Thursday, 24 January 2013

City Of Sins

Las Vegas. This city never sleeps at night. I can't even begin to describe how much I love this city. It's a completely different vibe and almost feels like a different place when the sun has gone to shine on another continent.

So after spending two days in San Francisco and catching up with my family in America (OUTDOOR ICE SKATING RINK WITH FAKE SNOW AT UNION SQUARE ESHAYS), we got up at 6am to begin our tour to Las Vegas. Those few days were such a fun bonding experience with my families.

The road trip there was long and exhausting, even though we were mostly sitting and napping on the same spot for an entire day, only getting up to stop by a few stores in the middle of nowhere to stretch our legs. I loved how our tour guide told us to not buy food for our first stop because it'd be a really short break, but my uncle, aunty and dad all came back one by one with bags of food. Rebellion must run in the family.

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Our first landmark was Badwater Basin in Death Valley, which is a very cold desert that consists of a lot of salt. Apparently it is the lowest point in North America, which is 282ft (86m) below sea level.

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That night, we stayed at a small inn before leaving at the crack of dawn, back on the road to Las Vegas again. We stopped at Zabriskie Point, which is another part of Death Valley. The soft pastel colours of the landscape was just so unique and bare of anything.

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It was a crazy few hours when we finally arrived at Vegas. Do you know how easy it is for minors to "accidentally" slip coins into the slot machines, bash a few buttons then pull the lever? Each uniquely themed hotel has a large casino in it so it's easy for anyone to gamble. Our hotel, Excalibur, was a GODDAMN CASTLE WITH FLAMING TORCHES, KNIGHT ARMOURIES AND FLEUR DI LIS SYMBOLS LINING THE CORRIDORS. Yeah, cool story, bro. It actually has (displays of) dragons and shit.

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We visited a majority of the hotels and casinos to watch the shows and displays they put on at intervals. The highlights would be the indoor canal and fake sky at the Venetian hotel, which reminded me of the Great Hall in Hogwarts, the Fountains of Bellagio and Freemont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas.

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My absolute favourite song, It's Time by Imagine Dragons, was blasted across blocks so how could I not love the vibe downtown? I was surprised by the amount of people with signs protesting to legalise marijuana, which was more than the amount of prostitutes I saw.

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Imagine your drowsy self waking up to views that sparkles and twinkles at 6am because that was what I got.

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The Grand Canyon was our next stop. I didn't realise it was in Arizona and that we were in a completely different time zone as well. I feel so small minded not knowing my geography. It is like the "real" America here with the Native Americans and their tipis. There's only one way I can describe it - It really was grand.

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We decided to take a helicopter around the Grand Canyon. It's like you're on a very loud magic carpet hovering in mid air, which is the point of it, but I still found it a cool experience. We also went on a little boat on the Colorado River, which was pretty amazing. There were these Chinese old men TAKING PHOTOS OF US AND VLOGGING OR WHATEVER AND THEY WERE LIKE, "DIS IS MA QURLS." HEY MAN, I AIN'T NERBODY'S GURL. *sassy z snaps*

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The Grand Canyon Skywalk's glass floor allowed us to see over a kilometre down the canyon, which was enough to make me want to just lie there whimpering and worm across the whole thing. There wasn't a time limit on how long we could stay, but there is only so long we can amuse ourselves with our "gnome shoes" (the brown cloths that covered our shoes so we don't damage the glass floor). WE AIN'T LEAVING TILL WE GET OUR MONEY'S WORTH.

We went back to Vegas, with a short stop at Hoover Dam, and explored the Vegas night life ourselves. I've lost track of the amount of buffets we've had so far in America.

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The next day, we moved to Planet Hollywood hotel. I screwed up my ankle there because I was that person running and twirling around 23 floors of the hotel in my pyjamas at 12am and jumping in fast elevators because gravity is fun. For some reason, the highest floor can't be entered by elevator. Every time I push the button, it takes us back down to the tenth floor. IS THIS SOME KIND OF GRINGOTTS SORCERY?

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The last three days of our time here, we mainly shopped, bought a junk load of souvenirs and tried to go as many hotels and casinos as we could along the Las Vegas Strip. It was like all the major cities and landmarks all on one street, but on a smaller scale. The interiors were all so creative and unique.

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Vegas is definitely for the nocturnals and those who'd love having music follow them from indoors to sidewalks.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

City Of Angels

I'm chasing health rather than chasing fortune and fame in Los Angeles. What horrible timing to get sick. I've been getting more acquainted to every restroom within a 100 metre proximity than anything else here.

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The first thing I noticed when we arrived at our hotel (just minutes away from the major theme parks) was how the air smelt like an ice skating rink because it was so cold. I loved it. The second thing I noticed and definitely not used to is how intimate waiters and waitresses are. They would have a little welcome speech, introduce their names and constantly ask if you need anything else. Their kindness made me uncomfortable. What am I supposed to respond with?! It feels too intimate to thank them using their names so instead, I stared blankly back, being the well mannered person I am. Tipping also made me feel self conscious because we didn't know whether we were under tipping them and being judged as the stereotypical cheap Asian. I also couldn't get over the amount of hypebeasts and people who think they have swag, which makes me want to burn their snapbacks.

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On our second day in Los Angeles, we went to the supposed happiest place on Earth - Disneyland! It was my second time there, so I don't think it could ever live up to my first time, two years ago, as nothing came as a surprise or new experience for me. A lot of the good rides I remembered were closed as well. And my day consisted of a lot of intense, sharp stomach pains and running to the restrooms to chuck a vom vom or bom bom every 15-60 minutes.

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We took lots of photos with characters and got "their" autographs in between rides. We also impulse bought 437891 toys (which I already regret) that won't fit in our luggages and souvenir pennies.

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I think my favourite land/world in Disneyland is Toontown. The little fictional based stores there made you feel like you've been thrown into a cartoon show. I couldn't even tell whether the sky and hills were real or not at first.

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The third day was spent at California Adventure Park. A must here is the Radiator Springs Racers ride, even if it means you have to wait in line for two hours, it's definitely worth it. The ferris wheel at Pier Paradise is a must too. Don't take the normal cages though, take the cages that swings violently as the wheel turns until you scream yourself hoarse. It was the craziest thing - I felt like our cage was going to be thrown into the sea below and my internal organs were being flung inside my rib cage as much as I was inside that cage.

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I wasn't allowed to eat (due to being fully sick brah), but holy, the warm, creamy Mickey Mouse shaped pretzels were so good. Or maybe everything just tastes infinitely better if you're told not to eat for 24 hours and there's just something about being told you're not allowed to do something that makes you want to do that something more.

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We finished the day with a water light show. It was so amazing! All I remember was a bunch of projected lights of Disney characters into the water and the water doing fancy things to reenact a few scenes from Disney movies. It was better than any hallucinogen I can imagine.

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We went to Universal Studios on our fourth day. Again, there wasn't much that came as a surprise to me because I've been there before, but that doesn't change how nerve racking it was to line up and know what kind of horror and sharp turning corners await. Most of the rides here are virtual rides so the effects were really cool and felt real like how Sideshow Bob was trying to chase and murder us through Springfield.

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We also had a studio tour to see some of the actual sets of movies, props and how some effects were done in films.

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Adjacent to Universal Studios was Universal City Walk. It was made to look like a mini Hollywood. Personally, I liked it there more than the real Hollywood, which we went right after.

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Like the last time I came to Hollywood, I immediately ran in search for the Harry Potter trio's prints in the cement. That's the only thing there I liked. Along the whole boulevard was just people trying to lure tourists in buying their goods, people handing out flyers and homeless people asking for money for every tour bus that unloads another round of tourists.

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I think one of the best moments of our time here in Los Angeles was to convince mum and dad to yolo and go on rides when they would normally just stand back and hold onto our belongings like a hat stand and poorly attempt to snap (blurry) photos of us on the ride. Another would be our taxi driver who drove us around the few days we were there. He reminds me of Ranjit from How I Met Your Mother. He was just so friendly and fun to talk to.


Tuesday, 1 January 2013


The perfect way to start a year? All nighter then drive through the quiet city at dawn towards the beach to watch the sun rise with a group of your closest people. Did I just describe the perfect date? My friends are too romantic and symbolic for their own good. Especially Desiree who made it her mission to kiss everyone.

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Sadly, we couldn't really see the sun rise because it was too cloudy and overcast. We could just see everything get brighter and brighter. We also shared our New Year's resolutions. Yep, my friends are definitely corny. Happy 2013!

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