Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: The Portuguese Connection (2012)

Cotai and Venice: risen out of the sea

Breakfast was a little busier today, but then we were also a little later than on Friday. Having done justice to historic Macau on the previous day, our intention was to spend some time in modern Macau, which had become the Las Vegas of the east. We took the Westin shuttle bus to The Venetian on the so-called Cotai Strip.

As I stood outside The Venetian, a somewhat bizarre but nonetheless striking thought occurred to me: were I able to step into some kind of time machine and transport myself back to the date of my previous visit to Macau in 1986, I would, as a non-swimmer, find myself in a bit of a pickle. The spot where I was standing, and indeed everything around me, would 26 years previously have been part of the stretch of sea water separating the islands of Taipa and Coloane. The piece of land now joining the former islands is called Cotai, a name concocted from parts of the two islands' names.   RIGHT: The grey sections represent, from the top, the Macau peninsula and the formerly separate islands of Taipa and Coloane. The red section, Cotai, has been created by land reclamation, as has the airport (MFM).

Although we had both visited The Venetian in Las Vegas, it was nevertheless fascinating to stroll through the fabulously ostentatious shopping corridors and to see another recreation of the world-famous Venice canals.

The occasional appearance of Chinese characters on signage reminded us that we were in neither Italy nor Nevada. Some visitors opted for a gondola trip on the little canal system. The 'gondoliers' had clearly been hired for their voices: they were able to sing in tune and to generate some impressive reverberation from the ceiling in this artificial, indoor setting.
ABOVE: The Venetian, on Macau's Cotai Strip
We then made our way into the convention centre part of the complex, along corridors that were amazing for both their breadth and length. I wondered what scale of events were generally held here, and also how much it must have cost to carpet the place!

We had a look around a photography exhibition before finding our way to Titanic - The Exhibition, one of two major exhibitions currently visiting The Venetian. (The other was the rather gruesome-sounding Human Bodies.) I had first seen the 'Titanic' exhibition in Orlando, Florida in 1999, so I was more than happy to give it a re-run over 13 years later. Some of the artefacts must have been worth a fortune, particularly those bearing passengers' signatures.
  ABOVE RIGHT: Exhibitions in the Venetian
  We then had a dim sum lunch in The Venetian, which was enjoyable despite the bizarre and uncouth antics of a customer at the adjacent table. While his female companion sat with earphones in and eyes glued to an electronic device, he would leap up and pace around like a caged animal, clapping his hands loudly to attract the attention of a waiter and generally being thoroughly objectionable. He appeared to be the latest example of an increasingly common phenomenon: a Chinese mainlander flush with 'loadsamoney', but bereft of any concept of acceptable behaviour in a public place. Bruce reckoned he was probably also on drugs. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he finally went on his way with his hapless companion in tow.

After lunch, we crossed the main road in the pouring rain to the City of Dreams mall, where we had a fairly brief look around before taking the little shuttle bus back to the Westin.
City of Dreams sign  

We had dinner at the hotel's Kwun Hoi Heen Cantonese restaurant, recognised as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Macau. The food was excellent, although the ambience could have been improved no end by toning down the excessively bright lighting.

Saturday 17 Nov

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