Continuação da leitura «MACAO – MONTE CARLO OF THE ORIENT», artigo publicado na imprensa estrangeira no dia 20 de Novembro de 1916, (1) e cuja 1.ª parte já foi postado em (2)

A Picturesque Journey

The journey up the Canton River to Macao is one of the fine things I near to the traveller in China who was no taste for far ventures into j the interior. There are not many [such; the China in easy reach of steamer or train is deficient in the picturesque. Hong Kong Harbour, murmurous with the great ships of the world, shepherded by the green I height of the Peak and menaced by the stark hills of Kowloon, is a jewel of beauty, at night not less than at day, when the villas sparkle in the black darkness and the scythe of the searchlights sweeps across land and water. From Hong Kong to Macao is a maze of islands, bare, rocky, many [of them extensive, some rising to goodly heights. The waterway is alive with steamers, tugs, junks, with beautiful lines and graceful sails. Suddenly you make a bend of the river, and a gleaming of white buildings on a green island hill takes the eye. That is Macao, and remembering Macao’s reputation you recall the vision of Monte Carlo from the sea. As you swing into the harbour the glory of the first picture fades. The houses on the quay have the bedraggled air customary to the purlieus of ports, though their yellows Hand pinks and blues of the Latinism .of their inscriptions tells of Portugal rather than of China.

A Well-groomed Town

In war time you first report yourself to the police. Then in a ricksha 11 up steep cobbled lanes from the hart hour to the main street. Two things you notice on your way, two things intimately connected: those lanes are clean, and on either side are gay gilded houses bearing the inscription “First-class gambling saloon.” (If there be any gambling saloons other than first-class, conscious of their humble station, they do not parade themselves.) Macao is one of the best-groomed places in the Far East. The chief streets are wide, clean, well-engineered, and well maintained. The public buildings are handsome and spacious. There are charming gardens and trees everywhere. The architecture has character and ‘quality. On the China coast, of the newer comers from the west, only the Germans have tried to transplant their native architecture, without heed to the genius of the place, so that the average German settlement is terrifyingly reminiscent of the j Kurfurstendamn. The Portuguese brought with them to Macao the classic tradition of light and space and colour and symmetrical form from their southern land, and in some three or four centuries it has adjusted itself to the spirit of its new f j home. There are villas—you may hire them at incredibly low rates— with gardens down to the sea, rich with tropical flowers and fruit, and with cool arbours and fables of carved stone, where, amid the murmur bee and bird and the lapping of the lazy tide, a man may forget that he has gone into exile for gold. Macao is the only place in the Far East where the European does not, look a restless parvenu. But the empty harbour, the still streets, the peace and repose have their counterpart in the first-class gambling saloons, which, as at Monte Carlo, provide the Government with the revenue which sustains them.

The Portuguese Government of Macao is paternal. It dislikes to tax and it likes to give its subjects the civic amenities. It has squared this political circle by establishing a gambling monopoly, which is usually purchased by a Chinese syndicate. The revenue thus secured is considerable and increasing—a tender of $1,266,660, with silver at its present price, is 130,000 —and it is pure profit to the community, for the Macanese, like the Monagese, are forbidden to enter the gaming saloons except on high festivals. Nor, assuredly, do the Chinese investors in the franchise lose. ” (1)

(1) «The Sun»Volume III, Issue 867