I Almost Had My iPhone Stolen My First Night in Ho Chi Minh City

 

After spending an incredible 6 months in Thailand with my dogs, I wanted to spend some time in Vietnam before heading back to USA (where I will start my real estate empire). My original flight itinerary was Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City (3 hour layover) to Phu Quoc, a Vietnamese island that lies between Vietnam and Cambodia. But once my plane landed in Ho Chi Minh City, I made the spontaneous decision to leave the airport and skip the second leg. Ho Chi Minh City…here I come!

I’ve been to Ho Chi Minh City several times before and I’ve always had a good time which is why I wanted to spend time here before returning to the beach life of Phu Quoc. This decision almost proved to be a bad decision when my iPhone almost got stolen my first night here. I say “almost” twice because this story was an inch away of ending very badly for me. What’s a blogger without his phone? 

I’ve always heard that pick-pocketers are something to look out for in Vietnam but I personally never experienced it any of my previous visits here over the past 3 years. 

I had time to reflect on what almost happened last night and it’s kind of my fault to have put myself in that situation. It was late at night, I came from the bars so if they had been watching me they knew I had a few drinks so I was an easier target, there weren’t a lot of lights on the street, it was an empty street, I was distracted on my phone, and I was walking 2 dogs. So if you look at all the things to do to not get pick-pocketed, I was doing none of them. When you make a mistake, the first step is to admit you were wrong so I’ll admit that I was doing everything wrong and I made myself look like an easy target.

But the two things that I did do right, was when I saw 2 suspicious-looking guys on a motorbike heading towards me on the sidewalk, I instinctively applied more strength to my grip, and I moved the phone closer into my body (which caused him to miss getting a clean grab). I vlogged within seconds after this happened and then reflected on the incident today.

After he drove away empty-handed, I stared at him like “really bro?” and he stared at me like “you’re lucky.” I really hope that his life takes a turn for the better. 

So after almost getting my iPhone pick-pocketed in Ho Chi Minh City, I thought I would turn this almost negative experience into a learning lesson for myself and a word of caution for my fellow travelers. This is my quick guide on what NOT to do if you don’t want to get pick-pocketed. 

How To Not Get Pick-Pocketed Guide

Don’t Look Flashy

If you typically wear things like jewelry or a nice watch, keep it at home. If you look rich, then you become a target. Not only do they want what you have, but they won’t feel guilty because you look like you can buy it again. 

BeFreeMySheeple Rich Guy

Don’t Walk on Empty Streets

Never walk on an empty street, especially at night. When a street is empty that means that there are no witnesses to any potential crimes and there is nobody nearby that is able to help you so you’re on your own. And pick-pocketers know this.

Don’t Walk Home at Night

If you’re walking home at night, that means that you probably had a few drinks which makes you an easier target. When you’re drinking, you have slower reaction time. Take a taxi or cab home, especially when you’re in a country like Vietnam. It’s worth spending the extra dollar. Seriously – my cabs all day today were 16,000 dong which is the equivalent of $.60 USD.

Don’t Walk While Looking At Your Phone

In places like America that are relatively safe, we can walk down the street with our faces buried in our phones and almost always nothing happens to us. This is such a bad habit that it’s easy to forget that this behavior is not acceptable in other parts of the world. Always keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings. If you’re staring at your phone while you’re walking, not only are you distracted but your phone looks like bait to a fish.

Walking while staring at phone
Don’t be like this cool kid abroad.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

One of our most important senses is hearing. If it wasn’t for my dolphin-like hearing and spider-like reflexes, I wouldn’t have seen the pick-pocketers coming because they were coming full speed at me on a motorbike. Instead of relying on one sense, it’s better to apply all of your senses on your surroundings. Try to keep distance between you and anyone else on the street. The only way for a pick-pocketer to steal from you is if they’re close to you.

BeFreeMySheeple Dolphin Hearing
My sense of hearing resembles that of a dolphin.

Turn on Find My Phone

If you have an iPhone, please use the “Find My Phone” feature. If your phone does get stolen, this feature enables you to remotely wipe your iPhone and render it useless. You can also send the thief messages that will appear on the home screen  such as “If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”

Turn on iCloud Backup

One of the worst feelings in the world is to lose all of your memories because you never got around to turning on your iCloud backup. Always turn iCloud backup on! And also make sure you connect to your hotel WiFi so that everything gets backed up to the cloud.

And I am extremely fortunate that I can end this blog post with the following words…

Sent from my iPhone

Bonus Food Vlog!

And if you’re in Ho Chi Minh City and looking for a delicious place to get poke, check out Poke Saigon.

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Do you have additional tips to stay safe in a foreign country? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

 

My Problem with Ariana Grande’s Song 7 Rings

 

I want to start by saying that I absolutely love Ariana Grande. I think she is one of our generation’s most underrated and talented singers. For those of you who didn’t see her incredibly on-point impressions on Saturday Night Live, I implore you to go to YouTube and watch them. You’ll be amazed. But at the same time I need to talk about my issue with the super popular song 7 Rings. I had no problem with the song until I listened to the lyrics and heard this line:

“Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms”

Admittedly I’ve been a little out of the American pop culture loop as I’ve been living on the beaches of Thailand but when I first heard 7 Rings, I was into it. I quickly Shazam’ed it and thought to myself “of course it’s Ariana.” The girl is on fire. 7 Rings is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a long time. It sounded really familiar, and that’s because she samples My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music (and I’m sure in 15 years somebody else is going to sample 7 Rings).

The meaning of the original My Favorite Things is about finding happiness from simple things : “raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…these are a few of my favorite things” None of these items cost a lot of money and many of them are free to enjoy.

Ariana’s version has creatively (and obnoxiously) flipped the meaning of the song with materialistic items that are only easily attainable by the wealthy. According to Wikipedia, “Louboutins can sell from $495 and up, with crystal-encrusted pairs costing up to $6,000.” For the average American, a pair of Louboutins is simply out of their means.

First, let’s establish a few things. Ariana Grande’s net worth is estimated to be $50 million in 2019. If she stopped working today and never earned another cent, and assuming a very conservative 5% average annual growth for the next 30 years, her $50 million would become worth over $216 million in 2049. In other words, she is incredibly wealthy.  The average American on the other hand, has an annual income of $59,039. 

“Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms”

A pair of $495 Louboutins costs 0.00099% of Ariana’s net worth.  Using math, it is the equivalent of the average American spending $.58.   The point is, when Ariana Grande wants to buy Louboutins, it’s cheaper for her than for the average American to buy a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee does bring many people great joy – a hot cappuccino during a New York winter or an iced latte during a Thai summer does put a smile on my face, but these are affordable pleasures that most people can afford and enjoy. These are the simple pleasures that she should be bragging about, not a pair of $500 shoes. Or, she should brag about buying a Facebook share in 2011 that’s worth more than 4x more today. She should brag about the piece of property she purchased in 2013 and how it’s value has increased by 30%. Don’t equate happiness to shoes. Because it isn’t true and it’s setting a bad goal for your fans to aim for that a majority cannot afford.

BeFreeMySheeple Ariana Grande

It’s been proven that long-term, sustainable happiness does not come from material items, but instead it comes from having more time,and I would have to agree from personal experience. When I was living in NYC making a deep six-figure income, I also had to deal with a lot of pressure to continue performing. Due to my career choice (which was client-facing), I had to do a lot of entertaining which meant many late nights at lavish restaurants, bars and clubs. To many people, this sounds like a dream life, but it wasn’t healthy. While I was getting fat pockets, I was also gaining weight. Even though I could afford whatever material items I wanted, I knew I wasn’t happy. Living on the beach in Thailand without the time demands and performance pressures of a full-time job has made me infinitely happier. I earn a fraction of what I did when I was living in New York City, but I find my personal happiness comes from things that cost nothing or close to:

-unlimited vacation days
-spending time with my dogs
-a fresh coconut
-sun
-foot massage on the beach
-exercise
-freedom
-delicious (and cheap) healthy, organic food
-coffee

I do believe for many of you, a similar lifestyle would bring you far more happiness. If it wouldn’t, why do so many people escape to tropical islands as soon as they get the chance to?

As many of us get older, we will come to the realization that time and living in the moment are what bring us the most joy, not shoes. I used to define the 1% by how much money somebody made but now I define it by how much freedom somebody has and only 1% of us are truly unplugged from the corporate matrix that society told us is the way to go. Many of us are sheeple, too scared to take the risk and lose stability to exchange for the reward of establishing our own schedules, our own hours, our own income.

I have an issue with 7 rings because, like many of today’s empty, vapid songs, it perpetuates the belief that happiness comes in the form of not only material things, but expensive items of luxury. And that’s totally OK if that’s what makes a person happy and they have the financial flexibility to do so. But unfortunately, 99% of Americans cannot afford these items without going into debt or making a significant dent into their net worth. A majority of people will never experience the lifestyle that she’s bragging about: “my receipts be lookin’ like phone numbers…bought matching diamonds for six of my bitches.” By the way, an American phone number is at minimum 7 digits (not including the area code) so she’s referring to spending at least $1,000,000 and up to $9,999,999 (which I do believe is an exaggeration on her part).

BeFreeMySheeple Ariana Grande

I would make the argument that the Ariana Grande song is irresponsible as it encourages financial irresponsibility (financial stupidity) and sets the benchmark for happiness as expensive shoes. For the urban youth that finally has $1,000 extra dollars in their pocket, Ariana’s song motivates them to spend their money on something that almost immediately goes down in value after purchasing it. The responsible thing to do would be to tell her audience that happiness comes from financial freedom (which is really what she’s saying) and the path to financial freedom (for most people) is learning how to manage your money when you first have some. This includes making wise investments such as a diversified stock portfolio and/or investing in real estate.

Perhaps the lyrics should be:

Yeah, breakfast in  Thailand and dishes of pad Thai
My investments in real estate just doubled
Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for all the gains
Buy myself all of the best investments (Yeah)

Been through some bad shit, I used to be sheeple 
Now I’m unplugged like Neo from the matrix
Rather spend time on the beach not office 
No full-time job I just do what I want

My smile, stop watchin’, my day, is flossin
Make big investments, the beach, is poppin’
You like my fruit? Gee, thanks, just bought it
I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it (Yeah)  

And just so you see the lyrics I wrote work out, I’m debuting my non-singing voice for you. Awk.

My first personal investment was in Facebook when it first IPO’ed. Since then, my investment has more than quadrupled into a nice Thailand retirement fund by itself. My next move is investing in rental properties in Florida. Not only will the principle go up in value, but I’ll have positive cash flow from my renters. This means I’ll have increased financial flexibility and freedom. Can the same person that invested their money in Louboutins say the same thing?

I checked the YouTube comments on the original song My Favorite Things and it looks like I’m not the only person who made a similar observation about this song (but of course I had to write a whole blog post about it and record my own version of her song because I’m extra).

BeFreeMySheeple 7 Rings YouTube Comments BeFreeMySheeple 7 Rings YouTube Comments BeFreeMySheeple 7 Rings YouTube Comments

Happiness is  not red-bottoms Ariana.

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How do you define happiness? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

Pet-Friendly Hotels in Thailand (Bangkok)

 

I wanted to put together a list of the best pet-friendly hotels in Thailand that I have stayed at in the past 6 months. If you’re like me, you consider your dogs family and you want to travel the would with them in style and in comfort. I have been living exclusively out of hotels since October 1st so I have found some of the best pet-friendly hotel deals across Thailand.

This is going to be an on-going series with cities such as Hua Hin, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan & more being added. As I travel to Vietnam next month (and then South America towards the end of 2019), I will create pet-friendly hotel guides for each city. You can find them on my homepage under Dogs>Pet-Friendly Hotels.

Back in November when I first arrived to Thailand, I answered the question : Is Thailand Dog-Friendly? Five months later, my opinion remains that Thailand is very dog-friendly. I’ve had significantly more positive experiences than negatives ones. The hotels below are being listed in alphabetical order. 

And if you book a hotel from this article, please support the website by using this Booking.com link which gets us both a $15 coupon! 

Pet Friendly Hotels in Thailand Bangkok

Pet-Friendly Hotels in Thailand (Bangkok)

Aspira Hana Serviced Residence

66 Soi Thonglor 23, Khlongtan Nuer, Watthana, Sukhumvit, Wattana, 10110 Bangkok, Thailand

Charge of 500 baht per night per pet (maximum 10 kg pet is allowed)

BeFreeMySheeple Aspira Hana

How They Describe Themselves:“Aspira Hana Residence Thong Lor is a brand new serviced apartment conveniently located in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods for dining and night out.”

Location: Aspira Hana is located in Thong Lor which is one of my favorite areas of Bangkok because it’s clean and more upscale. With a large Japanese population, many of Bangkok’s pet-friendly hotels and condos are located in Thong Lor making this specific neighborhood more pet-friendly (you’ll find cute little pet shops). There’s also many Japanese restaurants with my favorite one being Shakariki 432″ (get the “penis dessert.”). You’re also a short cab ride away from RCA, the club district of Bangkok. Massages, hair salons and cosmetic surgery is available all over Thong Lor. I was also excited to find a number of mixology bars. Cocktails!

Room Pros: The rooms in Aspira Hana are beautifully designed and decorated. The pet-friendly rooms are located on the 2nd floor. Each hotel room has a washing machine which is convenient because Bangkok is considered the hottest city on the planet (so you’re going to sweat a lot). If you like to cook, there’s a kitchenette (but why would you want to when you’re in Thailand surrounded by all the eats???)! I also had a king-size bed (which at this point in my life is a mandatory). The bathrooms are very clean, spacious and modern. And the toilets have those jet-streams to leave your butt sparkling clean!

Room Cons: The rooms did not come with a drier so you have to dry your clothes the old school way by letting them air-dry on the balcony. 

Hotel Pros: The hotel is very safe. There’s security 24/7 as well as parking. On the rooftop is a mini-gym (treadmill, dumbbells) as well as a pool. There are no buildings obstructing the sun so you can get your tan on all day. There’s also a free coffee machine in the lobby (I recommend the matcha green tea latte).

Hotel Cons: During my stay, there was a lot of construction in the area making it sometimes difficult to sleep in late. Not the biggest issue because I’m a deep sleeper but definitely something to call in advance and ask about. But then again, you’re in Thailand! It’s better to wake up and explore the city!

Recommended for: Those who are looking for a more sophisticated take on Bangkok.

Favorite Restaurant: My favorite restaurant in walking distance from the hotel is Somtum Der, Isan-inspired Thai food that’s both cheap and delicious. This restaurant is also in New York City’s East Village but the prices in Thailand are way, way cheaper. 

BeFreeMySheeple Aspira Hana Thonglor
Rooftop Pool
BeFreeMySheeple Aspira Hana Thonglor
3 gentlemen

The Kaze 34 Hotel and Serviced Residence

66 Sukhumvit Rd, Soi Sukhumvit 34, Klongton, Klongtoey, Khlong Toei, 10110 Bangkok, Thailand

2,000 baht security deposit for pets

BeFreeMySheeple Bangkok Thailand Pet Friendly Hotels Kaze 34

How They Describe Themselves:“The hotel and residence is situated in the heart of Sukhumvit Road. The wide array of sizes allows you to choose the unit most suited to your lifestyle with cheap and chic prices.”

Location: Kaze 34 is located in Khlong Toei, a few blocks from the main road Sukhumvit which has everything you want in Bangkok from cheap eats, massages, to an ultra-fancy mall (EmQuartier) as well as my favorite public park in Bangkok (Benjasiri). The park is great because it has basketball courts as well as a random assortment of dumbbells and barbells (and it’s FREE).

Room Pros: I have stayed at 2 different types of rooms at The Kaze. The first room (pictured up top) is the more modern room at a slightly higher price. This room is modern, clean and colorful. Like an apartment, you’ll have a bedroom, living room and dining area. It’s fantastic if you need or want a lot of space. The other room was a bit outdated but still very spacious (pictured below). From what I hear, they are renovating all rooms so every room will be a winner. Also, the rooms have a washing machine (again, very important in Bangkok due to the vast amounts of sweat you will generate).

Room Cons: The only con is if you’re expecting the newer rooms and you get the older one. If you’re unsure, just call and ask in advance. Very helpful customer service.

Hotel Pros: The hotel is very safe. There’s security 24/7 as well as parking. There’s a vending machine right outside the lobby for late-night beverages (non-alcoholic). They also have tuk tuk service available between 9-7 to bring you to Sukhimvit (the main road) and back. The manager also speaks perfect English.

Hotel Cons: One thing to keep in mind is that the hotel is a bit hard to find as it’s located in the middle of winding roads so taking the hotels’ tuk tuk is recommended. Otherwise, it’s a deceptive 15 minute walk to Sukhumvit.

One thing to keep in mind is that the hotel is a bit hard to find as it's located in the middle of winding roads. 

Recommended for: Those who are looking for a true apartment-style hotel at a great price in a quite neighborhood.

Favorite Restaurant: I must have eaten at Im Chan every day. It’s located on the corner of Sukhimvit and Soi Ari. Fantastic food and very cheap! As an additional note, if you’re married or with your wife, do not get a massage on Soi Ari as tempting as it looks as you’re eating pad Thai.

BeFreeMySheeple Bangkok Thailand Pet Friendly Hotels Kaze 34
Tuk tuk!

BeFreeMySheeple Bangkok Thailand Pet Friendly Hotels SillemonZeds 

37 Thanon Samsen, Wat Sam Phraya, Phra Nakhon, 10200 Bangkok, Thailand

No pet fee

How They Describe Themselves: “Located in Bangkok and with Khao San Road reachable within a 9-minute walk, Zeds provides a terrace, non-smoking rooms, free WiFi and a shared lounge. “

Location: What makes Zeds such an ideal location is that it’s close to many of Bangkok’s top tourist attractions such as Chao Phraya river (lots of upscale restaurants), The Grand Palace (absolutely stunning and worth spending 2-3 hours) and the world-famous backpacker center of the universe, Khao San Road. I’ve already featured Khao San Road on my blog twice: (1) The Craziest Party Streets I’ve Been To In The World!!! (2) Celebrating a 35th Birthday in Bangkok, Thailand

Room Pros: I’ve seen Zeds go by 2 different names, Zeds Hostel and Zeds Innovative Guest House. I think both names are appropriate because they offer both shared rooms (the hostel experience) and single rooms (with a private bathroom). The architecture is what makes this hotel completely unique. The hotel (including the rooms) is designed from massive industrial storage containers which is certainly innovative. How cool is that? The manager also wanted to point out that they use organic products in the bathroom as they believe in sustainability (and yes, they smelled delicious…lemongrass). I stayed in both single rooms that they offer (room 301 and 302) and while they are on the smaller side, the design makes them feel quite spacious. I especially loved the romantic lighting and unique design elements featured in each room.

BeFreeMySheeple Bangkok Pet Friendly Zeds

Room Cons: If you’re living out of a giant suitcase like I am, then the rooms are little bit too small but chances are, you have a normal suitcase so these rooms will totally work for you.

Hotel Pros: The location here is outstanding. You’re inches away from cheap eats, massages, and 7/11, the most important store in Thailand (ask a local where to get something and the answer is almost always “7/11.”). There’s also a rooftop with a decent view. I believe a pair of French bulldogs live on-site. So cute!

BeFreeMySheeple Bangkok Pet Friendly Zeds

Hotel Cons: The entrance is a bit difficult to find at first as you have to go through a small alleyway and enter from the back of the building. Also, the door is a bit tight so you’ll need to learn how to open both doors in order to get larger luggage pieces through. There’s no elevator in this hotel so if your luggage is heavy, get ready for a workout.

BeFreeMySheeple Pet Friendly Hotel Bangkok Zed

Recommended for: Those who want easy access to Khao San Road, one of the greatest party streets in the universe.

Favorite Restaurant: I would just walk to Khao San Road and eat all the delicious street food! And if you try the scorpion, send me a video of you eating it!

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Have you stayed at a pet-friendly hotel in Bangkok that you absolutely loved? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone (Guest Post by @The_Backpackingcouple)


By Mike & Jeanie

@the_backpackingcouple

We used to live for the weekends, counting down the days until our next vacation. We used to wake up for work, counting down the minutes until we could leave the office. We were always looking ahead, past the present moment. Now we love every minute & we never want the days to end, but it does help when the sunsets look like this.

BeFreeMySheeple Mike & Jeanie @the_backpackingcouple

We are both in our 30s & we knew we weren’t getting any younger. We knew something wasn’t right with the way we were living & we were ready for a change. While we know that work is a reality of life & the truth is that we enjoy working, we’re determined to find a way to work on our own terms. Yea, we sound like millennials but maybe that’s a good thing. We’re convinced that work doesn’t have to happen in an office, between the hours of 9-5. Some of the most successful people we know work remotely. They work on beaches, on planes but most importantly they love their life because they are working to live, not living to work.

BeFreeMySheeple Mike & Jeanie @the_backpackingcouple
Koh Kudu Yai

While we’re far from figuring it out, we are all in on trying to make it work. For all we know, we may end up back at an office job in NYC, but one thing is for sure, we know we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t step out of our comfort zone & give it a try.

BeFreeMySheeple Mike & Jeanie @the_backpackingcouple
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

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Have you escaped the 9-5 to pursue your happiness? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!