Valleys of Wonders (Part II – Death Valley)

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Las Vegas McCarran International Airport never fails to delight me with its unique fanfare of bright and chirpy whimsical slot machines. The sounds of play companied by vibrant visuals of promised payouts create a celebratory atmosphere of winning. Lining right outside the connecting airbridge, these visually stimulating slot machines are the first and last things travelers see when they visit Las Vegas. Never underestimate these harmless-looking game machines, they are built with deep psychology insights to lure and keep you coming back.

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I love CES! More than just an expo of the latest tech offering, it is a big trove of everything! I get to touch and experience some of the latest and most interesting gadgets. Best of all, I get to ask all the questions I need to know about the magic behind the tech. The effort to put together such a great show requires infinite resources and millions of hours of creativity, research and development, production and planning. It is worth every cent, effort and time just to be here.

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This year, we were much more mentally and physically prepared. We knew where to go to look for the kinds of stuff we needed. We actually walked lesser and covered more grounds. We paced ourselves pretty well.

2019 is going to be another exciting year with many AI-aided innovations. From smart watches to autonomous electric-vehicles, every smart gear that you have will only be smarter as AI is taking over most of the control. The presence of powerful optic, audio, and atmospheric sensors enable AI-engines to be faster and even more precise. You don’t even need to give any vocal command to Google or Alexa, predictive patterns and AI-analytic models are going to remember your movement, preference and anticipate what you need. When technology is being put to good, sustainable purposeful applications, it fulfills mankind with A Better Life, A Better World (echoing the core aspiration and value of CES).

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What’s delightful to know was despite the advancement of better tech-offering, many suppliers are keen to keep retail prices at an affordable range. A 3D-printing-cum-laser machine used to cost around USD2,000 is now priced at USD800. It is something Apple must learn to avert its falling sales.

This trip, I didn’t visit any casino (other than the exhibition halls at Venetian Sands) or any naughty joints. Some cheeky friends texted me to visit Playboy’s Mansion. Guess they didn’t know that the infamous joint closed down for many years.

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Instead, I went to have a drink at a pretty well-known bar, Tipsy Robot Bar. It is the world’s most famous unmanned theatric robotic bar that is capable to mix a cocktail in less than 90 seconds. Ordering is easy via a tablet, just pick and pay with a credit card. The robotic hand picks up a cup and start to draw different blends of mixers from the ceiling. It then shakes the concoction in true robotic style before pouring the mixture into the cup. Just before the cocktail is being served, the robotic arm gives a final touch with decorative garnishes. I paid USD15 for the drink. It was fresh and rich in taste! And yes, no tips required.

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Just before we fly out of Las Vegas, I wanted to make a quick visit to another world’s famous valley, the Death Valley. Not sure what kind of terrain we will be encountering, we rented a 4-wheel-drive Jeep. The Death Valley was a 3-hour drive away from Las Vegas City. The entire journey will take us about 8 hours to and fro the valley.

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We were blessed with terrific weather. It was clear sunny blue sky! Due to the recent US government shutdown, we drove to our first destination with uncertainty. True enough, we were unable to proceed to our first destination as the road was closed due to the federal shutdown. Thankfully, we were able to visit the other attractions as there were friendly park rangers working without pay.

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Death Valley is full of wonders. It is certainly not a dead place but a big gallery of timeless canvases of colors, textures, and formations. Crafted by the forces of nature and time, each canvas is sculptured vibrantly with unique depth and style. Here, we don’t just see the art, we literally live and breathe in the art. Walking through the gigantic terrains and deepest point (85m below sea-level) of USA, we get to see its artistic form in various different dimension, lighting, and perspective. Feeling so small in its majestic presence, it is a humbling and awakening experience for both of us.

It is, after all, a mystically deadly and beautiful place.

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2 Responses to Valleys of Wonders (Part II – Death Valley)

  1. Hui wah says:

    Wow, speechless, thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and awesome LA experience ….always enjoyed your blog, the stories and observations made. Thank you

    • Wahbiang says:

      You are always so kind with so much encouragement. Thanks my friend. Wishing you a great festive season.

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