My Top Islands Around The World (So Far)

So, after going to Maldives, I thought to myself, “man, people around the world should know what are the best islands to go to.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of islands out there in Europe that I do not know about, but from my personal perspective, these three islands I’ve gone to give a cultural diversity punch to it.  In Europe, it would predominantly be European and possibly American, which means the diversity would lack compared to the places I’ve been to.  So, with that being said, and a podcast at the bottom for some audio fun, LET’S DIVE IN!

Number 3

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Maldives!

Hey, it’s not a sad number 3….it still trumps Krabi, Phuket, Koh Phangan and every other beach in Thailand – period.

Maldives is a cluster of islands sitting in the middle of the Indian ocean.  It’s really to access if you live in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even in some parts of Asia like Myanmar, Thailand, etc.

Being able to island hop, seeing turquoise waters everywhere and tasting some of the super fine cuisine on the island is a massive plus.  The diversity is amazing.  I was served by a gorgeous Balinese the first day at a restaurant a couple hundred meters away from my hotel.  Next day, when I went on a full-day excursion, I met people from all over the world such as Indonesia & Greek chefs, to Egyptian friends.  The clean streets and the super relaxed culture makes this a great destination.

There isn’t much of a nightlife.  After 3 nights, you’ve pretty much seen it all, unless you’re that couple who loves to relax on a private island for weeks at a time.  This is a destination to escape all the hustling and bustling of the developing world.  Period.

Number 2

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Hawaii!

Having traveled here twice, this is a ridiculous wonderful place.  You have Diamond Head overlooking Waikiki, Aulani Disney Resort, Pineapple Plantation, Turtle Beach in the north…just so much! Oh, that was just on Honolulu.  For those with an extra bit of cash, you have the Big Island and Maui, which has cliff-jumping and other insane activities, waiting for you.

Hawaii, however, is not a place for single travellers.  The first time I went there was a disaster.  I was bored out of my mind and there isn’t a place where a single guy can walk in and chat it up.  No way.  People go with groups, families (lots of Japanese tourists) and it’s just not that type of place like Phuket or Krabi.  If you’re a solo traveler, Thailand (unfortunately, lol) is one of the best places to go because you can meet people easily.

The second time I went there I had the trip of a life-time with my best friend Alissa.

Rent-A-Car! – See the island in it’s entirety by renting the car! Walking up and down Waikiki can get a bit boring.  Taking the bus is even worse because they rarely come.

Consider The Other Islands – Plan it out according to your schedule, because the other islands houses things that the ultra-touristy Honolulu doesn’t.

Number 1

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BALI!

My absolute favorite place on the planet.  No, it wasn’t because of the airport staff paying “la bamba” while I was boarding my plane to leave.  It was a combination of the wondrous hospitality, breathtaking views, remote beaches, night safari, and the resounding culture that was jaw-dropping.

In Bali, you don’t just have an island, and you don’t have a very commercialized city like you do in Honolulu.  You have Jimbaran to the south, which is full of resorts.  You have the ridiculously outlandish party scene in Kuta, which is full of awesome Australians.  You have Ubud about an hour north, which is the most gorgeous jungle one could ever imagine.  You have Komodo island, which is full of creatures that are said to have been around at the same time as Sabre-tooth Tigers and Woolly  Mammoths.  Mt. Bromo, which provides the most compelling views of the island.  This place is just heaven.  When I left, I almost cried.  Going from a place like Bali, back to Bangkok….you can imagine why (LOL).  I was there for a holiday and a competition.  Special shout out to The Sintesa Jimbaran for the best service I’ve ever had (until Maldives, but you’re still in my heart).

These are three islands…and the top three I’ve been to in my lifetime.  Honestly, depends what side of the world you’re coming from.  If you’re coming from America, Hawaii is your best bet.  If you’re in Asia, you’re in a perfect range because you can visit either of the three.  If you’re in Australia, Bali is just an 8 hour ride away….Hawaii could be more difficult to get to (but not anymore because Jetstar Asia now goes there).  If you’re in Thailand, obviously Bali and Maldives.

I will give it to you like this: forest, sea, partying = Bali.  Trekking, hiking, beaches, some nightlife, some islands = Hawaii. Super relaxation and island hopping, along with the best waters in the world = Maldives.

Podcast

https://www.spreaker.com/user/thearseniobuckshow/my-top-three-islands-on-the-planet-in-my

Express Inn at Hulhumale, Maldives – The Lady That Changed My Life Forever!

Buckle up — because this is going to be a life-changing blog.

Man, oh man.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly what took place yesterday.  Here, if you guys don’t want to read, here’s the podcast….and I’ll write what happened, on top of some things you need to know if you travel to Male, Maldives.

Let’s just say that when I came here, I was unable to obtain any currency.  No Maldivian Rupiah is made available for anyone.  I tried selling my Thai baht at the airport and they simply said, “we don’t accept it.”

I replied, “guys, I have no other money. I tried using my US bank card at the ATM and it didn’t work!  He said, “I’m sorry.  That’s the only way you can get money.”

After following that, my bank got 3 suspicious transactions and restricted my card immediately, so I had to use an app to call back to America and explain the situation.  20 minute conversation lead to a wonderful assistant telling me, “listen, you have only two transactions left that you can use.  We will block your card and send you a new one.”

I said, “omg, could you stay on the line so I can buy an Air Asia ticket for tomorrow to head back home?”  She followed suit, along with me paying for my hotel and that was the end.  My what was suppose to be three day trip to the ultra-gorgeous island named Maldives was coming to a horrific stop in just 24 hours –  all because I couldn’t get Maldivian currency with my Thai Baht or USD.

After buying and sorting everything out, I sat seaside watching kids run around and play; jet skis flying at high-speeds in the distance, wonderful people swimming out to a platform 50 meters off the shore so they can run around on the platform.  Myself? Wound on my leg that was continuing to fester, developing into something much scarier, drowned in my sorrows while putting my hands atop my head thinking, “why me?”  All I wanted to do was come here and have an incredible holiday.

The Turning Point

A Bangladeshi gentleman who works at the front desk invited me for dinner…on him.  It was 7pm and I fell asleep because I wasn’t hungry.  I was in REM when I heard some door knocks and a man speaking outside.  I knew it was him, so I jumped out of bed, opened the door and he was heading downstairs saying, “don’t worry, food and everything is paid for.”

I said, “huh?”

He said, “we’re taking care of you. Come downstairs.”

I said, “man, I’m just going to get some sleep.”

He insisted, “come downstairs.”

And so I did.  I went outside and there was the woman who I first shook hands with at the airport.  The events that followed are events that I’ll be telling for the rest of my life.  Podcast down below.

Air Asia To Maldives = Spectacular

Air Asia, you have proved me wrong. What a spectacular flight heading into Male, Maldives. Also, this was the first ever non-stop flight directly from Don Meung International Airport. Normally there are stop overs in either Kuala Lumpur or Colombo, Sri Lanka.  A320-200 are revolutionized aircraft and they do an incredible job flying over water. Now, flying to Malaysia or Singapore is a pain in the ass because of what I call “bad air.”  

Can I add that it was on-time? Ok, maybe 13 minutes between takeoff, but fair enough. Malaysia Airlines was a whopping 2.5 hours later and they just shrugged their shoulders incredulously. Lol. 

Can I also add that I fell into lust? First, women with short-hair strike a nerve. This was the most beautiful Thai girl I’ve ever seen in my life: flight attendant. Yikes! Tomoko of Singapore Airlines is still in my heart from four years ago, but this particular flight attendant got my attention. Furthermore, this was the first flight I’ve ever seen a flight manager wearing an off-color compared to the rest of the attendants. She was wearing black and everyone else was wearing red. Interesting.

Food – the best airline food I’ve ever had on any plan in 11 years – period. Penang pork, fried egg and steamed rice never tasted so good before in my life. On top of that, how’s it better than some 5-star Airlines food?

Anyways, I’m actually writing this on the plane and it’s going to post immediately after getting wifi. So, it’s a relatively short blog; however, those who are looking for an easy, cheap, quick flight to one of the most gorgeous islands on the planet from Bangkok – Air Asia. 

Done!

The Night Before….Maldives

Man, just sitting here on the night before, pondering how I was able to get to this juncture in my life.  Even looking back and trying to connect the dots is hard.  Vietnam and Bali last year.  America, Malaysia, Maldives, Malaysia, America this year? I mean, how?

Is it because I’m an aggressive saver? Live on pennies? No, no, no….I live on a side of the planet where there are so many gorgeous islands around.  I have Fiji, which is only 9 hours away.  I have Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Tokelau, and other French Polynesian islands sitting in the middle of the Pacific; along with almost a hundred other countries within a 10-hour plane ride away.

A lot of you are probably wondering what I do.  Well, I’m not an English teacher, I’m a life teacher.  I’m a teacher of living life, and there aren’t many of us out there in the world.  I have an unbelievable job that allows me to take vacations when I want, and, of course, where I want.  I live in a country whereas I can save 70% of my salary every month.  I have opportunities whereas companies of all kinds are approaching me to teach there staff because I’m just “different” from other teachers.  All of these things happened after I went through the unbelievable amount of hell.

Yes, this wasn’t just given to me. I had to battle the senseless comments that revolved around the color of my skin.  I had to walk off a campus of a school because they said, “no, black teacher.” Some of our greatest motivations come gift-wrapped in sandpaper.  These things are all part of the process.  It’s part of the journey.  Don’t take it personal….although it’s on a very person level.  Just know that with every negative circumstance or circumstance in general, something is trying to emerge.  When that something emerges, you’ll understand why it happened to begin with.

I want to thank all my Asians, Americans, Europeans, Africans and South Americans from all around the world for tuning into my podcast and blogs.  This is the blog before serenity.  Am I ready?

Bali, Indonesia + Tough Mudder + Singapore Airlines = Trip of a Lifetime!

I was on a treadmill with one of my colleagues thinking about the Bali bombings and trying to conjure up an excuse NOT TO GO to Bali.  Given the events that took place a decade and a half ago –  a person, such as myself, would be terrified of heading to a resort island because of extremist groups.

“What? Are you seriously afraid of something that hasn’t happened in 15 years? Are you just making excuses? Stop it.  You sound ridiculous. Just go!” he said.

The next couple of weeks of pondering lead to me finally booking a ticket of course on Singapore Airlines (the fear of flying disintegrates when you fly with 5 star airlines).

I’m going to Bali!

The Lead Up

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Booking a hotel at the famous Baiyoke Sky in Bangkok was essential in terms of traveling to the airport  in the morning.  Is the area around the hotel legitimate? Not necessarily.  A bit dodgy once you step downstairs to be honest, but it was quiet and good enough for traveling instead of hauling from the outer suburbs while trying to beat the traffic.  Not worth it.

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Bangkok Airport, which is still technically new to the area, has it’s own nice perks.  Over the last four years, massive renovations have taken place to whereas you can charge your phone at stand-alone-kiosks! Yeah, Americans….I know.  Delta Airlines provides passengers at Sky Harbour International Airport in Arizona this for free, but Thailand is a completely different place.  When I saw some of the flight attendants and airport personnel setting up shop for the flight from Bangkok to Singapore, I bursted into excitement before the gorgeous Singapore Airlines A320 (smaller version) came roaring into the gate.  Ahhhh…alas! Here’s the beginning of my crazed trip!

Changi International Airport – Singapore

I was extremely critical of Changi the last time around because at the wee hours of the morning, there isn’t anything open.  Given the fact that skytrax and other award giving websites deemed this to be the #1 airline in the world, I expect there to be currency exchange counters open and at least trains running through the terminals. NOPE!

However, during the day…it’s wonderful.  I still believe that the signage is just too much at times.  Too overwhelming and very hard to figure out what to do.  For those traveling to Changi, be sure to figure out exactly what you’re going to do upon arrival or you’ll just be running in circles.

Bali, Indonesia

Gorgeously amazing flight attendants with caramel skin (Balinese I’m guessing) doing a last run of assisting passengers before the descent.  Unfortunately, it was nearing 9pm at night, which takes away the gorgeous daytime view of the island, Mt. bromo, and a few other places. I recall seeing some lights in the distance outside my window, but the terrifying part about it was the glare coming from the ocean. We were literally 100m from the water with no airport in sight.  FINALLY (which seemed like forever) the landing came and I took a huge breather.  Wow, as an African American, being from the neighborhood I’m from…..I’ve arrived to Indonesia, which is my first time arrival and 11th country. CHECK!

From immigration officers telling Chinese people to go away, from them not even checking my bags or suspecting anything suspicious of me.  Thank you, Bali.  First time here and there isn’t any racial profile going on.  Once I walk outside the terminal, my hotel (Sintesa Jimbaran) and private driver greeted me.  He took my luggage, went to the car, and then spoke about Bali in FLUENT ENGLISH about the language on the island, people, religion, and just about everything else.  The most important part of the trip…..why? I felt there was a connection.  He was talking from the soul, unlike most Thai taxi drivers who sound overly friendly and make the wrong left turn to make more money on the meter.  This gentleman spoke with genuinty and such truthfulness that’s even indescribable.  When this happened, I then knew that these were going to be some amazing people.

Sintesa Jimbaran Hotel

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This hotel was the definition of sheer beauty.  I arrived and was greeted by smiles; men who were wearing these large, gown like robes and accommodating everything about me.  They already knew who I was and greeted me by name, too.  After getting to the hotel around 10:00pm, the concierge opened my door and I walked into an ice cold room (just the way I like it) and saw just how massive it was.  Spa in the tub? Rain shower? Enormous bed and jazz music playing?

I sat down.  I cried.  “Arsenio, I’m so proud of you.  What you’ve done these last several years overcoming immense obstacles in Thailand – look where you are now.  Look around! If you would’ve asked yourself back in the summer of 2012, hearing your family complain about not having 10$…..do you think you would be here four years later.”  I held my hands up to my face and let out a “YESSSSSSS! I’m so happy and grateful for everything I’ve achieved!”

Is this happiness?

The Morning After – and I’m not talking about remorse, either.

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Sunrise, greenery, cloud formations, wonderful breakfast, 5 star concierge greeting me and talking to me as if I’m part of their family, running beachside, impeccable breakfast.  Should I say more?  I recall staring with a large grin at my face at the water coming onto the beach.  The sounds of the waves crashing.  Surfers from Spain laughing while trying to catch some low-tide waves, wife sitting in awe with her chin to the sky – breathing deeply.

My goodness.

This is what happiness is.

Night Safari

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Since living in Thailand and reading up on famous authors, I’ve grown to love animals much more than before, and cherish everything about these gentle giants.  Having a tiger, sniffing away on top of a caged truck, was pretty terrifying to say the absolute least.  The brown cows that have horns whereas if you cut their horns off, they would bleed to death.  The infamously famous komodos that lay as if they’re dead in pure darkness and a stand-alone elephant (very ominous) just waving his trunk in pure darkness. HA! Damn, I love animals!

Met one of the most lovely Australian families EVER during the trip.  The little boy, who was five, felt like a son.  He asked me so many questions and I felt as if I was his teacher.  The daughter was like, “omg my name is shanequa and I want to go to New York!” A 12 year old utterly infatuated with America and parents telling me, “hey, you’re young! Don’t worry about getting married right now!” HAHA! What an incredible night safari.  Oh, and temple run? The game that took the world by storm a little over 5 years ago? Yeah…I found out where that tradition comes from. RIGHT HERE! The girls…..phew, lets just leave it at that.  I proposed. THERE! I SAID IT!

Tough Mudder – The Monster From Hell

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And the reason I came to Bali to begin with.  To push myself not only mentally and psychologically, but physically.  The hellish course (what it was suppose to be) turned into one of the funnest events I’ve ever done in my life.  The variety of cultures from the Singaporeans who flew in from Singapore, to some of the people in the picture above who work for a newspaper in Jakarta, Indonesia, to some of the finest women I’ve seen in my life from other parts of Indonesia.  Oh, man….WHAT A DAY!

Yeah….Bali was another mental barrier that was crushed.  The mental barrier thinking I was going to get blown to pieces because of events that took place at the dawn of the new century.  See, these things that we see on TV can drive us to insanity.  I met some of the most wonderfully wonderful muslims on top of that, too.  The banjo playing band at the airport whom was singing, “la bamba” almost brought me to tears because their symphonic rhythm while playing in such a harmonious way…..these people were….happy.  Very happy.  I felt something on this island that I’ve never felt anywhere else on this planet, including Hawaii.

I felt serenity.

I felt bliss.

And getting aboard an absolutely gorgeous A777-300ER, I set off back to Singapore-Bangkok with a completely different mindset about my Balinese.

Thank you so much.

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Mount Bromo says HI!

Bali Podcasts 

Arrival –  https://www.spreaker.com/episode/9519588

Day 2 – excursion https://www.spreaker.com/episode/9529788

Day 3 – Tough Mudder https://www.spreaker.com/episode/9538900

Day 4 – Tough Mudder Conquered 

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/9541901

The end of Bali – https://www.spreaker.com/episode/9545169

Traveling Abroad? Not Sure Where To Start? Here It Is!

From taking low-budget airlines to extend a budget, to saving up inch by inch for your first ever travel to Hawaii.  It’s much easier than you think.

Back in 2009, I had just under 2000$ USD in my bank account and I told myself that I was LONG overdue for a trip.  I wasn’t thinking of a domestic trip, either.  I wanted an international one; and already having a friend stationed in Australia, I realized it was now or never.

How was I able to save up for this? Well, without evening having to read Napoleon Hill’s ‘Habit of Saving,’ I was just a saver in general.  Since I got my first job back in 2007, I saved the majority of my salary.

If we look at it this way, take the west coast folks of the United States, for instance, who makes up excuses up about having never gone to Hawaii.  Plane tickets to Hawaii are between 400-600 USD.  If you could save 50-100$ USD a month and cut back on the bar nights, shopping escapades, and fancy dinners, you could easily achieve this goal.

After that, it’s all about hotels, whereas you could find the cheapest at booking.com before visiting the hotels main website to check for cheaper offers.  Expect to pay at least 100$ for  a hotel (in Hawaii) at less you’re one to stay in a hostel with 10 other people (not my cup of tea).

If you’re a big time shopper, you’re going to have to set aside a spending stipend.  If you’re just a casual traveler looking for a decent time while doing some tours, 100$ a day (maybe a bit higher in places like England, Aussie and Japan) would suffice.

See, having already read the options above, you’re now glued into the fact that traveling, even just to that gorgeous island in the pacific, is possible.

Checking flights on travelocity.com to get a good idea of what flights go to countries is perfect.  Booking.com for hotels and some of the hotels don’t even require payment at the time of booking.  You could book when you stay, which saves you even more money at the time of booking.

Asian Travelers

Air Asia, which is a low-budget Malaysian Airlines, has the most insane flight deals anyone could ever imagine.  I’m talking if you go on airasia.com right now. and looks for flights 6 months in advance, they would be priced at a staggering 10-20$ USD.  You could go from buying a 100-200$ flight from Thailand-Tokyo, to buying another flight for cheaper to head back further south to Singapore.  If you’re flying domestically in a place like Thailand, some flights could bottom out at 5$ USD LITERALLY for a  one-way ticket.

European Travelers

With the infamously famous Ryan Air and trains connecting practically every country within Europe, no excuses.  I know Europeans do a good amount of traveling, so this is intended for you.  However, if you want to travel to different places, especially in Australasia, you have options in terms of airline tickets.

Australians

With gorgeous Bali nearby (and having gone there just last October), I understand why the vast majority of you all books flights to that utterly blissful island.  On the other hand, having the French Polynesian which consists of Vanuatu, American Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu and the Cooks just 3 hours flight away is just an enticing.  Oh, yeah, again….check a variety of websites and see what flights are accommodating.

FYI – I’m not a touristy , sightseeing type of traveler – I like to dive into the midst with the locals and breathe the same air as they do (hypothetically speaking).  If you guys want to hear an audio of everything I just mentioned, my podcast is down below!

Podcast – https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11060089