sábado, 14 de setembro de 2019

A Visit to Old Macao, Where East Meets West (1964)

Edição do The New York Times de 6 Dezembro 1964 com um artigo dedicado a Macau intitulado "A Visit To Old Macau, Where East Meets West" / "Visita a Macau Antigo, onde o Oriente se encontra como Ocidente". O artigo faz um bom resumo do que era o território no início da década de 1960 e é ilustrado com duas fotos: uma da Rua de S. Paulo vendo-se ao fundo a fachada da igreja Mater Dei (Ruínas de S. Paulo) e outra da zona da Penha com destaque para o Palácio de Santa Sancha.

Macao - Just 15 minutes by air from Hong Kong, perched on the edge of Red China is Macao, the oldest European settlement in the Far East. For historians, its very name conjures up vivid pictures of opium smugglers, South China Sea pirates, gamblers and viceridden dens of iniquity. Today, although it calls itself “The Monte Carlo of the Orient,” Macao is a peaceful, rather sleepy little city with a charming Old World atmosphere and a fascinating past.No international airlines or worldwide shipping services call at Macao. The Portuguese colony must be approached through Hong Kong, where most tourists get so involved in shopping that there is little time for sightseeing, But Macao has a great deal to offer those who can tear themselves away.
Macao Bargains
Some of the bargains one sees in Hong Kong, like lacquered chests, carved furniture and old wood carvings, are available in Macao at a cheaper price. Many Hong Kong merchants buy goods and “antiques” from dealers in Macao. The methods of reaching Macao from Hong Kong are varied. Those in a hurry can make the trip by seaplane in 15 minutes or skim across the South China Sea in a new hydrofoil in 75 minutes.
The leisurely traveler can board one of three ferryboats, and relax for three hours over dinner and drinks. Cabins are provided for anyone wishing to catch a few winks. However, most of the passengers spend the time on deck, enjoying the changing scenery as the ferry sails out of Hong Kong Harbor and past ocean liners, freighters and water tankers. Also on view are the countless sampans and houseboats that are home to the floating population of Tanka and Haklo fishermen. They eat, sleep, cook, get married, give birth and die aboard their boats. As the ferryboat traverses a labyrinth of picturesque islands, fleets of bat‐winged junks, with their patched, multicolored sails, dip and pitch on the changing waters.
Approaching the Pearl River estuary, the exotic skyline of Macao emerges. It is a skyline of two cities - old and new Macao, East and West - for East and West have lived here together for more than 400 years.
Established in 1557
The colony was formally established in 1557, when the Emperor of China issued a decree -granting Portugal the right to form a community in Macao and to establish trade through the Emperor's viceroy in Canton. The Portuguese, in turn, agreed to help fight the ferocious pirates terrorizing the South Sea coast with armed junks. On arrival, one's first impression is the striking change of pace from the urgency of Hong Kong. Macao's main thoroughfare, the banyan‐fringed Praya Grande, stretches lazily along the waterfront. The tempo of the city is about the same speed as the pedieabs that wheel leisurely along the Praya Grande, between the brightly painted, Mediterranean‐style villas and courtyards. Lofty old churches grace the hilltops. At dawn and dusk, the city echoes with the pealing of church bells, while across the bay, in clear view, is Communist China.
Many Refugees
The population of more than 250,000 is swollen by the legal and illegal refugees who pour in from the Chinese mainland. The legal are the old and the ill—”useless mouths” that are encouraged by the Communists to leave China. They are allowed to come through the Barrier Gate at the border. The illegal refugees come by night. Some swim the wide West River, which separates Macao from China; others make a desperate dash across narrow Duck Channel, dodging Communist bullets fired from the pillboxes that guard the frontier stream; others run the Communist gunboat gantlet in sampans or anything that will float.
More than 800 such refugees come to Macao each month. Centers for them have been set up, and none is turned away.
Accent oa Atmosphere
Hotels in Macao are not luxurious. They are comfortable with an appealing atmosphere, and are reasonably priced. The food, both Chinese and European, can be good. Some of the specialties of Macao are sole, pigeons, crab and succulent rice birds. Delicate Portuguese wines are cheap and plentiful.
Gambling Popular
Gambling is still one of. the biggest attractions of Macao. On weekends the hotels are bursting with people from Hong Kong, many of whom seek to make the “killing” that lurks just beyond the next turn of a roulette wheel or the flip of a card. The gambling houses are crowded by noon, and the wheels spin until the late hours. There are many ways to win or lose a pataca - worth about 21 cents - but fan‐tan seems to be the fastest and most popular. It is also the simplest It consists of putting a cup over a pile of buttons and betting on how many, from one to four, will remain when they are counted off by fours. Greyhound racing also is popular with the Chinese, especially the ex‐Shanghai Chinese from Hong Kong. The most bizarre type of gambling in Macao is the old Chinese sport of cricket fighting. The matches are controlled by a syndicate called “The Voice of Autumn Club”. The strongest and most ferocious crickets seem to come from an old cemetery, where they are trapped at night in the crumbling graves. If the cricket survives the season he is returned to the cemetery to breed more champions.
Investment Program
The bulk of money from the gambling franchise is being reinvested in Macao through a 20 million development program. Eventually, this will produce a new air‐conditioned hotel on an artificial lake, a large glittering casino and new shops. Macao is full of interesting places for the sightseer. Tours with English speaking guides are organized by the various hotels. As the area within the city limits is only two square miles, it does not take more than a couple of hours to get a general idea of Macao. One should spend another hour going down the small streets in a pedicab. Some of the pedicab boys speak english, and will give one all sorts of inside information.
But the real way to see Macao is to walk. Many of the narrow, cobblestone streets are too rough for pedicabs and too narrow for cars. And many of them end in steep stairways leading to green terraces and tree‐lined paths. For an over‐all view of the maze of streets, villas, terraces, courtyards and slums that make up the city, one should climb one of the Seven Hills up to the century old Guia Lighthouse. Or, he should go to the picturesque Monte Fort, with its cannon protruding from the ancient imposing ramparts.
On many perilous occasions in the past, these cannon have protected the little settlement. In 1622, a lucky gunner achieved what might be called a “hole‐in one” for a cannonball landed in a barrel of the enemy's gun powder. The resulting explosion caused so much damage and confusion that the attacking Dutch soldiers were forced to retreat. The Cantonese, on hearing of the incident, were so amused that they sent gifts to the Monte Fort garrison.
Free Port
Over the years Macao has survived wars, revolutions and natural catastrophies. It is a free port, and exists on fishing, gambling, the mysterious gold traffic, tourism and small industries, like the manufacture of firecrackers, matches and incense. Including two small islands, Taipa and Colowan, and the area that lies within the city limits, Macao covers only six square miles. The population is approximately 235,000 Chinese, 1,080 Portuguese and 20,000 native Macanese.”

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