U.S.A: A Christmas Abroad – Las Vegas, 2009

24/12/2009 to 25/12/2009

In December 2009, I spent three weeks in Las Vegas, living on a budget for $13.00 a night in USA Hostel downtown. I was initially looking for work in Canada, and got a job at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. This job didn’t start until January, so I had time to kill, and the flight to Las Vegas paid for itself within in a week as opposed to paying $30 a night in Vancouver, where I’d be spending plenty of time anyway. Christmas isn’t the best time to visit Las Vegas, as the weather isn’t great for the swimming pool, and it is reasonably quiet. Some casinos even close to refurbish themselves in time for their big night of the year, New Year’s Eve. I left early on 27th December though, in order to make it to Dallas by bus to spend my birthday with a friend there, therefore missing the big night. Las Vegas is still rather Christmassy though, with decorations everywhere, even on M&M’s at the cactus park. There were also nightly performances of Christmas songs by a band down Fremont Street Experience. During three weeks here, I managed to not gamble once, except using free tokens I was given at one casino. Even using free tokens, where I could not win a cash prize, just more credits, they did still serve me with free alcohol.

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One notable night out in Las Vegas, was joining the hostel bar crawl. Determined not to spend much money, I got drunk at the hostel before leaving, however I still ended up drinking at every bar we visited. We ended up going to a bar with karaoke in New York New York casino. Drunk, but still not confident enough to sing on my own, I got help from a Swedish guy to sing with me. I used a lucky dip method to choose the song, and landed on what I thought was the best thing ever at the time. Mr Boombastic by Shaggy was our choice, and I was now confident in my ability, nevertheless the song is incredibly difficult to keep up with. The poor Swedish guy, although impressive at speaking English, was unable to keep up with the made-up words in the song, and quickly gave up and left. I still went for it though, with the laughter of all the staff and guests from the hostel, for another minute or so before I dropped the mic and left.

Christmas Day I woke up with a steaming hang-over. For the first time in close to three weeks, I couldn’t stomach the free pancakes and syrup for breakfast. For a low point in life, I stumbled down to Fremont Street looking for breakfast, and, on a budget still, ordered stuff of McDonald’s dollar menu for Christmas breakfast. McDonald’s, and all of the casinos were surprisingly busy for Christmas morning. I went back to the hostel, and opened the Christmas present I bought myself, a can of Guinness, which I drank in the hot-tub. There was a chef working as a member of staff at the hostel at the time, so he cooked everybody Christmas Dinner for just $5 each. Everybody seemed to just take a plate of food, however, there were the first vegetables I had in months, and the backpacker in me wanted more than $5 worth of food. I felt bad having a tower of food while everybody took sensible amounts, with this guilt, I ate everything on my plate, and along with some more beers, I could barely walk. I remember ending the evening just sitting still in the reception talking to the staff and guests, and feeling stuck to the chair after eating so much.

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