Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
But for Thailand campaigns actually don't really matter. Tourist come to Thailand because of the beaches. Period. Some take a cultural tour as well, and after that they go back to the beaches. Guess why Phuket and Pattaya are the main destinations?
Thailand also has quote a good return rate, because people just come back to places they like. The returning tourists are good income, and the new tourists from China are a nice thing on top, although they don't spend so much here per capita.
Now, as someone in charge of Tourism you should have an easy job. Make sure the main destinations are running smoothly, transport and beaches are in order, people are safe, food is available and that's it.
But that would be too easy. No matter who is in charge, they usually screw up. This time we so far had wristbands for tourists, confiscated beach chairs, urine controls in downtown Bangkok. We still have martial law, and recently the Department of Health proposed an alcohol ban for New Year and Songkran.
And Thailand has another advantage: The neighbouring countries are even less smart. Vietnam could easily take over by waving visa fees, and Myanmar by reducing prices for accomodation. But it seems both countries haven't really understood the value of tourism. Let's see if Malaysia steps in.
Right now, numbers are still down, because most news coming from Thailand are bad news. Chinese tourists are scared of the police controls, European tourists about martial law, and Russian tourists about safety. Thailand always went through a crisis quite well, from Tsunami to Yellow and Red Shirt protests. Let's see if this happens again. I do have doubts.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Last week we took two days off and went to Khao Yai for a bike trip. Khao Yai is about 2 hours from Bangkok, has a huge National Park and is also famous for it's wineries, dairy farms and cool weather in the winter. We booked the tour with Spiceroads, a well known company offering all kind of bicycle tours in Thailand. We did one already in Chiang Mai with them and enjoyed it a lot.
We got picked up at 7.30 am at Ploenchit, and although we booked a group tour it was only us. It took 2 hours to go by minivan (unfortunately no seat belts provided) to go to the drop off point at a temple. From there, we wen up and down hill, usually on small and empty street, sometimes on dirt roads. Spiceroads provided us really good equipment, brand new Trek mountain bikes with sophisticated brakes and helmets. No complains.
The ride itself was about 30 kilometer for the first day - way more than advertised in the program. Also, it was advertised as "This tour has been designed for the discerning traveler; someone that enjoys the countryside, likes to ride a bike and has a penchant for good wine and good food. It is also a really good tour for families."
You actually need a good condition, mainly because of the heat. Although we thought it might be cooler already, it was quite hot. That doesn't make it easier to climb the hills. They weren't steep, but it was enough for my wife to call the van quite a few times. I can't imagine doing this with children.
We then made a stop at PBValley, the oldest winery in Khao Yai. They are open for tourists, but that doesn't mean they provide a good service. The restaurant is old, the set menu was awful (western food), and the they didn't even tell us what kind of wine they were serving.
We then made a tour through the vineyard and the production facility. That was well done, well organised and well explained. The wine tasting was a disappointing: only three wines (red, white and rose), and the cheapest ones. No wonder the taste was not up to any standard you expect for wine. They sell this crap for 600 baht, and that is cheating. They got awards for some wines they sell for 1500 baht, but you can't try it and we didn't take the risk to buy it.
Biking in Khao Yai is a real pleasure. Despite the hot weather, we had a lot of fun, passing by dairy farms, small villages, riding along Marigold flower fields and Tapioka farms. Our overnight stop was the Cabbage and Condoms resort. It has seen it best days, we were the only guests, but the room was clean, the food was really good and they have a nice pool.
The second day starts with a steep ride uphill, we opted for the van to have enough energy for the remaining 20 kilometer. We stopped again at a small winery, where the wine wasn't good, but they make nice juice and candies from the grapes. And they were really nice people to chat with (there is a white Buddha statue behind, you can climb up 1000 steps to enjoy the view. We did that 12 years ago, so we had a good excuse).
From there we went back to Bangkok, arriving before the rush hour and were dropped off at a BTS station. Yo, our Spice roads guide, did a really good job, explained a lot, took care of us all the time, was watching traffic and pointing out every pothole that was in front of us. No complains at all. Virot, the driver, is a bit old style: slightly to fast and risky, but a nice and very polite guy too.
The downside is that the tour is quite expensive: 9000 Baht is a lot, even with guide, transport and accommodation provided. But you basically pay for the guides knowledge of a nice track.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Of course I immediately downloaded it and watched "Sunflower", a beautiful 30 minute movie from Malaysia. Strongly recommended to watch: The story of a young make up artist who got a very different job from what she expected.
The app seems flawless: Open it and start watching. I think you have to create an account (although I was miraculously logged in already) , and sharing is easy (although it didn't include the link on twitter, or at least it wasn't visible). Also, when you want to watch on Airplay, you have to use the iOS slider on the bottom of your device - for some reason they didn't include the Airplay button.
For some reasons you cannot search by text input, just browse categories. But you also can search by tags - I guess they force you to explore, and that might be even a good thing.
You can also watch movies offline (just add them to the Queue) what is a big plus since youtube is going after downloads apps. Viddsee seems to understand users, and those in Asia particular, where high speed internet isn't available everywhere. Would be nice to get a notification once a video is downloaded.
Three buttons on the bottom let you like a movie, share it or
In case you haven't been there and you are interested in Filmmaking, please give it a try. Viddsee is different from Youtube and Vimeo, because it is focussed on Asian films and it is curated.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
It turns out those who did this well get most pieces of the cake, in particular in Asia. Thailand seems to be obsessed with brands. People waiting hours in line to get donuts or popcorn (even when the streets outside are filled with protesters), and spending fortunes in fashion brand products. You will quite often see a writing like "Famous brand from USA" even if its not.
One thing that is quite obvious is the bag issue, in particular with females. Usually the handbag isn't big enough to carry everything (although most men would be surprised about that), but there is always something needs to be carried extra: Shoes, a shirt, lunch boxes.
Walking around with a plastic bags carrying those seems to be a No-No. It has to be a Harrods bag or some fashion designer brands. It can be even a paper bag if it has the appropriate branding. The cheapest, yet accepted form is a paper Starbucks bag, although people will less look down on you if you have the fabric one (the latter requires you making a purchase of at least 30 USD I think. But hey, you get a bag). I was told once that Starbucks tumblers and cups are selling like sliced bread in Thailand.
Of course this is all show off. The urban middle class needs to make a difference between the environment they live in (many in not so well designed apartments or in the same room in the family house since they were born). Public appearance and private matters are totally different. And it is always a surprise to see the same people in their well selected office outfit and wearing a sleeping dress style outfit at home.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
You should try the mushroom Nam Prik Je that is available at Big C (at least at Mega Bagna), it is awesome. Just boil some beans, broccoli, cauliflower or use carrots and cucumbers, dip in Nam Prik and that's it.
And yes, the white stuff on the right is MSG. I use it mainly for chicken dishes, and no, it is not dangerous. You can eat it and it does no harm (and those who say they are allergic to MSG may tell me if they can eat tomatoes and broccoli)
Friday, October 17, 2014
In our compound we have a lot of toy dog owners. I call them toy dog because they are treated as toys, not as animals. Sadly, the owners call them toy dog as well, because they actually think they are toys. With very few exceptions they don't go out for a dog walk, many are not even allowed to leave the house. Contact with others dogs? Nope. The get immediately lifted up when we arrive with our friendly pack of street dogs.
The way you treat dogs and pet animals in general shows a lot about the state of development of a society and how civilised people actually are. At Paradise Park, the same Soi Dog Foundation that is looking for homes for dogs from the dog meat trade, will support an exihibition of animals like owls and wild cats in a shopping mall. It shows that even charities like the Soi Dog Foundation forget their own standards when it comes to money.
Defining yourself by status symbols is silly and shows your lack of self confidence, but that is your problem as long as it doesn't harm anyone (although annoying people with showing off is kind of harm as well). But don't use animals for your selfish purpose.
Thai street dogs are smarter than most Pomeranians, Chiwawas and Pugs, more healthy and genetically better equipped. Owning a street dog shows that you are smart, self confident, intelligent, caring and taking responsibility.
(I know that in the West people own toy dogs as well, and I condemn that. But I live in Thailand, and the majority of dog owners are Thai here, of course).
Monday, October 13, 2014
That may have been reason enough for the people behind Harbin Ice Wonderland to set up a winter land next to BTS Bearing. It is really cold in there, -15 degrees Celsius, but you can rent coats and gloves. I recommend proper shoes (NO flipflops), jeans and socks as well. Even then, you may not stay there more than 15-20 minutes.
What can you see? A lot of ice sculptures, from Big Ben to pandas. Kids may enjov the three different slides, one with tubes, and one with sleighs. There is also a snow corner, where you can at least try to make a snowball. My friends in Germany were laughing at what I showed them as my first Thai snowball.
The entry fee is not cheap, 350 for Thai and 550 for foreigners (Driver licence didn't work to get the local price), plus rental fee for coats. It is open everyday 10.00 - 21.30 and is located direct next to the Bearing BTS. Parking space is available. There is also a ice bar, in case you want to take whiskey on the rocks literally, and food courts are yet to be installed.
You can get more information in Thai (overcharging foreigners doesn't mean social media communication is included, although some staff speaks some English) on Facebook. And they do have a English website http://www.harbin-icewonderland.com/
And now, enjoy some pictures. Yes, it is colorful.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Thailand's tourism minister said on Tuesday that identification wristbands would be distributed to tourists following the murder of two British backpackers earlier this month that has raised fresh concerns over tourist safety.In other words: We don't want tourists in Thailand anymore. It makes too much work. Read the rest of the story following the link above. It even gets better.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said she had approached hotels over the idea of handing out wristbands to help identify tourists that get lost or into trouble.
"When tourists check-in to a hotel they will be given a wristband with a serial number that matches their I.D. and shows the contact details of the resort they are staying in so that if they're out partying late and, for example, get drunk or lost, they can be easily assisted," Kobkarn told Reuters.
"The next step would be some sort of electronic tracking device but this has not yet been discussed in detail."
Monday, September 29, 2014
ZOO proudly presents the
3rd and 4th October 2014
Entry: THB 100
19 Prachathipatai Road, Phra Nakhon,, Bangkok, Thailand 10200
Welcome aboard fellow Friends, Peers, Fans, Pros, Amateurs and Curios of all things Live Looping.We hope this event will bring more folks from around the region to interact, share, exchange and support each other in new, ongoing or developed quests to enter, explore, think n dream up, execute and engage in refining and developing creative ideas in the wide open world of Live Looping...
I just copied and pasted the description from the Facebook site below.
Para Sabda (US)
Neuter Lover (BKK)
Before Champ (BKK)
Yui Cello (BKK)
SA Trio (SG)
Pam Chung (HK)
& NaiNoi Nanon (BKK)
Randolf Arriola (SG)
Stylish Nonsense (BK)
P A R A S A B D A
Para Sabda is a moniker of musician and sound artist Thomas Hanson.
Conceived in Las Vegas during the summer of 2009, Para Sabda started as project to showcase live looping techniques and experimental methods of sound reinforcement. After relocating to Hawaii, Para Sabda shifted its focus to creating new kinds of live music with these technologies. Para Sabda is now based in the heart of Thailand, performing and recording improvisational music in Bangkok.
The name Para Sabda is derived from Sanskrit and roughly translates to the Supreme Sound, albeit a different supremacy of sound then one today might think. The state of sound which it alludes to is not necessarily physical vibrations, but sound which exist beyond description and represents the non-dualistic and infinite whole. It was once described by Lama Govinda as sound which cannot be heard by the ears, but only by the heart, and cannot be uttered by the mouth but only by the mind.
Musically, Para Sabda continuously seeks to expand the palette of the guitar. Majority of Para Sabda performances and recordings are created live simply using a guitar, reverb, and various looping techniques. Focus is placed on the natural beauty of the electric guitar sound. Left untreated, the guitar sound becomes the basis for lush soundscapes which are melodic and distinctly familiar but in their simplicity take music back to a sonic nature beyond genres and the expectations of the listener.
SA (仨) , which means ‘three of us’ in Northern Chinese dialect, depicts the coming together of three musicians united by their passion for music andbreaking new grounds. With versatile musicians Andy C. on the Dizi (Chinese flute), Natalie Alexandra on the Guzheng (Chinese zither) and
Cheryl Ong on drums and percussion, their music expands on their traditional Chinese roots through a creative infusion of modern elements with a tasteful use of electronics.
A 3-piece, Singaporean musical art group, SA(仨) aims to raise the awareness of ethnic cultures, as well as promote creative, innovative and experimental ways of music-making.
As the pioneering ethnic Chinese music group in Singapore to incorporate
the use of electronic and live-looping elements in their repertoire, this is the first time the group will be showcasing their music in Bangkok, as part of Live Loop Asia.
With a strong belief that Ethnic Instruments deserve wider recognition, SA's breaks through conventional methods of ethnic music making. The use of electronic effect pedals and live looping devices not only allows the trio to challenge the limited acoustic sounds of their instruments, but also presents endless possibilities in their music-making process.
S T Y L I S H N O N S E N S E
Stylish Nonsense is recently Electric / Acoustic Whatever Duo, in between post-punk and electric vintage funk with unpredictable fresh raw energy. Their music alters. Every Live sessions happen to be extremly fluid and unique.
In 1993, while studying at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (Thailand), Yuttana Kalambaheti and Wannarit Pongprayoon met at the Music Club of the Electrical Engineering Department. They have been creating music together ever since.
Starting out on a 386dx computer with a Blaster16 soundcard, and the software Cakewalk 2.0, they have over the years evolved into a highly regarded band that makes each gig unique, since they rely solely on the art of improvisation.
They have over the years produced and remixed many major pop artists from Thailand, and released material on several labels.
In 2000, they joined forces with Bear-Garden's Somsiri Sangkaew, and established the Panda Records indie music label.
Stylish Nonsense have been playing regularly in Bangkok, and numerous other cities all over Thailand such as Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Korach, Cholburi, Saraburi, Songklah.
They have also played aboard in Germany, France, Belgium, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Multi-instrumentalist Yuttana Kalambaheti also does solo concerts under his own name.
Multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer, and producer Wannarit Pongprayoon is a member of Rocket Science, Plastic Section and also does solo concerts under his own name.
Studio Live Session
K A S E M S M A I W O N G C H Y A S I L P A
Kasemsmai Wongchyasilpa (mai) is a bass player based in Bangkok. Very active on the Jazz scene and an accomplished session player, he is also very keen to explore and experiment with musical styles fusions and technology.
As much of a groove man as a natural melodist, his solo looping act delivers virtuosity and a wide array of musical landscapes.
Yui Cello (Saowakhon Muangkruan), is a cellist who tells her story through her instrument.
She is not only a cellist but also a story teller, using her tool to raise the dramatic effect of her performance, by creating something different. The Yui Cello phenomenon, as she explains, gets the inspiration from society matters, other’s life experiences and her life.
The journey she takes as a cellist, is unique as she alone is daring enough to expose serious matters, starting from impersonal touchy public topics, to highly personal own life matters.
N E U T E R L O V E R
Neuter Lover started her music scene as a Bedroom Studio artist, she delivers a blend of Ambient and Shoegaze music with sound of computer programming and noise Guitar.
With her unique of vocal and music sounds, In 2005, Her demo was nominated for 15 finalists of FAT Awards 3 - 'Bedroom Artist of The Year' (by FAT Radio, FM 104.5). And the demo song 'Find' was published on DDT Magazine's compilation CD vol.4. Additionally, she was honored to be selected to perform live in Fete de la Music 2005, as the highest scorer of her self-produced 10 demoed songs.
And as soon as she released her demos on the Internet, she was invited to be vocalist/songwriter of the duo band 'Acid Lily', founded by a japanese electronica artist. They produced music online and released the first EP on November 2005 with Spicy Disc records (thailand), then a self-released album in April 2006.
The end of the band came on November 2006 and they won FAT Awards 5 for 'Bedroom Artist of The Year'.
Now it's time for Neuter Lover to continue her own tunes!
After passing out from many hard situations, 1st mini album 'I am Neuter Lover' released on
April 27, 2010.
It was a long journey of studio production since the year 2007, Neuter Lover produced her mini album with talented artists who understand her music, they created fantastic sound installation and additional arrangement. Then all the tracks were mixed down and mastered by Woody Pornpitaksuk, who was recognized at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards for his work on the Historical Album: Louis Armstrong - The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings.
Then the beautiful sound of her music led Neuter Lover to Win AVIMA 2010 (Asia Pacific VOICE Independent Music Awards) 3rd place (Bronze) in "Moody melancholic masterpiece" with the song 'Ha (Find)".
More info: www.Voize.my/avima
Experience the 'I am Neuter Lover' mini album at www.neuterlover.com.Cds and downloads available online and international orders are welcome.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The event is organised by the Department of International Trade promotion and the Ministry of Commerce, and as expected only few we met spoke English. Even the event flyer is mainly in Thai, and I witnessed two potential buyers struggling to communicate with the Thai seller.
But if there is a will there is a way, so we had a good time and got most of the information we were asking for. When it comes to furniture you can get really good stuff here, well manufactured, using best wood, and with creative designs.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
The event is - I guess due to limited space - split into two locations, the ground floor of the main building and the 10th floor of the clinic. Although it is a bit unfortunate, I think most visitors found the way. Also, because they were nicely guided by a lot of volunteers.
What was for offer? A lot of schools were there, kindergarden, some health and insurance experts, food people (in particular for delivery, Wishbeer.com stand out here), some charities, travel companies and so on. If you are the average expat family with kids and you just arrived you got a lot of useful information. A lot of performances as well.
To offer some cultural touch a Thai crafts fair was there as well, with a lot of handicrafts. Some were a bargain, some overpriced, but in general they sold quite nice things there. And you buy for a good cause as well.
IN case you missed it, the website lists a lot of information. There is also an iOS app for expats called Living in Bangkok, made by Bumrungrad hospital, available for free.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
James Schoepflin is a filmmaker as well as a baker, and the latter is his current profession in Krungthep.
He just opened a shop selling homemade pies. Unfortunately it is not in downtown, but more near the airport in Ladkrabang. And in this area you get free delivery. There is also a website available, with a map and a lot of information, online order included. Check out http://kingofpieland.com/.
For a test I tried the Granny Apple Pie with extra rum, and it was so delicious that it barely lasted long enough to take a picture. Prices are from 75 to 350 baht depending on the size and type of pie. There is a facebook page also available, have a look on https://www.facebook.com/AmericanPies.
Every cakes comes in a neat box, well packed. As the owner told me they started already to deliver pies to certain shops in the Ladkrabang area. I just hope they may find a way to serve more areas, maybe by franchising?
Monday, September 8, 2014
But are they actually responsible? First of all, many CEOs, in particular those in big companies, try to hide them from any decision making based on actual facts. They have so many layers of responsibility in their management that they sometimes barley know what they actually produce. They have people who prepare the decisions, and the CEOs job is basically act as he (or she) did it himself.
When it comes to a crisis, the CEO is usually the first to run away from all responsibilities. He will cut jobs, to punish those who he thinks are responsible for the disaster. Or he blames the board, the shareholders, the banks. Rarely you see a CEO who says "I fucked up".
Responsibility in companies is on the shoulders of the ground staff. They make the money. They produces awesome products and they make sure they are shipped in time. They even know the customers. And yet, they are the first to go if something goes wrong.
The risk a CEO has these days is minimal. The bigger the company the more money you get, and thats enough for a hell lot of parachutes. You may loose a bit in stock options, maybe a big chunk when you company goes down at Wall Street, but this will seldom be life threatening.
And then look at average Joe in the warehouse. His risk everyday is not to loose some stock options. His risk is his income that provides money and food for a family and pays a home. If Joe does something wrong, his life will change, often in a bad way.
The CEO risks to be fired. So what? He will call his driver, get to the next bar, have a whiskey for 30 Dollar and starts calling some friends to tell them he is available. He doesn't even need to check his bank account.
And yes, of course there are CEOs who started the company they are working at, who are shareholders, who are dedicated and actually nice. But most of those I met aren't. They are far from what is actually going on in their company. Guess why Undercover Boss is such a success? Because even in middle size companies you have this problem that too many levels of hierarchy makes the CEO isolated. And isolated people don't have much information to make good decisions.
Since this is a blog, this isn't an article based on a survey or any scientific method. It is my opinion, and I might be wrong. Feel free to discuss and correct me.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
From the press release:
Bumrungrad and ThaiCraft co-organize Living in Bangkok each year to help expatriates and their families make connections with the people and organizations serving the expat community.The event targets newcomers to Bangkok, but it developed over time to a gathering of Thai and expats, with the ThaiCraft fair giving a reason to everyone to have a look.
We encourage you to visit both event venues -- the ground floor lobby of the main hospital building and the SkyLobby on the 10th floor of the Clinic building. ThaiCraft will offer its renowned arts and crafts, brought directly from the Thai villages where they are made, for purchase at both venues.
Entertainment running throughout the day at both venues features talented choirs and performing groups from international schools and the community.
We hope you have an enjoyable and productive day. All of us at Bumrungrad, ThaiCraft and our event exhibitors look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Now, this is for sure a click bait question, and thanks for reading. Of course not everything is disappointing in Thailand. otherwise we wouldn't live here. But I guess I am not the only expat who is sometimes very frustrated, disappointed, even angry about Thailand and the Thai people. THE Thai people .
So where is this coming from?
Most of my posts develop from some thoughts I have driving on my motobike in the morning bringing my wife to the BTS station. Traffic in Thailand is something that can make you really frustrated. So there was this mototaxi driver who just cut short, forcing me to make a sudden break. "Why they don't learn driving?" was my first thought (I am long enough here to never say this to a local). But then I realised that in one year driving so far I had no accident, not even close to one. That was not just because of my good driving. It was also because most people here are driving not too bad.
It is in us to make this separation. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who has this we vs. them thoughts. This has nothing to do with racism. First of all many people here really let you know you are a foreigner, starting with "Falang" and ending with different price structures. But this is understandable, both from the historic point of view as well as in business matters.
My theory is that we have quite high expectations. Most of us expats live here because we love Bangkok, Thailand or Asia in general. It is the paradise we always wanted to live in. The garden Eden. And we still have this romantic idea that this place and the people are different (Thai nationalists actually believe this in a very serious way), everyone is so kind and helpful. We WANT it to be that way, because we do not want to admit that the dream never came true or that reality is just different.
Because, in fact, Thailand is not so different from other places in the world, western countries included. There is just one human race, and we all have a lot of things in common. Bad drivers? Go to Offenbach in Germany! THEY, as we from north of Frankfurt say, will never get the idea how to drive.
Driving further there is this woman I see every morning. She works in one of the nearby factories as you can see from her uniform. She pulls a trolley filled with rice and dog food. Every morning she feeds the soi dogs between Lasalle and Bearing. How kind she is! But I never had this thought about how kind THE Thai people are.
Sometimes we need to remind us that life is as different as people are.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
You may have seen those snake sticks in TV, formed like a hook. The presenter carefully lifts the snake with it and shows it to the camera. while this is possible, it is only for professionals. So I constructed something that gives you more distance, about 2 meter.
What you need is:
2 meter pvc tube, 15mm diameter, 1.5 mm thick
2 caps fitting to the tube
5-6 meter strong rope.
That should costs not more than 5 USD.
Next step is drilling holes in the caps. The hole needs to be big enough to get the rope through, and you need two holes per cap. Pull the rope through the hole and the tube, through the next cap and back. This way you get a sling at one end and the lose ends on the other. Make sure you knot the loose ends properly, because once you caught the snake, you don't want the rope pulled through again. This devise should also work for other animals like monitor lizards. I am still waiting for the next snake, but tried it with my dogs and it works. Be careful with the sling, just make it tight enough to get hold of the animal without asphyxiating it.