The tap water was not salty in Macau this weekend. Usually in recent years the dry winter months, combined with Guangdong Province’s ongoing drought, lower the West River’s level to the point where the sea comes upstream, resulting in a slightly soapy, though far from oceanic briny, flavour. Even the main reservoir is 100% full.
Is it a coincidence that the erstwhile Portuguese colony is holding its annual Grand Prix and undergoing an influx of ten thousand or so non-Chinese car-racing fans who need to be impressed? The locals are unconvinced by this theory. But maybe the high concentration of sodium chloride in their tea – and you do notice it when it’s bad – has addled their brains. They were semi-panic-buying bottled water just a week ago.
The overseas auto enthusiasts look more like beer or wine imbibers, anyway. They are instantly recognizable as they plod around the city in their downmarket Eurotrash way. Tall as much as bulky, both men and women are clad in advertising from head to toe, like the vehicles they have come to watch zipping through the streets. Many sport impressive-looking ID tags dangling from their necks. Will they, like certain inadequates with ski-lift passes I remember from my university days, keep them pinned to their windcheaters for weeks to come? The rest have huge cameras, as if to reassure themselves or others that as photographers they are even more important than the officials or spectators occupying the pricy seats with a good view of the tiresome champagne-spraying ritual.
Even in residential areas, the city resonates with the rising and falling snarl of engines. It is interesting, for about 10 seconds or so, to watch the action on TV with the sound turned down, listening to what sounds like a swarm of angry wasps outside the window. While enduring the noise and road closures, citizens carry on with their lives.
Rummaging around in the luxury apartment, I find a RMB10, eight-films-in-one DVD with the much-discussed movie Twilight on it. Based on an absurdly popular series of books, the film is about a high school girl who falls in love with a gawky and ill-kempt but apparently hunky and desirable classmate who turns out to be a vampire. It is actually quite watchable in that, being aimed unashamedly and determinedly at the pubescent American female market, it gives the rest of us a glimpse of what it must be like to be one of the millions of hormone-swirled, first-crush teens watching this stuff. It would be petrifying if it were not for all the blood-sucking to take your mind off it.