Staycation: Marriott Marquis, First Big Presentation

Wow! So many mixed feelings, so let’s dive into this — step-by-step.

I had my first ever big presentation today and it was life transforming. The amount of inspiration injected into younger generations, figuring out niche markets, developing podcasts/YouTube channels for the younger generation and doubling-down on what everyone is good at. On a scale 1-10, I give my presentation an 8, just because I knew I was repeating some words. Nonetheless, let’s go into this unbelievable stay in Bangkok…little by little.

Marriott Marquis Queens Park

This hotel is the best — period. What I love about major hotel brands is that they have people from all over the world working there. You had westerners, along with Taiwanese, Chinese, Singaporeans and Filipinos (and I’m sure a bunch more) working at this hotel. What I love so much was the service. The Filipino woman, although she was a bit oblivious to a few things, had magnificent service. Not only her, but the doormen, staff, cleaners, and just about everyone. SOLID. Suit-wearing gentlemen who are more than willing to help. The lobby was incredibly massive with well-dressed people everywhere. Seeing flight attendants come in was also just SO AMAZING. Keep in mind, this was a 200+ USD a night hotel, so you would and should expect the best. The room was extra cozy with a massive rainshower and tile placed throughout — also, USB outlets are now installed in most high-class hotels around the world, too. You don’t have to worry about having a “universal charge” or anything. Just solid all the way down.

Presentation

What a beautiful thing. I shared it a day after the presentation on my social media and it blew up. 576 views in a couple days. I’m so excited about what’s to come. Before the presentation, I wasn’t too nervous. I was waiting for people to go in, then I saw that the size was very small, so I was pretty content, considering that shit was my first overseas presentation. After that, I took the stage and all the nervousness went away. It’s natural for me, and my ability to overcome stage-fright was a hairflip. Following that were handshakes, cards exchanged, an offering to collaborate and a few other things. All in all, this was a remarkable 24 hours and definitely the ultimate highlight of my year. What comes after? Oh, that’s when the FUN begins!

Traveling Pod: Episode 4 – Vientiane, Laos — The Roots! Stunning Human Beings & Gratitude

Air Asia flight bound for Wattay International Airport in Vientiane.  Hmmm, I’ll just let the nostalgia sit in for a bit.  Just 3 years ago, I was scampering across the streets of Vientiane with a Frenchman who couldn’t handle his alcohol, got snubbed by some tuk-tuk drivers (just like Thailand), and ended up walking home angrily, leaving the Frenchman behind (had no idea where he was after a few drinks).  I know, it sounds like a trip from hell, and it sorta was.  I paid next to nothing to stay in a garbage garbage room ($10 USD a night) and it was infested with mosquitoes (ripped me to shreds that night) and had spider nests in each corner of the bathroom.  That was the last time I was cheap (LOL).  The next day, however, I stayed in something sexy, met a funny guy in the immigration line, came across a wonderful breakfast with great locals and so many other things.  I wanted to go back to my roots — just a bit — to relive some of those special moments.

Check-In + Security + Immigration = 5 minutes

Like, how can you beat that? Hey, I went from checking in, to the immigration line, to going through screening in FIVE MINUTES at Don Meuang International Airport (the sister of the massive one in Samut Prakan — located in south Bangkok).  Now, the other airport that I refuse to spell does a pretty good job, too.  However, I went from a traffic jam, to walking 400 meters to the airport, weaving through traffic (and I mean pedestrians) and got to my counter exactly 3 hours before check-in.  Wow! Oh, throw in a workout I had this morning  that included a crazy amount of arms and legs (which equates to soreness) and there you have it! It hasn’t even reached 10am and it feels like I’ve been awake for 8 hours already.

Arrival

I was a little bit scared about my hotel (S Park Design Hotel) because I received a number of emails from them….same emails.  I received the 8th one over the course of four days and said, “guys, I’ve already emailed you! What’s happening?”  Thanks to my instinct, I checked booking.com’s messaging screening through my email and they had responded to me, giving me their whatsapp number.  So, I contacted them and they confirmed everything with suburb service!

[9:34 AM, 6/13/2018] S Park design: Hello Mr. Arsenio Buck, Thank you very much for contacting me.
[9:37 AM, 6/13/2018] S Park design: We will be there waiting for you for sure. Actually, we planned to pick you up even if we might not have your flight number. Anyway, it is perfect now. By the way, my name is Phonepasith PHENGVILAY, Executive Assistant Manager. My team and I are delighted to be part of your good stay at our hotel. See you soon. Take care.

Now that’s some damn good service!

Flight Mayhem

Ascending was already a pain in the ass, but what was even worse was descending.  We were flying around some pretty dark clouds and it was tossing the plane as if was a god damn toy.  After descending to about 1000 feet, we could finally see the ground.  What guided me through this turbulence? Aloe Blacc’s “The Man.” LOL!

Failed Visa — Again!

I had no idea that I needed a visa on arrival.  Last time I came to Laos, which was three years ago, I didn’t need a visa.  But because I didn’t check this time around, I was in for a rude awakening.  I had Lao Kip (local currency) and I brought only 66$ with me.  The visa was more than half of that, so now I have about 20$ USD left! DAMNIT! I’m so pissed because I didn’t learn from my past mistakes!

The Arrival At My Hotel

And these are the days I live for.  The overwhelming sense of joy when meeting such gracious people who are willing to help you.  From the customer service, to the hospitality.  It’s pretty remarkable to see the willingness of other people’s actions.  All smiles (just as last time), funky hotel (pictures down below), and a very quaint room.  This is only the beginning!

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The rest of the stay is in my podcast. I don’t want this blog being insanely long.

Podcast

Traveling + Fitness Goals = Malaysia/Singapore Spartan Is On The Board!

There’s been some hard decision-making going on my end, but I’m finally kicking off my travels this year with a minor bang.

Like I told you in the beginning with my blog, outlining the possible scenarios of traveling….it’s now evident that I will do a small travel at this juncture of the year, basically due to the fact that work is fluctuating like crazy at the moment.

Since I got some excellent feedback with crazy jobs, big projects and not quitting my main job (fully), I decided to go through with it.

I stated that I would be completing the trifecta this year in Spartan: sprint, super and beast being the races I would need to compete in to obtain that unique medal.

So, if I can take a pre-workout with the sprint in Malaysia/Singapore come March/April, compete in the Super with a massive team in May, and top if off with the Beast in Australia come November = WIN!

Now that I’ll be on a visa that enables me to travel every 2-3 months, I have even more opportunities to visit the likes of Jakarta, Bali (against), and hopefully fulfill that fantasy of doing a Tedx in Morocco later on this year.

The Problem

Airlines going to and from both KL and Singapore are infamous.  Air Asia, being a low-budget airline, forces passengers to pay for extra luggage.  Not only that, this airport is no longer in the vicinity where I live.  I would have to trek to northern Bangkok, stay at a hotel in the weeeee hours of the morning, then check in at 5:30am.  That’s a pain in the ass.  Furthermore, I have to pay for luggage and fly to the dog-house (KLIA 2 – the airport that smells like URINE – LOL).

If I go to Singapore, I can fly with scoot, who’s known for cancelling flights (like Australia’s Tiger Asia).  I get free baggage, but I might not get there.  Plane tickets are around the same cost….but Singapore’s hotels are more expensive, and the day of the race requires me taking a train and a cable car to Sentosa Island, something I seriously don’t want to do after a race.

So with the ridiculous but manageable problems, I decided to make a podcast that was just about everywhere in terms of information and throwing my arms in the air.

Podcast

https://www.spreaker.com/user/thearseniobuckshow/traveling-fitness-goals-malaysia-singapo

 

Kanchanaburi, Thailand – Full Review & Score

It took me some days to just sit on it, ponder, and saturate myself with what happened in Kanchanaburi.  This trip had remarkable promise, but it ended up being a bit dismal.  If I talk solely about the trip and ignore the outer forces….let’s dive into it.

The Drive Over

I came across some beautiful restrooms, saw the ultra-gorgeous MRT (mass rapid transit) system overhead for about 15km, the forests, stop shop (burger joint) and so many other things. I’ll admit, the drive was very nice, especially when we approached the forest.

The Hotel – Big No No

To be honest, I’m not sure if it was just bad service or lack of care, but this hotel was full of question marks in my opinion.  What I would suggest is stay near the lake where people are.  Being in an eerie resort tucked deep into the forest with 2 out of 23 tenants is…..very odd and scary.  Blank stares, no smiles, lack of everything – and most importantly, BLOOD STAINS! Yes, the bathroom rug and the bedsheets had specs of blood on them and that really summed up what was going on.  If I had seen that before I slept, I would’ve never slept.  Hell, I would’ve left. LOL. There are better places.

Know Your Goals – Stay Away From Lawa Cave & Elephant Camps; Do Trekking & Waterfalls Instead!

Well, the second day I wanted to go to the cave to begin the day, and what I thought was going to be a magnificent cave with gorgeous lighting turned into a money-hungry dilapidation.  You have to pay a 200% surplus for foreigners and the lighting in the cave doesn’t work, so they will give you some 10 baht flashlights.  Was it worth the 30 minutes and the 40 minute drive on in? Absolutely not.  I would suggest Erawan waterfalls which is unbelievable.  Also, Sai Yok was a very intriguing place, too. First time ever sitting under a waterfall and it was the best feeling in the world.

The Elephant Camp excursion (didn’t know there was one) HAS to be booked way in advance.  There’s nothing like driving into green plains and being turned around.  By that time I had given up before going into town for a massage – and the trip ultimately resulted in a waterfall and massage.  I traveled to another province for just a waterfall, essentially.

Rating – 4 out of 10

Yeah, perhaps a little bit harsh, but it could’ve been better if the reviews were better; thus why I tell everyone to not follow Lonely Planet and Trip advisor because the pictures are very misleading.  Trekking and Waterfalls could’ve been wonderful, but I wasn’t that organized and it resulted in this.  Are there better places than Kanchanaburi? Absolutely — KRABI! Now THAT is a gorgeous places filled with beaches, scenic routes and free-climbing.

Other than that, this could possibly be my last ever trip going anywhere in Thailand for obvious reasons (change coming soon), but there still are some places to see.  I would totally recommend Chiang Mai (only if you have your own transportation. Don’t rely on the red tuk-tuk looking things), and even Ubon Ratchathani.  If you have money, Bali is definitely better (wait for now until the volcano tremors subside).

Vacation: Malaysia Airlines, Sheraton Hotel, Spartan Race & Amazing People All Around!

What a trip!

I can’t emphasize enough that doing my podcast recently on self-control helped me out tremendously upon flying here to KL.

2.5 Hour Delay!

Honestly, there was absolutely nothing I can do about it.  Who knows what the story was (although someone said something about a plane being in a hanger somewhere at KLIA1 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport).  2.5 hours camping out at the gate after security – was brutal….but I was able to finish a good amount of blogs and communicate with folks.

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More Delays!

Once we arrived, it seemed as if the biggest cruiseline in the world docked at the airport and unloaded all their passengers to clear customs and immigration.  45 minutes in the line with people from I-Dont-Know-What-Country looking at me and making comments about me in their language.  YAWN! At the same time, I was nervous about someone taking my luggage, given the fact it had been sitting there 45 minutes.  Nonetheless, I had to be one of the very first of my flight to get through the extensive lines before rushing to the conveyor belt – only to find that my luggage WAS STILL THERE! *Hands to the sky*

Sheraton Hotel = True 5 Star Hotel

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The check-in, service, elevators, unbelievable breakfast buffet, stunning food, state-of-the-art facilities, wonderful steam room, comfortable bed, desk in the room, tub, shower, meticulous room service, shoe shine service…..not sure if I should keep going? Sheraton was exceptional.  I have to say that checking in and having them hold a crazy deposit on your debit/credit before charging you a full amount after is extremely excessive.  There has to be another way around it.

Uber and the MegaMall

This was my first time ever taking an Uber, and man, what a success! He picked me up right at the train station and took me to my destination in a hurry.  The second Uber was even better because he was very attentive and interested in my life, just as the reception at the Spa/Massage on the 5th floor was (minus the pushy-trying-to-sell-you-stuff method). Uber is the next wave of getting around, and it’s much safer, especially in a country like Thailand because taxi drivers have the worst rep of them all.

Mid-Valley MegaMall had tons of shops; however, I had to take a train and walk for 25 minutes to get there.  Oh, I should’ve taken an Uber. LOL.

The Spartan Super – the good, the bad, the ugly, the ‘COMMON, MAN!’

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The Good

Met the most wonderful muslim who had the hazel(est) of eyes that I have ever seen.  OMG! She was awesome….later, met a a cluster of Malaysians from all types of backgrounds who were just incredibly personable and charismatic.  Also, met a South African who I had a wonderful pleasure of talking to at KL Sentral before going in different directions (and who also did the race).  Ahhh…just wonderful.  Nexus International School is WONDERFUL! Perhaps a new place for employment in the future? The students there were splendid in both the English Language and in regards to their personalities.  Doors are wide open for a relocation!

The Bad

Stood outside for 1.5 hours to get into the venue.  That was a complete discombobulation on Spartan Malaysia’s side, given the fact they held registration in a very confined area.  YIKES! Starting heats were backlogged up to an hour.

The Ugly

The comradery and cooperation I’ve seen at other Tough Mudder events worldwide just wasn’t there.  It was difficult getting through the race when you had only yourself and others just minding their own business.

The ‘Common, man!”

Water, water, water! By the time the afternoon rolled around, the water supply was diminishing like crazy.  This apparently was a problem the last time the event was held in the same location.  Yes, I understand it’s a lot, but you have months to prepare a good amount of water that needed to be used for all spartans post-race.

Oh, can I mention the cooperation again? Come on, man! Honestly, indigenous Malaysians didn’t have a problem, but I do have to state the obvious whereas Chinese Malaysians, Chinese Singaporeans, or mainland Chinese (the most obvious) people just stay within their own circles.  Like NO ONE matters but only them.  I just don’t understand the “Chinese” culture, but perhaps someone can help me understand….because I’m at a loss of words with that.  However, I know the Spartan Spring that’s approaching in Thailand is going to be comical beyond belief.  These people will trample each other. LOL!!

Achieved!

Focusing on the grand of achievements, what a difficult race! Carrying a bucket of rocks 600meters and sandbags over your shoulders before trekking into a gorge was unbelievably strenuous – and I thought it was a bit over-the-top.  Hey, I get it, it’s a competition, but being a competitive event and borderline insanity should have a very fine line in between. In summary, this was the most brutal event I’ve ever endured in my lifetime. It was only 13km! I know what parts of my body I should work on going forward when the absolute BEAST comes up on October 8th.  I’m still contemplating doing it, though.  If I do, I’m going to allow myself two days rest and leave on a Tuesday rather than a Monday.  Carrying luggage after having a vicious deep-tissue massage AFTER the most difficult race in my life is a NO F*** NO!

And now, as I write this blog at the airport, I’m deeply saddened for leaving KL.  That same feeling I had when I left wondrous Bali – heading back to doomsday.  It’s hard, but opportunities are still there in Thailand.  When opportunities run dry, I’m heading for the hills – the luscious green hills of Malaysia.

Follow me…..

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And if you’re interested in listening rather than reading, http://www.spreaker.com/user/thearseniobuckshow

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/12301589

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Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/12314079

Travel: Sedona, Arizona + Timeshare Warning

First and foremost, do not travel anywhere without booking a hotel – period.

Now that I’ve emphasized that, I have to tell you that Sedona, Arizona is a highly sought after destination for everyone around the world.  I heard people speaking Korean, Japanese, and heard a few Aussie and Kiwi accents throughout the day yesterday.

This is the ultimate travel destination for those crazy enthusiasts who love hiking/trekking and even the uber rock climbers.  The paved “pinkish” sidewalks, the rocks that match them, the red rocks looking over the town, the unbelievable smiles and super delicious food (not even mentioning the best weather I’ve been in the last four years) all makes for an unforgettable trip.

The Wonderful

There are bars and places placed conveniently throughout Sedona and these places have the most delicious cuisine that’s perfectly seasoned, wonderful drinks that aren’t oversaturated with alcohol, and wonderful service (for the most part) that you can’t get anywhere else.  Sedona Hotel, which we stayed at by a narrow margin (worse case was the Holiday Inn which was a staggering $229 USD a night), was right in the epicenter of it all.  This place was $150 bucks walking-in and had a heater in the restroom (speaking a restroom, don’t say “toilet” to Americans…they’ll think you’re crazy), gorgeous flat-screen TV, and ultra-comfomty beds.

Devil’s Bridge

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Folks standing by waiting to get their picture taken from someone across the gorge. 

This is a trail a highly recommend for everyone.  What’s really convenient about this trail is you can take a buggie, ATV, or any type of quad (some of them looking like the ones in the first Jurassic Park movie), through the dirt road instead of walking.  The trail itself takes about 20 minutes to go up and another 20 back down.  For those of you who have bad knees, I wouldn’t recommend it because the last 10 minutes is a bit steep and involves high-stepping galore.

Anyways, the views are unbelievably spectacular.  The people who actually go up it are openly friendly.  I, and a few other people, initiated conversations so easily.  The kids of parents were blown away and in awe when they got to the top.  It was a feely of pure serenity….especially hearing the wind blow through the trees that were a bit higher up (wish I had gone up more).

The Ugly – Beware of Information Centers 

So, my friend and I walked into an ex-KFC place that had a bunch of travel brochures and things to do.  There were two representatives there and I asked one about places to hike.  He went from talking about places to hike, to talking about helicopter rides while throwing in odd questions throughout the conversation which my friend and I didn’t pick up so easily.  He said he was willing to offer a place to stay for $40 dollars a night, plus a helicopter ticket for $100 dollars (although it’s unknown if it was total or per person).  We needed to use a credit card instead of debit red flag and always remember that.  He asked us about what we did for work yellow flag, and salaries per year red flag.  We had to sign a contract whereas we had to deposit $220 dollars orange flag for a “gift” purchase.   Um……what’s the f’ing gift?

“Ask for the DVD when you get to the resort.”

Ummm…..why? Orange flag.

The helicopter ride was in the evening barely can see the mountains = a dumb flag, and we had to do a 1.5 hour tour of a timeshare the next day biggest red flag ever.  So, there were hidden fees just about everywhere, people.  It was suppose to be a total of $360, but he never said it with his own words.  The figures just weren’t adding up.  After thoroughly looking through the “contract” (after my friend’s card denied the entire transaction which was a gift), there was an additional $100 gift.  So that would’ve amounted to a staggering $320 deposit (with $100 of it non-refundable) and he never said “this is $140 total”….therefore, my bet was it was $140 per person.

The entire cost would’ve been $600 dollars (although he said $360 dollars initially).

This is the ugly nature of going into tourist spots.  In Thailand, you have to ask for the price before you get on a moped taxi, tuk-tuk (three wheel trolley essentially), and a few other things.  If they give an outrageous price, don’t haggle him.  Simply walk away because what they’ll do is drop the price before asking for the original price again when you’re on it.  These things happens quite often in Thailand because there’s no regulation or laws.

Conversely, seeing it happen in my own neck of the woods is disheartening and seeing how places like this still operate is quite unacceptable. So, I wanted to warn everyone.  A place that has these things on the window are no-go grounds.

  • Helicopter Rides
  • Anything that emphasizes “free”
  • Free place to stay
  • ANYTHING FREE!

If it’s a small shop and doesn’t say anything on the window, boom!  If it’s a place that says “clean restrooms,” that’s the niche for luring in people.  I EXPECT YOU TO HAVE CLEAN RESTROOMS! Duh!

To close this timeshare out, I heard the women next to us get very adamant and say, “no, I’m going to stop you right there. We don’t want this and we’re going to walk out.” They stayed to pay cash for a dirt bike ride.  When I heard that, I knew something was bad.

So that’s the rundown, people.  Beware of scam artists and companies like this because once you’re in and sign a contract, the damage is done and the months long process and angry phone calls with your credit card companies will ensue.

Nonetheless, this was a magnificent trip.  LOL

Honorable Mention – Bose

Bose in America has the best customer service on the planet.  My earmuffs were having some wear n’ tear, and while I was falling asleep, my friend said, “is that the place where Bose is?” I quickly woke up and saw that there was a Bose store and had her make a U-Turn immediately.  I walked in and told showed them my headphones.  He said, “you can pop them right off and put new ones on for $35 dollars!”  I didn’t have a warranty, but he simply fixed my earmuffs in less than 3 minutes and I went on with my day.  This saved me a massive $350 for some new ones.  BOOM!

Podcast if you want to hear more about what happened during the trip:)

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11609707