Before heading to Las Vegas, my only prior information on what to expect came from friends pieced together drunken memories and the movie the Hangover. Oh and my Dad’s advice that “it’s not that safe, surely you’d like to go someone else while in America”. Yes there are a lot of places in America I’d like to see, but Vegas was within decent road trip distance for the short vacation time I had. Plus it’s just one of those places you have to go and experience once in your life time.
With two nights booked at Treasure Island on the strip, I was ready to indulge in some sun, cocktails and all that Vegas had to offer (within my measly budget). It seems the key to accommodation on the cheap is to book a few days before hand on a site such as Vegas.com, to get deals of at least 50% off the normal price of a room, plus added bonuses of meal vouchers, chip vouchers, show discounts, etc., allowing you more money to spend on your choice of shopping, gambling, booze or strippers.
The sun was out, so the first stop was the hotel pool for some sun baking and the start of my three-day cocktail drinking spree. Not that I was aiming to achieve a state of drunken mess for the whole time. It was more of a cocktail sample tour. Every meal required a different cocktail or trying out the house cocktail at each bar, in order to expand my horizons outside of my standard drink of choice, Jack Daniels and coke.
However, after quickly remembering I was sun baking in a desert (the sun burn being the give away), it was time to explore Las Vegas in the safety of broad daylight. The Mirage and Bellagio pools lining the Strip, the Eiffel Tower rising up out of the Paris Casino, the star-studded memorabilia at Planet Hollywood and the fake New York skyline of New York New York were just the beginning. Half the entertainment of walking the Strip is the buskers dressed up as different superheroes, drunken Homer Simpson’s or dancing Michael Jackson’s waiting to be in your photos. All for a tip of course. But after wandering outside, it was time to try my hand at gambling in Vegas.
New York New York
I was a little wary of gambling after my Black Jack Poker experience in Vietnam. But when in Vegas… What the hey! Turns out I’m either incredibly lucky or incredibly good at playing roulette. After my previous gambling flop, I was claiming this one as pure talent. I hadn’t reached the winning status of being lucky enough to never have to work again, but had at least made a little on my initial investment.
Head away from the Strip and the buy in prices at the tables are drastically cheaper. Old Vegas is a must see, with Casino’s that look straight out of the 50′s and 60′s, with their retro, print carpets, and tables, slot machines and people who look like they haven’t moved in fifty years. Although there is still a lot of action going on and a lot of money exchanging hands.
As the sunsets over the desert, I wouldn’t even know it was happening, time loses all meaning in Vegas. There are no clocks, no windows, no idea how long I’ve been sitting playing roulette for or even what day it is. The Paris Casino adds to the confusion, with blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling. A small bird flew from fake roof top to fake roof top, lining the cobbled street inside the Casino. He stopped momentarily in a fake tree branch, before setting off again. I watched wondering if he was as confused as I was, about whether we were inside or outside, or if it was day or night.
Night time on the Strip is like stepping into a whole new world. Mexican and Latino men and woman hustle the sidewalk, clad in fluro t-shirts advertising “girls in 20 minutes” or “Girls, Girls, Girls” and flicking business cards of naked woman at you. Sleazy, wrinkled face, guys offer free limousine rides, free entry and free drinks to strip clubs… as long as you spend $25 on drinks when you get there. Trucks with posters of naked woman lying, arching their backs seductively, pass by in the steady stream of traffic. It’s like porn delivered straight to you as you walk by.
Vegas at Night
Night time on the Strip is the part of the story, where the Hangover movie starts to become relatable. There are night clubs to visit, VIP lounges by the dance floor to sit in drinking Vodka and waited on by our very own hostess and gambling to do. In the end what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. As Las Vegas seems like some mystical world, in a far off galaxy, where really it all must just be a dream. The sleaze, the money, the booze, drugs, porn, homelessness and excess all mesh together 24 hours, 7 days a week, never stopping to come up for air, never taking a break for reality. It’s fun for a few days and then it’s time to leave, to escape back out through the desert, driving back to the real world.
Vegas really is one of those places you have to experience once in your life time. I’m glad I survived my experience, with a little bit of money left over and a whole lot of memories.