The Day In Las Vegas
I woke up around 9:30-10:00 A.M to get ready to look around town. I looked on yelp for interesting places to see and one of them was a place called Is Sweet in Chinatown. Actually, there seemed to be a lot of interesting things in the Las Vegas Chinatown area. It also didn’t seem to far from the hotel either. It looked like I just need to exit, turn left and keep walking down and I would eventually be there. So that’s what I did. After leaving the hotel I turned left at the corner store Starbucks thinking that I would eventually hit Chinatown. On the way, the Vegas strip looked interesting and surprisingly much less busy as compared to 3:00 A.M in the morning. It was also extremely hot. Perhaps anywhere from 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit! Literally, when I stepped out of the shade and into the sunlight my skin immediately started to sweat profusely lol! At this point I had no hat or sunglasses so the sun was a bit of a pain. If you’re planning on walking the Vegas strip in the morning make sure to bring either sunglasses or a hat! While walking the strip I saw many things. There was a White Castle Burger place. Interestingly, near the Caesar Palace Forum Market Place there was a bunch of people in costumes. There were two Bumblebees from Transformers, Mickey and Mini Mouse, Elsa and Anna from Frozen, Spiderman, and more! The odd thing about them though was that there were buckets next to them. Apparently, they are there so you could take pictures with them and in turn give them a tip. It was really odd. It was essentially like seeing Mickey Mouse or Elsa and Anna panhandling. I myself wanted to take pictures of them but I didn’t want to be accosted for tips. I then headed down the strip. As I was walking I was thinking, “where’s Chinatown?” Nothing in the near distance looked like Chinatown and I started thinking I went the wrong way. I then got in front of the Caesar Palace and asked a tour guide where Chinatown was. He said that I was going the wrong way and that I had to turn back for a mile or so. He also gave me information that I couldn’t walk over or under the interstate to get to Chinatown and that I had to take a bus. Thanks for that information, I thought I could just walk under the interstate or something. I then headed back, through the costume people, and back to the hotel. The bus stop was actually real close to the hotel from the other end that I did not go through. Instead of turning right, I was supposed to turn left out of exiting the hotel. When I got here the bus stop was at the next corner. When I got to the bus stop I was in the opposite end. I found that out from the local I talked to. His name is Jeff and got me some information on the buses. He let me know that the Chinatown bus was on the other side of the highway and that the bus fare was $2 for a one-way ticket and $3 for a two-hour ticket and $5 for a 24-hour ticket. At the time I thought the two-hour ticket would suffice but little did I think ahead. I then headed back and conveniently a CVS was there so I could get change for the bus. I got the change and headed to the other side of the highway to get to the bus stop. Thankfully, when I got to the bus stop the bus has just arrived. When I got inside the bus I asked the bus driver lady if the bus was headed to Chinatown and she said yes. I then got my seat near the middle of the bus. The bus itself was real nice and new as compared to the buses back in Hawaii. It was about a ten to fifteen minute ride to Chinatown. Before I left asked the bus driver where the bus stop was that headed back to the strip and she pointed it out.
The Las Vegas Chinatown
Chinatown here in Las Vegas was nice and modernized. It was also spacious and clean. This is compared to the Chinatown back in Honolulu. This Chinatown was not as architecturally or geographically ethnic as the Chinatown in Honolulu as well. Overall, it reminded me of Little Saigon back in San Jose. I walked around the first plaza and there were a lot of restaurants and little stores. I remember seeing a restaurant that had pictures of famous people who ate there; amongst them I could remember seeing Paris Hilton in one of the pictures. In the back of this plaza I also noticed a pizza place that seemed to have good prices on their pizzas. I then walked across the street to the second plaza. This one was interesting because it had a Ranch 99 in it. I wanted to go inside but my two-hour pass was quickly ticking and I wanted to find Is Sweet. Around this area, I remember asking a couple if they knew where it was and they said that they were just tourists also. I then looked around this second plaza a little more. I noticed a place called Volcano Café, which I remember from looking at it in Yelp. I also saw a Taiwanese restaurant that had some interesting dishes on display. I kept this restaurant in mind to eat at later. At the end of this plaza was a place called Chinatown Mall. I was like “Chinatown Mall? What could be there?” I then went inside the Chinatown Mall. Inside was a big set of stairs that led to a massage place and a discount showroom area. In the bottom was a more conventional looking mall area that was a bit narrow and wrapped around the mall in a circular shape. I first went upstairs to check out the discount area. It was a huge show room with a bunch of knick-knacks to look at. Imagine an antique store but with purely oriental stuff. There were cell phone charms, tea sets, dresses, and much more. It was also a bit weird cause I was the only person inside with the workers at their spots. They didn’t really stare at me the whole time so it wasn’t too weird. I felt a bit weird taking a few pictures inside. I was looking for anything interesting that could be a cool souvenir but alas I didn’t see any. I then went downstairs to look at the different stores in the “mall”. I saw a boba place that is called No. 1 Boba Tea. It looked interesting but I held out for Is Sweet. Across from it was a food court like area but with only one food stand. I then headed towards a bookstore like place. It was interesting. It was full of books in Chinese and perhaps some of them were translations too. I also saw a green military cap with a red star. It looked interesting and I was about to get it but oh well. There was also this huge section with a lot of Chinese New Years stuff. Inside the store I looked at a few of the books. Some of them that stuck out were How To Read Chinese books that were pretty pricey. I then saw these bracelets that I remember my friend from Taiwan had. They were these bracelets with small wooden balls around the circumference. I got one in black and one in brown. I asked the cashier girl if they meant anything and she said no. Throughout the whole time she was helping me with stuff too.
Taiwanese Restaurant (The Little Kitchen Cafe)
I then finished looking around the “mall”, the only other store that looked interesting was a bakery but I wasn’t too interested in getting bread at the moment. I then headed out and went back to that Taiwanese restaurant since I was getting hungry and it looked interesting. When I got inside this cute Chinese girl sat me at a table near the cash register. The room itself was pretty small. My seat was probably six feet or so away from the entrance and literally to my right is the cash register lol The girl gave me the menu and a cup of water. From the menu two things stuck out. First was the stinky tofu. I remember watching Andrew Zimmern do a special in Taiwan and he ate stinky tofu. He described how rancid it smelled and things like that. So I wanted to try it out also. The second thing that stuck out was Taiwanese sausage. What could that be and how is it different from other sausages? The girl came by to get my order and I ordered a half order of stinky tofu and the Taiwanese sausage plate. I got the half order of stinky tofu because the picture showed twelve pieces and that’s a bit too much for me. I also asked the girl what something was in a picture. It looked like it was a bun with some sort of topping all over it. She said that it was “taro”. And I thought oh it’s a “taro bun”. I then kept it in mind to order later. It didn’t take too long for the food to come. The girl brought over the Taiwanese sausage plate first and then the Stinky Tofu a few minutes after. The stinky tofu itself did not immediately stink. You had to put the tofu to your nose to smell the stink. The tofu plate also came with a dipping sauce with three sauces that I cannot describe. It was a bit like a less salty soy sauce with intricate nuanced flavors from the other sauces in it. Both the stinky tofu and the sausage plate came with Kimchi. The sausage plate came with other sides including two salad like sides and this dark brown egg. It wasn’t a thousand year old egg for sure, but it had a very dark brown color. It tasted fairly normal though. Under the sausages also was a ground beef stir-fry. In terms of taste, the stinky tofu had a crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle texture. It tasted a bit bitter with most of the taste coming from the smell. The smell wasn’t stinky in a sense but it was odorous. Its hard to describe, it was fermented without tasting bad. The sauce added extra flavor and the tofu also went well with the Kimchi. As for the sausages, they tasted both sweet and fermented. The sausages were tasty, easy to eat, and the fermented taste made it edgier to eat. The sides were all good as well. It was so good I ate it all. I then asked the girl if I could get the taro thing and she said “Oh we don’t have any right now, its just a topping.” I was like “just a topping?” I then looked at the picture and next to the buns were sliced taro pieces lol Oh well, perhaps next time again. I then asked the girl for her name. It was pronounced “E-May”, I have no idea how to spell it, perhaps its Emay, or Ymay, or even Imay, I don’t know. I thanked her before I went on my way.
Back to the Hotel
On my way out I went to look for Is Sweet again but alas as I was walking down the road I noticed that my two-hours was almost up. Darn, I then headed back to the bus stop. It kind of sucks because I just missed a bus and since there was heavy traffic I was afraid that my two-hour pass would expire waiting for the bus. It was also amazingly hot and the bus stop had little to no shade. The bus arrived at the nick of time. I think my pass would have expired in five or ten minutes! The bus was a bit more crowded than earlier. I still got the same seat near the middle from earlier though. During the bus ride a guy dropped a pamphlet and he asked the guy in front of him to get it. The guy in front thought the guy behind him was trying to sell something because he kept waving his hand saying “no thank you”. I then took it upon myself to get the pamphlet to return to the old man. The old man said “thank you, God bless”. I said “no problem”. After this, it was about fifteen or twenty minutes back to the strip. I headed out and back to the room to take a short nap.