So last month I did something I never thought I would do: Vegas.
Now, I’m not talking about the trip that most SoCal residents have taken with their parents when they were 5 years old or something. I’ve done that too— we also went with my father-side grandfather, and I have no recollection of this trip except that my grandfather “won big” at the slots which meant he won enough to treat us to lunch. I retrospect, I now wonder why he was gambling in the first place, as the great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, has much to say of the evils of gambling.
With that in mind, yes. I, the Berkeley anti-capitalist, anti-fun, anti-anything that is not intersectional, vegan and gluten free* went to Las Vegas, a city which could be perhaps described as “capitalism’s fullest expression”, a city where everything is sold (substances, sex and Celine Dion) and everything is done big.
And I had a great time! My boyfriend and I stayed at the Nobu Hotel (which is located within Caesar’s Palace) and had a fun but financially detrimental weekend. I had mainly chosen the hotel based on the fact that all of the room-service food is Nobu food, (and thus one of the few places in the world you can order a Nobu breakfast) but there were other perks too. While the hotel itself was located “within” the colossal behemoth that is Caesar’s, it was very subdued, quiet and classy wing that provided much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the Strip. But because it’s in Caesar’s, it’s super centrally located, so it was the best of both worlds— a boutique quiet hotel experience in the center of Las Vegas.
Another thing to recall here is that as an Applied Mathematics major, I’ve taken way too many probability classes to even have a remotely good time gambling. I believe a big part of the enjoyment in the experience comes from willful ignorance of mathematics. I did however, find Video Poker to be a mathematically compelling game. I won’t go through huge details on how the game is played, but if played optimally, you can get close to 99% return or even 100%— which means you can break even. That doesn’t sound exciting at all, but in comparison to most casino games, that’s pretty cool. So I did play some rounds of Video Poker, but unfortunately I made the Rookie mistake of not cashing out when I was ahead. I got too greedy and ended up with a net loss of $5.00 for my whole Vegas trip. Alas.
Despite my pessimistic attitude towards gambling, my lack of desire to go clubbing, I would say it was a highly successful trip. The novelty of it all— (why would you ever think of building a replica of a Ventian Square inside of a shopping mall?) was more than enough to keep me entertained, and the food we ate was spectacular.
An addition to Nobu, we went to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (located in the MGM Grand). L’Atelier received a Michelin star in 2009 and is the more ‘casual’ dining version of Joel Robuchon. I say casual even though the price of the tasting menu was the same amount I would normally pay for all my food in a month (#cupnoodles4days). But I had never had experienced that level of dining before, so it was a really cool and unique experience that I enjoyed.
It was amazing though. Notable highlights of our dinner included the open kitchen aspect of the restaurant (so you can see what goes on behind the scenes!) and friendly staff. My favorite dishes were the spring onion soup and the mashed potatoes. I know that sounds a incredibly basic for me to visit a super high end restaurant and say that my favorite thing was the mashed potatoes, but it’s true. (And people agree with me too.)
But a trip to Las Vegas would not be complete without some drinking. Unfortunately, literally on the flight to the city of sin, I began to feel sick and realized I was coming down with something 😦 I visited a Minute Clinic right after I landed (woo best start of a trip ever!) and was on my way with some medication, but that meant no partying or Fat Tuesdays. We made up for it by instead going the really classy route. We visited the lovely and intimate Mandarin Bar inside the Mandarin Oriental. The bar provided glittery and dazzling views of the Strip and very well-prepared drinks.
From our seats, we enjoyed our 23-stories high view, which was comically obscured sometimes by a couple sitting closer to the window that was engaging in some very passionate activities. Haha nothing R-rated of course, but I felt a little bit like I was at a high school dance, giggling at the couple that takes advantage of the dark dance floor to make-out with each other.
So thus concludes my first Las Vegas trip as an adult: a trip mostly centered around food and living beyond my means. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m glad we only went for two nights. It was the perfect length of trip where I indulged but didn’t feel too indulgent.
The whole experience left me feeling simultaneously very ‘adult’ and not one at all. I felt ‘mature’ and adult like because there I was, sitting in that incredibly classy bar drinking an incredibly classy drink whilst staring into a shimmering horizon. On the other hand, I was also chortling at the fact that two grown adults were k-i-s-s-i-n-g in full view of the public. Both my boyfriend and I took always special care to dress up and try to look not like college kids, but we ended up being carded repeatedly wherever we went.
We were trying to emulate a lifestyle we didn’t yet have (probably a decade off), but it was fun playing pretend for a weekend.