Getting the pulse of a foreign city

A 13 hr flight away, on another continent, speaking another language, colonized by another people. Macau, a small city a ferry ride away from Hong Kong, populated with hotels and casinos to rival those of Las Vegas. An imitation of an imitation but a good one nonetheless. A city of a vibrant but sometimes highly cynical people, dependent on tourists from mainland China, and yet distrustful and uncomfortable with this relationship. There are so many things I can comment on about this city, a place where I have many memories of since I was a small child. Many of the things I’ve observed here during my recent trip almost made me lose faith in humanity, and yet, there may still be hope.

The symbol at the top of the angel’s head is a tag found in many areas of Macau, as far-flung as the regions of Cotai and Taipa.

All of the pictures in this post are found down one alley near “San Ma Lo” Plaza also known as the Senado Square near Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro.

The all-seeing eye was the first thing I noticed, prompting me to enter the alley.

“Sorry we come again. 852.”  852 is the dialing area code for Hong Kong, whereas Macau is 853. The symbol on the hat looks a lot like the “New York” logo, but isn’t.

This post provides pretty good information about where this tag might have come from. There’s always endless development and construction in Macau too!

My Chinese is very rusty, but what I think this roughly translates to is something like this: “The purpose of why we vandalize is clear to ourselves, whether you derive the same meaning is up to you as we’ve done our part.”

The red line in the above picture looks almost like an umbilical cord, or may be symbolic of a blood line/idea of lineage. The cross may be taken to depict death, and it is curious how there are construction cones beside it. Come to think of it, some of the graffiti I’ve seen have been around construction areas, right on the construction fences themselves. Some that I’ve seen (but don’t have pictures of, sorry) say “the meaning of life” in Chinese characters.

The “777” has some relation to casinos for sure. The figure on the box is a common tag that can be seen in many areas of the city. The faded writing on the bottom left corner of the box says “advertisements are prohibited” in Portuguese and is probably not graffiti.

A closer look at the red profile stencil from above:

Most of the writing in the picture below are pretty self-explanatory.

Edit: Apparently, “start from zero” is the name of the collective responsible for this street art!

Ngau Tau Kok is an area of Kowloon, Hong Kong, which indicates that the crew responsible for this street art are indeed not local. Most of the writing are borderline subversive, for example: “Shutting up, keep a drinking mouth”, “freedom” in Chinese, accompanied by the figure of what looks like a humanoid ape, “we don’t need no education”

“Zatoy”. This one doesn’t seem to fit with the rest…


Another construction worker located deeper within the alley.

As usual, all pictures are taken by iPhone 4S, click to enlarge!

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