Saturday, September 28, 2013

Beer Speeding Through Macau on World Tourism Day

Many may consider the Macau Grand Prix to be the highlight of the year for racing in Macau, China, but for others another race may matter more: yes, Macau's traditional tray race which is now held in conjunction with World Tourism Day on September 27. This year more than 200 people who represented more than 24 hotels and restaurants in Macau participated. A tray race is nothing without something to put on the trays, and a local sponsor provided a suitable item: Macau Beer.

Macau Beer booth for the World Tourism Day Tray Race in Macau
I prefer Macau Beer over typical Tsingtao Beer, but you can't get it in a bag.

Since the theme of this year's World Tourism Day was "Tourism and Water – Protecting Our Common Future" the message seemed loud and clear: protect your beer too.

The teams all sported different costumes. Clearly looking for an inspirational and aerodynamic advantage, the Grand Hyatt team affixed images of the Macau Grand Prix to their heads:

participants in the Macau tray race wearing cutouts of racing scenes on their heads
Definitely my favorite costume

The race began at the steps of the iconic Ruins of St. Paul's. First, the female teams lined up.

young women lined up in front of the Ruins of St. Paul for the Macau tray race
Preparing properly is key.

After long minutes of great anticipation, the ceremonial horn sounded.

the start of the 2013 tray race in Macau
That moment of "this might be harder than I expected"

After the start, the race quickly funneled into a narrow pedestrian street.

tray racing
Some racers chose a walking pace. At least they improved their chance of having a beer at the end.

Then the male participants collected their beers and lined up.

several young men proudly lifting their bottles of beer
Light non-drinking revelry

As with the female race, photographers captured the historic moment.

photographers doing what photographers do best as the ceremonial horn blower looks on
Note the ceremonial horn blower ready with the ceremonial horn

And again the race began with the mellifluous sounding of the ceremonial horn.

a tray race beginning with at least one person already holding his beer bottle to keep it from falling over
The racers were warned any cheating would be noted by observers.

tray racing
The ceremonial horn blower already looking forward to next year's race

I must now disappoint readers with the fact that I chose not to chase after the racers to follow the action. What was the point without a beer?

Later, though, I stopped by where the race finished at Largo Senado (Senate Square). At the Macau Beer booth I inquired as to whether I could join the festivities by purchasing a bottle of Macau Beer. They had a better option: free beer would be available in 10 minutes.

I wasn't at first sure how to spend those 10 minutes, but before I knew it I found myself being tattooed.

young woman putting a temporary tattoo on my arm
Who says no pain, no gain?

Macau Beer temporary tattoo on an arm
I'm not sure they had prior experience with hairy arms.

Not long afterwards, free beer flowed like a waterfall, well, a stop-and-go waterfall into small plastic cups.

two people pouring samples of Macau Beer
No shortage of people with a desire for free beer

After collecting a shot (or two or three or four) of beer, some people chose to be photographed with the Macau Beer mascot.

young woman in sunglass posing next to the Macau Beer mascot
She had photographs taken both with and without sunglasses.

Even though they took occasional breaks, mascots possibly inspired by substances different from beer could also be found.

there Macau tourism mascots
The mascot in the middle remained in that exact position for several minutes.

The young woman who looks oh-so-thrilled to be photographed with the mascots explained to me that they were intended to welcome visitors to Macau and were not taken from any TV show, movie, game, or nightmare.

Although this is a light post about a lighter side of life in Macau, I realize that all of this together might be overwhelmingly stimulating. So I will stop here. Congratulations to Leong Mei Fong representing the Galaxy Macau and Liu Yan Song representing the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel for winning the women's and men's tray races, respectively. I hope you enjoyed your well-deserved beers.

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