Let’s turn back the clock a few eras.
Today Macau jet engines towards Vegas-style artificial reality, where each inch of space is a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. China recreating Vegas recreating Venice. Yet somehow every detail is more perfect than the original so that there’s a jarring fakery about the whole thing. (Which is delightful in its own way.)
Beneath that most recent layer, you’ve got 1970s brash glitz that still lives on, particularly in and around the old Casino Lisboa. Imagine baccarat tables in the thickest clouds of cigarette smoke. Painted ladies peering through the grey air in silk dresses. Priceless ancient jade treasures filling every corner of gaudy interiors – no expense spared. From outside – a sea of flashing lights illuminating the buildings. Chinese characters radiant in the night, a jumble of competing colours. This is what I call the ‘beautiful ugly’. It’s tacky, but in all the right ways.
Now go back another decade. This vintage footage gives a feel for Macau in a more peaceful era. The most striking part if you know Macau: look out from around 1:30 for the au naturel green fields flanking the Ruins of St Paul’s.