Moonwalking in Macao

13:43, July 01, 2010      

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As Asia's answer to Las Vegas, hotels are abundant in Macao, and each has a gimmick to lure in tourists. Wynn has a dancing fountain, the Venetian it's false-skied indoor mall and canal, and MGM Grand its Fiori di Paradiso Ceiling, designed by blown-glass artist Dale Chihuly.

Sofitel Ponte 16 already had an edge with its unique location as the only resort hotel in the inner harbor of Macao, surrounded by distinctive Portuguese government buildings and local Macanese residences. This past February, it left all others in the pop-culture dust when it opened its exclusive Michael Jackson Gallery.

"During the days when it was just opened, this place was crowded with tourists from all over the world," gallery tour guide Cheng Xiao told Lifestyle proudly, seemingly unfazed by the fact that her employer requires all female employees in the gallery to dress in a cowboy hat, white shirt, black tapered trousers and mid-rise black leather boots, because like American cowboys, Michael Jackson is an American idol.

Cheng herself is a major MJ fan, spouting an impressive amount of knowledge of the man and his music. Often times, she could not help but dance as his music played throughout the gallery, looking curiously intoxicated.

Love of kids

More than 40 items are on display, including MJ's album awards, including a signed RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) platinum record award for 1987's "Bad," costumes he wore on the stage and even a pair of his hand-bedazzled Swarovski crystal-studded socks. Cheng pointed out another Jackson favorite, the black fedora worn in the "Smooth Criminal" video. Looking for a reminder of Jackson's charitable outreach work? There's a wall for that, painted with a "We are the World" mural.

And who can forget Jackson's youthful spirit and love of children? For a nice reminder, find the section displaying artworks, both by Michael himself - a drawing he made of Charlie Chaplin when young - and a drawing of MJ by one of his young fans, a girl named Trudy. Michael liked the drawing so much he sent her a thank-you letter, which is also displayed.

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