Coming to America: Las Vegas

If New York City was the concrete jungle, then Las Vegas would be the circus. And I mean that in a good way. Recalling my trip to the US has been delayed for over two months now, but still this epic trip to America needs to commemorated on our blog so let’s consider this my trip back to memory lane now, shall we?

The view from our room at Casesar’s Palace.

I did write about my New York stay first because I stayed there the longest and I arrived there as my point of entry but…I flew off to Las Vegas less than 24 hours later! See, flights to the US are cheaper if you land in New York (coming from Riyadh, that is). Initially, I didn’t plan on going to Las Vegas because believe it or not, flights from the East Coast to the West Coast can cost roughly the same as your flight would from Riyadh to the US. One of my friends said it might be because gasoline is more expensive there, hence the prices. Thanks to my generous uncle though who offered to pay for my local flights just so we can celebrate my mom’s birthday in Las Vegas together with him and my aunt who I have not seen in more than two decades. Shoutout to my Uncle Ramon and Aunt Susan!

We were booked at the lavish Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino. As my Uber pulled up the strip, I can’t help but think about all the Hollywood movies I’ve seen that featured these very streets: Ocean’s Eleven, Ms Congeniality 2, Iron Man…The Hangover! Oh my goodness, I was going to stay where the ultimate stoner movie was filmed. (Mind you, smoking marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada, in case that information proves to be necessary for any of you out there. :P) I arrived there close to midnight and the shimmering lights of the strip was nothing short of a bonanza. Life-sized ads for performers like Boyz to Men, Donnie Osmond and Bruno Mars were there to be mesmerized upon. As I entered the drop-off point of Caesar’s, I saw my mom waving wildy at me. We haven’t seen each other for about six months by then and I was really happy to see her. We couldn’t believe that we’ve now both made it to the US and how much of a blessing it was…especially for her, who after working hard for 40+ years, she finally gets to enjoy retirement by traveling and meeting old friends and relatives.

It also happened to be the Chinese New Year while I was there.

So what can you expect to see in Sin City? Well, every sin imaginable, I guess. Haha. I’m not going to lie, people go to Vegas to go crazy. It’s the gambling capital of the United States with over 100+ casinos. Drinking in the middle of the day is not frowned upon. Strip clubs are open 24 hours. They’re home to the 200,000 calorie burger at The Heart Attack Grill. If you want a shotgun wedding, you’re in the right place (remember Britney Spears?). So if you’re not that religious and is willing to go out for a wild night or two, then there ain’t no better place to get loose than in Las Vegas!

Dubbed as the Best Brunch Buffet in America!

On our first day, we got treated to the famous Bacchanal Buffet of Caesar’s Palace and thanks to my uncle’s Diamond Membership to the hotel (cough, cough, you know what that means), we didn’t have to wait in the long lines that surrounded the entrance of the restaurant. It’s been dubbed as the Best Brunch Buffet in America and has over nine live cooking stations and serves more than 500 kinds of dishes daily. Talk about gluttony! The usual rate is 65$ per person but they have optional rates for fast track lanes and group reservations. I would recommend checking if there are any online coupon deals before going so that you can save on extra bucks.

My mom and I at the Bacchanal Buffet’s entrance.

We oogled at the seafood selection.

I also went for the cheese!

King Crab’s legs. Yum yum!

After our big brunch, my uncle took us for a tour of the hotel and showed us the gambling pits. I, for one have almost no gambling experience so my uncle was quick to consider me as his protegé and showed me around. The hotel’s lighting is strategic, there’s no way for you to accurately tell if it’s day time or night time…there are also no wall clocks! It’s like you are in an infinite time and space as you hit the floors. I saw sexy dealers with their cleavages bursting out of their chest (that would be one confusing card game) and virtual dealers too, wherein you can make your bet with an animated, computerized “person”! There were the slot machines — which I have no clear understanding of how the combinations work and what exactly I was aiming for — all I knew was that I was just pushing a button and waiting for the sign to say that I won something. Then there was this area dedicated to sports bets that was surrounded by huge television screens and a bar in the middle. If you’re rooting for a competitive sport, it’s likely being shown there with gusto coming from the crowd every two minutes or so.

One of the main gambling floors of Casear’s Palace.

This table was hot! You could win up to a million dollars! 

The 24-hour poker room.

The sports bar.

My uncle eventually taught me to to play some High Flush, Pai Gow and the Buffalo slot machine. We were using his money by the way, not mine! He did, however, let me keep my winnings as he believed I had beginner’s luck. You should see some of the high rollers there…many of them were Asians. You will be at awe at the amount of money they are pulling out of their pockets….mine were cheap change compared to theirs! Ooh la la. You wanna hear a secret tho? We spent a total of 14 hours on the gambling floor that night….how’s that for my first casino experience ever? I mean, Las Vegas needs to be called the city that never sleeps instead of New York — at least that’s what I thought.

My winnings from Pai Gow.

My winnings from the Buffalo slot machine. I bet 20$ and won 80$!

The following night, we spent it touring the Las Vegas strip which took us about two hours to walk back and forth back to the hotel. We went and peeked briefly at the lobbies of the famous hotels along the strip and took pictures, of course! It started with the last full fountain show of the Bellagio (which I did a Live video of on our Facebook) and then unto the Aria, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, MGM Grand and more!

A number of bridges connect the strip for easier access. They’re even equipped with music, which made me strut! 😉

Am I in Paris?

J. Lo has a residency at the Planet Hollywood.

One of the more “millenial” hotels, the Cosmopolitan.

One of the luxe hotels and casino of The Strip, Aria.

Swim in chocolate-y goodness! 

Bruno Mars was performing inside the Park Theater while I was there. :'( So near yet so far!

Welcome to Americaaaa!

Since my Vegas leg came before my New York tour, you can imagine my delight to see their version of the Statue of Liberty in Vegas instead of seeing it up close in NYC. Haha!

Hey there Lady Liberty!

Speaking of “strip”, one of my main life goals is to see the Magic Mike Live in Vegas and with my husband’s blessing, I had bought VIP tickets prior to my trip and giddily attended this female empowerment show. LOL. My friend from Las Vegas, Ate Shine, came along with me and she was soooo lucky to have been chosen as one of the girls to brought on stage by one of the dancers and was given the lap dance of a lifetime! Waaaaah, I was screaming all night long. I did ask my mom if she wanted to come along but she preferred to keep her dignity intact, I guess. Haha! I don’t think I can show you pictures of that night but I did do a live video feed from my personal Facebook account back then. Add me if you want to see it. ;P

I think this is the only “acceptable” photo I can show from Magic Mike. Haha! 

The Magic Mike Live show is shown at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Tickets range from 50$ to 100$ depending on type of ticket. For the ultimate VIP pass, it’s 150+$ including a backstage pass and photo with the cast. You can purchase them from Ticketmaster or again, google for possible coupon offers before your trip.

As a PS, I did see this memorabilia at the Hard Rock Cafe of the Filipino lead singer, Arnel Pineda. #PinoyPride

On our last day in Vegas, our friend Ate Shine took us on a day tour of the Fremont Street Experience! Although I did stop by to get some souvenirs first at the World’s Largest Souvenir Shop: The Bonanza Gift Shop.

Your 100$ can go a long way here, instead of getting them at the hotel gift shops.

I did get a lot of novelty gifts for my friends, like “Grow Your Own Boyfriend” toy and some gambling chips posing as keychains. It’s full of items and trinkets that you can probably spend a whole afternoon inside it. But we went on ahead to Fremont as Ate Shine wanted us to see the live LED show by sunset.

Daytime entertainment at the Fremont Street Experience!

The Freemont Street experience was enthralling as it was filled with activities, shops and street performers. There was a huge zipline called the SlotZilla that’s at about 1,700 feet high and stretches across the entire canopy of Fremont Street. You can try it for 25$…I didn’t.

Any Duterte supporters out there? You might like these.

It’s a kiosk that’s aptly named…Big Balls.

Novelty shirts, anyone?

This was the main attraction: The Viva Vision Light Show! 

What looked like a run-of-the-mill canopy turned out to be the canvass of a toursit attraction in the Fremont Street experience. The Viva Vision LED light show is said to be the world’s largest video screen and they play multimedia graphics on it paired with the hit songs from famous bands. They turn on starting at 6:00 PM and play a different show/song at every hour until midnight. For a full experience, I saw people lying down on the ground to watch it. The sounds were really good too!

After the Viva Vision show, I saw this street artist making paintings out of spray paint.

We also went inside this classic casino, the Golden Nugget! 

The Golden Nugget is one of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas, having been opened since 1946. It is literally the home of the world’s largest gold nugget called “The Hand of Faith” and it is protected with 24-hour security inside its hall.

As the hotel expanded through the years, they also added the extreme attraction of having a literal, shark tank. Yes, you can swim in a nearby pool beside an aquarium fileld with full-grown sharks. How’s that for a swim?

Just thought of adding this bathroom grafitti.

Aaand that basically wraps up our Las Vegas tour. Interestingly enough, life is bright, bubbly and crazy on the strip but it’s actually just one part of the Nevada state. Outside the strip is mere desert land. We were able to meet up with one my mom’s former co-workers who were now based in Henderson (about over 15 minutes away from central Las Vegas) and as locals, they dislike going to the strip. They thought it’s too busy and overflowing with tourists. We even had our lunch in an isolated restaurant near a small business airport called The Landings Bar and Restaurant. It was quaint, quiet and symbolic of what I call “Lite Americana”.

Life outside the strip.

Life by the strip.

I would say Las Vegas was definitely fun and exciting for the most part. I didn’t have to spend that much since my uncle sponsored a lot of my experiences, he even brought me to the Forum Shops in Caesar’s Palace and got me some loot from Sephora! <3 For me, it’s more of the city that never let me sleep because there was always something to do, day or night. I would love to go back there and enjoy more shows and perhaps bring my girls with me for a Girl’s Night Out Edition. Thanks Sin City! Until we meet again.

 

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Reina
Reina

The Communications Editor loves rock n' roll, food trips and is a self-proclaimed, arbiter of taste.

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