Tuesday, December 6, 2016

[CLARK] What Happens in Vegas

I haven’t been to Vegas, but the prospect of going there has always been brought up whenever I am in Los Angeles. I guess I’ve been delaying it for quite a while because I know that I would love to indulge on my slot machine addiction, which you cannot really do if you are not loaded at the moment. It didn’t matter, because the time has come when I found some really cheap airfare on Kayak via Hainan Airlines’ newly launched Beijing – Las Vegas route. USD 287 one-way for Las Vegas – Beijing – Hong Kong! Beat that.

There are direct flights from Tokyo to Mexico City but they are almost always much more expensive, which is why the United States is my default point of transit. In general, I do it in California or New York. The fares are within the same range most of the time anyway. For Vegas, it was way cheaper on both legs at the time of booking so it was a no-brainer. Flying in with Volaris for the first time, I arrived on a chilly Tuesday afternoon just in time for lunch. Given the large Filipino population here, Jollibee it is!

But I was just too hungry and Max’s was closer by a block or two. Las Vegas has an efficient bus system in my opinion. If you know which connections to make, you can save a lot. Depending on your length of stay, I suggest buying a 24-hr pass for USD 5 (~PHP 250). I was only staying overnight so this would have been the best option but I had no change. Yes, remember that bus drivers only accept the exact amount, so I had to settle for a 2-hr pass because I only had USD 3 (PHP 150) worth of coins at that moment. That sucks.

I eventually had to get a 24-hr pass later on for the mere reason that single bus rides just cost as much. All good! My Airbnb place is downtown in Fremont but I decided to hop off at Flamingo for that lunch at Max’s. Everyone spoke Tagalog although English will always be the default language to break the ice. I’ve always heard about the large Filipino diaspora here but I didn’t know that it was this big. You also see a lot of Filipino shops all over town, which I found rather amusing. Hey, I sort of missed it, okay?

I like the city’s layout. You have two mountain ranges cradling it on both sides, which makes you feel like you are in some Western flick, except that this is no old town. The grid system, along with the one-way streets, is typically American. The residential area where I stayed when I was in Fort Lauderdale looks the same. The bus stopped at the University of Nevada Las Vegas en route to Flamingo. The buses here are PWD friendly and it’s common for the bus driver to stop longer than usual to accommodate them, which is cool.

The rumors are true about how everything feels like walking distance. Don’t be fooled. It’s not the case! The Strip always feels like just a few blocks away because of the scale of the buildings there. You even have a giant pyramid that looks so reachable. It’s better to get there by bus instead of walking, which I do not really condemn if you do it in the morning when the sun is out. When nighttime came, the chilly wind just became a bit too mischievous for comfort.

But that’s when the Strip is at its best. In the evening. How else would you be able to enjoy the bright lights if you go there when the sun is out? I'm not saying that Vegas is exclusive for night owls. It’s just that it’s better suited for them because it really glimmers after dark. My excursion at the Strip began at 6 PM. Getting off at the Tropicana, it was already dark. From there, it’s quite difficult to get lost because you just have to follow the sparkling lights. It’s just one stretch of road, bruh.

I went towards the direction of the airport. You will see Excalibur right across the street. It easily stands out thanks to its colorful castles. From there, you can ride a monorail headed to Luxor but I suppose it is a tourist trap and is expensive AF. I walked. Again, proximity. It took me an entire hour to get to Mandalay and back to Tropicana. By the way, day passes for buses on the Strip are more expensive than those for RTC buses. Your RTC pass might not work on the Deuce and the Downtown Express. Verify it beforehand.

From Tropicana heading north, there is an endless barrage of stores, hotels, and casinos, starting off with New York New York which is hard to miss because of their own petite version of the Statue of Liberty. I suppose another hour is enough if you just want to take a stroll like I did. If you are planning to hit the casinos, though, I guess one week won’t even suffice. I’ve had plenty of casino tips from friends who have been here before me, mainly on how to get free drinks. HAHAHA. Too bad I had no use for them.

I will be back for sure. I need to get my hands on those slot machines. I just have to make sure that I’m loaded enough when I do. They say that Vegas is also a good jump off point for day tours of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, which I intend to visit in the future. So yeah, Vegas. It was a good yet eventless night. We’ll just opt for excitement when I come back, okay? Just like Macau, though, I think I’d be bored if I actually lived here, although I admit that it’s a good temporary distraction.

[CLARK] What Happens in Vegas

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