Now before this blog gets any further, I just want everyone to be aware that I didn’t write this to offend anyone. It’s just a random rant from some guy who just went to Macau recently, so do treat it as such. Nothing more, nothing less.
Before my trip to Macau, I watched a few TV shows promoting the city as Las Vegas on steroids: Vibrant, lively, exotic and growing. The economy is rejuvenated with a massive inflow of tourists from the Mainland. Business was never better.
What the show neglect to reveal is the price the city pays to get there: the lifestyle and the pollution. Before the revitalization, Macau was just a simple town with an even simpler life. People go to school from one side of the city to the other on foot, while enjoying street food along the way. However, some time between now and then, the economy of Macau has ground to a halt. So needless to say, the inflow of Mainland tourists was like a breath of fresh air.
One thing any readers should understand about China is that while the economy is growing exponentially, the standard of ethics and manners can still use quite a bit of improvement.
The end result: a bloody serious issue.
Imagine: The minute you step out of the airport, all you can smell is second-hand smoke and car exhaust. The sound of traffic is all you can hear as fleets and fleets of car flying through the roads, leaving behind a stream of exhaust as a welcoming gift. A friend of yours stopped to pick you up. A quick wave is all you can give cause you got not time for anything more: You have to load up the baggage before the car behind you gets irritated and starts honking. (What a douche)
Your friend dropped you off to a hotel to check-in. The minute you open the door, you are greeted with more second-hand smoke. You can also smell heavy musk of perfume in the lobby, as if the owners are desperate to mask the smell of smoke. You checked in and you got on the elevator. You see the “No smoking” sign right above the elevator buttons. But when you look down, there is a couple of cigarette butts in the corner. The irony…
After dropping off the luggage, you decided to take a quick stroll along the streets. (Though under this air quality, you’re not sure if the stroll is good for you or it’s going to kill you) As usual, you’re surrounded by smoke and car exhausts. The situation is made even worse when the air is clammy, humid and suffocating. You see cars cutting lanes like they are escaping an apocalypse. Motorbikes are even more reckless, zooming around like something coming out of an action movie. As you made your way through the busy streets, your shoulder gets repeatedly bumped by passers-by. You feel a shove from behind, then one from the sides. All the while, people’s conversations are getting so loud that it takes no effort to eavesdrop anyone. You can see the new Macau district within a block, but whole place is covered in a permanent haze. So much for a scenic view…
I could go on forever with the description, but I think the picture is quite clear: something needs to be done about this. I’ve heard that right now, Macau has a little below 200,000 vehicles on the roads. However, unlike most American cities, there really is no urban sprawl. Most shops can be found within a 15-30 minute walk. Meanwhile, one of the taxicab franchises just recently got close down due to lack of profits. Meanwhile, urban heat islands create unbearable temperatures during the summers that is enough to cause heat strokes.
The point is that while the financial aspect is important, one must not neglect the social and environmental part of the equation. Growth is essential, but it’s more important to grow responsibly. Air care is definitely essential there and inspection should be more frequent.
Unfortunately, these changes will not occur overnight. The locals will still have to struggle with the results of the revitalization, all the while reminiscing on how peaceful Macau used to be. This, my readers, is also why I miss Vancouver.