Day 1: Arriving LAS at 10:45 a.m. → The Strip
Day 2: In-N-Out Burger → Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area → Sushi House Goyemon → Night view on the Strip
Day 3: Lake Mead → Flying back to Pittsburgh
So, Vegas! This is absolutely not a top vacation spot I would pick. I could not care less about gambling and clubbing on the Strip. Aaron was going to Vegas for work, so I tagged along. Turned out that we had a fantastic weekend visiting the Vegas off the Strip and people watching on the Strip.
Last time I came to Las Vegas was in 2004. Ten years apart, Vegas looked very different. The City Center is all new to me.
Over the years, many more stations were added to the Monorail. The Monorail was quite a life saver when I made a bad decision of wearing flats and got tired of walking. We started at the signature towers of MGM Grand and stopped by New York-New York, Crystals, Aria, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and Venetian. Half way in, I have learned my lesson of the trade-off between looking cute and walking far. It took us very little time to decide that we were going to each give the Monorail a five and hop on the train at Harrah’s to go back to MGM. A single ride costs $5. They also offer one-day to seven-day passes. If your hotel room is close to one of the stations, the Monorail would help every now and then. It is not the most convenient way to get around on the Strip. By the time you walk to a station, you have pretty much toured that entire casino. Taking a cab would be cheaper if you have a few people to share cab fare.
單軌電車(Monorail)近年來越來越多站，在我穿平底鞋走一個下午之後簡直是救了我一命。我們從MGM Grand的第三座塔開始走，一路逛紐約、City Center、百樂宮、凱薩皇宮和威尼斯人，走到一半就知道應該不管醜不醜直接穿運動鞋的，兩個人迅速決定要乖乖付五塊錢從Harrah’s搭電車回MGM。電車單程五塊美金，有賣單日到七日的票，如果飯店房間剛好離車站很近，偶爾可以考慮搭電車去遠的地方，但車站都在飯店深處，走到車站也就差不多逛完整個賭場了，如果人多的話，分計程車錢還比較快又划算。
The Strip is known for buffet. Recently it is full of gourmet burgers. (Btw Elisa told me the very popular California burger chain Umami is going to open in Vegas in late 2014.) And…Gordon Ramsay. I think he has a restaurant in EVERY SINGLE casino on the Strip.
Researching cheap eats on the Strip was very frustrating. The legitimately cheap places are fast food or food court, but I could not live on McDonald’s, Panda Express and Subway for the entire weekend. Some of the seemingly smart guides list “cheap eats under $20” with great reviews. However, if you check the menu, you’d realize it was obvious that $20 could only be accomplished when you share food with a group of people and none of you eats much.
I found a couple of cheap but with good review places, like the dirt cheap but far taco place Tacos El Gordo, Hussong’s Cantina in Mandalay Bay, and a chain sandwich shop Earl of Sandwich in Planet Hollywood. We did not get to check them out. On Friday when we arrived, we were so starving that we could not walk any longer after dragging ourselves from Tower Three through the other two towers to MGM Grand. We ate at the food court. And then, after getting up at 4 a.m. to catch the flight and a long walk along the Strip in the afternoon, we passed out in our hotel room in the early evening. Again starving when we woke up, so we caved and ate at an Asian place in MGM Grand ─ The Grand Wok. A typical overpriced Vegas restaurant. We ordered shumai (燒賣), a yellow tail roll, beef rice noodle (炒牛肉河粉) and a coke. The total bill with a good tip was about $58. It was high way robbery to charge $12 for four tiny shumai. The food was good though (given our low expectation for overpriced Strip “cheap” restaurant.)
拉斯維加斯近年來還真多高檔漢堡店 (我的美食情報來源elisa說加州最近風行的Umami Burger 2014年下旬要在拉斯維加斯開店)。還有Gordon Ramsay，大概每個賭場都有他的餐廳。
找了幾家便宜又評價好的餐廳或熟食店，但都太遠太懶沒去吃，像是超便宜但遙遠的Tacos El Gordo、Mandalay Bay裡面的Hussong’s Cantina、Planet Hollywood裡面的連鎖三明治店Earl of Sandwich。星期五早上四點多就起床，下飛機又到旅館之後都已經是東岸時間下午兩點多，餓到不行，穿過MGM三個塔就已經是極限了，直接在MGM美食區吃飯。下午逛了大半個拉斯維加斯大道，超累於是回去睡了一覺，醒來又再度很餓，只好當觀光客給賭場騙，就地在MGM Grand隨便挑了一家餐廳，泛亞洲大集合的The Grand Wok，我們點了燒賣、yellow tail壽司和炒牛肉河粉加一杯可樂，加小費總共$58，四個超小燒賣要$12怎麼不去搶，連廈門來的服務生都跟我們說燒賣不錯但是很小又超貴。我們對這種騙觀光客搶錢餐廳期待不高，結果意外地還蠻好吃。
On a side note, there is a Taiwanese restaurant that seems worth a try if you are into Taiwanese food. I looked up authentic Taiwanese food in Vegas for our friends after we got back and found this place in Spring Valley. It’s called Yi Mei Champion Taiwan Deli (義美冠軍). They serve a big selection of Taiwanese breakfast and added dinner service in May 2013. Looks like their beef noodle is pretty good. If I ever go to Vegas again, this place will be on my list.
住在美國鄉下地方的人們，有個台灣小吃看起來很不錯。我們的拉斯維加斯美國朋友在問台灣菜是什麼樣，於是回來之後幫他們查了當地的台灣餐廳，找到這家義美冠軍 (Yi Mei Champion Taiwan Deli)，是賣早餐的店，中午有排骨飯牛肉麵之類的餐，2013年五月開始賣晚餐，看起來牛肉麵跟飯糰評價都不錯。餐廳在Spring Valley，公車幾乎都要轉，不太順，可以趁租車的時候跑去吃。
The only one thing I really wanted to do on the Strip was to take pictures at night of light trails of cars with hotels and neon lights of the Strip as a background. We were too tired to do so on Friday night and grabbed my tripod out for my mission on Saturday night. I did not realize how difficult this mission could be on a spring break Saturday night. Traffic was too heavy. Cars did not move. How do I capture two way, or even just one, light trails when the traffic barely moves!?
I set up my tripod at the corner of Cosmopolitan and watched pedestrians blocking turning traffic or cars on the main road coming to a full stop all the time. All it took to screw up a shot was just a coach stopping or a Hummer limo turning in front of me. The pictures did not turn out as I wanted, but I’m glad that I at least got a chance to try. (Thank you, Aaron!)