Deep Thoughts on an Overnight Train from Yangon to Bagan, Myanmar

Seventeen hours on a train is a very long time.  So is 20.  When I took the 24 hour trip to Lhasa a few years ago, I documented what I did during that ride.  What I did not document though, was the amount of thoughts that went through my head.  Ever wonder what goes through someone’s head when they are on public transport for an insane amount of hours?  Well I can tell you.

The overnight train from Yangon to Bagan is supposed to be 17 hours, it ended up being 20 hours.

I knew I had to do this trip before I even finished reading this post that introduced it to me.  Oh man.  This looks FANTASTIC.  The whole idea of your commute being this insane experience you would never forget.  The second I finished reading that post, I had to email the author to tell her about the irony of stumbling across it on the same day I read a post on a Las Vegas message board where someone had cancelled a reservation for a Strip hotel because she saw photos online where you could see the toilet when you opened the bathroom door.  It was right out there and not tucked behind a wall.  The horror!

I booked a ticket going from Yangon to Bagan.  I knew that the sleeper car is a separate car that is only attached if they sell tickets for it.  I ran the risk of being trapped in here with other people.  It is not internally connected to the other cars on the train.  You cannot walk through to get to anywhere.  How many beds had to sell to attach the car?  The booking agent I used stated on their website that if you wanted to guarantee a sleeper car would be attached, you could book all four beds for yourself.  I am not sure why I did not do this.  But I didn’t.  And then spent time wondering who would be in the car with me.  I was hoping to not spend the entire 17 hours being paid attention to for being a Westerner.

I arrived at the train station and took the obligatory photo of the “Warmly Welcome & Take Care of Tourists” sign.

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The Yangon train station is beautiful.

I got my handwritten train ticket fixed as my passport number was wrong on it.

I waited outside until it was time to board.  I got approached a few times by local strangers who let me know what track I had to go to.  Warmly take care of tourists indeed.

Then I got to the train. I had held out hopes that I would have the entire car to myself, even though I knew that was not likely.  And I boarded.  And there they were.  A couple, from Florida.  Who would not be gawking me during the entire ride.   Yes, I would have preferred to be alone and was slightly disappointed at the sight of people.  But as it turned out, they ended up improving my trip with their existence.  Which coming from me, is a huge deal.

I never did find out the female half of the couple’s name.  I wish I had.  I also wish we had stayed in touch.  She was so funny and so much like me in terms of travel.   The whole “enjoy yourself without giving a fuck about anything” type of person.  Being able to travel to places that most people would never see, which requires a lot of research, while using dry shampoo the entire time because she could not remember if it was Jordan or Myanmar where women with wet hair were considered easy.  Labeling me “Stephanie” after her best friend, after I saw a bunch of little boys flashing their penises at me as we pulled into a station.  Stephanie as it seems, has a knack for seeing penises when they travel.  I loved how she used these situations as hysterical anecdotes, rather than reasons to stay away.  Just like me.

For the duration of this post, I am going to call her “Bestie” as I wish she were mine.  The male half of the couple, I believe was named Bryce.  I could be wrong about that.

The three of us had all hoped the fourth bunk would be empty and we got our wish.  A train worker came in and maybe we ordered food, maybe we didn’t.  We honestly did not understand what was going on.  And all three of us did not care because no matter what happened, we were so excited to be on a train trip of a lifetime.

They asked me how I came to be here.  I told them about the post I had read about it that meant I just had to do this.  They had decided to go after seeing Anthony Bourdain take this train ride.  At that point in time, I had not seen that episode.  I have since.  It is a bit misleading as he spends time in the main car as well as the sleeper car.

Our car had four seats, which folded out into bottom bunks and then two top bunks.  And then there was the the toilet.

There was a light in the bathroom ceiling that was dripping water.  Or something wet anyway.

The train door kept opening and slamming back and forth.  The train windows opened completely, without screens.  So you were alive, breathing in the real life that is Myanmar.

As we began pulling out of the train station, I got so excited to be here, to be spending hours looking out a window at beautiful scenery.

Every stop we made, people would approach us trying to sell us stuff.  At one stop, a young kid tried handing us something green.  Me and Bestie gasped in horror as Bryce took it and put it in his mouth.  “What is that?” “I don’t know, it tastes like an apple but it isn’t an apple.”

Every train station had people waiting to sell you stuff.  It wasn’t even aggressive.  It was kind of nice, especially since we were trapped in our car and couldn’t purchase anything on board if need be.

We discovered shortly into the trip that Bryce and I were smokers.   This was a delightful surprise. We could both smoke while hanging out the window.

At some point, at some stop, I could never tell you which stop since we didn’t have any announcements, and even if we did, I probably wouldn’t recognize the name of any stop, the train worker came and delivered us food through the open window.  We didn’t get utensils.  Bestie offered to share with me the fork she packed from home.  You know, because we are besties now.

The sun starting to set outside my window:

One of my favorite parts of this ride is the FREEEEEEEEEEEDOM feeling I had.  We were all discussing what we had read about travel to Myanmar vs. what our actual experience was.  One huge misconception is that you still need to carry brand new, pristine, super perfect $100 bills with you.  Nope, ATM’s are common now.  We all had a stash of the world’s most perfect condition $100 bills with us just in case.

I get asked so often about safety when traveling.  Safety is not the same as comfort.  You are comfortable in your home setting.  But in your home town, would you be safe admitting to complete strangers that you have multiple crisp $100 bills on you?  In a train car that doesn’t connect to any other car?  Where the stops are hours and hours apart?  Where in theory, two of us could murder the third, throw the body out of the window, and no one would ever know? But here, here you are safe.

The train chugged on through the night.  It was just as bumpy as we expected.  We were being tossed around and it was hysterical.  For the bigger bumps, the toilet seat would slam, the bathroom door would open, as would the train door.  BANG. BANG. BANG.  Until Bryce would go and shut it every time.

It just so happened that the supermoon was tonight.  Here we are on this gorgeous train ride, trip of a lifetime, beautiful air flowing into our car, at peak hoodie-weather temperature, and a supermoon outside the window.

Once the darkness kicked in, I put my headphones on.  Pearl Jam’s “Sirens” on repeat.  I think most of my friends would tell you I love Pearl Jam.  But what I really love is the 1992 version of Eddie Vedder.  I love closing my eyes with this song on repeat and letting his voice calm me.   As the train moves on, I go into deep thought mode. No block of Eddie Vedder’s voice would be complete without being paired with memories from 1992.  And during this round, it hits me hard.

I begin like normal.  Eddie Vedder, Seattle.  The time I had an opportunity to move to Seattle and did not take it.  The guy I did not move with.  Meeting that guy.  On a train, very unlike the one I am currently on.  It was Virginia and I.  We were coming home from a hardcore show, engrossed in our own little world, before we noticed the two guys in the seat across the aisle from us were playing the alphabet game.  That’s OUR game.  We played it countless times as we spent the bulk of our lives traveling hours to hardcore shows.

One of us commented about this to one of them, and they told us that they thought it was weird that we had been quoting Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure since they had watched that before leaving for the show.  Because of course, one of them was at the same show we had been at.

We talk for the rest of the ride.  Both Virginia and I silently aware that they are perfect for us.  One with long hair for me, one with a shaved head for her.

When we reach the end of the line, we say goodbye without ever exchanging even names.  I am sure Bestie would not be surprised had I told her this story.

Virginia and I talked about these two for awhile after, making fun of ourselves for being so socially awkward, that here we are, perfect guys.  And here we are, didn’t even ask their names.

A couple of months later, we had the opportunity to do it all over again.  This time they had a plan.   They got us a ride home from the train station.  Four 20-somethings living on Long Island, not a driver’s license to be had.  Virginia got dropped off first.  As soon as she was out of the car, my guy asked me if she was single.  Her guy asked me for my phone number.   Sigh.

We worked it out and spent some time in each others’ lives.  I am now in 2017, thinking back to that night we met and becoming completely fixated on how on that one night on a train back in 1992, four people crossed paths and had the same thoughts as the others.  We all had the same lives as each other.  And for a brief moment in time, we shared it with each other.

Now I am in 2017, I am sitting here on a train in the middle of Myanmar, without any person on Earth who could win a million dollars by pinpointing my exact location.  Any one of us could have been here.  We all left off on that Spring night in 1992 exactly the same.  But I am the one who made it here.

And as I am laying in a bed on a train in the middle of nowhere, with the cool, fresh air hitting my face, I am over aware that Virginia died ten months ago.

I don’t talk too much about Virginia.  Although we were side by side approximately 3000 hours a year, those years were forever ago.  This was entirely my fault.  This is what is going through my head as I lay in bed on a bumpy train going through Myanmar.  I am self analyzing myself in regards to my relationship with someone who will never get to see what I am seeing.  I regret that my lack of maturity caused the end of our friendship.  That instead of recognizing a pure heart, I mistook her kindness for weakness.  All those years listening to Anthrax on my headphones, mentally finger pointing at “I’M NOT AFRAID, NOTHING TOUCHES ME, I’M A WALKING RAZOR BLADE” and it never once occurred to me that I actually was afraid.  Of everything.

Years after our falling out, we became friendly again.  I cannot rightfully call us friends in the end, and that is on me.  It is because of me that I don’t talk about her.  We had so many mutual friends who were her actual friend.  I am not comfortable expressing my grief aloud as I have friends who actually stayed in her life when I chose to leave it.  Those are the people who’s grief I would be disrespecting as they mourn a friendship they never wanted to lose, whereas I walked away from it.

But here?  On a train in the middle of Nowhere, Myanmar?  With it bumps and bruises and creaks and doors slamming, I am allowed to have any thought I wish to.  I am allowed to think about my past.  To criticize myself.  To trace an imaginary path of what I would have done if I had been able to see the future. I am allowed to wonder why is it that every time Virginia first crosses my mind, the first memory is of us on the Long Island Railroad.   Her left foot is on the ground, her right leg it straight up on a wall.  Some random man asked her how she could sit like that.  She answered “I am bendy.”  Why is this the first thought that comes through my head every time her name is mentioned?   This is always instantly followed by years of memories.  But why is that always the first?

I am thrown out of my reverie by an extremely violent bump in the train.  I sit up and realize I am freezing.   One of my windows is stuck open.  Bryce sees me struggling and tries to close it for me.  He cannot get it closed either.  He offers me his sleeping bag, brand new, never used.  At first I refuse.  But he convinces me it is okay.  Him and Bestie are going to share hers.  I accept it. Because on this train, in the middle of Nowhere Myanmar, no one knows I am full of self loathing upon reflection of a failed friendship with someone who deserves to be alive more than I do.  No one here is aware I am undeserving of kindness from a stranger.

As the warmth hits me, I fall asleep. The next thing I know, it is morning.  The sun is rising.

The train worker delivers us breakfast through the open window.  This begins a story about eggs.  Bestie not only has chickens, she is a degenerate chicken raffle winner.  She keeps entering chicken raffles, she keeps winning chickens.

The entire world is out there doing their thing, as we are alone in this exact spot where only we know where we are.  And we have no idea where we are.  We all agreed that the next time we took this train, we would buy all four seats.  Not together.  Bestie and Bryce alone, and me all alone.  While we lucked out with having each other, I feel being completely alone in that train car would cause an even deeper round of self realization and I would have plenty of hours leftover to recover before having to face the world again.

This is what train stations look like in this area of the world.

I believe this is a house and a restaurant, because of the little plastic chairs.  Note the cows on the left side of the photo.

Hello stranger!

The train was supposed to reach Bagan at 9:30.  It did not.  But we did not know where we were how late we were running, or how we would know when we reached Bagan.  So we just sat ready to go, taking photos.

Once we reached Bagan, we were hurried off the train.   I got into a taxi, Bestie and Bryce got into a taxi and we never saw each other again.  There are so many lessons in life that I am incapable of learning.

When I got to my hotel, the first thing I did was shower.  The second thing I did was book a fancy hotel in Las Vegas for a trip the following month.  The third thing i did was go see a million temples. But that’s a story for another day.

For more information on the trains in Myanmar, click here.

Las Vegas Trip Report: Final Day of a Winning Trip!

All good things must come to an end, right?   I wake up at Fremont hotel for my final day of this wonderful trip.  Not only am I winning, I have a nice stack of pristine $100 bills, which will come in handy for my trip to Myanmar later this year.  Between yesterday’s insane run of luck, and my insane run of luck back in March, I pretty much have all my travel though 2018 paid for.  How cool is that!?

First stop is Dunkin Donuts, second stop is next door at Binions to play on my magical machine.  Which is taken by someone else.  DAMMIT.

I walk back to Fremont and play quarter Double Double Bonus video poker.  First win of the day.

quarter fours double double bonus video poker fremont casino las vegas

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I have $10 dining credit that came with my room offer.  I went to the Paradise Cafe for breakfast and got an omelet.  It was pretty decent.

I decide to go visit my four-play Buffalo slot machine at El Cortez.  She is so mad at me this morning.  Something about how dare I leave her alone for days.  She refuses to warm up and $100 later, I am out the door much more angry with her than she is with me.

On my walk back, I noticed the Hennessy’s “World’s Largest Pint Glass” of Guinness is gone and replaced with this:

henneseys root beer

There is also the new White Castle.
white castle sign fremont street las vegasI had back to Binions where I get this:
cleopatra keno 1040 win binions las vegas

And this.

binions quarter fives double double bonus video poker

AND THIS.

binions las vegas quarter threes double double bonus video poker

Heyaaaaaaa.

From here, it was time for a nap.  But a nap would not take.  I still forced myself to stay in my room for a little while.  I do not want to go nuts with my winnings and then have less winnings.  Ya know?

I went back out a few hours later.  I was still doing well.

fremont four of a kind twos

I played some Supertimes Pay at Fremont.  The only thing I won here was a pack of cigarettes left behind by someone else.

Then it was time to leave.  WAHHHHHHHHHH.

I took the WAX bus to the airport and finally figured out where the bus stop is.  It is outside door # 44 in the departures level.  OH.  No wonder I could never find it, I was always looking on the arrivals level.  Good to know.

My flight home featured a lightning show outside.  I have somehow never seen that before.  It was pretty damn cool.

For those of you wondering…no, I am not going back to Las Vegas in 2017.  I have a very big trip coming up in November / December.  I will be spending 22 hours in Guangzhou, China.  Then 27 days in Myanmar.  Finishing out with two days in Chiang Rai, Thailand.  That fills up the end of my year.

We will see what next year brings.  I have been getting offers from El Cortez, Four Queens and Binions for the first time in many years.  I also have comped nights at Mandalay Bay, presumably less from my degeneracy and more because of the shooting.  This is yet another real life reality that comes from a tragic event.

As always, thanks for reading!

Las Vegas Trip Report: Does the Winning Streak Continue?

When we last left off, I was having a fantastic day of gambling.  I had the the second biggest Las Vegas win of my lifetime.  My top Las Vegas win was back in March on a Buffalo slot machine.  If you missed that one, you can read about it here.

I had retired to my room to take a nap.  A few people have asked me how I could nap after having such a nice win.  The simple answer is that I was quite content with my win and probably fell asleep dreaming of what I wanted to spend my money on.  Hint:  It will be used to travel.

When I woke up, I went back out and headed for Fiesta Rancho.   I like trying new places.  I also like going to Station casinos because they have cheapo cigarettes.  I walked to the bus singing “I have two thousand dollarssssssssss, I have TWO thousand dollars, I have TWO THOUSAND dollars, I HAVE TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS” because it is true.  I did have TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS of winnings from today alone in my room safe.

Oh and let’s talk about the room safes at Fremont, shall we?  They are in the closet (that does not have a door, which is fine.)  But there is a step up into the closet.  You can kind of see the step in this photo.  But only because I am telling you about it so you are scanning to find it, and then are.  In real life, no one is warning  you.  So every time you go to look lovingly at your wins, you smash your toes into the step.

fremont hotel las vegas step in closet

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Fiesta Rancho was a huge bust.  I could not get anything going.  This was terrible.  I didn’t want to immediately leave so I kept playing and losing.  I hate when you make an effort to visit a place and spend less time in the place than you did on the bus going there.  But I had to leave because the casino was bleeding me dry.

As an added bonus, the shopping bag my cigarettes came in melted all over my arm when I was waiting for the bus back.  My hand and arms were covered in black ink.  YAY.

I went to Binions and had a Motherlode $10 dining voucher to use.  For the first time ever, I had really bad service here.  Normally meals here are perfection, which is why I have eaten here probably a hundred times in my life.  Literally.  So I will let this one slide.

After eating, I played around Binions.  I wanted to play MY machine that gave me my two big wins.  But there was always someone on it.

I decided to play in Fremont a bit.   I played Ultimate X Double Double Bonus video poker.  I hate when I put in a $100 bill but that’s what I did.  I was close to zero when I hit for $60 so I cashed that out and ran.  But not very far because I then found myself at my favorite Supertimes Pay video poker machines.  This is why this machine is my favorite.

fremont supertimes pay quad threes

I cashed this out and went to bed.  YAY.

I am going home tomorrow.  Although I had said this morning that if I won a thousand dollars I would stay an extra day, I decided to not do that once I had a thousand dollar win.

Dear Diary: There Was a Mass Shooting in Las Vegas

When I woke up Monday morning, I had a few texts asking me if I was okay.  I live in Brooklyn, New York.  I sat back down on my bed and took a minute or so to try and remember my dreams.  Did I hear a loud noise?  My window was open to let hoodie weather in.  No, I don’t think anything happened outside my bedroom window.  Did I sleep through my city getting attacked again?  Let’s ask Facebook.

The first post on my news feed was a photo, that I am sure everyone has seen by now.  Of a dark Mandalay Bay, with the text “Pray For Las Vegas” on it.

I feel like I dramatically clutched my chest and gasped aloud.  Las Vegas!?  What the hell happened to Las Vegas?  For this one, I went to Google.  There was a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Without any conscious thought, my first reaction was to feel relief.   Then I felt disgust with myself for being relieved that it was only a mass shooting.  Then I morphed to wondering what caused such monster behavior in my brain.  That’s when I realized that I have been awake for ten seconds and I thought my city blew up while I slept.

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This is the world we live in right now.  A world where people (hi, me) read tons of travel websites and see the now predictable reactions to terrorist attacks.  People wondering if they should cancel upcoming trips, and so on.  Because this is our lives now.  There are typical responses to mass murders because there are so many mass murders that we have developed typical responses.

There are also practical responses.   For example, there was me,  who still hadn’t fully gotten out of bed yet, now having to jump up and run through a mental check list of social media and scheduled blog posts.   I am currently in the middle of posting about my last trip to Las Vegas.  My next post was automatically scheduled to be live in just half an hour.  I need to hurry up NOW to log onto my laptop and stop the post from going live.  I need to delete all the prescheduled tweets about “YAY LAS VEGAS”  that are going out today.  I am rushing around like a maniac.  I am running late.  I haven’t even peed yet.  I have to finish this and leave for work.  I need to respond and tell everyone who asked that no,  I am not in Las Vegas.  Yes, I am alive. These are the tiniest real life actions that are happening because of this ginormous tragedy.

I have been asked if the Las Vegas attack will change anything about me going to Las Vegas.  Of course it won’t.  Why would it?  I live in a city that was attacked by terrorists.  Why would I now suddenly avoid a city that was attacked by a lone gunman who is now dead?

But you know what, underneath all that obviousness, lies a second truth.  And that truth is that it will slightly alter my next trip.

Back in March, I visited Mandalay Bay for the first time in many years.  Oddly enough, my bus ride was detoured because of a shooting on the Strip.   I played once I got there and lost too much money too fast.  Because of this, I cannot imagine I would have gone back there anytime soon. It never would have even crossed my mind to.

But I know that the next time I am in Las Vegas, I will think about this.  I will think about that visit, I will think about the shooting that rerouted my bus.  I will think about how 58 people died.  It doesn’t matter if my not visiting this casino has nothing to do with this latest incident. What matters it that my trip will be changed because even if for a few minutes, I will be conscious of a tragic happening.  I will be sad, I will feel horrible emotions.   That is how my trip will change because of a lone gunman.  That is how my life has changed since September 11.  When I wake up to a text asking me if I am okay and I am suddenly fearing that I will pull my drapes back and see that everything outside has been reduced to rubble.

So will I go to Las Vegas again?  Of course.  Will my trips be different?  YES.  I will now have to walk through a metal detector to enter Wynn.  I will crane my neck as we pass Mandalay Bay to see if the shooter’s windows have been replaced yet.  I will think about people dying.  I will feel grateful for being alive.  My losses will not seem so bad as they will not include my life.  My wins may be slightly less exciting when I go into deep thought, wondering if anyone who was murdered had the same elation without knowing they were about to be murdered.

Much like my post about September 11, I really do not know how to end this post.  So I will just stop typing.

 

Las Vegas Trip Report: the Morning Dreams Are Made Of

I am awake at 7:00 at Fremont Hotel in beautiful Downtown Las Vegas.   I love reading the notes I write in the morning.  So much whining about not wanting to go home tomorrow.  It turns out I priced flights home for the next day, so I could stay an extra day.   But they were $200 so nope.  I also wrote if I win $1000, I would buy a new flight home.   I do not remember writing this.  Let’s see how that goes, shall we?

I am out of my room at 8:00.   I count my steps and 41 of them later, I am at the Dunkin Donuts counter.

I decide to try a four game Buffalo slot machine here.  After almost losing $40, I got a $79 bonus.  It was less exciting and way more relieving.

I head over to Binions and right off the bat, look what I got on Cleopatra Keno!  That’s quarters, so $272.50.   Now we’re talking!
Cleopatra Keno 1090 credit win Binions Las Vegas

I walked from here to Main Street Station.  I have never played video poker at their Boar’s Head Bar.   This is a very well known video poker bar.  Guys, it reeks of vomit up there.  Like terribly.  Still I played and hit four of a kind sixes (no photo) and four of a kind tens (photo!)

quarter tens double double bonus video poker main street station

I have this brilliant idea to put the $75 TITO I got here, into a dollar video poker game.   Because I have never gotten a dollar royal and I am overdue.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I am still overdue because I hit nothing.

I have a $60 TITO left and I only ventured $40 cash so I am still up $20, despite having just lost $75.  Degenerate math in full effect ova heeeeeeeeeeyah.

I played some Ultimate X Double Double Bonus video poker in nickels.    YAY.

main street station ultimate x 5 x 4 main street station ultimate x queens x 4

I leave here and stop at my California Buffalo on my way back to Binions.  I am totally kicking ass today.

California Las Vegas Buffalo slot machine win 2400 x 4

Buffalo 15520 win

Oh wow!  You guys, I am doing it.  I am having the perfect Las Vegas morning.  This is the greatest thing ever!

I stop and play some Double Double Bonus video poker on quarters . The progressive Royal is $1670.  I want this so very badly but $100 did not get it, so I walk back to Binions.

I play around here a bit and before I know it, I have 40 points to get two swipes for the Motherlode promotion.  The first is for a free gift, the second is for $15 dining credit.  I take that to the coffee shop with me and get a cheese omelet.  The food here is always excellent, even more so when it is free.

It is 11:48 as I eat breakfast.  I am going to do a “cigarette after eating” stop and then go take a nap.

I sat down at a machine that was very nice to me back in March.  I play quarter Double Double Bonus video poker.  First hit:
binions quarter sevensThat glare bothers me.  I could not at all get a photo without it in it.  I  had the same problem back in March.

I keep playing.

And.

Get.

My.

Next.

Hit.

binions royal flush

Now I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking things like “Oh shit, Jennifer hit a Royal Flush!!!”  Well guys, I hate to tell you this, but you are wrong.

See.

I did not get a Royal Flush.

I got a Royal Flush AND ACES WITH A KICKER OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT LOOK AT IT.

quarter aces with kicker Binions Las Vegas

Holding one Ace.  Do you believe this shit?   I could not.  I just sat there gaping at it.

I cashed out for $1600 and went to my room to show my cute little stuffed dog what his mom did.  I also tried taking an obligatory cash spiral photo but i suck at it.  Not only cannot I not master a cool spiral, I only pulled out the Royal winnings and forgot to include the rest.  Oops?

make it rain las vegas

WOW.

And just like that, it is nap time!

Las Vegas Trip Report: Moving Downtown to Fremont Street

I am awake way too early this morning.  But I have to be.  Because it is my last (and only second) morning waking up on the Las Vegas Strip during this trip.   I have coupons from Lettuce Entertain You, which includes a flat out $20 off Mon Ami Gabi.  No purchase necessary.   There are also coupons for $10 off Stripburger, $15 off El Segundo, $25 off Joe’s and $30 off Eiffel Tower Restaurant.  You can sign up here for the 2018 coupons.

BUT before I eat, I must play.  Cromwell Ultimate X video poker:
Ultimate X double double bonus fours cromwell Ultimate X double double bonus video poker aces x 3 cromwell las vegas

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YAY!

The walk to Mon Ami Gabi:

Ballys Las Vegas Bellagio Las VegasParis Las VegasI ordered Eggs Benedict with coffee and the entire meal was covered by the coupon.  Sweet!

I resisted playing in Paris because I always lose here.  And I always follow that up by going degenerate.  And I have to check out of my hotel and move to Fremont.  This horrific move was brought to you by Dr. Desert Heat, in a collaboration with Nurse Stupid Lack of Bus Stops on The Strip.

I walked from Paris to get my stuff at Flamingo and then back to Paris to catch the bus.  Because stupid.  I was intending on taking the SDX.  So I let the first Deuce go.  As someone was boarding it, she threw her lit cigarette into the trash can.  Why.  So I yelled at her as she was continuing onto the bus.  She ignored me.  Because of course.

I am still waiting for the SDX.  Yep, waiting still. Some more waiting.  And waiting again.  And still.  And some more.  Where is the god damned bus.   I quit.  You win Las Vegas.  I get on the next Deuce bus that comes.  And take it to Fremont Hotel.  Where I check in, look in a mirror and see that I am completely burned from waiting for the bus.  With sunscreen on.  Oh great.

I am in room 616.  It is a bit smaller than my last room here, and that room was small.  I don’t have room photos because shitty blogger.  But I have some views!
fremont hotel las vegas room view binions fremont hotel las vegas room view

The air conditioning in here is not working properly.  The thermostat is also a liar.  The top right knob will not move any further to the left so maybe it is actually set on 40-something degrees (why is that even an option) but it will not go below what it claims is 70.  But it isn’t, because it is warm in here.

fremont hotel las vegas thermostat

I am sunburned and cranky so first up is a nap.   Guys, I slept for six hours.  I usually don’t even sleep that long at night in Vegas.

I was up and back out at 8:15.  I made a beeline to El Cortez to play my Buffalo slot machine again.  Look at her go!

el cortez buffalo 600 x 24

I left here up $260.  My next stop is The D.  This is my last chance here.  I have been trying for awhile now to get back on their radar.  But I cannot seem to get anything going and it is just straight loss.  Tonight I am trying a final $100 and then it is good bye forever to this place.

I lost that $100 so fast.  On Buffalo.  But because degenerate, I am going to go back and try it one MORE time in the future and play video poker.  I am just not going to do that on this trip because FUCK YOU The D and your stupid name.

I had $10 free play at Fremont that came with my offer.  I tried it in a Cleopatra Keno and lost it.   I grabbed a donut from Dunkin Donuts and called it a night.

Las Vegas Trip Report: El Cortez Birthday Free Play

When we last left off, I was taking a nap in my room at the Flamingo hotel, after a busy morning traipsing all around Tropicana.

When I woke up, it was time to go to the Mirage.  I have two purposes for this.  1.  To  use a MyVegas reward for a dinner buffet.  2.  To visit my Buffalo machine that gave me an $1881 win back in March.

There used to be a Deuce bus stop outside of Flamingo.   I have no idea why, but it is now gone.  That means there are no bus stops going North, between Paris and Harrahs.  That’s pretty ridiculous.  So I had to walk to Mirage in 100+ degree hate heat.

I passed through the Wildlife Habitat in the back of Flamingo.

Flamingo Las Vegas garden flamingo las vegas koi pond Continue reading

flamingo las vegas water fountain flamingo las vegas flamingo waterfall las vegas

I am not sure if everyone is aware, but they have commemorative bricks back there that you can purchase.  I have always wanted to buy one for my mother but have yet to get around to it.
You can order one here.

flamingo las vegas commemorative bricks

Finally at Mirage, my Buffalo machine is taken.  Oh come the fuck on.  Did every person on the planet read about my win and are now hogging up my machine?!?

I refuse to play any other machine so dinner first it is.  I have a MyVegas reward, making the buffet free.  The value of these rewards are honestly dependent upon the user.  I went in, quickly made my selections, ate and bolted.  I was probably in there maybe about fifteen minutes.  This buffet has free wine and beer so I am sure the majority of visitors spend a lot more time there.  But for me, I have a Buffalo machine that needs my immediate attention.

I am so happy to discover she is free!  I sit down and play her.  There is a woman next to me, who strikes up a conversation about Buffalo slot machines.  How sometimes they suck and sometimes they pay big.  I just agree with her.  I do not tell her about my magic machine that is right next to her.  I don’t need anymore competition.  I am down about $100, which is disgustingly degenerate, when I hit a bonus for $140.  WOW.  THANK YOU.  I LOVE YOU.

I cash out and run the fuck out of there before she starts screaming for me to come back.

My next destination is El Cortez.  I want them to love me again so I gave them a bunch of play in March.  I did not darken their doors in July because I was on such a massive losing streak.   But that play from March seemed to do the trick as I got a postcard for $50 free play in the month of my birthday.  No stay required.  I am in!

I want to play the $50 on Buffalo but Buffalo isn’t being nice to me.   So I play it on Ultimate X video poker.  And lose it so quick that I am legit shocked.  How did FIFTY DOLLARS go that fast?!

I decide to console myself with Buffalo.  I sit down at the four play machine that was nice to me back in March.  I got some really good hits.  This is the only one I have a photo of:

el cortez buffalo 300 x 54

I was here for a very long time.  Just like back in March.  I get up to $400 and decide to leave a winner.  And by “winner” I mean “degenerate” and I lost $100 of my winnings on my way out the door.  But that’s okay because I still have $300!

I take the Deuce bus back to Flamingo.  I want so badly to visit Cromwell and play Ultimate X.   But I had stopped at Walgreens and have a bunch of drinks with me that I need to drop off in my room.  I do not want to go to my room and come back out.  So I decide to play a little bit at Flamingo.  A little bit turns into a little bit more.  Then some more.  I am losing like crazy.  I need to get up.  If you are going to keep playing, fucking walk ten feet to Cromwell which is right next door.  You have had amazing luck there.  But I don’t want to carry my bags there.  So go to the room.  I don’t want to go to the room and come back.  Well then just go to the room period.  Stop shoving money in the machines.  You stupid asshole, you just lost three hundred dollars, on machines you don’t even want to play.  Because you would not walk ten feet to the casino next door.

Sigh.

But look what showed up soon after I got home.  Success!!

el cortez offers las vegas

Las Vegas Trip Report: A Trip to Wild Wild West

This morning I woke up at the Flamingo Hotel.  I went to bed a winner, I woke up a winner, I am a winner!

Daytime room view, cock blocked by the Donny and Marie wrap.

flamingo las vegas daytime room view

I noticed there is a tiny bit of the Donny and Marie hotel wrap missing. I tried taking photos through the clear spot.  It kind of worked if I stood on my tip toes and held the camera up as high as I could reach.

flamingo las vegas room view 1flamingo las vegas room view

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I really hope that ad brings in a fuckton of revenue for people flocking to see Donny and Marie.  Because if not, you are ruining people’s Strip views for no real reason.

I got dressed and went outside to catch the Deuce bus.  It is over 100 degrees outside.  I had to walk all the way through Margaritaville and then cross the street to catch the bus outside, closer to The Forum Shops than to Casears.  Then I stood there burning while waiting for the bus.  There is no shade so it is pure burning death.   I waited a very long time.  I actually considered saying fuck it and forfeiting my MyVegas rewards to avoid dying.  Finally the bus came and off to Excalibur it was!

excalibur mandalay bay las vegas new york new york las vegas

I played some Buffalo both before and after eating.  I could not get the bonus round to come up.  Just like last night at the Flamingo.  Is this how this trip is going to go?  I love Buffalo dammit.

After eating, I went to the fancy store outside the Excalibur buffet to check on my Pug wallet that I have been gawking over since December.  This time is a bit different though.  Because my wallet is actually broken AND I have winnings inside my broken wallet.  So look what I got!

pug wallet

I had planned to go to Wild Wild West.  This should have been as simple as crossing the pedestrian bridge between Excalibur and New York, New York, taking the elevator or escalator down to the street and waiting for the 201 bus.

Nope.

The staircase down to the sidewalk is blocked off.  The elevator is out of order.  I decide to walk into New York, New York (because I had no choice and) to go down the escalator at the MGM pedestrian bridge and walk around the corner from there.  Nope, pedestrian bridge is completely closed for repairs.  How the fuck do I get out of…oh hey, yes?  Buffalo?  I’m coming!

I am saved by a $100 bonus, after losing $100.  Whew, I am out of here.  I walk all the way to the back of the casino, intending to exit by the hotel entrance, to get to the bus.  This was not the best idea.  Not only is it still over a hundred degrees outside, but pedestrians are not intended to do this.  I had to climb over a wood frame that was probably put up to keep pedestrians from walking on Tropicana.  There is no sidewalk here.  So after the wood frame, I was basically walking in traffic for a little bit on Tropicana.  I didn’t get killed.  I get to the bus stop and some guy is walking over from the Strip.   How the fuck he got down there on that sidewalk, I am not sure.  Maybe he exited New York, New York on The Strip because his Buffalo machine wasn’t screaming his name?

900 years later, the bus comes.  I take it to Wild Wild West.  I am so fucking HATE right now.  The bus stop lets you off in the middle of In-N-Out and Wild Wild West.  In front of a trunk parking lot.  I am pretty damn sure that anyone taking the bus to this specific stop is either going to In-N-Out or Wild Wild West.  So why not have the bus stop at either or both?  Why does the Las Vegas bus system constantly have bus stops in front of NOTHING rather than in front of the things people are traveling to the bus stop for?  Boulder Highway is the worst at this.  Hey let’s put the bus stop half a mile from the crosswalk, in front of barren land, so people taking the bus now have to walk an extra half mile for NO FUCKING REASON.

Did I mention it was 105 degrees outside?  Because it was.

I enter Wild Wild West, sweating.  I sit down at a Buffalo machine.  I am not winning but some guy at the bank in front of my machine keeps hitting the bonus.  I give up.  I buy cigarettes, and head out.  Or I try to but then I see a different Buffalo machine, in a sea of about twenty Buffalo machines, and I just have to play it.  I get a surprise bonus and win $75.  Yay, I love surprises!

Again I thought I was going to leave.  But on my way out, there was a machine begging me for attention.  Normally I do not like attention whores, but this machine was as adorable as a puppy.  So of course I went running over “HELLO!  HOW ARE YOU?”  It was a Cleopatra Keno / video poker combo machine.  I went back and forth between Cleopatra Keno and Double Double Bonus video poker.  Between the two, I turned a $20 into $160.

quarter sixes wild wild west double double bonus video poker

It was a very tough goodbye, but I had to go.  I would have loved to stay here all day.  But I will go degenerate so leave I must.  Bye bye beautiful machine I am in love with!

I went back outside and took the 201 bus to Orleans to catch their free shuttle back to the Strip.  I was so very cranky standing in the heat waiting for it.

We got let off back by the High Roller and I walked through The Linq Promenade.  Guys, this opened back in 2014 and this is the first time I have been there.   How is that even possible?

Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas linq promenade las vegas High Roller Las Vegas Linq Promenade

I stop at Starbucks and get my first Mint Mocha Frappucino.   I then go inside and play some Buffalo.  I lost.  I try another Buffalo machine.  I lost.  I try a third.  I lost.  I probably would have kept going but I am all out of Frappucino and I am exhausted.   To my room I go.  It is 1:06.   So all the above happened in one morning.  I still have the entire night left after a nap.  I love Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Trip Report: the One Where Anything Can Happen

I just finished up posting my last trip report, which was a nonstop blood bath where my biggest win was a whopping $108.

Still, when my job reminded me I had two days off to use in August, I booked another trip.  I got two comped (plus resort fee, fuck you) nights at Flamingo and three at Fremont.   I had originally booked a MyVegas reward for two nights at Monte Carlo.  In the end, I ended up cancelling (and losing my points) for that.  I really just like smoking rooms in Vegas.  MLife doesn’t have them.  I do not want to forfeit my personal comfort for a free salmonella laced plate of scrambled eggs at the Bellagio buffet.

My flight was supposed to leave at 6:30.   We boarded on time, which was a shock.  We left late despite this, which was not a shock.

I landed at 9:30 and decided to shuttle to Flamingo.  We sat there for a good half hour before leaving.  And by “good” I mean “FUCKING LET’S FUCKING GO ALREADY.”   The driver dropped me off nowhere near the entrance.  If I were a degenerate packer, I would have been mad.  But my bag is carry on sized so I don’t care.

Cute stuffed dog going on an adventure

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I had initially checked in online, but the kiosk would not give me my keys.  So I had to get on the check in line.  The woman who checked me in looked at my ID and said “Oh!  You live in Chinatown!”   This was the first time someone has described my Brooklyn neighborhood as Chinatown.  She is right.   Bensonhurst has totally morphed from Italian to Chinese.  It was just a surprise since before her, no one has ever said that to me.

I got room 11074.   I would have had a great view of the Bellagio fountains if not for the stupid Donny and Marie wrap on my window.

flamingo las vegas room view donny and marie wrap

The room had wooden floors, which made it feel hollow and run down.  I still loved being here though.  I haven’t stayed at Flamingo in many years.

flamingo las vegas room

I am not planning on gambling much tonight.  I have $40 on me that someone gave me for my birthday.  I am also willing to risk a $20 from my own stash.  But that is my limit.  I have gotten pretty good at curbing degeneracy.

I walked over to Cromwell and tried to find the Ultimate X machine I love.  They have redone the casino so they are in a different spot.  I first got sidetracked by an Ultimate X Bonus Streak machine.  My first $20 went lightening quick here.  I was so annoyed with myself.  Over to the other side of the bank where I chose a regular ol’ Ultimate X video poker machine.  I put in $20 and began playing Double Double Bonus on nickels.

This happened.

Ultimate X Double Double bonus sixes x 2 cromwell las vegasultimate x double double bonus video poker aces x 2 cromwell las vegas

AND. THEN. THIS.  HAPPENED.  $200 win!

Ultimate X Double Double Bonus threes x 10 cromwell las vegas

I decided I was now allowed to play quarters and my luck continued.

double double bonus video poker quarter nines cromwell las vegas

So for a $60 investment, I left Cromwell with $360.  Fucking sweet.

On my way back to my room at Flamingo, I lost $60 in a Buffalo slot machine.  Because of course I did.  But it is okay because I am still a winner.  Guys, this feels great.  I went to bed knowing that this could be the start of something fantastic, or this could be the one night I went to bed a winner.  You absolutely never know what is going to happen when you are in Vegas.

Las Vegas Trip Report

Atlantic City: Ultimate X Video Poker Porn

Back in July, I went to a fest in Philadelphia.  As always, I make a stop in Atlantic City for a few days to kill time before I need to be there.  This trip I stayed in Atlantic City Tuesday – Friday.  I left Thursday for Philadelphia and came back Thursday night.

I only kept notes from my first night and the final tally, so this will be mostly photos and less text.

I arrived with a reservation for the Dennis Tower at Ballys.  I did not want to stay in the Dennis Tower.  Hell, I didn’t want to stay at Ballys either.  But it was the only hotel coming up with all three nights comped.  The guy who checked me in upgraded me to the Ballys Tower.

Ballys Atlantic City hotel room

I loved the view.

Ballys Atlantic City ocean view room

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view from Ballys hotel Atlantic City New Jersey

I am very excited to report that Ballys now has a Dunkin Donuts in the lobby!   Every time I went, the line was insane.  But I am still excited.

I played mostly video poker, with some Cleopatra Keno.  I also played a 50 Lions slot machine.  I experienced every gambler’s dream.  I accidentally hit max bet and got a $250 line pay!

I left home with $300.  I left Atlantic City with $600.  This was after spending money on food (I arrived with no comps, oh no!), the bus back and forth to Philadelphia and lots of BEER in Philadelphia.

Here is some video poker porn for you.

four of a kind fives double double bonus video poker ballys atlantic city ultimate x dealt fives ballys atlantic city ultimate x four of a kind nines x 4 ballys atlantic city Ultimate x quad sevens x 4 ballys atlantic city ultimate x video poker fives multiplier ballys atlantic city ultimate x video poker kings multiplier ballys atlantic cityultimate x video poker aces kicker multiplier ballys atlantic city

Funny how I did not want to stay at Ballys because it is my unlucky casino.  But on this trip, she loved me.

I also visited Borgata and holy shit this casino hated me so much.  I also never once got to play my favorite Cleopatra Keno machines because they were always occupied.

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atlantic city