Swimming in the warm rain high above Macau made me realise I was not a fish out water after all, writes Lesley Bellew.
Here, in the city that has eclipsed Las Vegas in the gambling stakes, I decided to play the cultural card.
While giant cherub fountains massaged my back in the hotel’s rooftop pool I watched ancient fishing boats bobbing in the harbour and made my plan to head straight over to Macau’s historic centre.
A Portuguese colony until 1999, Macau’s temples and churches, fortresses and piazzas blend into a rich multicultural landscape containing 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
At the elaborate A-Ma Temple a sea of worshippers threw money into boxes at the foot of the altar. Women put their designer handbags to one side as they knelt at the temple praying for prosperity while the nouveau riche in their diamond-studded platform shoes and designer dresses held incense burners, displaying their wealth as they worshipped – and then dashed off. There was no time for lengthy contemplation here.
A-Ma, the seafarers’ goddess, was a poor girl needing a passage to Canton, according the legend.