The Bela Vista Hotel, Macau

These photos are of my father, Douglas Bland, taken during my parents’ honeymoon in the Bela Vista Hotel, Macau, in May 1949. This hotel features in my novel, The Orchid Tree.

Here’s an excerpt:

“After loping along an avenue lined with banyan trees and up a small hill, they arrived at the Bela Vista. Higgins was leaning against the door frame of the elegant nineteenth century mansion. ‘At last,’ he said, holding a cigarette between his thumb and forefinger and flicking ash.

James settled his fare. It was only five minutes past eight; he wasn’t late. He lengthened his stride and followed Higgins through the foyer, up a staircase to a mezzanine floor, then past a reception desk and bar.

In the restaurant, the smuggler got up from his seat and pulled out the chair next to him. ‘Let me introduce myself properly,’ he said in heavily accented English. ‘I am K C Leung.’

‘How do you do?’ James shook hands. He sat down and glanced at the woman sitting opposite Leung. Not the dishevelled girl he’d “rescued”, but one so striking he had to look away in order not to be thought rude for staring.

‘This is Miss Sofia Rodrigues,’ Higgins said from the other side of the table. ‘I believe you swam together, but haven’t met formally.’

James leaned forward and extended his hand, briefly glancing at her tight-fitting cheongsam dress, her small breasts outlined against the silk.

Sofia’s warm fingers pressed his. He sat back and contemplated his surroundings. Potted palms stood like sentinels in the corners of the room. A Latin crooner, accompanied by a pianist, was singing I’ve got you under my skin. Wooden ceiling fans stirred the air, although the heat and humidity of summer had passed.

The Bela Vista was everything he’d imagined: starched linen, silverware and candlesticks on the tables, waiters jumping to light his cigarette.

Shame he almost certainly wasn’t here for the pleasure of his company.

Leung confirmed his order of the most expensive choices on the menu: shark’s fin soup, abalone and fried shrimp.

‘I hope you’re fully recovered,’ Sofia said, smiling at James.

‘No after-effects. What about you?’

When researching the background to my novel, I found out that the elegant mansion was built in 1870 as a residence for a British Captain and his wife, who turned it into the “Boa Vista Hotel” in 1890. A few years later it was sold and went through several reincarnations before becoming a hotel again in 1936 with its famous name, ‘Bela Vista’.  The hotel housed Portuguese refugees from China during WWII and reopened as a proper hotel again in 1948, finally closing on March 29, 1999, to become the Portuguese Consulate when Macau was handed back to China in December 1999.

5 thoughts on “The Bela Vista Hotel, Macau

  1. I’ve enjoyed perusing your website, Sibohan. It’s good to see pictures of the hotel you’ve used in your novel and to find out about the Chinese customs etc. Your novel is intriguing and the characters well drawn. No wonder it has done so well on the YouWriteOn site for writers.

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  2. Thanks for all the interesting information that has been the background to your novel, ‘Waking the Dragon’. It’s a fascinating insight into how you came to write it. No wonder it has done so well on the YouWriteOn site. Good luck with it once it is published, as I’m sure it soon will be.

    Like

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