quarta-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2015

Macau no "Scented Isles and Coral Gardens" (1912) - 1ª parte

"Scented Isles and Coral Gardens - Torres Straits, German New Guinea, and the Dutch East Indies" é o título deste livro publicado por C. D. Mackellar em 1912 mas cujas viagens ocorreram anos anos. A passagem por Macau deu-se em 1901 e ficou registada - sem imagens - nas páginas 289 a 295.
Mackellar já antes tinha escrito um livro de viagens - A pleasure pilgrim in South America-  muito bem recebido pela crítica na época. Explica no prefácio deste livro que quando escreveu as notas de viagem não tinha intenção de publicá-las mas acabou por o fazer por considerar que viajou por lugares desconhecidos da grande maioria das pessoas e por ter vivienciado um progresso tal que por certo tão depressa o que viu deixaria de poder ser testemunhado. No livro explica o que o levou a fazer esta viagem: "I Had returned to Rockhampton, in Queensland, from a visit to Raglan, a cattle station near there, and it suddenly came into my mind that here was an opportunity to carry out a longwished-for project of visiting Torres Straits and, if possible, New Guinea. No one in Rockhampton could give me any definite information about either place."
A viagem de Hong Kong para Macau foi num navio comandando pelo capitão Clark que pouco tempo antes tinha feito um hotel em Macau, o hotel Boa Vista (mais tarde denominado Bela Vista). A viagem de regresso a Liverpool deste viajante aconteceu no navio a vapor The Empress of India a partir do Japão de que falarei num dos próximos posts. Como curiosidade refira-se que um grupo de 30 ilhas na Antártica receberam o seu nome, pois Mackellar patrocionou uma expedição que ocorreu no início do século XX. Eis um excerto das páginas dedicadas a Macau em que o autor deixa as suas impressões do hotel Boa Vista, gruta e jardim de Camões, ilha Verde, Leal Senado, etc...
It is the thing to go from Hong-Kong to Macao, the Portuguese place, for week-ends; but I went on a Tuesday. I left my room and all my belongings in charge of my three Chinese boys. The steamboat took three hours to reach Macao, was clean and good, and Captain Clarke was most entertaining. There were two English ladies on board " an elderly one and a young and pretty one. In the dining-saloon hung cutlasses and loaded guns for the use of the passengers should the Chinese attempt anything, and Chinese sailors, armed with sword, pistol, and gun, stood on guard over the hatchways leading to the lower deck, where hundreds of Chinese were padlocked down " for some of these might be pirates. This has been the custom since an affair that occurred on this or one of the other boats.
It happened that on one occasion the Captain and passengers being at lunch, and only one seasick passenger left on deck, a crowd of Chinese pirates, disguised as passengers, rushed the deck, shot the sea-sick passenger ere he could give the alarm, and killed and wounded the Captain and others as they rushed up, then imprisoned the survivors and looted the ship. It was an arranged thing, and they had junks in waiting, so they escaped. Some were afterwards caught and beheaded and some imprisoned.
Captain Clarke kept a sharp look-out on all junks which came near us.
The harbour of Macao looked very pretty as we entered it " the sweep of it is supposed to resemble a miniature Bay of Naples. As a harbour it is now no use, as it is silting up. Macao is a small, rocky peninsula connected by a sandy causeway with the Island of Heung Shan, and is on the west shore of the entrance of the estuary of the Chu-kiang or Pearl River, which again is joined farther north by the Si-kiang or West River, which rises in Yunnan, flows east for 600 miles through Kwangsi province, and at Wuchan Fu enters Kwantung, and then after 200 miles forms the Chu-kiang. Now you know all about it, and that " Kiang " means " river," so, like me, you can speak a little Chinese. Portuguese traders founded Macao in 1557; the Dutch under Admiral Rezersy van Derzton attacked it in 1622, but were repulsed. The Portuguese paid the Chinese an annual rent of 500 taels up to 1848, but in that year Governor Ferreira Amaral refused any longer to continue the payment, and drove the Chinese authorities out of the place; and in 1887 it was finally and fully ceded to Portugal. After the foundation of Hong-Kong in 1841 trade decreased. At present it seems half moribund; there is no life in the streets, and it has a distinct air of having seen better days. The Boa Vista Hotel is quite a good building and has prettily laid out terraces descending to the sea. Captain Clarke, of the boat I came over in, owns and runs it, and he and his wife seem to manage well " though in truth it seemed really to be managed by Chinese " boys." My bedroom window had a pleasant outlook over the town and harbour.
I referred to two English ladies who came over in the same boat. They were the guests in Macao of an English naval officer, who had with him a junior officer, and they greeted the ladies on arrival. Jinrickshas from the hotel were in waiting, and I, entering one, was hauled to the hotel with these other people. Chinese waiters received us, we all registered our names at the same time, and we and our baggage were carted upstairs together. Arrived on the landing, the Chinese boy turned to me and said" " Which lady belong you, sir? " " Neither! " I gasped. " What! That man he got two ladies! " I fled into my room, the ladies into theirs, and I heard stifled peals of laughter from the ladies' room, and had a suspicion that the old one was putting a pillow on the head of the younger!
Praya Grande
But to return to Macao itself. The only vehicles in the streets were rickshaws and chairs. There were some quaint old houses, forts crowning every eminence, and bits of picturesque walls here and there. The Praya Granda is the esplanade facing the sea, and here is the Government House, a pale blue house with white pillars, the Consulates, and some handsome private houses, some of which are painted in pale pink, blue, and green. It is certainly a pretty place, but seemed asleep. After dinner that evening I did what is the usual thing, and went to the Chinese fantan or gambling-house.
I walked down alone through a street crowded with Chinese, lined with Chinese shops, open to the street. Seeing some little bits of porcelain I liked, I went in and bought them, but in pretending to give me back my change the Chinaman in the shop kept back most of it. On my naturally objecting, he became most insolent and called out things in Chinese to the others, and instantly the shop filled and they began to hustle me. I only realised then that I had done a silly thing coming out at night alone into this Chinese part. An old Chinaman, however, rushed in, harangued the others, pulled me out, and simply bundled me into the gambling-house, which was opposite, warning me to be careful what I did, and not to come out alone like that at night.
The fantan house was a dirty place, open in the roof to a room above, a rail running round this opening, and there above were the naval officers and the ladies letting down their money in a basket. I sat at the table amidst a mob of Chinese, with other excited half-naked Chinese sprawling over my back. The game was simple enough. I loathe gambling, do not like winning money (strange as it may seem !), and it does noti itis merely to see what the place was like and study the gambling Chinese. Yet, strange to say, whenever I put my money down I won, and so I scraped in quite a pile of dollars" I found afterwards I had enough to pay my total expenses in Macao ! When tired of it, the heat, and the Chinese perfume, I departed, and was quite surprised that my former enemies in the street did not see that that was the time to molest me, overflowing with ill-gotten wealth as I was. Every one comes from Hong-Kong for the week-end or a few days to indulge in this pastime, but, according to my old-fashioned ideas, it is a strange taste that brings ladies into such a placeThe following morning I hired a rickshaw and two Chinese boys and explored Macao. The streets of the town are narrow and often steep.
I dislike a rickshaw very much, and still more do I dislike being drawn about by a panting and perspiring runner ; but, of course, here it is the usual thing. I went first to the ruins of the church of San Paulo, the fagade of which is alone remaining, and it is a conspicuous object from every quarter. It was destroyed by fire in 1835. It is approached by long, steep flights of steps under which is said to be a vault containing treasure, and subterranean passages, leading to Guia fort, and under the sea for a mile to Green Island. I was not a bit impressed by this tale of treasure. If it was there no one would have allowed me to dig it up, and what is the good of treasure in a vault anyway ?
I inspected a silk factory in a dirty Chinese village, where numbers of women were spinning a curious sight ; then to Porta di Cerco the barrier on the causeway which joins Macao and the island. Near this part are mud-flats in the seashallows where oysters, are cultivated. The men go over the mud on planks with great ease and at some pace. 'Flora' the country residence of the Governor, is also near a villa with a very charmingChinese garden laid out in terraces with balustrades of turquoise blue and green porcelain. There are also public gardens, the paths and grass borderedwith miniature white railings a few inches high,which had a quaint and pleasing effect.
I had made a long tour of the island and was trundling along peacefully by the edge of the sea when my coolies suddenly stopped, exchanged remarks, and one said to me, " You killee me." "Well, you silly old thing," I replied, " why do you let yourself be killed? " So I alighted, gave them cigarettes, and we all sat on the shore to rest. When we resumed our return journey I told them to go quietly, and the consequence was they walked all the way! A rickshaw when the coolie walks is a foolish business. We stopped near the town to watch the funniest football match I had seen for long. Portuguese, English, and a Chinaman were playing. The latter, in his wide flapping trousers and his pigtail flying, was very comical.
Then, as usual with me, I discarded the rickshaw and walked everywhere " I always thought it was what legs were for. When strolling under the banyan trees on the Praya Granda " where, by the by, there is a Military club and a Union club " one of my coolies in attendance, a band of three Portuguese police with a Chinese prisoner caught up to us. The four of them and my coolie entering into an animated conversation, I asked what it was about, and learnt that the Chinese prisoner was being taken there and then to execution " to be beheaded. We accompanied them part of the way, whilst I asked questions, I bestowing cigarettes on them all, including the condemned man " who was perfectly at ease and quite cheerful, and smiled upon me in the most friendly way in thanking me for the cigarettes. They were most anxious I should go with them "I believe even the prisoner wanted it " but I was horrified when I realised the thing, and that the smiling, cigarette-smoking wretch was going to his death! To the great disappointment of my coolie I turned back ere we reached the place. There was something so careless and callous about it all " on this lovely, bright, sunshiny day, too. But it is a fact that death has little terror for a Chinaman, and this one did not seem to realise what it meant. (...)

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