quarta-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2019

Macao, the Monaco Of the East, Wants To Be Paris, Too

"Macao, the Monaco Of the East, Wants To Be Paris, Too" é o título de um artigo publicado no jornal New York Times a 21 de Fevereiro de 1971 que a seguir reproduzo (apenas o texto) e que no essencial faz uma breve descrição do território no início da década de 1970 em termos de contexto sócio-político com enfoque nas atracções turísticas, casos dos monumentos, grande prémio e o jogo.
Macao - A luxury hotel here regularly stages races in its din ing room - the waiters rush around as if competing in track event. What they are trying to do is to minimize the time required to feed a party of tourists more in terested in streamlined sightseeing than leisurely dining. And the reason for the rapid service lies in Macao's current drive to compete for the tourists now saturating Hong Kong,40 miles to the east.
In this quest, there is one big point in Macao's favor: the national pastime of this Portuguese province - the oldest European settlement in Asia is gam bling. The island won its reputation not as a tourist attraction but as a place to wager. In the past, the visitor did not come here to the crowded, dingy oasinos for elegant ambiance, or for service or efficiency. He came to try to win some money.
A Day's Gambling
And until recently, most western tour ists preferred to ride over to Macao from Hong Kong (where all forms of gambling except horse racing are illegal) just for the day. Then they would return to the glamour of Hong Kong in time for cocktails.
The people of Macao are trying to change all that. For one thing, they have opened two new hotels - an inn called the Pousada de Coloane (on the offshore island of Coloane) and the capital's tangerine‐hued Lisboa Hotel, with circular, split‐level casino built perhaps to emulate the Caesar's Palace of Las Vegas. Beneath the casino's ceil ing mosaics, where women in elegant pant suits cluster around the black jack tables, one may now gamble in style.
Moreover, prices here are among the lowest in this part of the world. A double room at the Lisboa costs about $12, and the new Pousada de Coloane as well as the older, colonial‐style ho tels and inns charge even less. A fortui tous combination of circumstances - cheap labor provided by Macao's Chi nese refugees, plus a large influx of gambling funds - assures that this situa tion will continue.
Dining in Macao is equally inexpensive. A complete dinner for two, with a bottle of mellow Portuguese wine, usually averages under $8. The Chinese chefs here have mastered the Portuguese catch) verde (green vegetable soup) and barbecued African chicken, served on a sizzling wooden platter garnished with sweet pickle slices. The traditional spicy Portuguese tomato, onion and olive sauce seems designed for Macao's fresh prawns, sole and garoupa.
Prices Are Comparable
For the shoppers, there are Chinese and Portuguese antiques, carved cam phorwood chests, some lacquered furni ture, and the same beaded or em broidered sweaters and handbags on sale in Hong Kong, and the prices are comparable. The Welfare Handicrafts Shop on the Avenida Almeida Ribeiro has some unusual crocheted garments but the beaded dresses, though charming, tend to unravel. Portuguese wines in unusual bottles are inexpensive, but travelers may only take one bottle duty free back to Hong Kong.
Macao - a hilly, semi‐urban, penin sula and three forested islands totaling six square miles - perches like three tad poles on the tongue of a whale. Nearly everywhere, the coastline of Communist China is practically Within shouting distance. While the other islands, Taipa and Caloane, are sparsely inhabited, Macao itself is covered by low cement dwellings and brightly painted churches and villas.
It is a paradoxical mixture of oriental and occidental, old and new life styles. In the harbof, crescent‐shaped, spiny sailed junks sporting the red flag of China dodge tourist hydrofoils. Trem bling with fear, middle ‐ aged Chinese women in flimsy, flowered pajamas take their first ride on Macao's brand new escalator - Communist Chinese product - in the Lisboa casino. Most of Macao's 300,000 inhabitants, many of whom live on wooden junks and sampans in the harbor, are Chinese.
Only a handful of Europeans, mainly Portuguese business men and soldiers, live here. Yet the mood, with pastel white shuttered houses, confectionery churches and arched sidewalk colonnades, is Mediterranean. First colonized four centuries ago, Macao now has a well‐established Latin tradition and even the industrious Chinese close their shops during the midday siesta to doze in the shade. The colony is best seen by walking, or on a motorbicyle rented for three Hong Kong dollars (50 cents) an hour. (Although Macao has its own currency, Hong Kong dollars are acceptable.)
Street Sounds
Along the harbor, opposite long rows of arched doorways, fishermen dry their catch on the sidewalk: sea‐snakes, eels, squid. The soft breeze carries the aroma high above the pavement. A cluster of nuns wait for a bus, their habits flutter ing like gulls' wings. Through a door way on a shady side street, the red framed portrait of Mao Tse‐tung beams down upon a household interior. Out side, old men push glass‐enclosed carts filled with sweet pastries, chanting as they peddle their wares.
The most imposing monument, and regular stop for tourist buses, is the site of Saint Paul's, a 17th‐century church. Only the facade survives, loom ing precariously above a steep granite staircase, for the rest of the Church was destroyed by a fire and typhoon in 1835. Baroque sculpture depicts several Biblical stories and symbols on the gabled wall. The complicated religious iconography, which also glorifies the introduction of the Christian Church to the Far East, features such fanciful images as a seven‐headed dragon; Devil with tails, wings and claws, pierced by an arrow; and a galleon representing the ships that brought the first Christ ians to the Orient.
Also on the bus tour itinerary is the Church of the Penha, built in the 1930's. This squat stone structure commands a view of the Chinese coast, Macao's rose‐colored Governor's Palace and the Lisboa Hotel. 
Below the Penha, jutting out of rocky hillside, is the Ma Kok Miu Chinese Buddhist Temple built before the arrival of the Portuguese. The shrine, which guards the entrance to the inner harbor, is dedicated to A‐ma, the Fukienese sea goddess for whom Macao (A‐Ma‐ngau) is named: According to legend, she guided a ship to Macao through a violent storm; and then dis appeared on the rocks.
Another pagoda dating from pre colonial days, the Kwan Yin Temple, stands in the district of Wang. The monks of this temple‐monastery complex display several scroll paintings, and among them, executed in minute detail, is a portrait of a roly‐poly Buddha whose eyes - and toes - seem to follow the spectator across the room. There, at a stone table still in the garden, the Canton viceroy, Ki‐Yeng, and American envoy Caleb Cushing signed the first treaty between China and the United States in 1844.
Although Increasing numbers of visitors are admiring and photographing them, Macao's baroque and rococo churches and Chinese pagodas still must yield to the casinos as the principal attractions. If visitors understand the fundamentals of the various games, or if they have a guide to help them with the rules and to communicate with the Chinese, they are welcome to participate in all the diversions the casinos have to offer.
Chinese Showboat
The three big casinos are the Lisboa Casino, the Casino de Macao in the Estoril Hotel and the Floating Casino*, a multistoried dark wood showboat cov ered with carved figures and ornamenta tion. A Chinese opera is performed each afternoon in the Floating Casino's restaurant‐theater. Along with blackjack, roulette and the inevitable fruit machines, Macao's gambling houses offer Chinese pastimes such as fan‐tan and the big and the small (teal ‐ si or tai ‐ siu), a simple dice game. Originally, when the latter was played, wealthy Macanese who didn't want to mingle with the coolies used to drop their bets in a basket, lowered on a tether line through hole cut in the ceiling.
The stakes vary considerably. Since the slot machines take Hong Kong 50‐ cent pieces (worth about 8 U.S. cents), it's possible to play for a long time without risking much, but of course, that means that hitting the jackpot is not very significant either. Late at night (the casinos never close), when the wealthy Chinese crowd around the blackjack tables, the big money cir culates. In the early hours, Chinese women tap long, white‐polished finger nails against piles of chips worth $1,000 each.
Most Dangerous Game
Betting at Macao's Grand Prix, perhaps the most dangerous and certainly the most thrilling auto race in South east Asia, commands the highest stakes of all. The tortuous course follows Macao's steepest bills and sharpest curves, and although the race does not have much prestige in international rac ing circles, many big‐time gamblers never miss the event. Hotel rooms should be booked far in advance for the race, held annually the last week end of this month.
Although Macao is receptive to visitors, Americans had been leery until recently of spending more than a few hours here on the edge of the Bamboo Curtain, The United States has no official representatives in Macao; and after the Communist‐inspired riots in 1966 Americans were not permitted to travel here. But now there are no travel restrictions for Americans—and little reason for them. After the 1966 disturb ances, the Portuguese came to an agree ment with the Communist Chinese, promising to return refugees to China and to ban Nationalist Chinese flags and organizations.
The only visible trace of violence is a damaged statue of Jorge Alvarez, the first European to sail the China coast, which stands on the Praia Grande, waterfront avenue. Signs of Chinese influence - Mao posters, Communist stores and shipping agencies and an octagonal red pagoda used as a propaganda li brary, are obvious but not threatening.
One annoyance is a curb on cameras. Tour guides warn against photographing a Chinese gunboat do the harbor at close range and forbid snapping pic tures of the border guards. As one guide informs his charges, “They shoot first, ask questions later.”
If visitors need reassurance, the existence of the new hotels should convince them of Macao's stability. The residents claim that without some sort of “understanding” with the Communist Chinese, the hotels would never have been constructed. Otherwise, building the Lisboa Hotel so close to China would have been foolhardy. Rising above the sea, the hotel's cylindrical tower topped with white spires is a symbol of capital ism. Above the gold‐carpeted lobby hangs a chandelier (the hotel emphasizes it is the world's third largest) dripping with shimmering crystals.
Macao's history has always been one of cooperation with or deference to China; from 1557, the Portuguese used Macao as a base for trading and missionary work there. In the early 19th century, Portugal and China combined forces to rid the China coast of pirates. After years of diplomacy, negotiations and some hostilities, Portugal gained official recognition of Macao's colonial status in 1862. The territory is now considered a province of Portugal.
Mutual Convenience
Peking deals with Macao through intermediaries - usually businessmen - with direct influence over Macao's Gov ernment. The relationship is said to be one of mutual convenience. In return for supervision of Macao politics and an outlet to the West (China sells some $13‐million worth of goods yearly through Macao), the Chinese tolerate this enclave of Portuguese colonialism on their doorstep. This unwritten code of respect poses problems of decorum. When Macao's prominent businessmen - Communist and otherwise - met for a recent lunch eon at the Lisboa Hotel, the staff had to set and serve all the tables exactly alike - and at precisely the same mo ment.
Macao depends on China for its daily sustenance. Every morning, trucks roll through the bright yellow border gate bringing chickens, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and textiles. Unless you ride across the Chinese border with a truckload of tomatoes, the only way to reach Macao Is by ferry or hydrofoil from Hong Kong. The three‐and‐one‐half‐hour ferry ride, some times featuring a Parisian striptease show on deck, is recommended for those with queasy stomachs, as the 75‐ minute hydrofoil trip can be rather bumpy.
Public transportation here is by taxi and open pedicabs. A one‐way fare should not exceed two Hong Kong dol lars (33 cents) anywhere. The only beaches are on Coloane Island, a one‐half‐hour ferry ride away. The out‐Is lands' charms lie in their Isolation, their thick vegetation and their proximity to China. The ferryboat ride to Coloane skirts a cliff with a huge billboard stating - in Chinese characters - “Long Live Chairman Mao.”
Artigo da autoria de Peggy Steinle in New York Times, 21 Fevereiro 1971
* no texto começa-se por referir três mas depois dão 4 quatro nomes mas são de facto três... o Casino de Macao era o flutuante.

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