If you’re going to get married, you might as well give your close family and friends an excuse to take a vacation and escape from their boring, monotonous sheeple lives. Plus, because destination weddings are typically more expensive for guests to attend AND require a few vacation days, so you weed out those tier 2 friends and family that you didn’t want coming anyway. lol.
A huge thanks to Melanie and Victor for inviting me to their special day and a thank you to the El Dorado Royale for a memorable trip! Onto the vlog review of this gorgeous, all-inclusive, adult-only resort in Riviera Maya.
The customer service is top-notch. As soon as I arrived at the resort, I was greeted by “Uncle” Clay as well as an ice cold bottle of water (relief from the Mexican heat!). I also got paired up with a great guy named Francisco who gave me a quick tour of the resort and helped me settle into my room. There’s two Starbucks on-premise which is absolutely wonderful.
My room was awesome! I had a beautiful view of the resort. The only negative thing was that I didn’t have a +1 so I didn’t have anyone to enjoy the hot tub with. The bottle of champagne on ice and fresh fruit was a classy touch. That view tho!
From personal experience, the food at all-inclusive resorts often leaves a lot to be desired but I am happy to say that the food at El Dorado was actually really good! I was joined by a few close friends (including my kids) to sample some of the menu items. The chicken club sandwich was moist!
Although scuba diving was technically not a part of El Dorado Royale’s offering, it was available at the nearby Iberostar. I don’t like scuba diving but my friend Stephen Castro is a licensed scuba diver so he filmed his first ever vlog for you guys.
Not only are the casual restaurants at El Dorado Royale solid, but their upscale restaurants such as Rincon Mexicano were great as well. I asked for the hottest hot sauce and our waiter went to the back to pull out the special sauce…holy moly!
El Dorado Royale also had a “rifle” range on-premise (rifle in quotes because they used BB pellets as opposed to real bullets – safety first!). My dad won a few sharpshooter awards with the M14 & M16 in the army during the Vietnam War so I was hoping that I’d also be able to hit bullseye. Unfortunately I did not receive that gene from him (moreso because I was adopted). Shout out to my adorable gun safety instructor Haxby!
What a beautiful place for a wedding with such an awesome group of people.
Lots of tequila shots, dancing and popped collars.
As I sit here and watch the sun rise on a grateful universe, I wanted to share my thoughts on Phu Quoc, Vietnam. I was warned ahead of time by locals and travelers that I might get bored after more than a few days in Phu Quoc. Is it true? Read on to find out.
What is Phu Quoc?
Phu Quoc is an island in the gulf of Thailand that lies in the middle of Cambodia and Vietnam. Currently you can enter without a visa (whereas if you enter anywhere else in Vietnam, you need a visa or apply for an invitation letter in advance).
My first impression of Phu Quoc
You can immediately tell that Phu Quoc is undergoing rapid expansion and development. The entire island feels like it’s under construction. If you’re looking for a developed island like Phuket, this is not it. I’m guessing this is what some of the Thai islands felt like 10-20 years ago. This island definitely feels unfinished, even in the more developed areas.
One thing that really disappointed me was how many makeshift landfills I’ve seen across the island. It doesn’t seem like recycling or showing respect for where you live is something the island is focusing on just yet.
However, on the flipside, I’m currently at Golden Sand Bar and this is one of the most Instagrammable places I’ve been to in Vietnam. It’s almost like a playground for adults. Beautiful sculptures, great music and cocktails make this bar one of my favorites on this side of the world. Plus, unlike the neighboring Sunset Sanato Beach Club, this bar is dog-friendly. There’s 2 cute pups that live on premise. This is the kind of place that you bring a significant other to such as your dogs.
Is Phu Quoc Good for Single People?
Speaking of significant others, Phu Quoc is not an island I would recommend for bachelors or bachelorettes. Unless you’re open to sharing a bedroom with 7 other people in a hostel, you’ll have a hard time meeting singles. I’ve never stayed in a shared room before simply because I started traveling after my career was established in my late-20s. If you are open to staying in a hostel, your experience might differ from mine.
For example, look at my Bumble results after 5 minutes of swiping …
Everywhere across Thailand (except for the remote towns), it seemed that local women preferred dating farangs (foreigners), a subject I’ll discuss more in the future. This relationship dynamic doesn’t seem to exist in Phu Quoc on a mainstream level. It’s such an isolated island it seemed like every local girl had a local boyfriend. I can appreciate that but as their tourism industry continues to grow, I’m sure the dating culture here will start to shift. If you want to meet singles or experience a good nightlife, Phu Quoc may not be for you. This is the type of island where I recommend bringing sand to the beach (in other words, it’s a slow-paced, romantic island that’s a great choice for couples to get away).
Is Phu Quoc cheap?
I was also surprised at how expensive some of the activities in Phu Quoc were compared to Thailand. It was very difficult to find a massage for less than. 300,000 dong ($12 USD) whereas in Thailand I saw 200 baht ($6 USD) massages everywhere.
This of course changes if you go to the beach and find makeshift massage tables. Here they typically charge 200,000 dong ($8 USD) for the hour and it’s my ideal way to get a massage. Nothing beats the sounds of the ocean and a cool breeze against your skin offering relief from the heat while a Vietnamese woman soothes your soul by way of deep-tissuing your muscles. For a few extra bucks, you can get an aloe vera massage which is good if you’ve been laying out in the sun.
And please tip your service workers generously if you can. They work hard and a dollar to an American or European or Australian is much easier to come by. Tipping your masseuse 20% just simply isn’t enough. I always tipped at least 50%. If a massage cost $6 USD, I would tip $3-5 USD. Even at $11 USD all-in, this is still less than just the tip for a massage in America (which are usually $50+/hour and a $10+ tip)!
Is the food good?
This one is purely subjective. Some people love Vietnamese food (I never got into pho). I was disappointed with it. I guess when you spend so much time in Thailand which arguably has the best (and cheapest) street food in the world, the bar is set so high that anything else is going to disappoint you. Thailand … you’re like dating a 10. Dating anything less (even a 9) will feel disappointing after that!
One standout restaurant that I really enjoyed that was recommended to me by a couple that has been living in Phu Quoc for 3 years was Crab House. It has a really cool Western vibe, great customer service and amazing seafood boils. It was a bit on the pricier side so if you’re looking for cheap eats, then this place isn’t for you.
Another important story that I would be remiss to not include is how I got my first gout attack. I stayed at a really nice hotel called Sunlight Bungalow which was steps from the beach. Nice little hotel with great staff and customer service. They also have a restaurant attached to the hotel which was always busy for dinner so you know the food is good. Their speciality is fresh fish caught daily and BBQed to perfection.
Normally the only seafood I eat is sushi and I typically stick with salmon and eel. I figured if I’m on an island, why not eat a fish every day? Well, seafood is one of the major triggers of a gout attack due to the high levels of purines. This seafood overload (which is not part of my normal diet) completely ruined me. I woke up in so much pain that I couldn’t even walk. 1,000 MG of aspirin barely made a dent in the pain. I didn’t find out that I had suffered my first gout attack until days later. No fault of the restaurant but it reinforced a lesson in a painful way : too much of anything is never good.
At least Vietnam airlines has a great special services team.
English on Phu Quoc
Another challenge that I faced in Phu Quoc was a lack of English. I had to use Google Translate almost everywhere I went. There were a few people that I could talk to without a translator, but more often than not this wasn’t the case. In comparison, I almost never needed a translator in Thailand.
Is Phu Quoc dog-friendly?
I was pleasantly surprised at how dog-friendly the island was. Not once did I have a problem bringing my dogs into a bar, restaurant or coffee shop. Many of them even had dogs themselves! Unlike Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi where there is a dog-kidnapping market (either for ransom to sell back to the owner or to eat), Phu Quoc doesn’t seem to have that industry. It feels much safer for my dogs. In general, people reacted very positively to my dogs (similar to my experience in Thailand).
Summary of Phu Quoc
In summary, if I had to choose between Phu Quoc and Thailand, I would choose one of the Thai islands instead. In my opinion, it has better food, a better nightlife, more options for singles, more English-speakers, and in general is much cleaner.
This is not to say that Phu Quoc isn’t worth visiting … I would just recommend it for a couple looking for a chill, romantic getaway.
When I moved to Thailand in October 2018, I was worried that it was almost a guarantee that I would gain weight. Thailand is known for delicious (and cheap) street food with many of their dishes featuring rice and noodles as the primary ingredients. The iced coffees in Thailand are often loaded with condensed milk and sugar. The desserts (like mango sticky rice) are spectacular. And the nightlife of Thailand – from Bangkok to Phuket and even little beach towns like Hua Hin – is awesome. It’s even more fun because it’s super cheap compared to partying in America. For example, it cost me $100 USD for bottle service with top notch table service at Sugar Club Bangkok last week. This would have cost me $700 USD at a place like Greenhouse in NYC.
With that said, I not only was able to gain muscle mass while living in Hua Hin, Thailand (and exploring the rest of the country) but I was able to lose fat as well. I am going to share some basic tips and strategies that I used to improve my health and aesthetics during my time in Thailand. The cool part about this article is that many of these tips will work for anyone no matter where they live.
Before we get into it, I want to be clear that I am not a fitness or nutrition expert. I enjoy working out because I want to look good and feel good, but I do not take any supplements, I do not meal prep, and I do not track my “macros” or “micros.” Admittedly, my fitness and appearance would go to the next level if I incorporated supplements, meal prep and nutrient tracking into my lifestyle, but I’m the kind of guy that likes to eat a bacon cheeseburger and drink vodka sodas. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. #thanos
These are simple, common sense tips that almost anyone can immediately incorporate into their daily routine and it will make a positive impact on their health.
Drank my iced coffee black
When I lived in the US, my Starbucks order was “venti iced coffee, splash of soy milk, 2 pumps vanilla syrup.” Typically, Starbucks puts 5 pumps of flavored syrup into their venti drinks which translates to over 100 calories. if you’re drinking 2-3 of these a day, you’re adding 200-300+ calories into your day just from coffee. Thailand takes it to the next level by adding condensed milk. While this makes their coffee absolutely delicious (almost like a dessert), I removed all condiments from my coffee and drank it black. It took me awhile to get used to the taste but after I did, I felt so much healthier and leaner. Also, my favorite spot to get freshly-brewed iced coffee was 7-Eleven (they have cafes in Thailand).
Take it from @maxlugavere, Author of New York Times best-seller Genius Foods.
With pad thai being one of the most famous dishes in Thailand, I mostly avoided anything that had rice or noodles. Instead, I ordered a plate of stir-fried or grilled vegetables to pair with my proteins (typically chicken with peppers and onions). This filled me up without all the extra calories from carbs.
I also discovered a type of oatmeal dish called Muesli which is a cold breakfast cereal dish made with rolled oats. The typical toppings were yogurt and fresh fruit. According to Men’s Health, “Muesli. Originating in Switzerland, muesli is a fiber-and-protein power combination of rolled oats, dried fruits, and nuts. Though 1 cup pushes 300 calories, the payoff in vitamins and minerals across the board makes it a hearty meal.”
Cut back on drinking and never drank beer
When I drink, it’s whiskey, tequila and vodka (no mixers). Beer is an inefficient way to get a buzz. It’s a lot of calories, it makes you feel bloated, and it puts a tire on your stomach. To be clear, any amount of alcohol is not good for you if you’re trying to build muscle and lose fat. It’s empty calories, it makes you hungover (which negatively affects your workout the following day), and it hurts your recovery. I kept drinking to 2-4 nights a month, which is almost like being completely sober in Thailand.
Worked out consistently
Whether or not you’re new to lifting weights or you’ve been doing it for awhile, you know that consistency is the number one rule. The fitness program I primarily used was Anabolic Aliens on YouTube. What I like about this channel is that the host, Mike Rosa, does his HIIT routines along with you. He doesn’t just explain what to do but he does it in real-time. He’s put together routines as short as 5 minutes that have seriously killed me. His channel is good for gym rookies (both men and women) and bodybuilders who want to mix things up.
And if you find yourself in Hua Hin, the gym I recommend is Metamorph Hua Hin. It’s the only boutique gym in Hua Hin and they offer both personal training and yoga. Their day passes are 150 baht but you get a better deal the longer timeframe you buy (1 week, 1 month). The owners O & Nick have become good friends of mine so if you go there, tell them I recommended it. And if you’re in Hua Hin during the full moon, they have full moon meditation.
Rode my bicycle everywhere
I had a bicycle during my time in Hua Hin and I would sometimes find myself biking 10-15 km in a day. It didn’t feel like I was exercising because I was just trying to get places but it added up. If you live in a climate where you’re able to walk or bike between places, take advantage and sneak some additional calorie-burning into your daily routine.
Shared my carbs with my dogs
Even when I was eating mango sticky rice, I needed to find a way to not finish all the sweet rice. My solution was to share some with my dogs! Now to those who say that this isn’t healthy for my dogs, understand I love them more than anything in the world, but also that they walk anywhere between 3-5km a day. They walk more in 1 day than most dogs walk in a week. The point is that they burn off all the calories that daddy feeds them. Whoooooose a good girl? Whoooooose a good boy?
Late night meals were relatively healthy
Given my night owl schedule, I would often eat dinner around midnight. I found restaurants like Conom on the Rock on Soi 88 that had healthier options such as roasted chicken. Another hack that I discovered was that the 7-Elevens in Thailand had refrigerated grilled chicken packets that they could heat up in the microwave for you. And they only cost 40 baht ($1.33 USD)! With 20 grams of protein and only 90 calories, these snacks were life-savers. I would sometimes eat 2-3 of them for dinner, and of course share some with my dogs.
Drank 3-4 fresh coconuts a day
Every day, one of the moments I would look forward to the most was getting to the beach and immediately ordering a cold fresh coconut. I didn’t even realize how beneficial coconut water was for weight loss until recently. This article from Women’s Health explains how powerful coconut water is for weight loss, or you can read the below from NDTV.com.
“For all those looking to lose weight can have coconut water. Coconut water is low in calories and easy on stomach. It is packed with bio-active enzymes that are known to ease digestion and boost metabolism. The higher the metabolic rate, the more fat you burn. And the best part is that even though coconut water has a very low concentration of carbohydrates, it still gives you a feeling of being full. Drinking coconut water at least 3-4 times a day may help in losing those extra kilos.”
Ate a lot of fresh fruit
Some people say that fruit will make you gain weight because it has carbs and this is half-true. Yes if you eat 5 pounds of fruit a day, you will almost certainly gain fat, but according to Healthline, “Fruit is low in calories but high in nutrients. Eating it in place of a high-calorie snack can help increase weight loss.” So there you go. If you have a sweet tooth, and a craving hits you, it’s better to have a freshly-cut, cold pineapple, than a Snickers.
Bonus Food Vlogs!
If you’ve been a good boy or girl and you’re looking for a place to get delicious, home-baked desserts in Hua Hin, the Pang Hwan Bakery (across from Hua Hin’s Big C) is a must. My uncle said their pandan pudding is the best dessert he had during his entire time in Thailand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.