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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

AsiaweekTimeAsia NowAsiaweek story

DECEMBER 24, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 51

Ignore The Crime
Macau has its charms. Honest

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Special Report: Macau
This handover is nothing like that other one in 1997

Superlatives
Macau is a lot more tha crime central. Honest

Next Up?
The transfer of power is big news in Taiwan

The Macanese
A proud but threatened community

Sometimes it seems like Macau is Crime Central and that you are more likely to take a bullet than take home winnings from blackjack or roulette. Actually, the crime rate is lower than in many other cities and there is plenty to see and do without running into trouble. Unlike Hong Kong, its big, brash neighbor 65 km to the northeast, Macau has retained much of its colonial charm. The highlights:

Food and Drink Next to gambling and heritage walkabouts, eating and drinking is probably the main thing travelers remember about Macau - thanks to Macanese cuisine, a mingling of Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Malay. "African chicken" baked with peppers and chillies. Egg tarts. Crackling pig. Then there's the Portuguese wine - vinho verde, vinho tinto and, of course, port. This is also café society. Locals - especially the Portuguese - can drink coffee and gossip for hours.

Hotel Lisboa Apart from the famous ruins of St. Paul's church, no structure better symbolizes all that is good and bad about Macau. The Lisboa is kitchy with a capital K - the neon rooftop seems poised to blast off into space. Gambling titan Stanley Ho built the inn which means, naturally, that it doubles as a casino. Guests routinely check out with less than they arrived with (if you get our meaning).

Tranquillity Most tourists arrive from Hong Kong, and the experience verges on culture shock. Macau is actually quiet and serene - unless the Grand Prix is under way (or the triads are restless). This is a city for serious strollers. Nor is it unusual to see people whiling away the afternoons in Macau's parks, including Lou Lim Ioc Garden, where someone is usually playing an erhu (Chinese violin) in the gazebo.

The Moke No Macau visit is complete without renting one of these little conveyances. The moke's nearest cousin is the golf cart, and it drives pretty much the same, only faster. Warning: Driving a moke at night across the bridge linking the mainland with Taipa island can be a sobering experience.

Architecture Last but definitely not least. In the waning years of their rule, the Portuguese pumped millions into restoring Macau's heritage buildings. And they have done a superb job. Among the brightly hued landmarks: the chapel at the Guia Lighthouse, the Bela Vista Hotel (now the residence of the Portuguese consul) and the buildings around Leal Senado Square.

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