Friday, March 27, 2015

Bitcoin in Thailand - from Kebab to Flowers

 You may have heard or read about it somewhere: Bitcoin, the new cryptocurrency.

What is this thing?
Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new kind of money. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network.
It is a very new understanding of money. Even if most of our money is already kind of virtual in Bank accounts we manage online, we could still withdraw it into cash (but not all of us, actually).
Bitcoin is a currency that is traded on exchanges or just by peers. You can send me bitcoin from your phone to my phone. has more about it:

How about Thailand?
In many countries Bitcoin exchanges were established and early adopters started to accept Bitcoins in there businesses. The same goes for  Thailand. The major exchanges are and is a Thai website.
All of them offer you to deposit baht and change this into Bitcoins. The value of a bitcoin is depending on the market. Usually most traders look at the dollar value. But even Bitcoin/Dollar is volatile and moves between 230 and 260 USD in the recent days. 
Yes, you can make money in trading and by selling high and buying low. BUT: Those exchanges are not protected like banks. They are simple businesses and can just close any day. It did happen that exchanges in other countries went offline and the owners were nowhere seen. So be careful.

Where can I use Bitcoin in Bangok?
Steve Sykes made a really nice map showing all the places he is aware of who are accepting bitcoins.
At Soi Keb you can buy a kebab with Bitcoin.
There is a Limousine Service, a massage shop, a fashion shop   , a flower shop and there are restaurants like Soi Keb

Where can I get more information?
There is a monthly gathering of Bitcoin enthusiasts, but newcomers are always welcome (I joined two weeks ago). Next meeting of the Satoshi Square Group is Monday, 30th at the 
The Smokin' Pug Barbecue and Blues Bar (yes, you can pay with Bitcoin there as well).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Help to stop Nikki Beach Thailand exploiting elephants

UPDATE: It took Nikkibeach a while, and they deleted some pictures and ask Tripadvisor to remove some negavtive reviews, but at the end they spoke and acted: (via Twitter)

There is always another douche who doesn't get it, and Thailand seems to attract a lot of tourists who don't care about wildlife or they are just ignorant. But if you run a hotel here, you are aware and you can't deny it.

Nikki Beach on Phuket (and Koh Samui?) doesn't care about exploitation of young elephants and is using them for entertainment. 

There is a campaign now starting on twitter and other social media, and it is worth at least raising awareness and pressure Nikki Beach to stop the exploitation of wild animals.
(By the way, there is no way of legal action, since this is Thailand and even if there was a law the enforcement is in the hands of a notoriously corrupt police force.)

You cant contact them through the website (I selected the press department) or through facebook (
It doesn't look like their twitter account is used much @nikkibeachworld

Pictures via Twitter

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nobody wants to see the "real" Bangkok

Following a recent discussion on Twitter I thought it might be good to (re)-start this discussion here. Someone was complaining that a dumpsite with poor kids in Cambodia was closed for tourists, suspecting tourists are not allowed to see "the real Cambodia" anymore, but instead only the bright side like Angkor Wat.
Just another street in Bangkok. Nothing to see here (beside the fact that there is a vegetarian restaurant)

So I was asking myself, how the hell this guy can even think a garbage dump site is the real Cambodia (and he lives in Phnom Penh)?

I think because we all have our own distortion field and agenda. We experience a country and a city in a certain way. If you are a tourist and you have 2 or 3 days in Bangkok, of course you will visit the usual suspects. You are not leaving the airport and head straight to a random street somewhere in the east of town. If you go to Cambodia, of course you have to see Angkor Wat. And it doesn't matter (and even claim to be) that this isn't the real Cambodia, because every country has some many faces and facettes -  not even the prime minister or any head of state has seen all of it.

Bangkok is just another Asian city with some specific highlights. Most parts of Bangkok are not worth a visit, because they were not built for it. They are functional, townhouse after townhouse, with more or less useful shops. Architecture isn't something Asian cities are famous for. And street life is not much different if you are in Bangna, Din Daeng or Bang Pli. But, this is the real Bangkok, because most parts are just like that.

Unfortunately it doesn't tell you anything about Thailand. Because a small village in Isaan is a totally different story, and so is one in the south of Thailand. Pattaya is as real as Udon Thani is and so are Phuket and Kanchanaburi.

Tourists want to escape their daily life and want to see and experience something different. Most of them just want to relax. That's their decision and yes, they have a right to do so. It doesn't make them bad people just because they go to the beach instead of sleeping on a dump side. I do agree that the more time you spend in a country the more your learn about it, but come on, nothing new about it.

But, as we all know, certain people just see poor people and they feel sorry for them and want to help. And I even understand that the world should know that those kids are suffering. Only the world knows already. In Cambodia, there is for example PSE, a NGO that gives education and vocational training to kids from Phnom Penh's garbage dump. (When I worked in Cambodia, we had one secretary who came from there). A picture of a poor kid that is sold in a gallery for 100 Dollar doesn't help the boy. School and later a job helps.

Reducing Cambodia to suffering from the Khmer Rouge and being full of poor people is as wrong as any stereotype. Just yesterday I met a friend from Cambodia who gets a training here with her new company - a international law firm. She is pretty annoyed of those good samaritans who drive fancy cars (or live a good life as a freelancer without paying taxes to the country they take advantage of). In particular Cambodian young people - with a main focus on the cities of course - are eager to develop and do better. Those who I know - and that is a difference from my experience in Thailand - do not forget where they are coming from.

Claiming to know the "real" Bangkok, Siem Reap or whatever basically shows how biased someone is, because what then follows is a reduction that fits this persons personally view and distortion field.
The guy from twitter by the way has a blog about Bangkok at night and guess what the posts are?
Party Time Patpong, Late night beer, Hollywood Bar Nana Plaza... So much about the real <insert name>.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Academy for Southeast Asian Filmmakers

I got asked by the organizers if I can promote this academy, and even this is a carmaker PR-Thing, I think there never enough learning, and when it is for free, there is not much harm in participating. So if you are a young filmmaker from Asia, consider sending your application.

Chevrolet and MOFILM have partnered up to create an amazing opportunity for Southeast Asian filmmakers that you can apply for today. Together they are launching the Academy for Southeast Asian Filmmakers (ASAF), an immersive three-day exploration of storytelling through film that is focused on equipping you with high-level strategic insights and practical tools to help you develop your filmmaking skills and career.

ASAF is a completely fee-free opportunity that will help young Southeast Asian talent to develop their filmmaking skills while working on a real, live, Chevrolet brief. Any Southeast Asian citizen, over the age of 18, with a passion for film and story telling can be part of it.

How it works?

Just follow the application link below and you will be prompted to:

1. Register or login to your MOFILM account
2. complete application for Academy workshops

ASAF will be an intensive course, created and delivered by expert tutors with experience from the Southeast Asian filmmaking industry. The sessions of the Academy will take place in Bangkok and Jakarta during May 2015. The curriculum will cover several aspects of filmmaker theory and practice, with a focus on developing story telling skills.

Spaces are limited so make sure you get your application in ahead of the deadline - 31st March 2015.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Where to repair your Macbook in Bangkok

My Macbook Pro recently got sick aka the graphic chip isn't working properly anymore, and I was hoping to get it fixed somewhere in Bangkok. First I went to my nearest shop at Paradise Park, where iStudio has a service center. It turned out they may have to replace the board and it will take about 4 weeks and costs at least 18.000 baht.

Then Apple decided to offer a free repair for a certain video issue with Macbook Pros and I thought my laptop has this issue. So I went to iStudio Paragon and they sent me to MCC at Siam Discovery at the 5th floor.

The shop is small and a bit hidden, BUT: They do a great service. They were totally aware of the video issue and the offer from Apple, but had to - as required by Apple - run a diagnostics test first - which my MBP passed. So it seems to be a different problem.

Beside this, they seem to really know what they are talking about, some speak good English and if you need any repair with your Mac, this is one of the places to go.

For some reason they can only service iPhones under warranty if they are bought through the Apple online store, I guess there might be some issue with providers.