September, 2008: I had barely spent a year in Singapore (the only international city I had been to till then) when I got an opportunity to visit Las Vegas along with 2 colleagues. A lot has been said and shown about Las Vegas already. Movies like Hangover, Las Vegas, Anjaana Anjaani and many others have given us a virtual experience of what all can happen in Vegas. Yet, to see it and experience it in person that too for someone who had barely traveled is beyond imagination. 5 years down I have now seen about 15 counties, yet the magic of Vegas seems unmatchable. Here are a few memories of the Sin City that opened my eyes wide five years back.
1) Takeaway Marriages and Divorces
On the way to the hotel from airport, I saw several small roadside counters somewhat like McDonalds’s takeaway ones which said “Happy Marriage” and “Happy Divorce”. I wondered what these were, and a fellow aged man who was gazing at my expressions offered to tell me that one can do a legal marriage or a legal divorce at these drive-through Chapels without getting off the car. YIKES! Drive-Thru Weddings only happen in Vegas where a couple can get married in literally 15 minutes, without getting off the car!
2) European architecture & neon lights rule the strip
Next day we walked down the famous Las Vegas Strip. This famous 7km strip is home to 15 of the world’s 25 largest hotels! The architecture on this strip is just dramatic and the vibrance at night is unbeatable. The amount of neon lightening seen here is probably the highest in the world. Every resort here depicts one famous city of the world – Venice (the famous Venetian), Paris, Rome (the famous Ceaser Palace of the movie Hangover), Hong Kong and many more. If you have haven’t been to Europe or have missed any of these cities, you can get a glimpse of it all together here. The architecture of the Colosseum at the Ceasar, music of the gondola at the Venetian, fountain show at the Bellagio and the lovely French cafes in the narrow lanes of the Paris are some of the experiences to die for.
3) Sex on a playing card
While Sujit (my teammate) and I were walking on the strip, many people offered small cards (which resembled a playing card) to Sujit – he took one, threw it away and after that kept denying everyone who was offering him the same. After 10 minutes, a guy offered a card to me too which I took to see – these were the escort girls contact card with a nice nude picture of the girl along with her contact number. Sex is so easily available in this city, why wouldn’t it be called the Sin City! I gave the card to Sujit advising him to use it as a bookmark if not for anything else
4) Gambling is the lifeline of the city
Gambling starts right at the airport. Slot machines and roulette tables occupy larger space in the airport than baggage belts and check-in counters. Home to about 1700 licensed gaming places, 122 official casinos, 197K slot machines – Gambling is the lifeline of Vegas. Take a stroll through any corner of this city, you can spot either a casino or a few slot machines by the road side and half of these are usually occupied any time of the day. We tried our luck at the casinos too – with my student money and lady luck I managed to earn $50 (YaY!)
5) Broadway theatre is a rage
Q: What do people do here if they are neither gambling nor partying (public or private)? A: They watch theatre. Broadway musicals and plays are a rage in Vegas. Though the original Broadway shows started first in New York, but very soon they made their way to other places – Las Vegas being one of the biggest markets. We couldn’t resist this rage and watched one of the top plays of Cirque Du Soleil called KA at the MGM Grand. Besides the script, it’s the sets and the visual effects of these plays which make them stand out. While small theatre plays have their own charm, these Broadway musicals are a lifetime experience. Don’t miss a Cirque Du Soleil show, if you are in Vegas.
Needless to say, this place is just out of the world – there is no, absolutely no place in the world that can offer the same experience that Vegas can.
My trip to Las Vegas was sponsored by Computer Associates as a participating team from my school in a Business Plan Competition and we also managed to win the second prize. All the experiences shared above started from the 4th day of my visit, as for the first 3 days we were locked in a room at the Venetian to prepare for the task.
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Do you have any Vegas experiences to share?