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Saturday, December 10, 2016

USA Trip - Part 3: Sin City - Las Vegas (with Grand Canyon West Rim & Hoover Dam)

Day 9
A new city to explore today! Finally a day where we are not waking up as early as 4 something, but at 5 something instead to take turns for shower. We went down to the hotel lobby to meet find out our new tour guide for our trip to Vegas. Again, after all the fuss, we found our bus and off we go!

On our way, our scenery changes from the city, the urban areas and then to a desert view. The weather turns hotter and drier as well.

We reached Las Vegas in the afternoon and checked into our hotel for the next 2 days - Circus Circus. One of the happier days as we don't need to pack up our luggage and change hotel everyday like the past 4 nights.

We had a quick rest in the hotel as Vegas is not very happening during the day, and we will do a lot of walking in the evening. We opted not to take the night tour from the tour, but to walk around Vegas by ourselves.

At about 4.30pm, we started our journey by taking an Uber ride to our first destination - Fremont Street. Fremont Street is the Old Vegas as this was where Las Vegas was founded. When we arrived, it was still early so the neon lights were not switched on yet.
The beginning of Fremont Street
Zipline over Fremont Street

We walked around for awhile, and went hunting for food as we haven't had a proper meal since breakfast. We surveyed around and ended up eating in one of the restaurant inside the casinos. Look at the size of our ribs!
The size of almost three palms
After our super early dinner, we started to do the checklist of tourists in Fremont Street. Of course, we visited the casinos. It's really a gambling heaven as there are all kinds of machine inside. And the machine comes will all kinds of theme. From singer Britney Spears to Nerd Comedy The Big Bang Theory. No matter what English movie or series you watch, you can definitely find the slot machine in Vegas!
She's so lucky! She's a Star!
We did our free spin where we could win up to US$2,500. But no luck for us as none of us won.

Took our photo with US$ 1 million and had our photos printed on the spot in Binion's.

Looked at the 3-storey water slide that goes through the 200,000 gallon Shark Tank in Golden Nugget.
And spotted beautiful aquariums along the way.

US$0.99 margarita which no longer exist. It's now US$1.99!

Looked for the world's largest golden nugget.

Hunted for the cowboy neon sign of Vegas Vic.

In the meantime, Fremont Street has become more and more happening as it gets darker. There's the Viva Vision Light Show which has a 550,000-watt speaker system at the top.

Pretty ladies and *ahem* gentlemen strutting and dancing around in sexy outfits.

After that we went over to the new side of Las Vegas, which is the Las Vegas Strip! It was so different compared to Fremont Street which neon lights. Las Vegas Strip is full of branded shops, high tech lights and fancy hotels and clubs. 
We tried to book tickets to Celine Dion's concert in Caesar Palace, but there were no shows during our visit
This van with the billboard sign attached was driving around Vegas the whole night
Mini Eiffel Tower in Vegas

We went to watch the free Volcano Eruption show located in front of The Mirage Hotel.
Before the Volcano Eruption show starts
Overlook Treasure Island Hotel
Volcano Eruption Show
We have a time to spare before the next show so we head over to visit the High Roller Ferris Wheel. Apparently, it's very famous to have people proposed at the High Roller. In my personal opinion, Vegas marriage and proposal doesn't seem so promising. #WatchedTooMuchDrama.... Vegas reminds me of a place to party so maybe a bachelorette party would be nice! #MagicMike 

The malls and shops we passed by inside the hotels along the way was very grand. Whatever branded brand you can think of, and those brand names you can't pronounce is all here.

We continued to our next free show - Fountains of Bellagio. The musical fountain show lasted for 15 minutes with water dancing to Michael Jackson and other hot music.
Bellagio before the Fountain show began
Fountains of Bellagio
After the show, we walked around a little and headed back to hotel with an Uber ride to call it a day. We had to wake up as early as 3.45am the next day! 

Day 10
It was the day for the Grand Canyon West Rim visit, located at the next state - Arizona. We chose this West Rim instead of South Rim as the journey to South Rim was too far from Las Vegas. I remember the tour started the journey at 4.45am today, which means we woke up as early as 3.45am. We slept the moment the bus journeyed on, and by the time we woke up, the scenery outside has changed.

The tour dropped us at the entrance. Those who were taking the helicopter and plane ride would register at the counter. For those who were taking Bus 11 (11 as in our own legs), once we got our ticket, we queued for the free shuttle to our first stop.

Our first stop is Eagle Point. The view was spectacular. It reminded me that the world is so big and there's so many places that I have yet to explore. A self reminder to work hard and earn more money!
Although it was bright and sunny, the wind was also very strong. We had to wait each time we wanted to take a photo so that we don't look like a ghost with out hair flying around like the photo below.
The Skywalk Glass Bridge was also located in Eagle Point. We did not purchase for the entry as we've read review that the view from there is almost the same. So we decided to save our US$35/person.
Next to it was also a village called Home of the Eagles that showed the historical homes, which reminded me of my guiding days when we build our campsite using bamboos.
After spending about 45 minutes in this place, we headed off to our next stop - Guano Point. The rocks in Guano Point were more red in colour. And as it was getting later in the morning, the heat has increased and our skin began to burn!

When we went to the other side of Guano Point, I fell in love with the view immediately. It was simply breathtaking, this is my favourite view of Grand Canyon West Rim.
Finally decided to take a picture at the edge of the cliff in Grand Canyon.

There was another pit stop, but we ran out of time so we did not visit Hualapai Ranch. Hualapai Ranch is more to a cowboy town with activities, that is why we put it as our last priority. We headed back to the Entrance area and looked at the souvenir shop. We saw these lollipop filled with real scorpions and were so tempted to give it a try.
But in the end, we chickened out as we were worried about diarrhea. So we had safe food instead: ICE-CREAMS! 

After Grand Canyon, our next itinerary was to visit Hoover Dam, which was along the way back but located in another state - Nevada! Our tour bus dropped us at the bottom of the hill and we had a little hike up before we reached the Hoover Dam Bypass.

The Hoover Dam was instantly recognizable to me as this dam was featured in many English movies I've watched in the past, like Superman!

The wind was strong up there at the Bypass. So much stronger than in Grand Canyon. We have difficulty to walk in front without bending our bodies, and if we were to walk in the same direction of the wind, the wind will pushed us to a run instead!

After a short trip to Hoover Dam, we headed off to lunch. This time, as our trip to Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam was already inclusive of Asian Buffet Lunch (we cannot opt out), we did not want to waste money. However, we were instantly disappointed when we had our first bite! So grateful at that moment that we decided to opt Asian Buffets out in all our lunch meals in the past few days.

The tour dropped us off in our hotel, so we had a quick change and then took an Uber ride to The Venetian. I'd always loved Venetian Hotel because they build the hotel with the Venice City theme indoors. The moment I stepped in, it reminded me of my 2014 Europe Trip in Venice. 

We even shared gelato there because how can one visit Italy (although it's fake Italy) and not eat gelato?

We walked around and drooled over the branded goods inside the hotel. And also to admire the beautiful decos all around the hotel.
Random fake tree with red leaves
Shine my shoe?
Randomly walked into a super fancy toilet
After that we headed over to our next itinerary for the day, which was watching a show in Vegas! We decided to splurge ourselves and watched one of the best show: Le Reve: The Dream, damaging US$165 in each of our wallet.

Instead of following our tour where the pick-up point was our hotel Circus Circus, since we were already out of or hotel, we walked our way to Wynn Hotel. It was just nearby The Venetian Hotel anyway. 
Right outside the theatre was the US$28million statue of Popeye
The show was really incredible and spectacular. Jaw dropping performances of aquatic ballet and gravity-defying stunts. Imagine the performer dived from the roof of the theater to the pool at the ground floor. And yes, the stage of this performance can transform into different shapes of pool. Really very very impressive and WOW! Would recommend to friends who are visiting Vegas!
The stage at the end of the show
Round theater
After the show, we follow our tour bus back to our hotel around midnight. Initially, our plan was to visit the casino and have our gambling session in Vegas. One would have to try their luck in Vegas right? But the moment we stepped into the casino, all our eyes began to droop. Suddenly we were so tired that we don't have the mood to change our money into casino chips. Hahahaha Guess we weren't made for gambling!

We did walked around for awhile before we call it a day! And I found Ellen Slot Machine! Was hoping suddenly Jeannie appear and gave me tickets to 12 days of Christmas, but it did not happen! LOL

Day 11
It's the day where we will be returning to LA. We headed to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, which turned out to be more of a chocolate shopping outlet. My friends and I stayed inside for only 5 minutes and then we walked to the Botanical Cactus Garden located next to the factory.

After that, we journeyed our way to our first Outlet Shopping in USA! We were given 2 hours in Tanger Outlet Center in Barstow, which initially I thought it was a reasonable amount of time because I don't really have a long shopping list to do. Turns out the two hours was chaotic because the branded goods were on really good sale! Had just enough time to surveyed for prices between a few shops before I splurge on my first branded shopping spree in USA to buy Fossil Bag for US$73. 

After the Shopping Outlets, our bus headed all the way back to LA. Because of the Take Tours style, we had to change our bus in one of the meet up point in LA again, as we are the group departing to the airport. This arrangement annoyed us again, but we managed to get to the right bus with all our luggage intact. We had our dinner in LAX airport and waited for our almost midnight flight.
Chilling in LAX after dinner while waiting for our flight
Finally, we are headed off to Chicago, where we will be meeting up with more of our friends!

Bye bye West Coast.... I'm coming for you Central US!

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