Across the narrow strip of water, Mainland China is dissolving. Heat pulls vapour from the river and airborne droplets mix with minute particles of soot and dust until the umber sky is fused to umber water. Air thickens as the temperature goes up. An hour ago there was a two-humped bridge out there, suspended on shining cables, and I watched a steady dot, dot, dot of white vans cross over and move deeper into China. Now the bridge is gone. The cone-shaped hills are gone. The flat and fertile green between is gone. All that is visible now is the far shore where guard towers, strung out in even beats, mark the rumpled edge of the People’s Republic of China.
I am in Macau where the fresh waters of the Pearl River meet the salty South China Sea, and all is murky, mixed and muddled. I am in Macau, which is something called a SAR, and a SAR is a country yet not quite. This SAR includes the peninsula and the city and two islands, but those two—Taipa and Coloane—are really one, fused into a single body when dirt displaced the sea between.
Macau is small and can be traversed on foot, end to end, in just a single morning. In 20 minutes I cross Taipa. I begin where darker scratches on the hazy China backdrop mark where fishermen in cone-shaped hats are fishing, while in the foreground scooters whine high-pitched past, swirling up and around and across the long long bridge to Macau peninsula. I walk the other way.
Read this essay, published in enRoute Magazine, April 2010, here: