Tuesday, November 18, 2014


By Mansor Puteh

Many people had often asked which was the best country I had ever visited, and I said there were many; in fact all the countries I have visited are good; they are interesting in their own special way.

Why make judgment on any country which must have many interesting things for anyone, especially if one only gets the chance to visit the countries for a brief period? 

And which was the worse country I had ever visited.

There was none then. But now there is one and it is MACAU, if one can still call or consider it to be a country.

It is still a country because it imposes its own immigration laws so one needs to go through their immigration upon entry.

I went there not by chance because I had deliberately wanted to visit it for the first time. It was nice as it was until I found out much to my chagrin that this small country once under Portuguese rule did not appear to be what I had expected it to be. It lacks many simple things simple visits want to see.

I have been to 40 countries and managed to visit Macau for the first time in July last year for four days to record video for my documentary on the Portuguese history in Malaysia and some other countries.

I thought Macau was the worse country I had ever visited, and the situation won’t change because it will be tough and very difficult for the authorities to change for the sake of few visitors that this small country receives a year.

From what I could see there were so few foreign visitors to Macau; most of the ‘foreign’ visitors are in fact those from Mainland China who had wanted to see the country for the first time and all that they needed to do was to take the bus or train to get there.

There were so few real foreign visitors to Macau that I could see at the most important tourist attraction which is the ruins of the old Catholic church.

Maybe the real foreign visitors to Macau are those who went straight from the airport to the casinos and stayed there until they had to leave the country being broke losing at the tables and never to return.

I have not heard of many Malaysians who have talked about their experience visiting Macau except for a few who were there to perform the ancient Portuguese dance that Macau did not have.

As a seasoned traveler I can bear with a lot of inconveniences and had done so and survived.

But I cannot tolerate it if the country where I am at for the first time does not have the basic facilities.

There were no ATM anywhere and none in the petrol stations. I had to get cash from one in a bank which swallowed my ATM card.

Because it was a public holiday I was not able to collect the card from the bank. I went there the next day but the staff said they could not give it to me because they could not verify if I had deposited my card in the ATM. What was the CCTV they had there for?

And worse, they said they would send it to my bank in Malaysia, which they never did.

Fortunately, I had cash in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) which I had to go to a casino to buy American dollars to pay for the room in a budget hotel in the Barra district for four days, or I would not been able to get one, since the hotel did not accept payment by Card.

And no one spoke English and I had to get help with information from the Filipinos working and living there.

How could Macau not have ATMs everywhere like we do here in Malaysia? And why are the budget hotels not able to accept payment by Cards?

Macau is so backward. I do not know when I will return to Macau. I won't encourage Malaysians to visit Macau because of such inconveniences and backwardness.

My worse experience was when I was singled out by the security officers at your airport before boarding the flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

They thought I was the only one not looking Chinese so they suspected I could be a drug pusher, so that they could be seen to be working. They did not stop the Chinese and this is how discriminatory the officers were.

I had never been given such a treatment before except once when I was leaving Stansted Airport outside of London to return to Malaysia when I was frisked by a security officer and another time another officer wanted to take me away for further frisking, but changed his mind when he found out that I had been in England on an official visit to a university.

They have so few visitors who are not Chinese so the one who does not look like one is singled out so that the security officers can be seen to be doing their job.

The stupidest thing is that they called me after I had passed through two x-ray machines. Does that mean that they did not trust their own x-ray machines or security officers who man them?

I hope there won’t be another country that can beat Macau which I have not visited yet and will do so soon.

In any case, there won’t be much for a person like me and most other Melayu to find in Macau anyway unless if he has something specific to do and see and pay a high price for hotel even when it is just a two or three-star one that does not offer complimentary breakfast.

There is the strong smell of fried pork everywhere to start with and there are also so few halal restaurant, so I had to survive mostly eating fruits and cakes. 

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