Monthly Archives: April 2008

Top Thailand Blogs

"Do I need to remind you that I have a huge Internet following?"

The Lost Boy has put together a collection of the top 100 Thailand blogs. Newley.com is currently in 15th, while 2Bangkok is justifiably in the top slot, with Bangkok Pundit in 3rd.

Two of my favorite blogs from the region are missing, though: consummate food blogger/photog Austin Bush and Southeast Asia news blog New Mandala.

(Cartoon from the New Yorker, via Scribbling.net.)

UPDATE: Another notable absence is the excellent Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal. Sample can’t-miss post: a sneak preview of a zany Thai action flick in which a giant Australian dude living in Bangkok is transformed from pushover to super-strength action hero by…wait for it…a particularly fiery bowl of one of my favorite Thai foods.

New Rules for Expats in China

Here’s a snip from an Andrew Jacobs story in today’s IHT:

In little more than 100 days, this city will open its arms to an unprecedented deluge of foreigners, many of whom will be pleasantly surprised by the dizzying array of designer boutiques, painfully hip martini bars and libertine pastimes not readily associated with an authoritarian, communist country.

But just as Beijing is promising to welcome 1.5 million visitors to the Olympic Games with newfound openness, public security officials are seeking to tighten controls over daily life, including new visa restrictions that are causing mounting anxiety among the 250,000 foreign citizens who have settled in the capital in recent years. The rules, which were introduced last week with no warning and little explanation, limit new visas to 30 days, making it difficult, if not impossible, for long-term residents to hold down jobs and maintain uncomplicated lives. The restrictions are also infuriating business leaders in Hong Kong who have become used to crossing the border with ease.

“I can’t begin to explain how serious this is going to be,” said Richard Vuylsteke, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. “A barrier like this is going to have a real ripple effect on business.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Breaking Travel News from The Onion

The Onion: "Southwest Airlines Now Taking Passengers To Destinations By Shuttle Bus"

The Onion: “Southwest Airlines Now Taking Passengers To Destinations By Shuttle Bus”

DALLAS—In what the company is calling a “bold new leap” in comfort, convenience and overall quality of travel, Southwest Airlines announced Monday that it would be replacing its entire fleet of passenger jets and planes with daily shuttle buses.

The shuttle buses, which will depart from airport runways to over 200 destinations nationwide, represent a major breakthrough in commercial aviation.

“The future is now,” announced Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, gesturing to a 30-foot bus painted in the company’s signature red, yellow, and blue. “With these amazing new buses, traveling from New York to Los Angeles takes as little as three days. That’s less than half the time it took passengers to get there on our old planes.”

Equipped with a 70-gallon tank and a four-stroke engine capable of speeds up to 60 miles per hour, the innovative buses will reportedly reduce travel time by 75 percent on average. In addition, cushioned plastic seats and easy-to-hold metal poles will present passengers with a level of comfort never before experienced on Southwest flights.

(Via World Hum.)

Bangkok By the Numbers: Family Visit 2008, Early Numerical Status Report

My mom and step-dad arrived in Bangkok yesterday for a visit from the US. Here’s how their visit has shaped up, numbers-wise, so far:

Thai Foot Massages

  • Hour-long Thai foot massages enjoyed in the last 24 hours: 2
  • Combined hours of full-body massages planned for them for tomorrow: 4

    Thai Cuisine Consumed

  • Approximate number of individual Thai dishes we have consumed since they arrived: 13

    Kimchi Consumption Requests Made By Me

  • Times I asked my mom to try the particularly pungent kimchi during dinner at a Korean restaurant tonight: 7
  • Number of times she obliged: 0
  • Plates on our table at one point during said dinner: 19

    Bowls of Lot Chong Devoured

  • Bowls of lot chong (green “worms” made of sticky rice flour in coconut milk) scarfed down at lunch today: 1

    Shopping Achievements

  • Mobile phones purchased at MBK: 1
  • SIM cards purchased from same vendor: 1
  • Value, in Baht, of pre-paid phone card minutes purchased: 200
  • Pairs of eye glasses purchased today: 4
  • Items of clothing currently being constructed for my mom and step-dad by my favorite tailor: 13

    Songkran Soakings

  • Number of times I have been soaked to the skin by Songkran revelers since my mom and step-dad arrived: 1
  • Number of times I was soaked to the skin by Songkran revelers before they arrived: 5
  • Number of times my mom and step dad have been soaked to the skin by Songkran revelers since they arrived: 0
  • Asus eee pc: 10 observations

    If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. — Frank Lloyd Wright

    A gave me a supremely cool gadget for Christmas: The Asus Eee PC. I’ve been using this most compelling toy subnotebook productivity tool for over three months now.

    Here are 10 things you need to know about the Asus Eee PC:

    1. The Eee PC is small. Very small. The display is just seven inches wide.
    2. The machine is extremely lightweight. Mine weighs just two pounds. If I lived in a cool enough climate to wear a jacket, I could put the Eee in my jacket pocket. And take it places. Like to parties. And be a total dork.

    3. Combine these two points with the fact that it has a solid-state, 4 gigabyte flash drive — meaning that it has no moving internal parts — and you’ve got yourself the perfect device for staying connected on the road. I’ve used my Eee throughout Thailand and on the road in Vietnam.

    4. The Eee has some great built-in features:

    — The 4 gig drive is big enough for documents, photos, and some music. With a 1 or 2 GB thumb drive, you’ll have all the space you need.
    — It has a built-in Webcam and comes pre-loaded with Skype, so it makes a great portable videophone.
    — The battery lasts three hours or so, and the charger (pictured below) is slightly larger than a mobile phone charger.
    — It lacks, however, an internal optical drive, but I haven’t missed that.

    1. The Eee PC won’t break the bank: the 4 gig version retails for about $400 in the US, though it costs a bit less here.
  • My Eee is black, but the device also comes in…pink.

  • The machine, which Internerds the world over have been lusting over for quite some time, has got an interesting history and some serious geek cred. The Eee was developed by Asustek, a Taiwanese manufacturer that decided to get into the small, inexpensive laptop game after witnessing the attention lavished upon the One Laptop Per Child project.

  • The Eee is powered by Linux. To keep costs low, Asus developed the Eee to run on the open-source Linux operating system, instead of Windows. (If you think PCs are the true computers of the working man, then the Eee PC must be considered equally utilitarian.)

  • One drawback: the touchpad is a bit finicky, so it really pays to buy a mouse.

  • Oddly, the wireless connection doesn’t connect to a preferred network by default, so you should change it to connect to your home wifi signal on boot. Here’s how to make that tweak.

  • Other sites that contain more Eee-related info include EeeUser.com and EeeSite.net.

    Austin Bush on an Extraordinary Seafood Joint in Koh Samui

    Koh Samui Seafood [Not My Image]

    Thailand expert/foodie photog Austin Bush has this to say about Bangpo Seafood, located on the northern coast of Koh Samui:

    Throwing around superlatives can be a scary thing, but I think I’m justified in this case. I’ve been to many, many restaurants in Thailand, and have eaten some pretty amazing food, but Bangpo Seafood particularly stands out in my mind. I knew something was special about it after my first visit over a year ago, and wrote quite a few good things about it, but have always been keen to go back and see if the restaurant was really was as good as I thought.

    Well, after two recent visits, my initial impression was right, and I think Bangpo Seafood just might be my favourite restaurant in Thailand.

    Now that’s saying something.

    (Emphasis mine.) Image credit: Austin’s complete photoset.

    This American Life: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

    Don’t miss This American Life episode 352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar, by reporter Tal McThenia. The show aired on March 14. From the show notes:

    In 1912 a four year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. (The picture [above] was taken just days later.) In 2004, his granddaughter discovered a secret beneath the legend of her grandfather’s kidnapping, a secret whose revelation would divide her own family, bring redemption to another, and become the answer to a third family’s century-old prayer. We devote our entire episode to the story.

    Related: my favorite podcasts.