Celebrating a 35th Birthday in Bangkok, Thailand

One of my best friends (also named Adam), landed in Bangkok on December 9th, which happened to be his 35th birthday. We thought about driving to Pattaya to party.  But after a 24 hour flight from New York City to Bangkok, he didn’t want to add any additional travel time. Here’s how we celebrated his 35th birthday in Bangkok, Thailand.

Khao San Road, Bangkok

A great place to pre-game in Bangkok is Khao San Road.  You can get delicious street food here like pad Thai, meat skewers, spring rolls & smoothies. After a long 24 hour flight of eating only airplane food, Adam jumped on the first food cart he saw (spring rolls). The hot sauce was too spicy for him, but not me because I’m Mexican.

After filling up on spring rolls, there’s no better way to digest than a foot massage (along with a vodka soda bucket). I also showed Adam my newest magic trick (appearing beer).

Before we left, I had a fresh mango & banana smoothie and it paired perfectly with my lukewarm vodka soda bucket.

Riding a Tuk Tuk in Bangkok

The most efficient way to travel around Bangkok is a motorbike because they can weave around traffic. The most fun way to travel around Bangkok, especially if you’re with your friend, is a tuk tuk. And from my experience, almost all tuk tuk drivers speak at least a little English.

The only negative is that there’s no meter so you’ll need to negotiate a little bit on the pricing. The first driver we asked to take us from Khao San Road to Patpong Night Market (a 20 minute ride) wanted 500 baht ($15 uSD). The second driver we asked wanted a more reasonable 300 baht ($9 USD). In the US, a difference of $6 during a night out is almost irrelevant (I used to spend $200-300 every Friday/Saturday night in New York City), but here in Thailand, that’s the cost of a 1-hour massage.

Patpong Night Market, Bangkok

After Khao San Road, we headed to Patpong Night Market, a fun place to shop for clothes, electronics, souvenirs, etc. Lining the streets along the market are bars (some with go-go dancers), live music, restaurants, massages and the infamous ping pong shows.

Now I’ve been living in Thailand for almost 3 months and I never really had any interest in checking out a ping pong show. For those of you who don’t know what a ping pong show is, you can read more about it here. You’ll understand why this form of entertainment isn’t high on my list of priorities.

We got to Patpong Night Market a little too early as many of the bars were empty. We asked one of the bar managers if there was a busier bar. She led us to a staircase leading to a bar upstairs and I told her that we did not want to go to a ping pong show. She confirmed that this was not a ping pong show (“no ping pong show”) but of course as soon as we sat down, it was a ping pong show. A good rule of thumb when you’re at Patpong Night Market is if the bar is on the 2nd floor, it’s probably a ping pong show.

Looking back we should have immediately left. Instead we figured that since we were already there, we might as well have a quick drink. Adam got a beer and I ordered a vodka soda. I told him to drink as quickly as possible and not to engage or stare at the performers as if this would prevent us from being scammed (as I read these places tend to do online). The performers ignored us as we sat in the corner trying to quickly chug our drinks and GTFOH.

Ping Pong Show Scam

The bar was advertised as “no cover charge” with drinks being 100 baht ($3 USD).  What they failed to mention is that there isn’t a cover charge for entering, but there certainly is a cover charge for leaving. This is referred to as a “looking fee.” The looking fee (the fee for looking at the performers) at this fine establishment was 1,500 baht per person ($48 USD). There was also a 1,200 baht “service fee” per person ($37 USD). Our bill for 2 drinks (which we finished in under 10 minutes) … 6,000 baht!!! Roughly $180 USD. LOL.

We explained to the cashier that there was a misunderstanding :  we were told by the bar manager that this wasn’t a ping pong show (which is why we were leaving after 10 minutes). We settled on paying 1,000 baht ($32 USD). Still too much, but not on the scale of 6,000 baht. Had we engaged with the performers at all, we would have understood the charges. Our experience was consistent with many others that I’ve read about online here.

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok

After avoiding being fully scammed at a ping pong show, we went to the legendary and iconic Soi Cowboy. Like Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy was named in my article The Craziest Party Streets I’ve Been to in the World!

Soi Cowboy is a great place to have a few birthday drinks while looking at bikini-clad bartenders and hostesses. There’s also live music and restaurants so you can eat between drinks.

Pretty soon after we got there, I stopped vlogging. In keeping consistent with my vlog, I’ll end the article here. Let’s just say it was a wild and memorable night.

Bangkok is a great place to celebrate a birthday or bachelor party. I wish we had time to hit up a rooftop bar or RCA, but there’s always next time!

Have you celebrated a birthday in Bangkok?  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.

Is Thailand Dog-Friendly?

Is Thailand Dog-Friendly? If you’re obsessed with your dogs like I am and you’re either thinking about moving to or visiting Thailand with your fur-babies, then read this! I’m going to talk about my personal experiences having not one – but TWO dogs with me during my 1st month in Thailand. 

First – it’s important to know that I have what are considered small breed dogs : a Yorkie (Raindrop) & a Shih Tzu (Flex). Combined, my dogs weigh 28 lbs (or 12.7 kg). If needed, I can always quickly scoop my dogs up and carry them.  I also have the option of putting them in dog bags and carrying them. If I zip the bags shut, most people won’t even realize I have dogs with me.

I love all dogs but I’ve always preferred smaller breeds because they’re simply more convenient due to their size.

Before we get into it…

Is Thailand safe for my dogs?

The answer is mostly yes! I did a lot of research before moving to Thailand and the safety of my dogs was of utmost importance.  In Thailand, I at least know my dogs will not end up on a dinner plate.

So, is Thailand dog-friendly?

Thailand is a weird combination of being very dog-friendly and then not dog-friendly. Here’s some observations from my 1st month living in the Land of Smiles.

PRO: Whenever I walk down the street with my dogs, most people smile or make kissy noises at them. Thai people love dogs.

CON: Bangkok is the hottest city in the world and I quickly realized the impact this has on my dogs. It simply is not safe to take your dogs for long walks during the day-time due to the high temperatures and humidity. My solution was to invest in a baby stroller so I now look like a crazy dog daddy. Yolo?

Me in Khao San Road in 2018.

PRO: While many Asian countries continue to eat dogs today, Thailand is one of the few where eating dog never became part of their culinary history (outside of few remote villages). Since then, the Thai government passed animal welfare laws in 2014 for dogs, cats and other animals. Bravo! You can read more here

CON: Many streets do not have full sidewalks so you have to share the road with cars & motorbikes. I strongly recommend keeping your dogs on a short leash while walking them.

PRO: Some restaurants & spas (that aren’t dog-friendly) have allowed my dogs in (when I have them in the baby stroller) without much fuss. After they see how well-behaved they are, I’m basically allowed in with my dogs after that (with or without stroller).

Foot massages with my kids.

CON: Not only are there homeless dogs in Thailand, but many owners keep their dogs unleashed in front of their stores or in a front yard that isn’t closed. If your dog likes to bark at every dog he sees or hears, you’ll have dogs seemingly coming out of nowhere!

PRO: There are a number of hotels, spas, cafes and restaurants that are dog-friendly catering to this specific audience. In America, your dog has to be a Service Dog to be allowed into an indoor restaurant (or most establishments) and even (some) pet-friendly hotels will charge fees but here it really just seems up to ownership/management.

Note : I have successfully snuck my dogs into some non-pet friendly hotels & restaurants by keeping them in their stroller or in their bags. If it’s in a stroller and whatever’s in the stroller is quiet, people assume it’s a sleeping baby. WRONG. It’s 2 awesome dogs. #winning

CON: If you happen to be in a grassy area, insects will swarm your dogs. I put Raindrop & Flex in their baby stroller on a grass field and Raindrop started freaking out. I quickly checked on her and ants had climbed all the way up the stroller and were covering my dogs bodies. These tropical ants are lit. No wonder Thai dogs prefer sleeping on concrete here.

PRO: If your dogs love the beach, it seems like all beaches in Thailand are dog-friendly as there are a number of local beach dogs already hanging out.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I’d have to drive to specific beaches.

CON: It’s sometimes very hard to find a taxi that will accept your dogs. This is very frustrating when I have places to be (luckily I don’t really have places to be because I’m a digital nomad😂).

PRO: Thailand uses Grab (instead of Uber) and you have the option to pick a motorbike. So far I haven’t had any issues holding my dogs on the back of a motorbike. If your dogs like to stick their heads out your car window when you’re driving, then they’ll love this!

CONDogs cannot fly in-cabin on any Thai airplanes. They must be in-cargo. If you have to fly your dog in/out of Thailand, try to schedule your flight at night when temperatures have cooled down.

PRO: Even the temple grounds are dog-friendly! While your dogs cannot go into the temple themselves, they’re more than welcome to hang out outside of the temple. I saw many monks with pet dogs. 

At Big Buddha Phuket. Epic.

 

CON: There are street dogs here so they are untrained animals which means they piss, shit & bark wherever they want so there’s a perception from some people (likely non-dog owners) that all dogs will piss, shit & bark in their place of business.

PRO: Thai women love dogs. I think all women love dogs. As a single guy, this helps. If you’re single, get dogs. You won’t be as needy and you’ll automatically become more desirable. If you’re not single, get dogs so when your inevitable breakup happens, you won’t care as much because you’ll have unconditional love from your dogs. Just make sure you figure out who owns the dogs before you get them. The worst thing is losing your dogs during the break-up.

CONEmotional Support Animals and Service Animals are yet to be recognized in Thailand so even if your dog is required for an actual medical need, this isn’t recognized or protected by any laws (yet).

PRO: Many restaurants and bars have outside seating areas, so even if the restaurant or bar is not dog-friendly, you can still sit outside with them. 

With Jeff Bukhari – still single.

CON: Most public parks are so perfect for dogs with grassy areas & huge parks to play fetch in, but many of them are not dog-friendly. 

PRO: Getting your dogs groomed or going to the vet is so cheap here! The following services were $80 total!:

-2 dog haircuts
-2 dog nail clippings
-2 dog anal gland cleanings
-2 dog teeth cleanings
-2 vet appointments
-2 medications (for ear infections)

CON: But pet stores are expensive. Buying high-quality dog food costs about the same price as the US. 

PRO: You get to live in Thailand, the Land of Smiles, with your best friend(s)???? What else could be better!!!

So there you have it. Some idea of what to expect if you bring your dog(s) to Thailand. Just make sure you go through the entire pet permit & import process correctly. It’s a bit of a headache but I was able to figure it out with a little help from a Thai friend.

My next article will include some of the best dog-friendly hotels that I’ve stayed at so far.

If you have any questions about owning a dog in Thailand, feel free to contact me adam@befreemysheeple.com.

And of course follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

Don’t Be Afraid of Change (I’m Moving to Thailand)

When I tell people I’m moving to Thailand the first reaction I get is a double-take and a “Wait … you’re MOVING to Thailand?” and the second question is usually “are you nervous?” and I really don’t know what there is to be nervous about.

I didn’t get this reaction when I told people I’m moving to LA which in comparison to moving to Thailand feels pedestrian. That move was met with an eye-roll by most New Yorkers (“you traitor”). I think people ask if I’m nervous about moving to Thailand because they are plugged into the matrix and it just sounds like such a wild and crazy idea that the concept takes them out of their cozy little paint-by-the-numbers comfort zone and into an unknown abyss of uncertainty and adventure. I’m innately a risk-taker so I haven’t felt nervous once…just excited.

Ever since I became a “traveler” 5 years ago, I’ve become more worldly and appreciative of everything I have (and less focused on the things I don’t have). Things, material goods … none of that stuff matters. What matters most (to me) is the freedom to wake up every day and do what I want (with my kids 🐶🐶) because when this life is over, I want to look back at it, feel like I lived a fulfilling life and mic drop. Papi out.

Moving to Los Angeles 3 years ago was the greatest change I’ve ever made : I learned to live in the moment, de-prioritize work, escape a 9-5, create my own career, re-focus on health (I lost 20 pounds and 10% bodyfat) and really live. Without my time in LA there would be no move to Thailand.

Los Angeles isn’t the solution for everyone and I have no idea how long I’ll be in Thailand for, but I applaud all my fellow change agents who took themselves out of their comfort zones and did something epic like pack up their entire lives and move somewhere else. And if you haven’t done it, do it. Maybe you’ll hate it, but you can always move back.

Don’t be afraid of change. 🗽➡️🌴➡️🇹🇭

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at adam@befreemysheeple.com and of course please follow my journeys on Instagram @adamfranciscoor my vlog channel @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple.

Do You Like Thai Food? Chang Sensory Trails 2018 in Los Angeles, CA

As many of you know, I am moving to Bangkok, Thailand in October of this year (to pursue a freer lifestyle…be free my sheeple!) so I was super excited when Chang Beer invited me to their event in Hollywood, CA called  Chang Sensory Trails to try some local LA Thai cuisine & drink some Thai-imported Chang Beer.

One of the best things about Thailand has to be their food! The typical Thai dish combines the 4 major tastes:  sweet, salty, sour & bitter which makes the Thai flavor very distinctive. There are also a number of Thai dishes that are on the healthier side because many dishes have a ton of vegetables and can be served with brown rice. #FitFam

This event had a ton of local Thai food trucks but the one I picked was WatDongMoonLek. I had their Pad Thai which was delicious!  Perfect combination of sweetness & spiciness. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe their almost-1,000 Yelp reviews.

Pad Thai, a classic Thai dish

Of course there was plenty of Chang Beer to go around. I’m not too big of beer drinker these days but I actually like Chang Beer. It has a light, refreshing taste and it reminds me of my future home in Thailand.

It’s also a good thing I drank a few beers because as soon as I saw the stage, I lit that thing up with my incredible dance moves & aggressive nightclub antics.

When the beat is too good and your moves are too lit that the camera can’t focus