Would you travel to Las Vegas on your own?
It is funny being back in this spot, two years later. It feels as if it was yesterday that I was standing on the pavement outside Aria Hotel, beginning to worry.
My mate Richie, last seen on the Las Vegas blackjack tables a few hours ago, had failed to show up for our taxi to the airport. My other friends and I, while not entirely surprised, were still worried. We were calling him, texting him, yelling for him and getting no response.
Las Vegas, apparently, had claimed Richie, swallowed him up in its money-hungry jaws. This time two years ago, I wasn't sure whether I would see him again.
The memories come flooding back today as I stand by the taxi rank in the warm Las Vegas sun. With the benefit of hindsight, I now know Richie would not appear that morning and would miss his flight to the wedding we were going to in Mexico. He would surface a few hours later, book himself on a flight the next day and then return to his room at Aria, schedule five wake-up calls and set three alarms, and finally go to bed.
It was a proper Hangover moment and it still makes me laugh two years later, when things have changed so much. On this Las Vegas trip, there is no Richie. There are no other mates either - just me, flying solo in Sin City.
I hadn't meant to revisit Aria, but stumbled upon it on my way to the Cosmopolitan, where I'm going to a show.
How civilised. Our first port of call on that last boys' trip to Las Vegas was a pool party at the MGM Grand. Our second stop was a bar called Coyote Ugly, which Richie had persuaded us to visit because they do "all-you-can-drink for three hours".
But you make different choices when you travel by yourself, especially in a place like Las Vegas.
I don't normally mind travelling on my own. I do it a lot. Sometimes you have no choice. I will go out to restaurants on my own, drink in bars on my own, go to the movies on my own ... It doesn't bother me. You read a book, you take your laptop, you chat to strangers.
Las Vegas, however, is one of those destinations that you might not normally choose to visit on your own, because it's a party city, a social city.
There is an argument that on your own you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want. If you want to spend all night being antisocial on the blackjack table, you can. But I'm not much of a gambler and I would usually prefer to do this place with the company of a few sidekicks.
Still, here I am on my own and Las Vegas still needs to be explored. So what do you do on your lonesome in the city of sin?
First, go to a show. You don't need mates to go to a show. You don't need partners in crime. So I'm off to Rose.Rabbit.Lie, a new variety show produced by the people behind the Spielgeltent in Australia.
At this time on the last trip, I would have been about eight drinks into the evening and contemplating some very bad decisions. But there is no such behaviour this time around.
I'm watching the very cool Rose.Rabbit.Lie and then, at the crazy time of midnight, I'm going to bed.
The next day I wake up in Las Vegas with the strangest feeling: not being hungover. It's 9am and I'm bouncing out of bed, skipping into the Las Vegas sun on another beautiful day to find everyone else is still asleep. The pool area is empty. The streets are quiet. Odd.
So I decide to do about the only thing you can do at such at early hour when you are hanging out alone: go shopping.
Las Vegas has a few huge outlet malls - sprawling places at which you can begin to spend your winnings. They seem as good a place as any to while away a quiet morning.
Once again, I'm transported back to that first stay in the city. My friends and I didn't go shopping on our first morning here. We raced go-karts and fired guns at a rifle range. Then, I think, we went to a bar.
This time, however, I'm avoiding the usual suspects: the glittering casinos and the expensive restaurants. I will spend the afternoon wandering through downtown Las Vegas, checking out part of the city that seems, well, normal.
Tonight, back on the Strip, I will go to a place called Brooklyn Bowl to see a band play and then, once again, I will be tucked up in bed, safe and sober, by midnight.
And tomorrow I will emerge back into the sun, waiting for a taxi to the airport, and look around. As usual, no Richie, but this time that's OK.
Have you ever been to Las Vegas on own? What did you do while you were there? Would you ever go there by yourself? Leave a comment below.
- FFX Aus