Last night, Dan's parents arrived for the weekend, which was pretty great. Given that his mom is Japanese, and his dad travels to Japan a lot, we ended up going to a pretty phenomenal Japanese restaurant in the Chinatown neighborhood of Vegas. I just had Dan's mom order for me (unsurprisingly, in Japanese), and the meal ended up being magnificent.
Today ended up being a pretty solid day. This morning, we met up with Dan's old math professor, Dr. Saad, and one of his students, as they were here for a math conference. We decided to take them on a hike up Sunrise Mountain, a mountain immediately behind Dan's house that offers incredible views of Vegas. Unfortunately, the only footwear I had other than a nice pair of Hush Puppies was my flip-flops, so I climbed a really rocky mountain wearing flip flops. I lost a considerable amount of blood. Overall though, it was a pretty awesome climb. Dr. Saad is Lebanese by ancestry, and was telling us that when he was younger living in Lebanon, they lived in a very mountainous desert area similar to Vegas. Consequently, despite being a 50 year-old man, he was by far the most adept climber, and pretty much put us all to shame. What an absolute legend, really.
After the climb, we played a poker tournament at the Aria Resort and Casino, which is literally the most ridiculous building I've ever seen (seriously, have a look at the link, just an unbelievable engineering feat). Dan's dad bankrolled all of us for 50% of our winnings, and both Dan and I were knocked out after several hours. Pretty disappointing overall, but still a pretty cool place. Following that, I went over to the Wynn to hang out in the sports book area and watch the World Series game while Dan played poker in the cardroom. A note on the alcohol served in Vegas casinos-- it's all free if you're playing cards, and it's all top shelf. For example, the other day I was asking a player next to me at the poker table if he supposed they'd be able to make me a vodka/tonic with Absolut vodka, and not charge me for it (as I was under the impression that Absolut was a pretty solid brand). He replied saying that he'd be absolutely shocked if this casino even carried any vodka that was worse than Absolut, and that it would be bottom shelf for them. And that yes, they would without issue give me free drinks with Absolute vodka in them. After awhile we got a call from Dan's dad saying he'd been eliminated from the tournament, so we went to dinner at an all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque, which had to be one of the top meals of my life. Really just unbelievable. Definitely a big, big fan of kimchi (incidentally, we were discussing earlier today what foods we would choose if we were to only have two different foods for the rest of our lives. My answer was kimchi and french fries, which I feel is a pretty awesome combination).
Anyway, so the plan for tomorrow is for Blaine Curcio to shoot a gun for the first time ever. We're going to head into the desert a few miles outside of Vegas with Dan's dad and shoot Dan's shotgun a bit, which should be interesting provided no one gets shot (and frankly, even if someone gets shot, that would certainly make things more interesting. Also more tragic). Again, I've never shot a gun in my life, so I assume I'll be pretty incompetent at it, but eh, definitely something that should be done at least once, and what better place than the desert near Vegas.
Interesting to note the staggering number of Asian tourists here. I'd have to wonder why they bother to come all the way to Vegas when Macau is so much closer to Asia, and also just out-of-its-mind in terms of gambling excellence. I suppose it's very possible that a lot of the Asian tourists are actually Asians from California, but I haven't really seen anything that would imply that. Either way, lots of Asians here.
Tomorrow, Dan and I have an absurd parlay bet which essentially involved picking the results of like 8 different NFL games, and if you get them all correct the payout is approximately 150:1. Dan put down $100, and given that I have no interest in betting very much money on a 150:1 shot, I put down $10. If nothing else, every single line that we bet on has either stayed the same or moved in our favor since placing the bet, so we'll have to see how that all works out. Needless to say, if that does win, I'll be pretty freaking pleased.
Plan is to leave for LA on like tomorrow night or Monday morning, hang around there until Thursday (still have no idea what time my flight to Beijing is--should probably check that), then fly to Beijing--->Hong Kong on Thursday sometime. Should be pretty great getting back to the greatest city in the world (speaking of which, today Dr. Saad and I were discussing our favorite places that we've been to--he's been to a number of countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas and said that his favorite cities are Rome, Istanbul, and Paris. Certainly respectable choices on the first two, I'd imagine Paris is also a pretty good choice, but having not been there I can't really make a call on that. However, Rome and Istanbul are both pretty unbelievable cities. When he asked me what my favorite cities were, the very obvious first choice was Hong Kong, and after thinking for awhile, I decided to go with Seoul and London as 2/3, which I feel are pretty respectable choices. Now watch as the 4 people that read this blog all go to these cities, and there is a consequential huge increase in tourism!)
So that's about it for now. Will hopefully think of something insightful to write about tomorrow, as the last couple of posts have been pretty straightforward and just summarizing what I've been doing out here. Thanks for reading, see you all tomorrow.