Jetsettin Daisy: June 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Staycation Photos

So here are the photos from my "Vegas Vaca". Yesterday I met up with Nykky and Renee for the last time this trip (sniffle) and we hit up one of my former faves, Sugar Factory. Sugar Factory used to be pretty awesome and when I felt like geeking out, it was a great place to people watch and have a good meal. Unfortunately, since management and whatnot have moved around, I've noticed the menu has changed, the actual restaurant has changed, and the food isn't nearly as good as before. Still, it's a fun place to go with a group and on a good night, you get a nice view of the Bellagio fountain show. It's also open 24 hours so if a regular cafe isn't your style, try Sugar Factory. Not as good as it used to be, but still better than a lot of places.
 
Anyway, here are the photos from the weekend.
 
This is the Mr. Lucky's $7.77 special. Quite a bit of food!
 
Music memorabilia is everywhere at Hard Rock; such as the famous school girl costume from Baby One More Time...
 
The alcohol wall at ABC Store... Seriously, pregame before you pay $15 a piece at the clubs...
 
The less than $1 fried Oreos at Mermaids...
 
Fremont Street Experience...
 
Chandelier Bar at Cosmopolitan... It's one giant chandelier...
 
Pizza at the secret pizza place...
 
Creme brulee crepe at Sugar Factory...
 
The face is for the heat... Yesterday was the hottest day we've had all year...
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Las Vegas Staycation

So I am right in the middle of my friends Vegas trip and am at work. I thought I would post on the last couple of days and wrap the weekend posts with photos later. Besides, I have so much to say about my hometown, it's gonna take more than one post.

Vegas as a tourist is fun. Vegas as a local... Not so much. This weekend I experienced Vegas as a tourist and it was pretty cool (not literally since it was the hottest weekend so far).

A few friends were visiting from Canada and Australia. My Canadian friends have all been here at least twice but my new Australian friend was a Vegas virgin. That said, my old friends had done a few of the Vegas checklist items but not all so I decided to put together a quirky mini list for them. These are some of the random things in town that are fairly "Vegas" (and one that is uniquely) and fun. They are also either cheap or free.

Most people think of super cheap casino specials and buffets when they think of Vegas food. All of the culture you find in Vegas is mostly going to be in the food. We have some of the best restaurants in the country here. Most celebrity chefs have at least one outlet here and there is a huge variety. Of course, msot of it is expensive, but there are some great deals to be had too.

  • Mr. Lucky's at Hard Rock- The 24 hour cafe at Hard Rock Casino. I've spent many late nights here eating steak and eggs after clubbing. No it's not gourmet but they do have an awesome $7.77 surf and turf special for player's club members who order a beverage (sign up, it's free and there's usually a new member incentive). It comes with a salad, steak, grilled shrimp, and mashed potatoes. Most casino cafe meals are not cheap, they count on you being drunk and hungry at 2AM. If you're looking for a $1 shrimp cocktail or something of that type, you'll have to go to Fremont Street. The Mr. Lucky's special is one of the best quality casino deals that you'll find, especially this close to the Strip. While you're here, wander around. Some of the coolest displays you can find in town are here and they're around the casino so it's free. Always fun especially if you're part of the MTV generation.
  • Vegas sign- Since they added the parking lot, this is just insanely easy. There is almost always a photographer on hand (please tip them) and the pictures are practically guaranteed to be awesome.
  • Fremont Street Experience- So much nicer now than 10 years ago. Hint- If you don't want locals to sneer at you, never refer to the Strip as "downtown". Fremont Street is our downtown and that is fairly literal since our city hall is in the vicinity. The bars here are more loungey than clubby and the restaurants are smaller but these are the places that locals are more likely the frequent when venturing to tourist areas. You'll notice random neon signs along the street along with plaques that have info on them. Consider it a free mini tour and go to this site.
  • Mermaid's for fried Oreos and Twinkies- Mermaid's is a tiny casino. It's got beads and the drink girls are pretty fast (partly because the place is so small). The best thing here? The Nathan's in the back has deepfried goodness for about $99 (for one Twinkie or three Oreos). It gets super busy after 10PM and they frequently sell out on weekends but the line is long because it's good and cheap.
  • Cosmopolitan's secret pizza place- Cosmo has a pizza place. It's not listed anywhere really on the site which makes it "secret". It doesn't really have a name but ask anyone and they'll tell you where to find it. Cosmo has some of the best and most expensive restaurants on the Strip and also one of the cheapest. The pizza here is way better than most of the other pizza places on the Strip. You may be able to find it just based on the line sticking out of a random hallway.
  • Bellagio fountain and conservatory- The Bellagio fountain is probably one of the only Vegas icons that most locals still appreciate. The Bellagio actually has a lot of pretty cool stuff to look at that are free so if you only make it to a few casinos on the Strip, Bellagio should be at the top of your list.
And now for some Vegas rules-

  • If you are going to a club and you are a GIRL, you likely can get in without paying. There are promoters all over the Strip on the weekend but nightclub website and Jack Colton's site for contacts for the guestlists. Don't be shy about it. Promoters make their money by getting people into the club, especially girls. Sometimes they get fired for not getting people in; so take advantage of them and have them get you in. Talk to them before even considering buying "tickets". Those "tickets" are pretty much just your name getting added to a guestlist. The wristbands you can get on the Strip for free sometimes come in handy a bit more only if they're offering some kind of open bar or free drink special with it. And remember, just because you got one, doesn't mean they will always let you in but it definitely helps. Guys... You're almost always going to have to pay. Just deal with it. There are exceptions and ratios and a lot of weird math but count on paying for it and be pleasantly surprised if you get lucky and don't have to pay.
  • On another related note, girls, if you are traveling in a large group of girls, SERIOUSLY talk to the promoters. A bunch of places in town do massive comps for girls. I'm talking free drinks, free dinner, free daybeds, free booths, etc. Ask around. Bring cash for tip.
  • There are really great hotel deals off the Strip. Orleans, Gold Coast, and the Palms have shuttle service and nice rooms. I got my room on Thursday for $34 at Gold Coast. I can spend the money I saved on other things now!!! My fave sites to check for cheap rooms in Vegas are I4Vegas and Travelworm. When I worked in the casinos, for some reason, these sites had great prices. Expedia is my personal fave for any deals too. Before booking on these sites, call the hotel of your choice to see if they will match rates. Usually, they will.
  • If you're bringing a car, USE IT. Casinos on the Strip all have free parking and valet (please remember to tip). Avoid taxis. Our city streets are a grid, there are about 10 different ways to get places and it's pretty easy to turn around and avoid getting lost. That also means there are 10 different ways for the cab drivers to take you and if they can, they might. Avoid a $20 taxi ride for one mile if you can (and a super long line). If you're planning to explore, rent.
  • This sounds stupid but it has to be said. There are a number of bridges above the Strip at major intersections. These intersections have walls, no sidewalks, and no crosswalks. Please use the bridges and don't get hit by a car. That simple.
  • Casinos with malls- go to guest services and inquire about coupon books. Planet Hollywood has a great one. I get one every single time I'm there. If you're trying to save money, they come in handy. That said, look online for coupons as well. We have a lot. Groupon has some great deals all the time.
  • Sign up for player's club cards before you gamble. New members usually get some kind of cool deal or free play or something. And Caesar's restaurants typically have special pricing for club members (even at Gordon Ramsay).
  • If you are a drinker, go to the ABC store when you arrive, purchase alcohol, pregame in your room. Vegas drinks are expensive. If you want a cheap drink, though, they can be found. Just sit down at a slot machine and put in a little cash. Drink girls come by and offer free drinks to players (just tip).
  • If you're going to get a permanent souvenir, don't go to some creepy small place. There are some amazing off-Strip local shops that are really reasonable; however, for a really awesome piece that will look amazing forever, go to Club Tattoo at Planet Hollywood and ask for Ben.
I can't think of anything else right now partly because I am exhausted from the heat... More to come soon...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Weekend!!!

Finally my Friday!!!!! This weekend should be fun. I have a few friends visiting from Vancouver (who I will be visiting in their hometown next month) and since I don't live super close to the Strip, I decided to get a cheap hotel room at the Gold Coast for the evening ($33 after tax). My friends get here early tomorrow and will be taking a helicopter tour in the afternoon. While they are gone, I will be seeing a movie and having lunch with a local friend and chilling on the Strip like a tourist. I rarely have staycations anyway which is kind of a bummer because Vegas is a great place to have one! I go to the Strip more than most locals but I rarely enjoy it from a tourist point of view so this should be a lot of fun. I have no idea what we will be doing most of the time but I'm guessing there will be Fremont Street involved and possibly a pool, so I'm packing a few outfits and a swimsuit. I want to be prepared! Hope whoever is reading this is having a great week!!!! I'll be posting pics from my weekend "getaway" soon!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NY NY 2010

To continue our trip up the East Coast, my mother and I caught a super early flight to NYC. In a fabulous turn of events, we had invited my father to join us fully expecting him to say no (we figured he'd only join if he was there on business). Oddly enough, he jumped at the chance and even phoned me to ask what kind of attire he needed for afternoon tea. He met up with us at the Atlanta airport and a few short hours later, we were in New York. Unfortunately, it was only for 24 hours before my mother and I caught our cruise ship.
(Please excuse the crappy quality of some of these Blackberry pics)
We had a few things planned; we have done most of the touristy things at some point in the past anyhow. Fashion Week had just ended but room rates all over town were a bit crazy so we splurged and booked a room at The Empire (I was a big Gossip Girl fan at the time). After an early check-in, we headed over to the Russian Tea Room for afternoon tea. My dad (silly man) was not used to me paying for things so this seemed to make him uncomfortable. The tea was great but considering my tea experiences in London, it was nothing to brag too much about.
After tea, we wandered Central Park. My dad would come here often in his downtime on business trips and apparently a Madonna movie was filming. The weather was gorgeous and sunny, so we walked for a couple hours and chilled by the Bethesda Fountain a bit too.

By now we had worked up an appetite again, so my dad took us to Grand Central Station to see the market and grab dinner at Michael Jordan's. Great steak and nice view of the iconic station.
The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at the hotel restaurant (included with our room) and took a cab to The Intrepid. My dad and I love ships and planes so this was a lot of fun for us. We had already requested a late check-out at the hotel so we managed to sneak in a quick Circle Line Cruise before checking out. Overall, I think we hit a lot of stops for such a short visit!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer List

Ok, so everyone has a summer checklist and damnit, I'm gonna make one too. I had previously posted a list of things I wanted to do by 2015, and now here is what I would like to accomplish by October:
  1. Go to an aquarium. I love aquariums. I love staring at fish. I might bite the bullet and just take my little buddy Dustin to the Shark Reef if I can't wait until Tampa.
  2. See a lighthouse. Note that I didn't say climb a lighthouse. Those hurt. Maybe if it's short...
  3. Have a spa day... If I can do it cheap enough...
  4. Do a mini cruise on a lake or a river or something... Being in the desert makes me really want to be near some water right now...
  5. Try kayaking. I've never done it before and Groupon always has deals...
  6. See more seals. I love seals.
  7. Sailing, sailing, sailing. I booked my flight so if I don't piss him off much before then, Marc can take me in the new boat... I better bring a flotation device in case I piss him off WHILE sailing...
  8. Visit a theme park. Doesn't have to be a big one or a fancy one.
  9. Have some shave ice.
  10. Go for a picnic.
  11. Go hiking in the mountains.
  12. Roast s'mores on a firepit.
I will probably think of more later...

Atlanta 2010

 
I moved to Vegas in 2003 and kept meaning to go home and visit but just never had the time. In 2010, my mom and I did a big East Coast trip with our first stop in Atlanta. It was my first time home since the move and we were only there for about 48 hours. I guess this post is basically my tourist trip to my hometown and the places I would highly suggest visiting!

We took the redeye and arrived bright and early at about 6AM. Eek. We cabbed it straight to our hotel, Stonehurst Place (I'd found a great deal on Jetsetter) in Midtown. From here we walked to the Marta station which was just down the street and went to Buckhead for our Enterprise reservation.

Being the massive geek that I am, I wanted to drive out to Convington for the afternoon to see where they film The Vampire Diaries. We figured a rental car was the best bet. The drive was about an hour or so. We got to see the town square, Elena's house, Mystic Grill, and a few other places. A large truck was unloading huge lights near one of the locations so it's safe to assume they were getting ready to film again soon. Cute little town!




Once we returned the car and went back to the hotel, we changed and headed over to the Margaret Mitchell House. We had never been there which I always thought was a bit strange given my name. The house is small but the museum shop was all kinds of adorable.





We grabbed dinner at our favorite Cajun place before heading back to the hotel. One of my best childhood friends met up with me that evening for a quick drink and some catching up. The next day, my mom and I hit up the World of Coca Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. If you're going to both, get the Pemberton Place Pass since it saves you a little $$$.





I had never been to the new World of Coca Cola and while it was definitely cool, I really miss the old building by Underground Atlanta (and was also bummed that I didn't get to go to Underground). The tasting room is still just as fun, the movie was interesting, and the memorabilia is still the same; however, there's just something more nostalgic and less commercial about the old building. The Georgia Aquarium was all kinds of awesome! It's quite large and the layout is pretty neat. It is literally right across from World of Coca Cola.

The way downtown Atlanta is set up now is fairly convenient. Most of the tourist attractions are clustered together making it easy to get around. The Marta station is fairly close by too (it's really not as creepy as people make it sound). We made a stop at Centennial Park and visited the bricks we had purchased back during the 1996 Olympic games. The park was a lot bigger than I remembered and so pretty.




After a short stop back at the hotel, we walked over to Virginia Highland. The walk was long but so awesome. Atlanta has a lot of history so getting to walk past old parks (especially the beautiful Piedmont Park) and houses was really scenic in itself. Virginia Highland has a ton of cool restaurants and shops so if you're looking for a fun place to shop that isn't a mall, check it out.

Later that night I visited with another childhood friend close to the hotel. My mom and I had visited just about everything we wanted to see in our hometown so it was time to head off to NYC for 24 hours...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy Sunday!

For most people, Sundays consist of church, sleeping in, brunch, or a combination of the three. For me, it typically means sitting in the office alone and spending the whole day looking at travel blogs while eating yogurt and granola out of a large mug.

Today I am budgeting travel and looking at packing list ideas. I always find the "carry-on bag essentials" lists fascinating. It's probably because I hate flying (weird right?) and anything that can make it less miserable is worth the money. Since I have at least another half dozen flights this summer (mostly short ones), I'm taking this seriously.

Anyhow, here are my musings on this and other subjects (mostly just a jumble of random thoughts)...
  • Personally, I love making sure I have AT LEAST a super moisturizer (ooooh like Chanel), hand sanitizer, and some argan oil for the hair. Funny story that doesn't involve these items on an airplane: I was going clubbing with my dear friend Ramon. I hopped into his car and we drove off. About five minutes later I realized (verbally of course, because I have no shame and this was not a date) that while I had shaved my legs, I had not moisturized them and was now scaly (which would never have happened if it had been a date). "Don't look at my legs, Ramon." Ten minutes later I took out my bottle of strawberry handsanitizer and ran a bit through my hair. The scent of strawberries lightly wafted through the air (or heavily drenched it, I'm not really sure which). He asked what I was doing. I had forgotten perfume as well because well, it wasn't a date. And randomly a third time somewhere else (not involving poor traumatized Ramon), I had a cheek stain that left war paint streaks on my face. The next time, I mixed it with my beloved Chanel and voila, no paint. In conclusion, my moisturizer dilutes a stain with too much pigment so that you can vary the levels of color; the argan oil doubles great as a moisturizing sheen and cuticle oil, and the hand sanitizer (if used sparingly) helps get that stale airplane smell out of your nose (or if just dabbed under your nose, helps you and only you not smell whatever just went into that vomit bag an aisle over). Not sure why I wrote this essay style. Oh well.
  • I am so super excited to be spending part of my summer on a sailboat!!! I get to visit my sweetie this summer enroute to my cousin's wedding in Tampa and will be sunning myself on a sailboat. Before you think he's a rich schmuck with a fancy boat, I probably should have prefaced it with a renovated boat from the 70s and he lives on it. I'm just super glad he upgraded to one with a bathroom because I hate communal bathrooms very much. I am hoping that this one has a mirror since the last time I visited him he lived in an apartment where the mirror had been ripped out. Every single day, I had to wonder if I looked like a muppet since I could not see myself (he, on the other hand, always looked handsome and adorable despite the lack of a mirror). It would help if he wasn't with the one girl I know who always forgets to bring a mirror and a hairbrush...
  • This summer I am obsessed with Kimpton and Joie de Vivre hotels. Fire pits and shuttle service make any stay just that much better.
  • I have been wanting to go see Luke Bryan this summer for months. I researched and researched all his tour dates in the SW and westcoast and finally settled on one with the cheapest pit tickets. I am unbelievably excited. Doing it as cheap as I can too, so this should be interesting... My dad was baffled at the $350 I'm shelling out for the concert and plane tickets but this is coming from a man who goes to Antarctica for the penguins... Luke Bryan is my penguin!!!!
  • I was at Target the other day and saw the Ahava spa towelettes... They sound heavenly for after arriving at a roadtrip destination (especially in the summer). Shall try them out.
  • I have a weird checklist for my travels, it almost always involves:
    • A cute breakfast/brunch/lunch joint
    • A local gem of some sort
    • Afternoon tea/cupcakes/macarons
    • A trendy dinner restaurant
  • I have decided to avoid (hahaha) buying clothes when I go on trips and to concentrate on accessories... unless I don't have that store at home or probably could never find that item...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fish problems...

So I am helping fish sit a Beta fish named Sunny. He is extremely depressed and lethargic. Separation anxiety? I managed to perk him up by "swimming" a Swedish fish candy outside his bowl... Poor thing doesn't know I plan to eat his new friend... Guess I better do it when he isn't looking... Anyone know how else to cheer up a fish???


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer!!!

I should not be allowed into Target or Walmart on my lunch breaks. I usually end up coming out with about $35 worth of random things. All useful; however, still random. This post is also fairly random.
  • I am so super glad that Banana Boat started making their mini spray sunblocks for $1.99 at Target. I bought the awesome Super Good travel size a couple months ago and though I love the smell and texture of it, $13 for a travel size is kind of rough when you try to reapply often. The Banana Boat one smells decently refreshing (not quite as good) and is not greasy either and for $1.99, I stocked up. 
  • I just saw energy jelly beans at Walmart yesterday. I got a pack for my next roadtrip... Let's see if these really work...
  • I'm going to start filling contact lens cases with facial masks and night cream for trips. I usually can't afford a real spa getaway, but at least when I'm chilling in the room (cuz I usually retire kind of early), I can do a mask and watch some TV which I usually wouldn't bother spending the time on back home. Maybe I'll fill the other side with cooling leg gel instead of night cream...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hong Kong 2011

 
In 2011, my mom and I made a trip out to Hong Kong, my mother’s hometown. We were originally planning to take my grandfather so that he could visit the graves of his parents, but when he backed out of the trip, we decided to go anyway since it was all planned. We had gotten a great deal on the flight and I had already gotten my time off approved.
 
I absolutely loathe flying, especially when it’s more than five hours. The flight to Hong Kong is sixteen hours. I do, however, love their airport. My mom and I always have an arrival tradition of picking up custard tarts and chicken pies at the Maxim bakery at the airport before catching the Airport Express train to the Mong Kok area and taking a taxi to our favorite hotel, Langham Place.
 
We always take a super early flight in so that we have the whole day ahead of us and can go to bed at a normal evening hour instead of being wired in the evening. We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and took the MTR (conveniently located downstairs in the mall) to Wan Chai. We grabbed a quick snack, some flowers for the grave, and wandered the market for a little bit before catching making our way over to the cemetery.
 
 
 
I had heard horror stories about this place. Not the creepy kind, more the functional kind. A couple decades ago, there were no guardrails, the stairs were extra slippery, and there were over a hundred stairs. My great grandparents are somewhere towards the middle, so it’s difficult either way. My mother had not been here in years and I had never been at all. We had marked the location and had an old photo to go by, but that was it. It took us about 20 minutes of stairs to get there but we finally found it. The welcome center also provided some pretty cool views of Hong Kong that I've seen. Ignore the fact that this is a gigantic cemetery.
 
After the trip to the cemetery, we had a quick dim sum lunch and then wandered back to the hotel. The next day, we hit up Hong Kong Disneyland. It is the smallest Disney park and while not exactly notable to a lot of tourists, I think it’s pretty adorable. Everything is in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. We grabbed a super awesome dim sum lunch at the Crystal Lotus inside the Disneyland Hotel. We reserved in advance and when you see the photos, you will understand why.
 






 
 
The food was awesome and after our lunch, we hit the park. It had expanded since I had been the first time. They had added a Toy Story themed section and looking back, I wish I had gotten Slinky Dog earmuffs. We watched the Christmas parade and enjoyed the fake snow. For dinner we went to Plaza Inn. It was okay but not the awesomeness we have come to expect from Maxim restaurants.
 
I had never seen a panda. I told my mother this was kind of wrong since we’re Chinese. So my mom took me to Ocean Park. We spent the afternoon admiring the Great Pandas and the Red Pandas (my personal favorite). They have some of the coolest panda exhibits I've ever seen. We even hit up the Panda CafĂ© for bean buns shaped like pandas. I will be back on my next trip to Hong Kong since we only checked out the lower half of the park.
 




 
The rest of the trip is a huge blur of food and shopping in the street markets. We had lunch at the famous Maxim City Hall which was awesome, but some of my favorite meals were in the little cafes we found off the main road (the kind where you can get a full meal for two people for about $5). I also overdid it more than a little when it came to my Stitch shopping… See the last photo…
 
Aji Ichiban, Japanese candy that's everywhere...

Outside the hotel...

Early morning wet market...

Mong Kok photos...

The adorable Charlie Brown Cafe in TST...

Tiffany & Co Christmas display...

The awesome little gelato place in the hotel mall...

Dim sum at Maxim City Hall...

The Tiffany & Co carousel...

A tea place in Mong Kok with a great mango tapioca drink... Lined
with local school kids, so you know it's good...

Hello Kitty display at the hotel mall...

More Charlie Brown Cafe...

That $5 breakfast I was raving about... 

 I think this was dim sum at the Western Market...

Hot custard from a dairy place.
 
 
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