Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stop 12: Las Vegas, Nevada

“I like the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas more than the actual one.” David LaChapelle

Vegas is Vegas. Always a good time! This was my third time visiting the city. The first was with my family, second with high school friends on a driving trip to Los Angeles, and now alone for the documentary. I stayed with some family members who live just outside the Strip. My only childhood memory from their house was all these creepy lizards running around outside, so I was happy to form some more substantial memories with this part of the family. Arriving in Vegas is literally like one of those apparitions you see in movies where the guy lost in the desert starts to see a pool of water emerge hazily in front of him. After 12 hours of driving in blazing heat with a broken iPod hookup and the only thing that is clear on the radio is Spanish mariachi music, I really thought Vegas was a fake town when I saw it in the distance. It really does appear out of nowhere. Then you get closer and closer and finally arrive on the Strip with millions of flashing lights, signs, and party-goers.

When I first arrived to a city, I always asked about the most dangerous areas to stay away from. This is kind of a good thing to know if I am travelling alone. My family members said Vegas is relatively safe, except for parking garages and the areas around them at night time. I drove my car to the Strip one evening and parked at the Bellagio hotel. I explored a bit and came back to my car relatively late. It takes quite a lot to make me scared, but I was terrified when I somehow took a wrong door and was locked out of the parking garage. I was on some back alley with no lights, but I could see the big street like a one minute walk away. So I started walking towards the big street but immediately someone turned their car lights on behind me in the alley and started screaming, “Hey you!” I sprinted to the main road without looking back and was so freaked out. Then I found my car in that stupid mousetrap of a parking garage and never will park there again. I learned two things that night: 1) Park in a place that is easy to get to from the elevator of a parking garage. 2) I can run amazingly fast in heels when I want to.

One evening I went to a CouchSurfing meetup at an area off the Strip, called the Fremont Street Experience. I almost liked this area more than the Strip. The bars and clubs were more affordable and there were street performers and a zipline running over the street. At this meet up I met an actor, a stripper, and two really cool girls from New Zealand. I really enjoyed my conversation with the stripper. She has no problem with her profession because she chooses to use her body in this way, makes enough money to support her 2 children by herself, and sees stripping more as dancing, rather than a form of prostitution. I took a cab back to the Strip with the two girls from New Zealand (I would call them Kiwis but I feel awkward using that word because it makes people sound like exotic birds or weird, green, furry fruits). We ended up finding an amazingly beautiful bar in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, called the Chandelier Bar. Wow! It really looks like a giant chandelier dripping in diamonds and each level of the chandelier is a new level of the bar.

There is no other word to describe exploring nightlife by yourself but “lame.” What was I supposed to do? I had 3 nights in Vegas and one of them I spent with all those cool people from CouchSurfing, but there are not events like that every night. So I went one evening out on the town by myself. Wow I feel so lame admitting that. Oh well. I had no choice. My alternative option was to stay with my family members watching reruns of “America’s Got Talent”, which honestly would have been great family time, but I was looking for a bit more out of my Vegas experience. I actually met people relatively quickly and ended up having a super fun night. Of the people I met, I think my favorite were three 50 year old married men that seemed like they were taken right out of the movie, “The Hangover.”


Well, I like the Eiffel Tower in Paris more than the one in Las Vegas. But I chose this quote because Las Vegas has the potential to be one of the most internationally cultural places in the entire world. This sounds crazy since the whole city now is about drinking, gambling, bachelorette parties, and strip shows, but it is a city that highlights so many different places around the world. Each hotel is like its own attraction because they personify different regions of the world. For example, Caesar’s Palace = Italy, The Venetian = Venice, Italy, The Luxor = Egypt, New York New York = America, Paris = Paris, France. I was talking with a friend, and they said that, in a post-apocalyptic world, if a new species were exploring Earth and gathering information, that Las Vegas would look like the Capitol of the world, with so many countries represented. Las Vegas is like the grown-up Disney World, where businesses profit from fantasies. Except the fantasies of fairies and Mickey Mouse at age 5 are definitely not the same fantasies people search for in Vegas…  

Explore Las Vegas Now
Fremont Street Experience

The Bellagio Hotel

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

The Luxor

Paris Hotel

The Venetian

New York New York Hotel

Caesar's Palace 

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