The giagantic size of those buildings could intimidate Godzilla. You can almost smell the billions of dollars that flow in and out. Couple of years ago Macau’s gaming revenues started to dwarf that of Las Vegas. And in Macau, the majority of gambling happens here. Welcome to Cotai.
But what exactly is Cotai? First, a short geography lesson. Besides the main settlement on the peninsula, Macau has also two islands. Or is it one island? Wel, since 2005 we can say that there is just one.
Taipa 氹仔 and Coloane 路環 usued to be two separate islands, 2 to 3 km from each other. To get from one to another you needed to take a boat. Later, a causeway over the bay was constucted and getting to Coloane became easier, although it still stayed somewhat of a remote place. The creation of Cotai 路氹 changed everything. 5 sq kilometers of land have been reclaimed from the sea. The name is a combination of Co(loane) and Tai(pa). The purpose was simple: Macau is ridiculously small in size for its equally ridiculously big potential. That is: gambling potential. The new land has been built up with huge resorts straight from Las Vegas. Gazillions of dollars have been pumped in.
Getting here is a piece of cake. After crossing the China-Macau border, I hop on one of the many free shuttle buses that take tourists to all those posh casinos and hotels. Not always I am Cotai-itself-bound. I go here either to visit the nearby Taipa, or to shorten my way to Coloane, where I sometimes camp (read my blog entry on camping in Macau). I guess that a backpacker taking a shuttle to the resort, then getting out of the building and walking away is not a typical customer, but who cares?
That being said, Cotai is interesting enough on its own right. Unless you are allergic to Las Vegas architecture, naturaly. Those enormous buildings are kitschy, sure, bun can be pretty damn impressive too. Rivers of people flock for gambling, shopping, entertainment. I once visited just because of a desperate need to watch a decent film (Guangzhou, where I lived at the time, is a metropolis of global importance but the choice of movies in China is, to put it mildly, quite limited).
I sort of enjoy such bombastic architecture. I like both ancient towns lined with charming buildings and modern urban landscape of cities dotted with skyscrapers. I do not despise the pompous Las Vegas style too.
If you ask me which of the resorts on Cotai Strip I would recommend first, my choice is Galaxy. As with others, there are free shuttles here, there’s shopping mall and there’s gaming. But it also comes with a cinema with nine screens and is located very near the old town of Taipa. So if you want to combine both worlds: you have them just across the street. Last but not least, you can use their wi-fi to check your e-mail.
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