In May of 2010, my friend Tony Joh and I stuffed ourselves into a hot, tiny little room in the back of a friend's office, set up a few beat-up old microphones, and hit record on a laptop. It was the beginning of the Bangkok Podcast, and we had no idea if it would be successful or not, or if we'd even enjoy it or not. Luckily, it panned out, and over the next few years we did a weekly show that allowed us to meet monks, journalists, celebrities, politicians, and scholars, among others. It was great fun, but when Tony moved to Tokyo and I got busy with a new job and married life, we pulled the plug. However, as of November 2016, the Bangkok Podcast is BACK, BABY!
Hey! If you’re reading this, you’re on the brand new design of my lil’ website. I put no small amount of work into it, so I hope you like it. It might not seem like much, but us bloggers can get quite proud and obsessed with our websites. I don’t think it’s misguided effort, either, especially in the 21st century. If you have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or any type of online presence, you are, essentially, a brand, and brands need to be taken care of. […]
If you’ve read some of my previous posts you may have noticed that I’m fascinated by maps and the data that’s used to make them. I even went to so far as to use a bike and a GPS tracker to write my name across all of downtown Bangkok. But recently I stumbled on an amazing project by artist Eric Fischer that used maps and data in such a unique way that I just had to dive in and explore to see what I could learn about Bangkok. […]
Podcasts have so completely taken over my iPhone that it’s almost sad. The thousands and thousands of songs that I’ve worked hard to collect over the years are sitting neglected, covered in digital spiderwebs, as I load up on podcasts about history, movies, art, comedy, and science. I may be biased, of course, as I co-hosted the Bangkok Podcast for nearly 2 years, but I really think that this format is an underrated game-changer. […]
When Twitter started to gain popularity about 5 years ago I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. Who can get a good idea across in 140 characters? Why do I care what one-line thoughts people have? But far be it from me to resist a trend, I eventually tried it out and immediately became a huge convert. Not only has it opened up an entirely new way of learning and communicating with everyone from my upstairs neighbor to my sister who lives in an area in Canada so remote even the Inuit think she’s nuts, […]
The oft-discussed topic of scam artists in Bangkok is a touchy subject. Convincing unsuspecting foreigners that their chosen temple/museum/attraction is closed and shoehorning them into a finely-tuned scam that's designed to part them from their money is big business. Despite promises of crackdowns, the scams still exist in large numbers, but it never ceases to amaze me just how many foreigners fall for these scams. I guess a large part of it is that you're in a strange city, disoriented, maybe a bit lost, hungry, thirsty, whatever, and a friendly voice is always a good thing, right? Still, I often wonder what would happen without the smiling face, so just for fun I made a little phone text experiment here that mimics how a typical scam plays out and the answers that one should give.
As I often do, let me start this post with a disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer or a copyright specialist and probably couldn't argue with any reasonably talented devil's advocate on this topic for more than 15 minutes before they out-debated me. But - I'm really fascinated by watching how technology is redefining and even destroying traditional models of production, distribution and consumption. It'll suck for a few old-school organizations for a while, but I really think we're on the cusp of a digital verison of the industrial revolution, and we've only scratched the surface. One particular aspect that fascinates me is how digital distribution is cutting out the middle man and letting entertainers connect with their audiences directly. There have been a few notable events in this slow-but-sure transition, but the one that really connected with me was the release of Louis C.K's new standup special, Live at the Beacon Theater, which he did wrote, hosted, produced and edited entirely on his own and made available online for $5 (150 baht).
For those that don't know Thai, the title of this post is a nod to the fact that central Bangkok is about the only place within a few hundred kilometers that isn't covered in 10 feet of water. Koh in Thai means island, and Krung Thep (กรุงเทพ) is the Thai name for Bangkok, so...yeah, a little island humor. Anyway, I figured I'd be remiss if I didn't post something about the flooding that's causing so much destruction. Despite millions of sand bags, kilometers of sluice gates and floodwalls, and thousands of army troops working their camouflaged asses off, much of central Thailand is underwater. As the crisis reached its peak a few days ago, there seemed to be more and more people that were blaming either a) Mother Nature, b) the Government, or c) Ourselves. One can understand some fierce sniping at the government and their plans that seem to have no basis in reality (more on that later) but really...everyone kind of knows that we brought much of it on ourselves.
Wow, that was fast! It seems like only a few months ago that my buddy Tony Joh and I were sitting down to record the first Bangkok Podcast. Now, just over one year later, we’re wrapping things up. I’ve been happy to see the amount of support from listeners of the show who are surprised and saddened to see us shut down; it makes me feel really good to know that even a few people enjoyed our little production. I just wanted to scribble down a few thoughts on the show and the how and why we decided not to continue. It might get a bit long, but hey, it's for posterity.
The other day my friend Bangkok Di put out a tweet about how she thought the meter in her taxi was ticking up a bit faster than normal. I replied and told her that it sometimes happens to me too, especially when coming from the airport, and it touched off a short but vigorous debate online. Some said that the higher meter fare was because it runs when the car is parked and traffic must have been bad; some said the distance must have been longer; but either way, I agree with Di – some taxis in Bangkok do use meters that have been tampered with. It’s happened to me on several occasions - though very rarely - but the question remains: what do you do about it?