Actor Byron Mann (Street Fighter, Red Corner, The Corruptor) is one of the busiest men in showbiz at the moment. As well as starring in the upcoming Universal Pictures actioner The Man with the Iron Fists, he will appear in the Chinese cop thriller Cold War, which is slated for release in October, as well as star in the Bangkok-set thriller A Stranger in Paradise. As if that’s not enough, It has also just been announced that he has joined the cast of CW’s highly anticipated new series, Arrow . He also plays a police officer fighting the criminal underworld of the Hong Kong triads alongside Emma Stone, Tom Wilkinson and Lucy Liu in the just released video game Sleeping Dogs.
Byron, thank you for setting time aside to have this chat with Luxury Travel Beat. We know you’re a very busy man at the moment! Tell us which iron is currently in the fire?
Well, the hottest iron right now is The Man With the Iron Fists, a period action picture presented by Quentin Tarantino, and starring RZA (Robert Fitzgerald Diggs), Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, myself and a few other cool actors. It’s coming out November 2.
Sweet! Your work sees you spending a lot of time in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Bangkok . Which one is home?
I have places in Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Hong Kong. And, Bangkok is like a second home. I’ve lived and worked there for years, and have many friends there. My golf clubs are still in Bangkok!
So I guess all of the above was the right answer to that one. What should tourists absolutely not fail to do when visiting each of those four cities?
a) Hong Kong: I was once a tour-guide in Hong Kong and China, so whenever I can I like to recommend “non-touristy” things to do: Go to a place called Mongkok at night. It’s like Times Square on steroids. It’s got all the latest electronics, sneakers, hip clothing, music, pretty much anything you want. And it’s got a lot of character. Very local and hip. You’ll truly see the heartbeat of Hong Kong there. My other suggestion is Stanley Market, a sprawling seaside market area with many quaint shops and cafes. Every time I bring out of town guests there, they can’t get enough of it.
b)Los Angeles: Spend a day at the Getty Museum in Brentwood, Los Angeles. The art there is fantastic, but the real attraction is the building, an all-white sprawling palace perched on a hill. The architecture is beautiful.
c)Bangkok: Spend at least a night at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel – one of the top three hotels in the world – and at a very reasonable rate. Around sunset, rent a long tail boat at the hotel dock and go around the Chao Phraya River. After that, take your date to the Sirocco restaurant, the world’s highest Al Fresco restaurant with breathtaking views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River, with live jazz music playing in the background. After that, you might also want to leave your golf clubs in Bangkok.
d)Vancouver: Visit anytime between June and October — the weather is gorgeous then. Rent a bicycle near Stanley Park, and ride around it. It’ll take you an hour, but it’s the most scenic way to experience Vancouver. Cap that with a visit to Kintaro’s Ramen on nearby Denman Street, simply the best Japanese noodles outside of Japan.
Wow. That must be the most comprehensice recommendation we’ve ever had on Tripping With. I’ve never been to any of the cities you talk about so I really look forward to exploring these when I finally get there. Describe your travelling style.
Lean and mean. I try to bring as little as I can when I travel. My motto is: If I won’t use this item on the trip, it’s not going in the suitcase. I only bring clothes that can match with other clothes. A lot of solid colors: white, black, and navy. I recently bought these all-black, ultra-light Nike Free Run shoes, and I use them for walking, jogging, gym training, casual wear, even pairing them with a suit. As long as they’re black, people don’t really care what they are. That saves a lot of space in my suitcase. I also think local. If for example, I’m going to Thailand where it’s very hot and humid, and I don’t have the kind of clothing I need there where I’m at, I’ll just go with an empty suitcase and buy what I need when I land there. And if you are going to a place frequently, make a friend there and put some of your clothes at his/her place. Remember my golf clubs in Bangkok?
You spend a lot of time travelling between Asia, the US and Canada. How do you get through a long flight without going stir-crazy?
I frequently take 15-hour flights. There’s no easy answer to this one. Here’s my routine: eat, watch a movie, walk around the aircraft twice, strike up conversations with anyone who would speak to you, talk as long as you can, do some stationary stretches, and hang out in the bathroom and prolong everything you do inside there (not kidding). Repeat this routine three times, and you’ll suddenly find yourself landing at your destination.
Noted. How do manage to stay fit despite being on the road so often?
I try to exercise about once a day, wherever I’m at. If I’m on a flight, I stretch a lot. If I’m stuck in a hotel, I use the gym. If there’s no gym, I exercise inside the hotel room: pushups, sit-ups, core exercises, etc. I pack my jogging shoes and swim trunks and go running or swimming wherever I go. Sometimes, I bring my tennis racket and try to get a hit in.
What is the most memorable trip you’ve ever taken?
I went to an onsen (term for hot springs in Japanese) in Japan once. It was an hour by train outside Tokyo. When I got to the inn where the onsen was at, I found that they had assigned an old Japanese lady to be my personal butler. Only problem was: she spoke almost no English. In her broken English, she explained to me that breakfast was served at 8am. I said no thanks – I’d prefer to sleep in.
The next morning at 8am sharp, she knocked on my door and yelled “Breakfast!” I yelled back, “No thanks!” We exchanged our yells twice. Then she disappeared. Ten minutes later, the front desk called my room, “Breakfast!” I told them, “No thanks” and went back to sleep. Ten minutes later, I noticed that someone was opening the door to my room! It was the old lady again. She had a key to my room, opened the door, walked in with my breakfast tray, and laid it right next to my bed. She whispered, “Breakfast!” I had no choice but to oblige. I looked at the tray, and there were TWENTY Japanese dishes there. I’ve eaten Japanese food my entire life, but I could not recognize half the dishes that were on my tray. There was even raw abalone – a delicacy – on one plate. It was the most sumptuous meal I have ever had in my life. There was nothing else to do at the onsen, except to eat like a taipan every morning, and to dip in the onsen every other hour. It was quite a trip.
Again, this takes the record for the best answer to this question we’ve ever had here on this segment. I can’t wait to hear about the about worst?
I once took a trip to Queensland, Australia. I went on a sailboat cruise to an off-lying island. There were around 12 tourists, including myself. The weather was beautiful, and the water pristine. What we could not see, however, was the “choppiness” of the water. It was CHOPPY. Within 15 minutes into the ride, I started getting extremely seasick. So did everyone else on the boat – except the skipper. I asked him to turn the boat back so I can get off and put an end to this nightmare. But he refused – even as all the tourists on the boat started to vomit. Within a minute, I started to vomit as well. He offered a sandwich to make me feel better – I thought he was making a sick joke. I asked him how much longer we’ll be at sea. He said another two hours. So I jumped off the boat into the water to escape the seasick-inducing motion of the boat. But being in the water felt just as choppy as being on the boat. There was no escape. I was dying in this sea of hell for another two hours, before the skipper took us back to shore. All twelve of us slumped against the edge of the boat, heaving and sobbing. I remember still feeling dizzy the next morning. I have not been on a boat since.
I’m literally bowled over in laughter. Is there a hotel in any part of the world that you would categorically define as being the best of the best in the world?
It’s a toss-up between the Peninsula and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. In my opinion, what defines a great hotel is its service and attention to detail. At both hotels, the accommodation and décor is luxurious, their restaurants and facilities are top rate. But their service is second to none. They make you feel like a king. The phone operator answers your call with, “Mr. Mann… at your service.” There’re not a lot of hotels in the world that can make you feel like a king (or queen). The Peninsula and the Mandarin Oriental can.
I could not agree more about exactly what it is that defines a great hotel. Dream trip?
Paris. Staying at the Mandarin Oriental. And… being served like a king.