Dirk Weeber Arayatumsopon and Wuttipong Arayatumsopon
visit the white
Tigers of Rick Thomas.
Story and Photos by
Dirk Weeber Arayatumsopon
The sometimes bad and often naughty reputation of Las
Vegas – is it only a legend? This was what I set out to discover when I left
Thailand and the answer is both Yes and No!
Coloured neon lights, gigantic hotels with up to 9.000
beds, as seen in the popular t.v. show C.S.I. - Las Vegas. The beautiful
scenery of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Hoover dam, the Joshua tree
forests and all the beautiful scenery of the area has been used in many
The Liberace museum features costumes, pianos and more
memorabilia of the great entertainer, Liberace.
Las Vegas is famous as the city of gambling. Even at
McCarren airport one cannot overlook the many slot machines. Today
everything is electronic, even if you are lucky enough to win, you’ll get a
ticket instead of coins which you can use all over town with the same Casino
group again or, perhaps a smarter move, pick the money up at the cashier.
There are thousands of these machines as well as Roulette,
Poker, Black Jack, lucky wheels and much more. Everybody here believes he
will win the ‘big money’ – yet the big money is always made by the casinos.
Out of 10,000 gamblers only a tiny fraction win each day.
Gala shows offer superstars like Cher, ZZ Top, Elton John,
Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Petula Clark, Rolling Stones and many more. Barry
Manilow, one of the great stars of the 70’s and 80’s, has had a long running
show in Vegas, he remarked cynically, “.Las Vegas is where Stars go to die”.
At the Las Vegas Strip are copies of the most famous
buildings and places of the world. Like the ‘Paris Las Vegas’, in the ‚Bellagio
Hotel’ one finds the Lago Maggiore in Italy with the world famous Las Vegas
fountains, the Venetian’ looks like Venice in Italy, the ‘Luxor’ has copies
of antiques in Egypt, the Caesar Palace’ looks like Rome’s Colosseum,
everyone knows what ‚New York New York’ is and there is even the pirate ship
Las Vegas was definitely sculptured by persons: Mafia
boss Bugsy Siegel, who build the Flamingo Hotel at the Las Vegas Strip, the
Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Lawford, or
Today Las Vegas is suffering from the worldwide economic
crisis. Five years ago it was the city with the biggest growth rate, now
buildings are empty – people are moving out, At its peak, there were about
three million residents – today not even two million and the downward trend
Yet Las Vegas is still worth a visit. The shows, the
scenic beauty of the surrounding countryside, the buildings and museums, and
not to forget the shopping paradise that is Las Vegas.
We saw and we did it all. We went to shows with the
magicians Criss Angel and David Copperfield and saw Rick Thomas with his
white tigers. We saw shows with Cher, Barry Manilow, and with the last great
singer; Petula Clark, who told also stories about Fred Astaire, Elvis
Presley and Charlie Chaplin. And, lucky me, I was sitting next to Siegfried,
the great magician who was watching her show as well. George Wallace, the
fastest juggler in the world and The Chippendales were all interesting. At
night we flew in a helicopter over Las Vegas, the spectacular view of the
many lights of Freemont Street , we flew to the Grand Canyon West Rim in
Arizona another day, but we ran into a hailstorm and had the exciting
opportunity of an emergency landing in a helicopter.
We also went to Siegfried’s and Roy’s Secret Garden and
took part in the television show ‘The Price is Right’, where I won a tidy
sum of money. Naturally we went also to visit the Las Vegas Gay Pride,
climbed the Eiffel Tower (the fake one, obviously!), shopping centers and a
trip out to the desert.
A special treat for me was the Liberace Museum which
celebrates the life of this popular entertainer, where I met pianist,
producer and composer Keith Thompson. I bought a piece of Liberace’s Star
from the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.
The trip from Bangkok is long, 21 hours via Tokyo and Los
Angeles. So be prepared for a long trip! Hotels in Las Vegas are affordable,
with prices starting at 1,500 baht a night but those are without breakfast.
Las Vegas is worth the effort to visit.