Monday, July 7, 2008


I got off the over night bus with a polish couple. We'd chatted a little and they had used my torch for some reading. But now I moved off again on my own. The resolution being more natural, after two and a half months in China. I can make it on my own. I passed through immigration and walked out onto the glimmering peninsula of casinos and banks and posh hotels. Seeing the poles again we agreed to share a taxi to a cheaper part of macau, an old style portuguese area where one of the scenes of Raiders of the lost Ark had been filmed apparently, and which was in years gone by at the heart of the red-light district. It now looked quiant and lively with the bussle of the local sellers of handmade candy, portuguese cafes and tourists from Hong Kong and the mainland wandering.

After finding a hostel I tried to haggle for my room price. It was a very basic place with partition walls for the rooms only going three quarters of the way to the ceiling. After some debate the receptionist guy took me to see another room which looked identical and said I could have it for 100 macua dollars, a 20 dollar reduction. I found out later why this room came cheaper.

I wandered around the streets and then soon up to the main casino area to find some texas hold'em poker. It took me a few hours to find the only casino that had anything at all. Four semi-computerized tables which took away the need for a dealer. I sat on a $5/10 blinds no limit table and made myself about $500 by patience and not much flare. After leaving the temple to mammon and it's glitz and glamour in brazilian and russian dancers, and common to macua philippino cover bands, I went out into the night.

It was beautiful with the colonial influence of the portuguese in the architecture. The ruins of the church of St Paul lit up at night, above the cobbled streets which entwined their way around each other below. The people bright smiling and happy but mostly in their own circles of association. I saw the young sitting by the church, some drinking, one holding a guitar. A group of retired men sat together chatting and imbibing the ambience of the sexy latino girls and the shine of the lights from the church. I thought what a nice pass time. I was doing the same but on my own.

Past mid-night I lay in my room and read some from a book about the affects of Pol Pots regime on a reasonably well-off family in Cambodia. The inconceivable trials and the deaths he inflicted touched me. When I tried to sleep I could hear the woman in the adjacent room. She was making love and I could hear her deep breathing and sighs, the bed moving and even the slop of her body fluids. Then she finished and after some light talking and somebody leaving her room I heard her pottering and then sitting to eat noddles with little slurps. She spoke with an elder lady and her voice was sweet and fragile. A little later in the night I heard the same. Her pleasing a man and I realised why I'd been given the room a little cheaper. She was a working girl left over from the "glory" days of this street. She seemed OK but my heart went out to her too. The suffering in the world was weighing on me a little but she seemed to be upbeat enough as my days in Macua went on. I never saw her face but heard her every night and heard her talking with the older woman about money in a relaxed way but beyond my understanding of mandarin.

Outside a bar called Moonwalker, where a cover band played, I saw a group of about ten philippino girls standing together. They were not invited in to chase punters but allowed in if someone was buying them drinks. I thought back to my entry into this autonomous region of China, seeing a girl from the same country being interoggated as they viewed her passport. A guy beside me had said with compassion, "They're only looking for work". I hoped these vunerable creatures would find their way. I would have liked to have helped these girls but these needy souls can be man-eaters. I thought on the subject and drank my stella for $60 (four pound) a pint and enjoyed the show.

Each day I went to the Star World casino and played to my obsession, calling on the staff for free drinks and snacks, as and when I wanted them. I picked up some money from the other tourists as they over played their weak hands, looking to get lucky. On my fourth day of play some business men were playing for the thrill of the gamble. One guy was going all-in nearly every hand. I didn't hit much. I went all-in with kings against him. They held up. But eventually that day I went bust. I decided to quit while ahead. I'd made about a hundred pounds in all. I wanted the pride of saying I'd made money playing poker in Macua.

No comments: