If I had to use one word to describe Las Vegas I would say………. FAKE. Fake copies of iconic buildings, fake waterfalls, fake tits, fake hair extensions, people faking their wealth…. I could go on and on. Never has the divide between haves and have nots been so apparent this whole trip as it has been in Las Vegas.
The contrast between the obscene wealth and the obscenely poor is shocking. I found it hard to enjoy being in a Casino when I was well aware that many people were sitting at those machines fritting away their life savings and potentially ruining their relationships.
It is a city where addiction is promoted to the extreme. Not only can you become a gambling addict in Las Vegas, you can also easily get addicted to alcohol (it’s free while you are betting!!), cigarettes (still legal to smoke inside casinos), cannabis (now legalised in Nevada for recreational use) and of course the worst addiction of all – gambling.
It is mathematically impossible to win at gambling unless you do it sporadically and sensibly, which no one seemed to be doing. You may win a few thousand here and there, but how much have you spent over time to win that thousand?
The hotels on the strip are very pretentious and everything costs a fortune. Casino’s use every psychological trick in the book to get you on the floor and pissing money away. $50 is what it would cost me if I wanted to have my fridge unlocked so I could put my own mineral waters in it. But if I wanted to go down and put dollar after dollar through the pokies, drinks are on the house.
I woke up Monday morning and knew I had to take the kids for a walk on the strip, just so they could say they’d seen it. Kids were excited about going for a wander but I was 99% sure they would change their minds within minutes of exiting the hotel.
To exit the hotel you need to walk the kids through the Casino, dodging in between pokie machines and people smoking/drinking/gambling. It felt very weird allowing children to be in that environment. It definitely would not be allowed in Australia.
Kids regretted their decision to wander the strip almost immediately. Upon exiting the opulent (to us – mediocre to others) MGM hotel we were confronted by a man with no legs slumped over and covered in flies. Kylah was worried he was dead because he smelled so bad. Not one person stopped to check his pulse. Jenny told me that later on in the day (hours after we had seen him) she saw some people trying to help him. I’m not sure what happened to him but he was gone this morning.
I know there are homeless people in Australia but I guess living in the ‘burbs shelters us from witnessing it much. It’s really hard to know what to do or how to help someone when you don’t know their back story, or what services are available to help them.
Las Vegas was similar to LA in that it had people parading around dressed in costumes. They would offer to take a photo with you and then demand payment for the photo once it had been taken. One person we know had her phone taken from her until she paid for the photo that they had taken (they took the phone to hold for the selfie and refused to give it back until she payed them) and anther person was spat in the face after refusing to pay for the photo.
I guess the moral of the story is – if you want your photo taken with anyone dressed up (or in some cases – dressed down, as in barely any clothes) then you need to be aware that they will expect you to pay them. They do not offer this information straight up and give off the illusion that they are just there to happily take free selfies with tourists. They aren’t.
Girls and I went in to Marshall’s, a department store, and bought a few things but within an hour of being on the strip the younger two were ready to tap out. I was too. People were everywhere and even though it was broad daylight, I did not feel safe.
Luckily we ran into Jenny on her way home and Jazzy and Isabelle went back to the hotel with her. They were not vibing the crowds, noise, heat and confronting scenes. We live on 5 acres in a suburb with less people in it than would be in just one LV Casino. You can see why this was sensory overload.
I stayed on with Kylah as she wanted to do the LINQ zip line – superhero style!! We paid for her to do it, enquired about the wait time (less than 30 minutes), signed waivers to say I would not sue them if she was accidentally killed, kissed her goodbye (potentially for the last time) and then headed off to wait at the bottom.
I wanted to wait in the exact spot she would exit after finishing her zip line so there was no chance I would lose her. The exact spot was a small room with a counter where photographs could be purchased and no chairs whatsoever. While I was waiting I decided now would be a good time to write my reviews on Trip Advisor of the various hotels I’ve stayed in. Then I checked Facebook and caught up on all my friends comings and goings. Then I read all my emails. Then I read the Australian News sites and took a moment to appreciate the lack of stories. Then I looked at my watch. IT HAD NOW BEEN 93 MINUTES SINCE MY DAUGHTER WAS SENT UP TO THE LINQ ROOF.
This is when I began to lose my shit. I’m pretty good at throwing a tanty over trivial things at the best of times but the ones I throw when I think my daughter may have been “accidentally” killed and then due to the waiver I had signed, relinquishing fault or liability from LINQ company, potentially “accidentally” overlooked in the tragedy telling department, evoked a tanty unlike any I have had before. WAY worse than when the Hilton at Universal City tried to stick me in a dirty, smoke smelling room.
Halfway through my hysterical rant a lovely American couple intervened and asked if I was the mother of the delightful Australian girl they had met up on the roof. Complimenting my children is always well received by myself, as I consider it to be a direct compliment to me (I made them after all) and works by immediately calming me down. They explained that half of the ride had been shut down (the half that Kylah had booked and paid for) and that that was the reason she had been stuck up on the roof for 93 minutes in the blazing sun with no water. They also said she was right behind them and should be down within minutes. The couple then complimented me on having such a charming daughter and said it had been a pleasure to spend the last hour and a half chatting with her. Worked a charm. My tantrum stopped.
Kylah came out soon after and was told LINQ said she could have a full refund. We just had to collect it from the box office. After queueing at the box office my unbridled rage again bubbled up and I began, what I felt was very restrained and strongly worded feedback. The poor boy at the box office immediately recognised that he was not going to be able to placate me and called in the big guns (manager) who offered me 4 free tickets on the High Roller (a big Ferris Wheel) and a full refund on her zip line. Even though the tickets were of no use to me (1/2 of my offspring are scared of heights) I gladly accepted so I could regift them to friends.
Kylah and I Ubered it back to the hotel so I could take the other children for a swim at MGM before the good section of the hotel pool closed at 5pm. We made it back with 45 minutes to spare and the other children immediately donned togs and hightailed it down. MGM has a kind of river thing you float around, which the kids were excited to try out. In order to float on this river you have to hire a circle floaty thing – for $20 USD. I swear, MGM don’t miss a trick. I, of course, refused to pay.
Kylah had stayed in the room, suffering from heatstroke, and Isabelle and Jasmine grew tired of the pool after about 20 minutes so back up to the room we went.
This is when my true Vegas experience began. Up until this point I had been very underwhelmed.
Kids, Jenny and I (minus Kylah who was still sick from sunstroke) headed off to the buffet for dinner. The buffet by my standards was MARVELLOUS!! If you were the type of person who frequented fancy buffet’s on a regular basis, you may consider it mid range (as told to me by one member of our party who joined later). They had every type of food you could think of and offered free beer and wine.
My best friend from when I was a little girl, Amy, and her sister Sally were coincidently staying across the road from us and joined Jenny, the kids and I for dinner with their friends, Jess & Troy.
My kids, having been blessed with sensible genes from Ben, requested to go to bed after having eaten a moderate amount of food and realising it was the appropriate hour for children to be in bed. They completely missed the whole point of a buffet – staying as long as you can and stuffing yourself with as much food as possible. I happily bid them goodnight. By this stage I was very happy, having spent my buffet time sneakily tipping top shelf vodka into my orange juice every time no one was looking. I’m pretty sure that there is NO time in a casino where no one is looking but no one pulled me up on pulling my bottle of vodka out of my handbag and adding it to my juice so I didn’t care. I would have happily paid for a nice vodka but the buffet was only offering Smirnoff – which is akin to drinking your own urine.
After dinner the drinks continued with myself, Amy, Sally and Troy. We stumbled upon a section of the Casino that had Karaoke and all signed up to sing. I would tell you all about the competition between Amy/Troy and myself but as I wasn’t the winner of the competition I have decided not to. Nonetheless, I lost my Vegas-karaoke virginity, perhaps somewhat badly and perhaps full of false confidence.
After Karaoke the 4 of us decided to pool our money and play some roulette. Troy was the main chip placer and the three of us would shout conflicting advice on where to place the chips each time.
We had some pretty major wins. The screams of delight attracted the attention of everyone in the Casino who I’m sure assumed we were winning thousands. I was, quite surprisingly, the sensible member of our group and quarantined our winnings until I had in my possession the exact amount we had put in. No money lost. We cashed in the rest of our chips for a $100 chip and decided, since it wasn’t really money we had put in to start with, we should double down on black – “black like our souls” as I had been saying all night for no other reason than that I liked the sound of it and it seemed to work.
WE WON!!!!!!!!!! Black was the colour. Maybe we do have black souls after all?????
By this stage it was 3am. Time goes so fast when you are inside a casino. We cashed in our winnings and used some of the money to go buy chips. Luckily I was with Troy, who is multilingual, and knew to ask for fries as chips in America refers to the fake coins in the casino. Crisps is what we call chips and fries is what we call chips. We also call Casino-chips chips as well. I guess us Aussies are smart enough to determine the meaning of ‘chips’ based upon the context of the request. For example: In Australia if you asked for a bowl of chips with your dinner, you would NEVER be bought a bowl of ‘crisps’ (this actually happened to me).
So there you have it. I ate at a buffet, sung Karaoke, got drunk, gambled for hours, had a win in the money department and ate fatty food at 3am in the morning. The only thing that could possibly have made it a more Vegas night would be if I had donned hair extensions, fake eyelashes and had dressed in an outfit covered with sequins and precariously held together by safety pins, revealing every part of my body (no matter how unappealing) apart from the nipples and map of Tassie.
I went to bed a very happy woman. I came, I saw, I ate, I sang, I gambled and I won. I took Vegas on for 1 night only and smashed it out of the park. I WON!!
Thanks for reading!!