigns have apparently reduced the number of government officials dramatically) and a historical theme park, too. What does it all mean to the people who live here, to visitors from the rest of China?


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