About 50 years ago a perfect art deco sign bearing five critical words, 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas', was driven into the hard Mojave desert ground by Bugsy Segal because he dreamed of turning dust to gold. Segal, arguably America's most famous Jewish gangster, was soon killed by his 'investors' because he spent too much building a luxury hotel casino, but his vision was solid and soon the tiny town six hours from Los Angeles exploded into what it is today - a gambling haven. For the traveller, who should have a flair for a wager or two, it is worth arriving at night as the city emerges out of nothingness into an oasis of neon light. Flights from Hong Kong generally start around $7,000, with full tours costing more. But inexpensive high- class accommodation is available at most hotels because they sit over casinos, where locals would rather see vacation money spent. All stays here should start along 'The Strip', as Las Vegas Boulevard is known. There, all the major hotels, from the 5,000-room MGM Grand complete with its five storey neon- green lion entrance, to the US$15-a- night clip joints, have action to offer. Flame jugglers, strippers and watermelon smashers perform alongside family-oriented acts like the Treasure Island Pirate Show for kids. Although temperatures sizzle during the summer, all facilities are air-conditioned and the desert cools down at night. The Strip wakes you right up with its famous pumping, swirling and blinking light shows, which make even Hong Kong's most angry neon look like kid stuff. Like almost everything in Vegas, casinos stay open 24 hours a day and have no windows or clocks inside, leaving visitors enjoying a good night at the tables likely to stay until sunrise. With a free supply of cocktails, casinos even tend to keep the evening's losers around until first light. Although Frank Sinatra rarely plays town any more, and his pals from the 'Brat Pack' - Sammy Davis, Jr and Dean Martin are both dead - Vegas still ranks among America's greatest entertainment venues. Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, Wayne Newton and Debbie Reynolds have taken up the slack alongside city legends Sigfried and Roy, the unusual German lion taming and magicians duo who still sell out the Mirage twice a night. Food is everywhere, with most casinos offering cheap all-you-can-eat buffets. Good cuisine also abounds, as numerous top chefs like German- Californian yuppie king Wolfgang Puck have branches of their restaurants here. Puck's famed Los Angeles bistro, 'Spagos', serves up a plate of fresh country sausage and pasta, both made on the premises. Leaving Las Vegas, you can still encounter that 'Fabulous' sign on plastic beer mugs served at bars in the new Cook Country Airport. The cups are flimsy, but the inexpensive beer and $1 shot of whiskey is a bargain. They say that with a couple of quick ones and the right flight pattern you might glimpse Bugsy Segal on a cloud high above Las Vegas whispering that magic word 'Fabulous' into the desert air.