The past 12 hours found myself wandering through one Chinese luxury mega casino after another Chinese luxury mega resort. When I first arrived on the island I simply thought it was like a more humid and naturally lush Chinese Vegas, put crudely. Gambling resorts aren’t that much different regardless of where they are in the world.
Each Chinese luxury mega resort comes replete with several large, aesthetically pleasing constructed illusions meant to awe. Usually these grand and beautiful areas are packed with people milling around and mindlessly taking pictures but here I am, the only lonely soul around. Alone and dwarfed by this massive hall of glamour in a fusional world of Sino-Portuguese history and ambition.
Through a glittering and welcoming door tucked perfectly at the bottom of a tower of glass, concrete, steel and light, I slowly wander. I’ve always liked sauntering around these sprawling resorts at night. Even though everything is closed, it’s fun to have it all to yourself. Like this rainbow pulsing, crawling hallway I’m admiring as I slowly walk though. I don’t know what it’s meant to symbolize but it looks cool and it’s all mine. I may have been more impressed if I had seen it at the beginning of the day.
Earlier I found myself confused by the choreography and design choices of a Prince video while eating a forgettable dinner at the even more uninspiring Hard Rock Macau. This followed by a leisurely hunt and stroll to the theatre to watch The House of Dancing Water at The City of Dreams. Upon the conclusion of the show, I felt more compelled to wander outside and into the streets.
It’s almost surreal how deserted the outside world is. It isn’t long before my memories of Las Vegas can’t help but construct before me when I see much of the same branded resorts. The Venetian Macau looks identical to the Venetian Las Vegas and the same goes for its interior save for the paucity of temporary Venetians. The water of a fake and impossibly blue canal lies as still as and static as the air around me. Venice is an air conditioned ghost town of long white corridors of high end shops each one as empty as the last.
The streets of southern Macau I find are still dead from the wrong turn I’ve taken when departing Venice. It’s an odd feeling of festive desolation until a lonely cab rolls my way which I wave down. I think I’ve seen enough of Cotai and it’s time to head north again. The ride back is slow and watch the Macau Tower pass overhead and follow all of the lights reflecting and scrolling away off the window forever.
I requested and was dropped at the end a street watching people stroll and glow under countless signs of neon. Before I know it I’m the only one in the street walking toward and watching another growing bright tower of glass, concrete, steel, and light. At the end of the street and tucked perfectly at the bottom of the tower is another glittering and welcoming door.
Returning to this moment where I’m not even sure where I am. I think I’m in the Wynn Macau or the MGM Macau but I don’t really care anymore. The ferry back to Hong Kong leaves at 2:30 in the morning or about two hours from now. A few hours after that I’ll be boarding a flight to another country. I’ll just power through all of it and sleep on the plane.
Walking further into whatever mega resort casino this is, I sit at the top of another set of marble stairs of another large space below another grand and beautiful whatever the hell it’s supposed to be. It’s dangling from the ceiling and glinting in the lights that shine down upon it. I guess it’s meant to look like some sort of undersea recreation with schools of suspended fish and crystals meant to symbolize bubbles.
It’s all beautiful but it’s all engineered to be that way. The more I see, the less I care. Perhaps it’s because I’m so tired. Or perhaps I’m just jaded and know what so often lurks on the other side of exterior beauty. Hidden is all the ugly and utilitarian yin meant to balance the yang of engineered swank and opulence. Assaulted by so much perfection makes it easier to appreciate a flaw or public chaff. Where has my mind gone? The things I think of when my mind tries to race from the fast approaching edges of fatigue and in the absolute stillness of the one dead light bulb surrounded by those billions that shine.
My focus is broken and I’m surprised to see four other people come from behind and walk down the stairs past me. Quiet and slow, two passed on the left and the others by my right. Like sailing ships in the night, all of which I will never see again.