La Brea Tarpits is an interesting place to visit if you want to know more about prehistorical animals. Underneath this modernisation buries bones of ice age creatures which are still in process of excavation.
Getting from its name, Tarpits have tar flowing out from the Earth. Visitors can see paleontologists working on the excavation sites during summer (late June to early October) where the tar is at it’s most liquid state.
Pit 91 Excavation
Pit 91 Excavation
The Page Museum, however, needs a new lift with their exhibits. A little too old and they doesn’t excite us at all.
Looks like Jurassic Park Office
We drove to The Venice Canals, where houses are built along the man-made canal of water. It is a quiet surrounding with beautiful houses, each has a little boat that they can park by the canal. You can take pictures as you take a stroll down the canal and bridges. Sometimes, you’ll see friendly neighbors who smile at you.
We visited LA’s Little Tokyo. There are some clothing boutiques, authentic restaurants, supermarket to stock up your Japanese supplies and a Japanese bakery. Shops here open quite late, from 11am onwards.
Little Tokyo Japan Kitty Japanese Bakery So Cute
1 hr 30 minutes drive takes us to Farmers Market. It is open air, comprising food & beverage, grocery and shopping. Quite a unique place to go. You probably need half a day here.
Farmers Market Fruit Stall Heirloom Tomatoes Very Berries Pastries Homemade Peanut Butter Stickers Shop CBS Behind Farmers Market
Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is a place for expensive branded shopping and spotting for expensive cars. Can see cannot buy. Quite a boring place for me.
Blink Road Sign Branded Shopping Expensive Car
We last stop at Santa Monica. Too brief stop over, will have to revisit again.
We booked a morning slot to return to Chapel of the Flowers for wedding photos.
We are led to this media room, a separate office that take cares of all your photography viewing. Couples will sit in front of the tv and watch a video compilation of all the photos taken the day before. Yes, it is a VIDEO compilation.
Photo Gallery at Chapel of Flowers
When you have only that few minutes to recap your wedding day, the ‘sales’ person will pop the question, “Would you like to purchase the video, digital copies (colored, sepia, black & white) and printed copies?” I hesitated initially because this is another US$500. (-_-) And sepia, black & white are color treatments that I can do with a push of button in Photoshop.
But we really really love them! If that US$500 preserve our sweet memories, I guess there is no harm. After all, this is Vegas. Money makes the world goes around. Haha~
Kaching Kaching~ In Total We Have: ROM DVD, Photos in Digital & Print Outs, Video Compilation DVD
We are also given admission tickets to Stratosphere Tower. It is the highest observation tower in US and the tallest building in Las Vegas. You can also challenge yourself to some thrill rides at the tower.
4th January 2012 is our big day! We decided to tie a knot after 7 years, moving on our relationship to the next phase.
We have been quite secretive about this. In fact, only our family and a few of our closeset friends are being told about this plan.
We prebooked our wedding date on our previous Vegas trip. Then, we liaise a time slot for the ceremony via email. We choose Vegas time 1pm but it is 5am back in Singapore. We are very happy and grateful that our family and friends are able to watch us through webcam.
We woke up as early as 7am in the morning, preparing ourselves. I took 3 hours plus to get my hair and makeup done while Lester just lazily watch tv and relax.
Washing Up Rest and Relax
Breakfast is sushi bought last night. We have more butterflies in stomach than anything else. Eating is no longer our priority.
You have to provide the chapel the hotel and room number you are staying, in order to arrange for limousine pickup. And tata~ We are ready to go!
Ready to Go
Our limousine driver dresses up in suit, arrives promptly at hotel lobby. The air inside the limousine is filled with excitement and butterflies. It’s a little lonely, wish we have family or friends with us. Can’t remember what exactly happens. I only know the 15 to 20 minutes car ride seems exceptionally short and smooth.
Inside Limousine Lester Me
Our ceremony package includes candid shots and 1-to-1 photo session with the photographer. The moment we steps out of the limo, the photographer starts to snap the whole walk-in, some administrative stuff we did at the counter and the actual ceremony to document the process.
Me Exiting Limousine Lester Exiting Limousine
We have a brief moment in a room talking to the Justice of Peace (JP). He trys to understand our background and duration we have been together. Guess this helps him to piece his speech later.
Before we realise, the music has started and we are already walking into the chapel. If you missed the whole ceremony, you still can watch it here.
We took a series of posed photos with our photographer Joe. He guided us through the poses professionally and asks if we wanted anything else before he calls for a wrap. I remembered our JP also shares some insights about the phototaking: to request poses you want and make sure you leave the chapel without regrets. 🙂 Indeed, very useful advice.
Posed Shot Our Requested Shot
The whole process from arrival in the chapel to photo taking takes about 1 hour.
We are beat tired after returning from the chapel. Slept through the whole afternoon.
We caught Blue Man Group in the night. Since there is no photography allowed, (and I’m surprised everyone obeys diligently), these are what I can provide.
Blue Man Group Blue Man Group Poncho Area In Front Enjoy the Show
Now, I’m officially Mrs Chan, a married woman who will consider using Ms as her designation from now on. :O Love you~
Inside The Plane Snacks In-Flight Entertainment More Leg Space
We checked-in to a luxurious hotel, Caesars Palace which is yet affordable through some online promotion. The room and furnishing is definitely better than Monte Carlo. Walking to any other hotels and shopping areas are nearer too!
We are given a room in their new tower. Security is pretty tight. At some point in the lobby, you’ll need to show your room card to the security before proceeding in.
Our room has a luxurious sofa area overseeing the swimming pool. A bathroom that is big enough to accomodate 2 sinks, 1 bathtub, separating the toilet and the shower area. Most importantly, there is a small TV inside. I can watch tv while putting on my make up tomorrow. Yeah!
Bedroom Sofa Area 2 Sinks Toilet & Bath Area Bathtub TV
Universal Studios is the first theme park we have visited after so many days. We bought the tickets online. It entitles us to 1 day Universal Studios free on 2012 within 30 day from the first entry.
We printed our online purchase receipts, use the print out to gain entry directly. Remember to ask for a theme park map to begin with.
Entry to Universal Studio
We started with the longest queue: Studio Tour. Everyone is loaded into a tram, 4 in a row. The tram driver is an extremely well trained Universal Studios’ guide, he or she will explain the history, entertain us and bring us around the different studios. You can see your tram driver from the screen projection in each carriage.
TIPS: I find it better to sit on the left hand side of the tram, as most of the stuff happen on the left.
All visitors are to remain seated throughout the 45 minutes tour. You would not be allow to step out of the transport unless you sign up for the VIP Experience.
Studio Tour Tram Visitors Are Taking Interactive Screen In The Tram
Visitors get to see some street sets in Universal Studios. Scenes like City Hall, Cowboy’s town and Desperate Housewives’ houses. I am so tempted to jump out of the tram to camwhore. So pretty!
Street Scene Street Scene Houses from Desperate Housewives
We also experience “natural” disasters created within the studios: flood, earthquake and plane crash. Whoa~~~
From Dry To Wet Collapsed Underground Station Plane Crash
The second part of our Universal Studio trip is all the rides play. There will be an indicator outside each themed ride notifying us the waiting time. On average, we waited for 15 to 25 minutes in each station. Not so bad.
All these rides are exciting but not terrifying. But they are not on the extreme roller coaster type of thrill. So not to worry.
I love Mummy The Ride and Jurassic Park the most. Mummy ride is in a complete pitch black while Jurassic Park plunges down into the water towards the end.
WARNING: Jurassic Park ride has a tenancy to get wet.
Krustyland Simpsons Ride Jurassic Park Mummy The Ride Shrek 4D
There are also shows performed at a specific showtime. Do check out their slots.
Terminator 2 3D Special Effects Stage Stage Motion Tracking Suit
We only get to meet Scooby Doo on its parade walk. The rest, neh~~~
We drive up to Big Bear Lake hoping to experience snow. It is a 2 hours journey up the winding mountains with exceptionally clean air and blue sky. You might want to wind down your windows while driving up.
We stop over at the Big Bear Lake to see the frozen lake, take some pictures. Can’t really play with snow as they are already melting.
Big Bear Lake
The Frozen Lake Frozen But Not Advisable To Walk On It
We drive back to a ski resort nearby. Step into the little woods where children are playing with snow. Attempt to write New Year greeting, have our snow balls fight and sculpt our ugly snowman.
Ski Resort, Admission Fee Required.
Writing With Sticks
Happy New Year To All Lester Throwing Snow Ball Fluffy Cold Ice Sculpting Our Snowman Our Snowman
Skipped day 12 as we only spend our day in the car, driving back to Los Angeles.
Next day, we visited Hollywood. It is a tourist attraction with nothing much to see. The 2 ends of Hollywood are pretty rundown, you wouldn’t want to be there. Only the theater area is packed with tourists taking photos and buskers disguising as famous movie characters. If you want to take a picture with them, remember to tip.
Welcome to Hollywood Faraway Hollywood Sign The Walk of Fame Grauman’s Chinese Theater
We take about 1 hour to finish Hollywood. Went to catch a movie in the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. You can basically sit anywhere you like since the theater is big.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
Grauman’s Chinese Theater Interior Grauman’s Chinese Theater with 2 Level of Seats
We book our Grand Canyon day trip online. Our US $140 package include:
Breakfast: Light snacks + drinks
Lunch at Grand Canyon
Transportation pick up from hotel lobby
Tickets to Grand Canyon Skywalk
Visiting: Grand Canyon West, Eagle Rock, Hoover Dam
We wait for our transportation pick-up at 6:30am. A mini bus goes around different hotels, picking passengers who signed up for this day trip to the assembly area. In the assembly area, we will be assigned to a coach, given 1 drink and 1 light snack for breakfast. Then we embark on a 4 hour coach ride to Grand Canyon.
Pick Up at Hotel Lobby Breakfast Include Snacks & Drinks Grand Canyon Tour Stickers Transfer to Big Coach Catch Some Sleep
Grand Canyon is in the state of Arizona and it’s time is 1 hour behind Las Vegas. It is managed by Hualapai Tribal Nation. We are dropped at the “interchange” where 2 other bus services bring us to: (i) Guano Point and Eagle Point and (ii) Hualapai Ranch. From there, you are free to plan your time and meet back again to return to Vegas.
I suggest to go for the Skywalk first. Skywalk usually comes with a queue. It will be a pity if you missed it because you need to rush back to catch your coach.
Collect Skywalk & Lunch Tickets Wristband for Skywalk Grand Canyon West Starting Point Bus Service to Skywalk
You are not allow to bring in any video recording gadgets like cameras, mobile phones, food and drinks to the Skywalk. Complimentary lockers are provided. Long objects like tripod can be passed to the helper if they do not fit the locker.
Pictures will be taken by the Grand Canyon photographers. If you have the intention to buy these photos in printed and digital copies, you should take as many pictures as possible. The digital package cost around USD $100, if I never remember wrongly.
The queue is break into smaller groups. Legs are wrapped with a nylon shoe wrap to prevent scratches and dirt from shoes on the glass of Skywalk.
No Cameras to the Skywalk. Lockers Provided. Start of Skywalk Queue Magnificant View Strike a Pose Hugs
We spend some time taking picture in front of the Canyon. But the cliff is not fenced up, whatever you do is at your own risk.
Sitting by the Rock The Furtherest Lester Dares to Stand
We headed to Hualapai Ranch for outdoor lunch. There are only 2 meal options: chicken or beef. Drinks are free flow. Pretty decent food. I’m curious how often do they reorder their food supplies and drive all the way to the Canyon? Hmm…
Lunch Area Lunch – Chicken Option Lunch – Beef Option
There are Grand Canyon North, South, East, West rim. If you are driving, you might want to do some read up like this.
After lunch, we walk about 10 to 15 minutes to Guano Point. It is a quiet spot where you can see the winding Colorado river.
Grand Canyon West Colorado River at Guano Point
We are back on the coach by 3:30pm Vegas time. 5 hours at Grand Canyon doesn’t seem adequate.
We pass by Hoover Dam on our way back. It looks magnificient but we can only stay in the coach. 🙁
Today is wedding chapel scouting day! We googled a few chapels and went for an onsite visit to the chapels.
There are kazillion couples who get married in Vegas every year. The chapels already know what to advice, what are the procedures and services they can provide. For the benefits of all, I’m going to share our experience here.
Registering at Marriage Bureau of Nevada
Like in every country, couples will have to register their names with the marriage office before the wedding. This is part of the administrative procedure. Couple will have to fill in the forms, produce your IDs or passports and make a payment of USD $60 at the counter. Make sure you know which is your first or last name, at least this is the naming convention you need to follow.
Marriage Bureau of Nevada Marriage Bureau of Nevada Fill in Couples’s Details Wait in the Line Office does not provide recommendations to wedding chapels & services
Administrative staff will request you to check all details and authorise with both your signatures. Last but not least, couples will be given a big white envelop. Inside contains 3 documents: 2 to be passed to the wedding chapel and 1 of them is your marriage certificate. This is a souvenir certificate which means that the certificate is for remembrance only, no legal binding.
You will have to order the actual wedding certificate online after your wedding JP (Justice of Peace) filed your marriage with the authority. Each wedding certificate costs USD $15 not including postage.
One more important thing: once you’ve registered with the Nevada’s Marriage Bureau, you have 1 year to hold your ceremony within the State of Nevada.
Done Given 3 documents in a white envelop.
This is the souvenir marriage certificate.
Visit Wedding Chapel & Discuss Packages
You can now find a chapel to hold the ceremony after all these administrative procedure.
We engaged our wedding service from Chapels of the Flowers. During our first visit, we talk to a wedding planner, Michelle Meyer. She shows us the packages and follow through all the arrangements. I like the fact that Michelle is not pushy, believe she has been in this trade for a long time.
The packages here work like a base, you can add on or change some stuff. You’ll have to negotiate and tell your planner what you want. Of course, all you need to pay is $$$. Money can make wonders in Vegas.
Our Wedding Package
We wanted to choose the simplest package, Simplicity Ceremony, but the bride’s bouquet consist of only 1 stalk of rose, photos are not enough to select and no limo transportation before and after ceremony. We then opted for Traditional Ceremony which includes 6 stalks of roses, a wedding DVD of the ceremony, 8 hours of internet viewing and limo to-fro transportation. We also added a posed one-to-one photography session with the photographer. The whole package costs USD 512.71.
The planner printed the quotation for us to think about, as we are leaving Vegas 2 days later. There will be no refund once payment is made.
Our date and package confirmations are communicate via email. This give us sometime to settle our thoughts, email Michelle with more queries, arrange our date, domestic flight and accommodation on our next return. Full payment is then made electronically.
Before we end our consultation with Michelle, she notifies us that the chapel doesn’t pay salaries to the JP, limo drivers and photographers. They worked on a tipping system. She suggests an amount we can contribute: USD $60 to the JP, USD $40 to the driver and USD $30 to photographer. Ahem~ Money again!
Chapel of Flowers
Limousines All Lined Up
Things to Note
I suggest a few things to take note if you want to get hitched in Vegas:-
Do your research on the wedding chapels and the packages they provide before coming to Vegas. Most of these chapels have a website.
You can email the chapels and check on the venue available dates and time for your ceremony.
Plan Las Vegas trip and visit wedding chapel.
Plan at least a 4 days to 1 week stay in Vegas for your wedding. You would need to spend 1 day going to the Marriage Bureau of Nevada and visit the chapel venue, talk to the wedding planner. I realise you get to know what you want when you meet the planner in person. Sometime there are stuff in the package they can swop in or out for you. But of course, you might end up being up sell, paying more, because you know the basic package doesn’t satisfy you, speaking of myself. In any case, a good wedding chapel will accept your opinion graciously and will not push you further with services that you won’t need.
1 day is set for your wedding. After that, couples can celebrate with either a good dinner or watch a show. We were too shag from the preparation, wedding nervousness, and collapse into dreamland after the wedding.
Return to chapel.
The consecutive day is usually a return to the chapel. For my case, to view photographs taken on the ceremony and select them. Half a day is gone.
Bring credit card.
Self explanatory. We *kaching* on our wedding ceremony, then the photos that they try to sell. We wanted the digital copies so much.
Above suggestions will take up 2 1/2 days to complete. You have 1 1/2 days to tour Vegas if you choose a compact 4 days stay. That doesn’t include 1 day to Grand Canyon. Ahem~
I will post more in-depth details on our big day. Watch this space.