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Vegas Ventures Jan’13

As the last leg of my shamefully long honeymoon began, the excitement and the despair both crept in.

Despair : This “Lala Land” fairytale trip was coming to an end.

Excitement: We were heading to non other than Las Vegas !!!

Now since it was the last bit of our honeymoon we did want to make the most of it , unfortunately for me though I did fall terribly ill (some horrendous stomach bug), however being a trooper and knowing that I was probably not coming back anytime soon in the for seeable future I still managed to do a lot !

Travel Mode: We made the famous drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, as that was our previous stopover during the honeymoon. It is fairly easy to rent cars across the U.S.A and you can usually drop them of at your last destination and have someone from the car rental agency pick it up from there.

Hotel : Now this is usually a very big decision for tourists when heading to Sin City, as it sets the mood for your entire trip.Our choice of hotel was the “Wynn and Encore”. With a fun red, bold theme running all over the place, the energy in these connected twin structures was loud,vibrant and very Vegas. The rooms were quite large and spacious( just a regular double bed room),also having opted for a panoramic view, added to the entire beauty of our stay at Encore.

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MUST SEE/DO:

1) Explore the Strip: This is probably the best free excursion that you will undertake during your stay in Las Vegas.Bear in mind that each hotel is designed in a unique manner and has different elements that distinguish its feel and overall atmosphere. So even though you can’t stay in 10 places at the same time, wandering around the different magnificent hotels will give you a good feel of the ambience each one has to offer.

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2)The Shopping: If you are someone who loves high end designers, the strip is practically your man made heaven. With every high end designer store present on the strip, the shopping will keep you occupied for hours! For those who aren’t looking for anything that will put a dent in your savings there is the “Fashion Show Mall”, which is a stand alone structure that caters to all kinds of shopping needs.

3) Cirque Du Soleil Shows: Las Vegas is known for their variety of world-class shows and performances and every evening is packed with a number of events that will pique your interest. However, the concierge at any decent hotel will advise you to watch at least one “Cirque Du Soleil” show during your stay in Las Vegas. With $100 million dollar stages and jaw-dropping costumes and performances,these shows are a not one to miss. No matter how old you are or what country you hail from, the Cirque Du Soleil shows will leave you spellbound. Unfortunately there are strict “No Photography/Video-recording rules.

Note: Even under the circumstances of my illness we managed to go for two Cirque shows !!

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4) The Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours: Thanks to my dear uncle, who insisted that we make it a point to go for this excursion during our Las Vegas trip, we ended up booking the “Dream Catcher Tour” through Maverick Helicopter (Link:http://www.maverickhelicopter.com/tour-dream-catcher.aspx). Maverick Helicopters are recommended by most resorts and have a great informative team.  This tour was absolutely breathtaking and was really worth the hype! Also there are a whole  range of other tours offered by Maverick to fit your budget and time.

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5) Nightlife: What is a trip to Las Vegas without experiencing some city nightlife? The strip is booming with something for everyone. With never ending casino floors to an innumerable array of lounges and nightclubs, with some of the best performing artists from all over the globe, Las Vegas has some nocturnal activity to fit everyone’s bill.

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MUST EAT:

Please do note before reading further that most of our eating experiences were limited to the resort due to my illness during this trip.

1) The Society Cafe: A beautiful cafe located on the end of the casino floors in Wynn, Society Cafe had some of the best breakfast offerings for its guests. With a hint of the Victorian Era running through its interiors the cafe is chic and has some of the best fuss free food options that I have tasted on this trip.

Note: Ideal for breakfast but open for lunch and dinner too.

2) Wazuzu:  A casual Asian fusion eatery that has all kinds of foods on offering from the Far East, Wazuzu promises a good light bite that won’t leave you drowsy for the rest of the evening. Some of the stand out dishes on the menu were the Black Miso Cod and the  Drunken Noodles (non-alcoholic). (Wynn and Encore)

3) Weing Lei: One of the only fine dining experiences of our trip was as Weing Lei, which happens to be the only Michelin Star Asian restaurant in North America. The ambience is a formal and sharp one and the food is impeccable. With partial Asian roots, my husband knows his Chinese food quite well, and our dining experience had him nodding with satisfaction too. (Wynn and Encore)

4) Tao: An Asian Bistro that has quite a lounge-y vibe to its credit. Although being  one of the most recommended restaurants in Las Vegas, I would say Tao is worth a visit for it’s lively ambience and great music rather than the actual food. There are definitely better Asian options in Las Vegas (Wazuzu for Example), however this restaurant will set a great tone for the evening and is a great place for a fuss free yet satisfactory meal. (The Venetian)

Vegas Traveller Note: After you are checked in head straight for the concierge at your hotel to make sure you reserve your spot for all the things you plan to do in Vegas!

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Hello Hong Kong ! Jul ’13

So If you have seen previous posts, you know that I made a “blink and miss” visit to Macau city in May 2013 to attend a wedding. The reason the trip was a short one besides the considerable travel time , was that we were heading back to Hong Kong in a month’s time for a wedding within our family.

My mother-in-law grew up in Hong Kong, and most of her family still resides there. So Hong Kong it was for a 10 day vacation, inclusive of a 2 day Chinese wedding festivity.

Travel: Cathay Pacific offers one of the easiest non-stop flights to get to Hong Kong from the Middle East (GCC) and has quite comfortable aircrafts.

Now since this was my  first trip to Hong Kong, my family made a special effort in terms of sight-seeing,eateries,shopping etc.

MUST-VISITS :

1) The Peak : If you want to get fabulous, mind-boggling views of this beautiful modern city, make your way to the peak. The Victoria Peak offers stunning panoramic views of Hong Kong and leaves you mesmerised. There are lots of excursions on offer to have the perfect “Peak” experience. Hiking trails, trams that will give you spectacular views and the illusion of a slanted city,or just driving up  to the Peak by Taxi/Cab and enjoying the restaurants, coffee shops and shopping all encompassed in a complex at the very top .Not one to miss !

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2) Landmark Mall (Central Hong Kong) and Elements Mall :  Growing up in Dubai as a 90’s child, you tend to get a bit big-headed about the infrastructure and how spectacular all these huge malls are etc etc. Hong  Kong’s infrastructure and the sheer size and complexity  of its structures and malls , that were built wayy before the world knew what “Dubai” was will plant your feet firmly back into the ground. The Landmark Mall in Central Hong Kong and Elements in the Kowloon side  are both monstrosities with every kind of shop you might want all under one roof. A shopper’s paradise, enough to leave even the most relentless person tired and make the pickiest shopper , grab a few things.

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Landmark Mall ( Central Hong Kong)

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Elements Mall ( Kowloon)

3) Tsim Sha Tsui: Situated in Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui is a bustling area with streets packed with shops and restaurants. None of the high-end brand business. But for those who love exploring a culture and their tit-bits by roaming the streets and discovering, this is the perfect place for you. Some great street-side shopping and street food while roaming around this area.Also the streets lead up to a beautiful promenade with spectacular views of the city skyline at night.

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4) Repulse Bay: After all the city life and hustle- bustle you might crave some picturesque  quiet and this is  when you should head to one of the more naturally beautiful parts of Hong-Kong. With stunning views and a scenic drive, on roads woven through the mountains, Repulse bay is a great retreat from the city and also offers a nice stretch of beach, for enthusiasts.

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5) Lang Kwai Fong: Like any other commercial city, the night life in Hong Kong is booming, and to enjoy it,there is no better place to head to than Lang Kwai Fong. Overflowing with clubs,lounges,pubs and bars,all plush with different tunes bursting through a unique ambience/setting. Lang Kwai Fong has a night-life experience for everyone.

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MUST TASTE:

1) Yum Cha ( Afternoon Tea) at Lei Garden:  Yum Cha is a Chinese tradition, where the family gets together for Dim-Sims and tea in the afternoon, usually on a weekend. Our choice of of restaurant was Lei Garden, located at the Elements Mall (Kowloon),with a mind-boggling variety of authentic dim-sums and other treats the Yum Cha experience at Lei Garden was a memorable one.

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2)Gai Mei Bao (Cocktail Bun) at Maxim’s : The Chinese are very popular for their breads both sweet and savoury, and one that stole my heart and had me gorging on it at least twice  a day was the famous “Gai Mei Bao” , a soft delicious bread with a sweet buttery coconut concoction in the centre, had me wanting it for breakfast and evening tea non-stop for 10 days. Of course if sweet isn’t your thing there are several other options at this amazing bakery, and there is a Maxim’s branch within your reach at any populated area in Hong Kong. Must Try !

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LET DOWN:

1) Citygate Outlet Mall: By now you probably know that one of the pleasures of my travels are my shopping expeditions, and locating outlet malls in a nation known for their love of brands was icing on the cake.  So unfortunately, for me I was massively let down by the Citygate Outlet Mall which is a good couple of hours away from Kowloon (where I was staying). Although the mall is well built and spacious, it lacks most high – end designers ( Which is the whole point of an outlet mall) and even the selected choice of stores, won’t leave you with that smug satisfactory feeling of having saved a fortune, or landed an amazing deal. This one was a miss for me.

MISSED BUT MUST SEE:

Due to the lack of time and probably just having a lazy/good time. We missed going to two places that I have been assured are worth your time and money.

Disneyland – Hong Kong: This is a no-brainer for a fun filled day at a theme park, however, having visited Orlando (2012) , Disneyland was not my to-visit list for the Hong Kong trip.

Tian Tan Buddha:  This enormous beautiful statue of the Big Buddha has thousands of tourists visiting each year. One of the largest structures of the Big Buddha ever built in bronze, and can actually be seen from miles away ! Some say even from Macau on a clear day !

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