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Bangkok Podcast by Anthony Joh

Bangkok Podcast

by Anthony Joh

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Bangkok is a city that is at the leading edge of Asia yet still somehow stuck in the past. It is a place of contrasts: ancient temples neighbour internet cafes, luxury automobiles compete for space with tuk-tuks and sprawling air conditioned shopping malls sell everything from Lanna antiques to the latest high fashion clothing. Join Anthony Joh and Greg Jorgensen every week as they discuss all the funny, serious, enjoyable, and just plain strange aspects of living in the Big Mango.

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Teaching In Thailand: A Professional Western Teacher’s Perspective (2.24)

Mon, Mar 20, 2017

What do pro Western teachers think about teaching in Thailand? And are we seeing the end of Uber in Bangkok? And if so, will canal taxis pick up the slack? All that and more on this episode of The Bangkok Podcast

Taxis in Bangkok would probably make for a good Love, Loathe, or Leave segment, but recent moves by Thailand to restrict popular “ridesharing” services make it worthy of our opening banter. After that, Greg has a chat with Sheila Dee a Western-trained, professional educator working in Thailand. There are lots of Westerners acting as English teachers in Thailand. Greg used to be one of them. But Sheila’s a bit different, holding a Bachelor's degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. In the Thai private school where she teaches, five subjects -- English, Math, Science, Physical Education, and Computers -- are taught by native English teachers. Social studies and Thai (as in the language) are taught in Thai, and her students also study Chinese (actually in Chinese, if that’s not obvious). For her school as well as the many international schools in Bangkok, that level of immersion and integration requires educators trained in their subject field, not just someone who happens to be a native English-speaker. As a Western trained teacher, Sheila’s learning how to modify her style. As an American teacher, she knows how to deal with American students. But not all of that directly translates to teaching in Thailand, with different expectations from administration, parents, and students. Some of those are a net positive, like the premium administration places on Western teachers and the noticeable lack of discipline issues, for example. But some require her to change her expectations, like translating the concept of “saving face” into classroom management and not trying to “fix” everything. It’s not easy being a teacher, which is why Thailand is starting to change how they look for teachers. Yes, there are still plenty of teachers with a degree in something (anything) and a TEFL certificate. However, Sheila’s seeing an emphasis on seeking out real teachers (like her) with real experience of prior teaching in the Western world.

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

It’s our first listener submission! ThailightZone wants us to talk about the khlong boats, specifically those that shuttle busy commuters along the saen saep canal. It’s a uniquely local Thai experience, but you’ll have to listen to see how we feel about this odd transportation style.

Want more?

If it’s your first time experiencing The Bangkok Podcast, you really should get our show downloading to your phone automatically every week. If you use iOS, it’s a breeze to listen via iTunes. Android users should be able get the show automatically through Google Play. But if you run into a snag, get in touch. We’ll help! Drop us a line using the contact form, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast! (Direct download .mp3)

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Magic Ink: Evo Visits the Mystical Sak Yant Tattoo Festival (2.23)

Wed, Mar 15, 2017

You may or may not have heard about the Sak Yant tattoo festival before, but after hearing this episode of the Bangkok Podcast, you sure as darn heck won't be able to forget about it. For years travelers have been entertained by tales of screaming men rushing the stage, possessed by the spirits of the tattoos that cover their bodies in sheets of intricate sub-dermal ink. But it's not merely an odd tourist attraction - the men who have them, the monks who give them, and the shamans who 'recharge' them all hold the tattoos - and the power they say they represent - in the highest regard. With an origin story that involves a Burmese invasion, sinking boats, lost Buddha images, and man-eating tigers, it sounds like something from a novel by Graham Greene or Joseph Conrad, but it's all - very probably - true. Evo and his lovely wife Sheila headed up to Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Pathom - about 50km west of Bangkok - to check out the festivities and boy did they get the goods. Hanging out with devotees on Friday evening and then recording their screams, gurgles, laughs, and chants on the Saturday, Evo gives a description of what it's like in the middle of the action. Those screams, gurgles, laughs and chants can be heard in the podcast, by the way. Here's a few pictures - but head over to Sheila's Flickr album to see more. 33238959142_064c6bc0a0_z 33238974392_421e079fa2_z 33394953115_271198d71d_z

Love, Loathe or Leave?

Evo springs his LLoL on Greg - what does he think of the national anthem that plays every day at 8am and 6pm? Is it an annoying distraction, a treasured cultural identifier, or something in between? Have a listen to the song in the video below if you're not familiar, then follow along with their discussion at home! https://youtu.be/BrcGzLIEsAU?t=10

Want more?

If it’s your first time experiencing The Bangkok Podcast, you really should get our show downloading to your phone automatically every week. If you use iOS, it’s a breeze to listen via iTunes. Android users should be able get the show automatically through Google Play. But if you run into a snag, get in touch. We’ll help! Drop us a line at the contact page up top, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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Talking with Paul Mueller: How Much Time Does Bangkok's Green Lung Have Left? (2.22)

Wed, Mar 08, 2017

When you look at Bangkok on a map, you see this enigmatic little patch of green just off center. It’s not a trick. It really exists. Historically, few people fought the traffic to get here. But that’s changing, and modern encroachment on the green lungs of Bangkok is threatening this not-quite-hidden gem of Bangkok. Life in Thailand is hot. Welcome to the tropics! But this year seems to have gotten hotter earlier. Or maybe we’re just getting old and are fixating on the weather. Of more importance to this issue is a lovely place in Bangkok to visit that allows some respite from the heat. That place is Prapadaeng -- also called Bang Krachao -- Bangkok’s “green lung”. We mentioned it briefly on a previous episode, promising to return to the topic with a much more in depth discussion. To give the topic the proper consideration, Greg invites his friend Paul to talk about this hidden-in-plain-sight key area of Bangkok that is, saddly, in danger of losing it’s luster. Because development. Today on the show we speak with six-year resident Paul Mueller. This American expat made this amazing meander in the Chao Phraya river his home after a solo bike trip led him to a rickety looking dock with an even more rickety looking ferry attached, but with an enticing green area on the other side of the river. He was stunned by the peace, quiet and space -- things that are hard to find in urban Bangkok, where we literally live on top of one another. But not in Bang Krachao. Cars are rare in the interior, and even motorbikes aren’t terribly common. Instead people walk or ride bikes to get from place to place, harkening to a simpler time. But those small bikeways are getting blocked, trees are being uprooted, and that abundance of space is threatened. Not by condos (yet), but by people who are choosing to make their home there, taking advantage of the tranquility of the area. As in the rest of Thailand, if someone is properly connected, they can probably side-step a few zoning restrictions. The floating market is growing in popularity -- and that’s a good thing -- but that’s bringing it’s own challenges. More cars. More room for those cars to park. And of course more businesses to sell stuff to the people who drive those cars. You know… development. There’s a lot of pressure on the area, and we can only hope that the commitment to keeping Bangkok’s green lung, well… green, stays the course. In the meantime, you might want to plan your trip sooner rather than later. Just in case. Here’s a short video you can watch that talks about the challenges the green lungs of Bangkok are facing. Or you can just listen to the show to learn more from Paul’s perspective. That’s a good idea!

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

Let’s not beat around the bush. Sometimes, when you feel the call of nature in Thailand, sometimes the porcelain throne is actually a porcelain hole in the ground. That’s called a squat toilet. And, well… you’ll figure it out. Quirky? Sure. Pleasant? Less so. But it’s something you’ll likely encounter. And something that will make you appreciate your western toilet.

Want more?

If it’s your first time experiencing The Bangkok Podcast, you really should get our show downloading to your phone automatically every week. If you use iOS, it’s a breeze to listen via iTunes. Android users should be able get the show automatically through Google Play. But if you run into a snag, get in touch. We’ll help! Drop us a line over at  bangkokpodcast.com, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast! (Direct download .mp3)

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"I Want to Get Back to Nature in Bangkok." Is That Even Possible? (2.21)

Mon, Feb 27, 2017

While Thailand is a great place to experience the natural beauty of the tropics, Bangkok is a giant metro area and not all that appealing to nature lovers with a short time to visit. Or is it? That’s the topic of this episode of The Bangkok Podcast.

Evo’s still sick, but he’s on the mend thanks to a doctor. Because as you’ll recall from an episode just a few weeks ago, antibiotics are available over the counter here. But you know what isn’t? A diagnoses of illness from a qualified physician. Luckily there is no shortage of great doctors in Bangkok. And they are quite cheap. Some people are just stubborn. Ahem. And did you see the article that claimed Thailand has the worst traffic in the world? We do a little debunking on that before we get to the heart of the matter. Finding nature in the confines of Bangkok’s concrete jungle. What, exactly, should a nature lover visiting Bangkok do if they only have a few short days? That’s the question Evo’s friend and Finland-based travel blogger Lottie put to us. No, she doesn’t really want to hit all the rooftop bars, shopping malls, countless temples, or the seedier side of tourism that form Bangkok’s well-deserved reputation. We have a few ideas, including:
  • Prapadaeng (also called Bang Krachao) - Bangkok’s “green lung”
  • Phutthamonthon - “Spiritual center of Thailand”, says Greg
  • Chao Phraya river - It’s always breezy and cool on this big, navigable river that bisects Bangkok
  • Ayutthaya - Archaeology and history only 3 hours away by train
  • Lots of great parks we mention in the show, some rather hidden
  • Lovely beaches not too far away, but you’ll want to do an overnight, probably
So… yeah. Bangkok offers more than just shopping, sex tourism, temples, and rooftop bars. Just keep the weather in mind when you visit. Because it’s always summer here. Speaking of that...

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

Holy volcanos, it’s hot here. We have no volcanos, but we do leave very close to the sun, apparently. There weren’t any seasons to speak of this year in Bangkok, which has an impact. Listen in to find out how we feel about it.

Want more?

If it’s your first time experiencing The Bangkok Podcast, you really should get our show downloading to your phone automatically every week. If you use iOS, it’s a breeze to listen via iTunes. Android users should be able get the show automatically through Google Play. But if you run into a snag, get in touch. We’ll help! Drop us a line or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast! (Direct download .mp3)

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Crafty Bangkok Beer: Talking with Brian Bartusch from Beervana (2.20)

Tue, Feb 21, 2017

Like everywhere, craft beer is exploding in Bangkok. But there are some subtle nuances that cause beer lovers to scratch their heads. Why is it so expensive? What’s up with “illegal” beer? And where can I get more? We’ll answer that and more on this episode of The Bangkok Podcast.

After a brief and elusive discussion of the infamous Thailand beach town Pattaya, we jump into the heart of the conversation: Beer in Thailand. Specifically, craft beer in Thailand. To make sure we cover things in an appropriate (read: true) way, we invited Brian Bartusch -- co-founder of Bangkok’s largest craft beer importer, Beervana -- on to the show to answer some key questions Evo -- our resident beer nerd -- had about the state of craft beer in Thailand. Together with a few other entrepreneurial importers, Beervana makes it easy for the visiting craft beer fan to not be forced to drink the standard Thai beers. Not that we’re dissing the local beers. But craft beer fans are going to find Chang, Leo, Singha, and locally-produced Heineken or Asahi rather lacking. Evo and Brian met up at Roadhouse BBQ. By way of example, they offer a half dozen quality craft beers on tap and a rather large selection of craft beer from all over the world. While you’ll probably find a wider selection back in America simply due to proximity to some other local breweries, you won’t be disappointed in the selection. But you probably will suffer a bit of a sticker shock. Imported craft beer in Thailand is more expensive than the same beer back home. Why? Well, two main reasons: The first is shipping. It’s a long way from here to there, and it has to be kept cold the entire journey. Then you layer in the import taxes and compliance fees, which are not trivial. Brian digs into it a little deeper on the show if you want more information. Just keep it in mind the next time you plop down ?350 for a bottle you’d expect to pay $6 for back in The States. Other topics relevant to craft beer in Bangkok and beyond:

  • Craft beer consumption is only about .02% of overall beer consumption in Thailand. (Source: ChitBeer)
  • Homebrewing is illegal in Thailand. People can be and are thrown in jail for brewing.
  • Which means local Thai craft beer -- which is all home brewed -- is illegal… yet available everywhere. Honestly, we have mixed feelings about this.
  • Some Thai brewers of quality craft beer are working with the system, doing contract brewing outside of the country and re-importing. It’s crazy, but it’s legal. And tasty!
  • The big Thai brewers have taken notice of the craft beer movement and are taking a Blue Moon approach for now.
  • Local Thais are keenly interested in the craft beer scene. 
  • Brian shares some notable places around Bangkok to find great craft beer. You’ll be amazed at how quick it’s growing! Some special call outs:

Find Brian at various craft beer events around Bangkok, or at Pijiu Bar, his newly opened craft beer bar in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

Bangkok, like every city, has more than one rat hanging around. We don’t want to alarm you, but the ones in Bangkok seem a little bolder than most. Can you guess where we put this little critter on the Love, Loathe, or Leave spectrum?

Want more?

If it’s your first time experiencing The Bangkok Podcast, you really should get our show downloading to your phone automatically every week. If you use iOS, it’s a breeze to listen via iTunes. Android users should be able get the show automatically through Google Play. But if you run into a snag, get in touch. We’ll help! Drop us a line or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

(Direct download .mp3)

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Is Learning Thai Really Necessary? (2.19)

Mon, Feb 13, 2017

To learn to speak Thai or not learn to speak Thai. That is the question. No, literally. It’s the question we’re asking each other on behalf of all people who come to live in Thailand. As you'll hear, we have a difference of opinion.

So yeah, we’re the #1 travel podcast in Thailand. That’s kinda cool. But it’s not what we’re talking about today… (but thanks for subscribing!) We ask ourselves a simple question on this week’s show: If you’re going to “live” in Thailand, do you need to learn Thai? Not surprisingly, we have differing opinions on the matter. Greg, the 16 year expat, staunchly feels anyone wishing to live in Thailand needs to learn the language. Evo, not surprisingly, takes the opposite view. Then again, he only has a year under his belt, so take his opinion with a shot of nam pla. Some arguments for include the ability to keep yourself out of trouble by knowing what warning signs say, having a deeper understanding of Thai culture, and generally paying homage to the fact that you’re living in a country with something other than your native tongue as the official language. Arguments against include the fact that most (but not all) signs that you really need to see are also presented in English, Thai students have been forced to learn English (or at least enroll in English classes) for decades, and that technology makes for easy as-you-need it translation. Not surprisingly, there’s more to it that that. Listen to the show to see which side of the argument you identify with. For bonus points, leave us a comment on the blog, or even a review on iTunes with your thoughts on who’s right. Because we strive for your approval! Kidding. Oh, and that better translation app Evo mentioned? It comes from Thai-Language.com, a great web resource. They have an iOS app, but we're not sure about Android. Get it.

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

Thai pajamas. Or the “farang uniform”. Lightweight, colorful and comfortable pants  that gather around the waist that no self-respecting Thai person would be caught dead in. I think we’re giving away our opinions on these horrid garments. Clean it up a bit, tourists. This is Bangkok. Put on the big person pants when you go out in public, OK?

Want more?

Leave a review here or send us a message on the contact tab at the top menu, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast! (Direct download .mp3)

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Being Disabled in Bangkok: A Conversation with Sawang Srisom (2.18)

Mon, Feb 06, 2017

No one is going to say that Bangkok is an easy city to navigate. Near-constant congestion, poorly paved sidewalks, non-existent pedestrian crossing areas… that’s just a start. Now imagine that from the point of view of someone who uses a wheelchair. Suddenly these difficulties seem like insurmountable obstacles.

The show starts with a recap of the new “blowing up on social media” scandal: It seems some mototaxi drivers are placing a surcharge on passengers with additional mass. But that’s not the injustice we’re talking about on this episode. On today’s show we chat with Sawang Srisom, Secretary for Transportation for All (T4A), a grassroots organization that’s forcing Thailand’s bureaucracy to actually follow the law and make the city -- specifically the BTS skytrain system -- fully accessible to people with disabilities. Laws aimed at supporting the rights of the disabled have only been on the books in Bangkok since 1991, and that one didn’t even address accessibility. That didn’t happen until 2005. Yes, you read that right: There were no laws governing accessibility requirements just over a decade ago. And since the BTS system construction started 10 years before that, enabling officials a convenient excuse for not including things like elevators in all but five of the 29 stations. Amazing. To get action, T4A started filing lawsuits against the BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Authority who oversee the BTS system) for failure to comply. The goal wasn’t financial compensation, but to force change. It went all the way to the Supreme Court, and it’s now been ruled that all stations must have lifts installed on both sides of the tracks. If you’ve used the BTS and thought “but I see lifts and other accessibility additions. What’s the problem?” Listen to the show to find out how insane it is for wheelchair users like Sawang to try and use those accessibility additions you’ve seen. It often involves taking a taxi just to cross the street. Fair warning? It’s maddening to listen to. The good news is that Thailand has the right policies on the books. The problem -- and stop us if you’ve heard this one before -- is getting bureaucrats to follow them. Good luck, Bangkok. You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. But clearly it’s the right thing to do. Because accessibility is for everyone.

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

Not this week. Evo’s voice (as you noticed) is giving out. We’ll try again next week.

Want more?

Drop us a line over at  bangkokpodcast.com, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast! (Direct download .mp3)

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Red Cliff Coffee: Talking With Derek Kirk About Chiang Rai's Most Delicious Export (2.17)

Mon, Jan 30, 2017

So a guy from Alaska who owns a coffee plantation in Hawaii hires a guy from Indiana who’s living in Thailand to help him grow coffee. There’s no punchline. Just a great episode of the Bangkok Podcast!

(Direct download .mp3) After Evo explains why he was in Finland and gives us a crash course on world travel expos (like Matka 2017) and blogger conferences (like NBE Finland), and Greg runs down his recent motorbiking misadventures in Chiang Rai, we get down to business. What business? Serious business. Coffee.   Greg had a conversation with Derek Kirk, a fellow expat who manages a coffee plantation that puts out Red Cliff Coffee, a personal favorite of Greg’s that Evo needs to try. Starting as an English teacher, Derek fell in love with Northern Thailand and wanted to find a way to stay. In his spare time, he started working with coffee farmers from the Akha Hill Tribe. Some of them had recently started planting coffee as a cash crop but didn’t have much experience. Derek made the decision to learn as much as he could about coffee production, vowing to return to Northern Thailand and spread that knowledge. He moved to Kona, Hawaii, became a sponge for coffee knowledge, and brought 10,000 trees back to Thailand to start his enterprise. The beans that come from this experiment are, in his opinion (backed up by Greg’s insatiable appetite), the best beans grown in Thailand, far outpacing the standard Thai coffee fare. More importantly, coffee -- quality coffee -- is giving a huge economic boost to the region. As evidence; other farmers in the village are seeing the success of their neighbors and getting in on the action, and small vendors on the side of the road in heavily Thai areas -- even outside of Bangkok -- are selling quality cappuccino for 55 baht. Not great news if you want cheap coffee. But outstanding news if you -- like us -- appreciate a quality cuppa and wish to see it spread.But don’t think this is the story of one (more) farang coming in and taking over from the locals. Yes, Derek did inject some know-how into the system, but the farmers producing coffee are doing so on their own terms, on their own land, and producing their own product. Now that’s social entrepreneurism at work!

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

For our North American friends, we give you the lowdown of 7-11, which is *much* more than just a convenience store in Bangkok: It’s a way of life. Not surprisingly we love 7-11 if only because it’s so ingrained into society here in the Big Mango. But there is one aspect we rather loathe. You’ll have to listen to find out.

Want more?

Drop us a line over at  bangkokpodcast.com, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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Talking with Phra Pandit: Is Having Everything the Same as Desiring Nothing? (2.16)

Mon, Jan 23, 2017

Continuing with our Buddhism series, we welcome Phra Pandit, a Brit who has been a monk in Thailand for the past 20 years and is a noted lecturer on Buddhism, dhamma, and psychology. Desire - or the lack of it - is one of the key themes that the Buddha taught his followers. But as we find out in this very interesting discussion with Phra Pandit, it's not as easy as saying "I can do without those cool new pair of shoes." (Direct download .mp3) (Direct download .mp3) Since Evo is off galavanting around Europe, Greg talks to Pandit about what it means to have nothing, how it feels to want nothing, and why having or wanting nothing doesn't necessarily make you a better Buddhist than someone who has everything. Indeed, Greg poses a question - when someone has more money than they will ever use, things that are valuable to the 'average' person - like an iPhone - become almost meaningless. Since this person places no great value in craving the iPhone, or grief when he loses it - is that a similar state of mind as not desiring an iPhone? It's a great conversation about exactly what desire is - and how wanting something isn't always a bad thing. Phra Pandit also gives a shoutout to his friend Marisa Cranfill (a previous guest on the Bangkok Podcast), one of the foremost (non-Thai) experts on Thai spirit houses. She will be giving a seminar later this month about this topic, where you can finally learn the answers to the big questions: why is red Fanta left out more than other drinks? Why do zebras get left so often? Why are some houses supported by one pillar, and others four? Head to www.littlebang.org to read more about Marisa's speech on Saturday January 28th at the Rojana Center. And since this episode airs a few days before Chinese New Year, Greg - who lived in Yaowarat, Bangkok's Chinatown, for 4 years - gives his advice for really getting the most out of a visit to one of Bangkok's most interesting neighborhoods, and the center of the city's Chinese New Year celebrations. And just for an extra visual, here are the incense sticks that Greg talks about. Note the dudes on the bottom left for scale. Chinese Temple 11 You can also follow the Bangkok Podcast on Facebook, or Evo and Greg on Twitter.

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Expat Realities: Reverse Culture Shock (2.15)

Mon, Jan 16, 2017

If you've lived any amount of time overseas and returned to your home country, you're likely familiar with reverse culture shock, the feeling that you just...somehow...don't quite fit in to your old life anymore. It's a disorienting feeling, and it affects everyone differently. Seeing as how Greg was back in Canada three months ago and Evo just returned from a trip to the USA, we thought'd we discuss this uniquely strange phenomenon, how it affected us, and how we deal with it.

(Direct download .mp3)

Greg recounts how the relationships with his friends have changed, details of "the most Canadian standoff ever", and how it's always the little things that trip you up - like the fact that people wear shoes inside the house, which really freaked him out. Evo mirrors this "little things" mantra, like the incredibly weird feeling of drinking water from a tap, and how much he forgot he loves listening to the radio...and how quickly he realized it actually sucks.

We also do another round of Love, Loathe, Leave, and discuss - rather shamefully - how much joy Greg got from showing his visiting sister around Bangkok's shopping malls.

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Four Things We Tell Everyone to Avoid in Bangkok (2.14)

Tue, Jan 10, 2017

Everyone loves Bangkok and it is indeed a great city. However, that's not to say everything is worth seeing or doing. For this show we each come up with two items, places, or pastimes that we tell visiting friends and family or even expats new to the city of Angels that they can go ahead and avoid without losing out on everything that Bangkok has to offer.

(Direct download .mp3) (Direct download .mp3) Evo’s finally back from his three week trip to America and mostly over his jet lag. At least to record another episode. Today we’re talking about some things we think it’s OK for you to to skip when you visit The Big Mango. Because there’s simply too many things in Bangkok to take in in a single trip, so you won’t have a lack of things to do. First up, Evo smashes the myth about getting smashed on cheap Thai beer. Because, shockingly, beer isn’t inexpensive here in Thailand. You’ll spend at least a buck -- IN A GROCERY STORE OR 7-11 -- per beer. That’s a little more than you’ll spend to buy crappy beer back in most Western nations. Which isn’t cheap! (Though it is cheap in quality.) Second, Greg commits near sacrilege by suggesting that there are other historic temples and places to visit that are not The Grand Palace. Yes, it’s a lovely place. Yes, it’s filled with history. Yes, it’s akin to Mecca for many Thais. But it’s the giant mob of people -- tourists and Thais -- that sully the experience. If you don’t mind standing in the heat (without umbrellas) for a few hours with a few thousand of your closest friends, go on with your bad self. Third, Evo suggests skipping ping-pong shows. It’s arguably the worst of the publically available sexploitation offerings endemic to Bangkok. They aren’t sexy (like, at all). They aren’t fun for more than a handful of seconds. And they are a huge and expensive scam. And you will be poorer -- in pocketbook and in humanity -- after the experience. [shudder] Fourth, Bangkok is a hot-spot for networking events, especially among the expat community. And Greg hates them. The experience is always the same, which is less about meeting cool people and more paying to have people shove business cards in your hand for services you don’t want or need. Granted, some people excel at networking events. But Greg finds something extra distasteful about the ones he’s attended in Bangkok. We do make special allowances for cool events, like the Bangkok International Travel Group, Random Thainess, and Pecha Kucha Bangkok. Hrm. Maybe we should get the people who run those events on a future episode. Love, Loathe, or Leave? Exiting Thailand is a chore. Especially at the BKK airport. Why, oh why, is it so hard to get out of this country? Listen to the show to find out how Greg and Evo feel about the process (if you haven’t guessed it already.) Want more? Drop us a line over at bangkokpodcast.com, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. You can even Tweet to the show @bangkok podcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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Thailand Memories: Living Through a Coup (2.13)

Mon, Jan 02, 2017

Happy New Year everyone! The turning over of the calendar is traditionally a time to look forward and hope that the next year will be better than the last one. 2017 will be a big year in Thailand - HM King Rama X will steer the country forward, the push to change elements of Thailand's important Buddhist sangha is gathering steam, and an election might happen.

(Direct download .mp3) Why is that such a big deal? Well, because despite outward appearances and contrary to what a lot of people probably think, Thailand is a military dictatorship. Okay, dictatorship might be a strong word, but the fact of the matter is that the Land of Smiles and one of the world's busiest tourist destinations has been under military control since the most recent coup of 2014. So if an election happens this year, it will be a big deal. So, seeing as Thailand has had 19 attempted and successful coups in the last century or so, we thought we'd look back and discuss what it's like to actually live through one in the hopes that we won't have to live another one. From the first message on his phone warning that a military takeover is underway to the time he made a panicked phone call to a friend to ask them what's going on, Greg has seen 2 coups in his time in-country. He and Evo discuss what it's actually like to know that a big change is happening while at the same time hoping that no one starts shooting, and how an actual coup - at least the past 2 in Thailand - are much different than what you learn about in high school.

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Talking with Phra Pandit: Is Dhammakaya a Cult, a Sect, or Just Another Temple? (2.12)

Mon, Dec 26, 2016

We're super happy to welcome back a popular guest from season 1 of the Bangkok Podcast - our veritable friend Phra Pandit. As a long-time monk in Thailand and noted lecturer on dhamma, Buddhism, meditation, and deep thought, Pandit is a great source if insight and information. (Direct download .mp3) On this show we (well, Greg, as Evo is traveling) will talk with Pandit about what happens when a particular Buddhist temple becomes really big. So big, in fact, that the government wants to shut it down. In this case it's the Dhammakaya temple, which has millions of devotees all over Thailand and is led by a rather controversial monk. As of the date of this post, police have been camped outside the temple for several weeks as deadline after deadline for the surrender of the head monk have come and gone and nothing's happened. It's kind of like the world's most boring standoff...but something's got to give eventually. Pandit gets into some details on the political machinations behind the target on the temple's back, as well as why the stakes are so high for the temple's head abbot, the magic ingredient that lets a temple go from being popular to a nationwide social phenomenon - and just how many people does Dhammakaya's 'flying saucer' meditation area hold, anyway? (Hint: a lot. Check out the picture of the saucer area below). dhammakaya3 Don’t forget to leave a comment or tweet to us – @BkkGreg or @EvoTerra!

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Merry Christmas From Bangkok! (2.11)

Sun, Dec 18, 2016

It's that time of year again in Thailand - the holidays season! Did you notice the extra 's' there? It was intentional, because December is one of the most holiday-heavy months in the whole year. Not only do you have Father's Day and Constitution Day, but you also have Christmas - or at least the most intense commercial aspects of it. That rolls right into the (western) New Year, which rolls into the (Chinese) New Year, and a few weeks after that we roll right into (Thai) New Year.

(Direct download .mp3)

Evo and Greg discuss what it's like living in a Buddhist country that celebrates - with almost equal gusto - holidays imported from different countries, cultures, and religions, and what it's like spending time at the shopping malls, which heavily, heavily promote everyone's favorite part of Christmas - buying stuff. And that's all. Holidays on Christmas Day? You must be mad! It's a regular work day, son. And speaking of sons, Greg also ponders whether or not it's worth the trouble lying tointroducing his son to the concept of Santa, his magical reindeer, and his circumnavigation of the globe in a single night - especially since Santa, as far as most Thais are concerned, is nothing more than a cheesy Ronald McDonald-like cartoon designed to sell toys. Well actually...they're not far off. We also discuss Bangkok's air quality. A recent Al Jazeera story said it was better that many major European cities...but Evo looked around (including on the World Air Quality Index) and thinks there's something fishy about the claim. Don't forget to leave a comment or tweet to us - @BkkGreg or @EvoTerra!    

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Magic, Mysticism & Mana: Superstition in Thailand (2.10)

Sun, Dec 11, 2016

At the risk of offending some 70 million Thais, we’re looking at the religious, spiritual, and magical thinking endemic to Thailand. At least from the point of view of a couple of skeptical, non-religious Westerners.

Buddhism isn’t the official religion of Thailand. But the overwhelming majority of people are Buddhist. Still, what you think of as Buddhism may not match up to the reality of the world. This is Theravada Buddhism that draws heavily on Hinduism and has more than a dash of animism mixed in. That makes things rather interesting.

(Direct download .mp3)

One thing Westerners often comment on is all the shrine-like dollhouses at every condo, office building, and house around the city. Those are called “spirit houses” and they are meant to be a home for… well, spirits. If you want the full details, check out our interview with Marisa Cranfill, an expert on the topic of spirit houses in Thailand. Have you noticed the (mostly) guys all blinged out with heavy necklaces sporting a variety of “charms”. Those are amulets, and they are believed to either attract good tidings (e.g. wealth) or offer protection from oddly specific maladies. It’s like taking the lucky rabbit’s foot and Ash Wednesday and cranking them up to eleven.And if not on their person, a lot of Thais let protections/powers like that get under their skin. Literally. Thailand is famous for the magical sak yant tattoo, and the annual highlight for sak yant aficionados is the Sak Yant Tattoo Festival in Wat Bang Phra, just north of Bangkok. No, it’s not your typical tattoo festival. Picture thousands of Pentecostals in the throws of speaking in tongues, but ambulatory and hell-bent on rushing toward the stage, regardless if you’re directly in their path or not. It’s the most intense, odd thing Evo’s experience during his time in Thailand. But we draw the line at the recent craze of Luuk Thep dolls. Clearly, these people haven’t seen Child’s Play. Chucky needs a date, I think. We wrap the show with another installation of Love, Loathe, or Leave. Today’s topics: saluting security guards and sharing the sidewalk with motorcycles. If you're a fellow Bangkokian, you likely have intimate experience with these two items. Drop us a line and tell us what you think. Or if you’ve an opinion or observation on local superstitions, tell us about it. Go to bangkokpodcast.com and leave a comment. Or you can Tweet to us at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. See you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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Foreign Fool: A Conversation with Author Alan Platt

Sun, Dec 04, 2016

When it comes to characters, Bangkok has them in droves - people who have been places, eaten things, talked to people, and lived adventures that would make your mother put her hand to her mouth and proclaim, "Oh my" with a frightened little squeak. On this episode of the Bangkok Podcast we're happy to have one of these epic characters on the show with us - Mr Alan Platt, who, as it happens, has just released a book about his adventures entitled Foreign Fool. (Direct download .mp3) Now I know what you're thinking, and it's the same thing we think when we hear self-published book by a farang in Bangkok, and that is, "Oh, yes, another one for the dusty back section of Asia Books, along with all the stories about hard-boiled detectives, heart-of-gold prostitutes, and love gone bad." But no - that's not what this book is about at all. In fact, take it from me (Greg), who has read the book - this is one hell of a fun read, and is actually - get this - really well written. From Saigon to Bangkok to Panama to London to Honolulu, Foreign Fool tells of, as Alan puts it, the bumbling misadventures of a doofus. I'll just let the first two paragraphs of the first chapter say it themselves:
In Saigon, many years after the war was over, long after the city was declared safe for tourists and when even the hookers were becoming almost discreet, I was kidnapped. That does sound a bit dramatic, I admit. Technically, it was more an abduction. But however one puts it, any mention of that sort of thing floods the mind with images of some poor guy being jumped by thugs, bundled into the trunk of a car and splattered across the tabloids with a screech of tires and the burning of rubber. None of that happened to me. I was kidnapped on a bicycle.
Alan discusses how he went from sunning his broke ass on a Los Angeles beach to the top of the New York ad world, how the book took shape, and a few of the stories - both in the book and not - that keep him looking ahead to the next trip. Visit the book's website at ForeignFool.com Buy Foreign Fool on Amazon.

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Bangkok 2.0 Meets 1.0 - Anthony Joh Gives Us An Update (2.4)

Thu, Dec 01, 2016

Bangkok tried to kill Evo this week, so Greg sat down for a conversation with Anthony Joh, the original co-host of the Bangkok Podcast.

(Direct download .mp3) Anthony Joh was one half of the original lineup on the Bangkok Podcast. He’s spent the last five years in Japan and caught up with Greg when he was back in the Big Mango. As you might imagine, Tony has noticed a lot of changes to his once home in those years. The burning question? Which country is better? We don’t want to give it away, but expect to hear commentary on:
  • population growth vs contraction
  • relative international-ness
  • tourism focus
  • controlled chaos vs ordered structure
  • … and much more
If you’re craving sushi and wagyu beef after the episode, our apologies.

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Drugs in Thailand: Too Much, Too Little, or Not Enough? (2.8)

Sun, Nov 27, 2016

Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Two of those are legal in Bangkok. Sort of. Legal drugs have a dark side, like people dying from overuse. But illegal drugs -- some pretty serious ones -- might soon be legal in Thailand. What's the deal with all this back and forth?

(Direct download .mp3) (Direct download .mp3) Here’s the reality of living in Thailand: Whenever we -- Westerners or Thais  -- get sick, our first stop is the hospital or the pharmacy. Chances are, either the doctor or the pharmacist will have a remedy in pill form ready for you. And quite often, they’re unnecessary. Got a cough? Take these antibiotics. Can’t sleep? Try this anti-anxiety medication. They’re cheap, so why not? Because they are literally killing us, that’s why. But on the flip side, it’s great for asthmatics to pick up a rescue inhaler without a prescription. Just don’t expect to pick up any Sudafed. Or as they call it in Thailand: the precursor to methamphetamines. Speaking of that… Thailand has a rich history of illicit drugs. But just because there’s a strain of marijuana named for the country, the authorities aren’t too keen on smokers of the herb. And this is Thailand, probably not the place you want to cool it in a cell for a while contemplating your poor choices in life. Yet there are discussions at the highest level of government to consider decriminalizing marijuana. And, as strange and unfathomable as it sounds, meth (yaba, as it’s locally known) might also enjoy recreational status in the future. Go figure. We’re keeping the Love, Loathe, or Leave segment rolling, this time with a discussion about climate change inside the skytrain, and the bane of all who walk on the sidewalk, being brick-flicked. If you're a fellow Bangkokian, you likely have intimate experience with these two items. Drop us a line and tell us what you think. Or if you’ve an opinion on the issues of drugs -- legal or other -- tell us about it in the comments below, or tweet to us at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. See you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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Bangkok's Disappearing Street Food (2.7)

Sun, Nov 20, 2016

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If you’re visiting Bangkok for the ubiquitous street food culture, you might want to get here quickly. There’s seemingly a war on street food vendors in the city. And that’s no jok.

Bear with us this week. Evo’s dealing with a great loss in his family and a broken microphone, and Greg’s a little sleepy from being the dad of a childhood actor. But that’s not what we want to talk about today... This episode is all about Bangkok’s disappearing street food stalls, one of the city’s most famous elements, the lifeblood of many, and part of the city’s undefinable charm. It’s also a perfect time to introduce a new segment on this episode, one we call Love, Loathe, or Leave. That is: how do we feel about sharing sidewalks with street food cards and other vendors cramping our walking style? Are they and the convenience and culinary variety they offer part of why we love living in Bangkok? Do we kind of loathe sharing our space but can tolerate the nuisance? Or do we see them as such a danger to life and limb that we’re ready to leave the country over it? Best line of the show: “It’s called a side-walk, not a side-wok, after all.” But there’s a human cost to consider: What happens to all the people -- tens of thousands -- who’ve made their living vending on the streets, fully sanctioned and licensed by the government? We’re told the vendors will be provided a new place to ply their wares. But will they have the same level of business? And most importantly, what will Greg do for breakfast since he can’t find his favorite jok dealer? To us, this sure seems an issue of ongoing gentrification. Suan Lum night market shut down years ago ostensibly to make way for a development project… that never happened. And then there’s Asiatique, a bright, crowded, new-but-made-to-look-old destination on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. Giant eyesore? Fun destination? Or an example of what the city government wants most of our city to look like when they mark 250th anniversary of Bangkok in just a few years? While Greg’s snarky love affair with Bangkok’s shopping malls is on record, neither of us are street food experts. But Mark Weins from Migrationology and EatingThaiFood.com is an expert on Bangkok street food, so we called him up to get his take. If you're a fellow Bangkokian, tell us what you think about this War On Street Food. Or if you've experienced a similar change in your city, tell us about it. Go to bangkokpodcast.com and leave a comment. Or you can Tweet to us at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. See you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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Are You Sure You Wanna Say That? Self-Censorship in Thailand (2.6)

Mon, Nov 14, 2016

The shockwaves of the President-Elect of America have shockwaved all the way over here to Bangkok, Thailand. However, that’s not what we’re talking about today, though we could talk about if we want to. And that’s what we want to talk about. Confused? Yeah…

(Direct download .mp3) On October 13, the Kingdom of Thailand suffered a great loss with the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Because we’re a show ostensibly about Bangkok and the country of Thailand overall, we recorded an episode of our podcast with that topic in mind. And then we thought better of it. Not because we were in any way critical, satirical, or otherwise potentially running up against Thailand’s lese majeste laws. Indeed, the show was respectful to a fault, and talked about how much Rama IX meant to the Thai people. But we thought that maybe, in this particular situation, it’s not all that important for us, two foreigners living in the Kingdom, to have an opinion. Those of you reading this from “the free world” (though we each feel relatively free over here) are probably looking at that last statement with disdain. But if you listen to this week’s show -- the episode about the episode you’ll never hear -- you’ll find it’s not all that uncommon to self-censor. In fact, we do it all the time. And maybe, in a world where the friction between thought and something for public consumption is all too easy, we should do it more often.

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Travel Blogging: A Realistic Job or a Bunch of Hot Air? (2.5)

Sun, Nov 06, 2016

Ask enough people in Bangkok what they do for a living, and one will eventually say “travel blogging”. On this episode of the podcast, we break down some of the myths and mystique surrounding that title.

(Direct download .mp3) Evo recently traveled to Manila in the Philippines to deliver the opening keynote at TBEX Asia Pacific 2016. It’s a travel blogging conference, catering to, well… travel bloggers. Which are legion. Coupled with the service providers, tourism councils, and hospitality companies; and there’s sizeable market. Travel blogging means different things: Some make a full time living traveling from place to place writing content for their blogs. Some are local experts writing content on their blog for people traveling to their city. And some don’t even have a blog at all, doing all of their posting on social media or publishing content on third-party sites. For all their diversity, travel bloggers aren’t universally loved. Cynics say that DMOs (destination marketing organizations) shower these people with gifts, swag, free food, and more simply to gain overly-positive views that lack real substance. Is that a valid concern? Are the benefits provided by these so-called influencers just self promotional crap? Or are the two parties -- the blogger and the client -- reaping real benefits of the partnership? There’s a third element: the audience. It’s the smart travel blogger who provides his/her audience with the content their audience wants to read. They aren’t, by and large, journalists, guides, or critics. Still, travel bloggers have the freedom to choose what to blog about, some of which can be a little harsh. Have you read the internet? So should you quit your job, start a travel blog, and start attending travel blogging conferences like TBEX? Well… you’ll have to listen to find out our thoughts on that.

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Bangkok's Shaky Infrastructure That Won't Quit (2.2)

Sun, Nov 06, 2016

Hey, you’re still here! How awesome is that? Welcome to the 2nd episode. Today, we’re talking infrastructure. No, wait! Before you decide to skip the episode, this isn’t an episode filled with mechanical engineering terms. Have you met us?

(Direct download .mp3)   The Big Mango is… big. Big city with huge skyscrapers and sprawling concrete to help accommodate the millions of people that live in and visit Bangkok. This is the City of Angels, the second largest city in SE Asia. We’re sorry if that damaged your idyllic notion of rice paddies and floating markets. Thailand has them. Bangkok metro? Not so much. Here we have the Mahanakon Tower - some call it the Jenga or Tetris Building -- the fourth tallest building in SE Asia. We’re looking forward to the grand opening, because that rooftop bar is going to rather swank. But Bangkok isn’t stopping there. There are loads of new buildings, both giant and strange, that will continue to give Bangkok it’s own special character. Just one more reason we both love living in this crazy town. We have world class shopping centers, with more on the way. Traffic sucks. Just plan on that when you visit. The good news is the BTS or MRT work pretty good. And if all else fails, jump on a mototaxi. They flow through bad traffic like water. But we’re getting new lines. Greg made a nifty map to show where some of them will be. Will they all connect? If history is any judge, probably not. Ah, Bangkok. Of course, all that new development has to happen somewhere, and often that means old structures -- sometimes interesting and historic -- are knocked out of the way. Progress? Or a loss of culture? We’ll offer our opinions on the topic of how the changing landscape impacts these two expats. And we’d love to hear what you think! Also, The Windup Girl is a good future-of-Thailand book. Will Bangkok look just like that in 200 years? Eh, probably not. But scifi really doesn’t predict the future as much as it portrays the present. So if you want a fantastical look at what we’re talking about, download the book.

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Bangkok - Digital Nomad Heaven Or Hell? (2.3)

Sun, Nov 06, 2016

Bangkok has become a hub for digital nomads, bringing in a wave of talent and fresh ideas into the city. Those nomads in turn attract other nomads. But is that a good thing? Or even a real thing? Let’s find out.

(Direct download .mp3) Thailand -- Bangkok & Chiang Mai specifically -- is a hotbed of digital nomadship. But before we get to that, we should probably define the term:   Defining - people who can work anywhere thanks to the internet. They take many format but they share two things in common: They aren’t doing the type of job that requires them to be at a specific location at specific time. And that freedom allows them to travel, either a little or a lot, without interrupting their income stream. Jodi Ettenberg of LegalNomads is a good example. And Evo tried his hand at it all of 2015. So what makes Bangkok so attractive to digital nomads? Some of is has to do with cost of living, though Bangkok isn’t nearly as cheap as it used to be. Having many Western conveniences coupled with the “charm” of Asian living doesn’t hurt. Reliable access to cheap mobile data (especially compared to the US, Canada, and Australia) is big pull. But watch out, would-be internet entrepreneurs. Just because Thailand makes it easy for you to visit -- no visa required for a lot of Western countries -- it doesn’t mean you have the legal right to earn income while you are here. In fact, it’s just the opposite of that. So before you decide to set up shop in a co-working space (that wave has hit The Big Mango as well), you’ll want to have a solid understanding of the work permit as not to run up afoul of immigration rules. The work you want to do maybe reserved for Thai-nationals only. And those are just some of the  legal, semi-legit, social, and economic considerations/temptations/realities foreigners face when doing business in Thailand. Should you move to Bangkok and become a digital nomad? Well… maybe. And if you listen to the episode, you’ll find out what we think about it. After all, we want to be good role models.Tell us what you think in the comments!

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Bangkok Podcast Has Us Now (2.1)

Sun, Nov 06, 2016

Three years ago, life changes forced the original hosts of the Bangkok Podcast to focus on other things, and it was ultimately decided to end the show. But we’re back, baby - and with an all new co-host that random chance brought to the show - Evo Terra!

(Direct download .mp3) So, who’s this Evo guy? Here’s the short story: During a year-long sabbatical he and his wife took in 2015, they wound up in a little Thailand town called Ranong, house-sitting for the owners of The Smiling Seahorse, a live-aboard dive company.  No, you’ve probably never heard of Ranong. But if diving the archipelago of Myanmar sounds fun, Ranong is your jumping off point. During those three rainy months, the Kingdom of Thailand sort of grew on them, so they decided to move to the city and make the Big Mango their new home base. His wife (Sheila) is a teacher and he’s a stay at home husband. If you want to read more on him, check out his personal website or follow along on the infrequently published travel/comedy blog, The Opportunistic Travelers. And for those who missed the story when the show first started in 2010, you’ll learn a little about how Greg came to Thailand some some 16 years ago. Like so many Western travelers, he wound up visiting Thailand… and never left. But unlike shiftless Evo, Greg is actually gainfully employed, has a Thai wife and a toddler at home, and yet still somehow finds time to produce episodes of our show each week. So here it is… home. In Bangkok. And that means friends of ours in the Western world have lots of questions. Those questions are what we aim to answer on the re-imagining of The Bangkok Podcast. We’re not a news show. We’re a lifestyle show. Expect conversations, special guests, observations, and pontifications on how two “farangs” -- one Canadian and one American -- find their way living in the capital of The Kingdom of Thailand. And because two podcasting nerds got together, we had to have the obligatory “so how do you listen to podcast?” conversation. Evo’s suggestion: Otto Radio. Give it a shot if you want a new and improved way to listen to and discover podcasts. Greg is a hardcore user of Overcast, probably the most popular not-iTunes podcasting app.

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Bangkok Podcast 77: The End

Sat, Jan 05, 2013

Well folks, after much discussion and late night Skype dates, Greg and Tony have unfortunately decided that Bangkok Podcast has reached the end. As you've no doubt heard us talk about before, putting a podcast together takes a lot of time and effort, and time is something that both Greg and Tony have very little of these days. So, it's time to hang up the ol' mics.

But with one last show left, we talk a bit about Greg's recent trip to Macau, Tony's upcoming trip to Bangkok, and a great new e-book by a local blogger called 101 Things to Do In Thailand that can help fill the void left by the podcast closing up shop.

But we'll both still be around on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and various other online haunts - just because the podcast is over doesn't mean the journey is done! (cue some righteous 80's hair metal ballad).

A very sincere thanks to all of our past guests, listeners, supporters and fans who have helped make the show such an enjoyable thing to do since our very first show on May 3, 2010. We hope to see you all again - if not in real life, then definitely online.

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Bangkok Podcast 76: Freedom to Walk

Wed, Oct 03, 2012

This episode of Bangkok Podcast comes a bit late due mostly to the fact that both Tony and Greg have new jobs and are working like crazy men. Crazy men! But thankfully this nutty city still gives us enough to talk about. On this episode we're joined by Ali Weiner, who is organizing an amazing event for a very good cause. In an effort to raise awareness of the dangers and realities of human trafficking and to meet their goal of raising $100,000 dollars for various charities, her, her friend, and as many others as want to join, are going to walk from Bangkok to Three Pagoda's pass on the Thai Burmese border. That's right - walk the whole way. Ali tells us how the idea came about, describes the route she'll take, and lets us know how we can help. In fact - if you want to join her on her walk, feel free!

Greg and Tony also talk about three news stories that have been burning up the news lately - the incredible amount of rain Bangkok is has been getting of late (which hopefully won't be enough to cause more floods this year); a reduction in the price of the poorly-conceived airport rail link to help boost ridership (the reduction is only good for a few hours during the middle of the day); and the newest beauty product to hit the market, vagina whitening cream (note to girls everywhere: No. No. No).

And don't forget to check out our sponsor, the Bangkok Tree House, which goes above and beyond when it comes to serving amazing meals using locally-grown ingredients.

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Bangkok Podcast 75: Muay Thai Fighter

Sun, Sep 02, 2012

On this show Greg and Tony welcome back past guest Paul Garrigan who joins us to talk about his new adventure as a muay thai fighter. While always harbouring the dream of stepping into the ring Paul was reluctant to start training as a fighter believing he was too old. However he learned that once he got into the ring and overcame a series of injuries, boxing became a form of meditation for him. 

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Bangkok Podcast 74: Cost of Living in Bangkok

Wed, Aug 01, 2012

If you’ve been following the Thai news over the past few months, you might have heard about the big constitutional court crises a few weeks ago. As with many things in Thailand lately, it was a very he said/she said kind of debate with very high stakes. People were predicting doom! Riots! Chaos! Cats and dogs living together! Thankfully, in a very Thai outcome, the court came down squarely in the middle so that neither side won and neither side lost.

It might come as a shock, but neither Tony nor Greg are scholars of Thai politics or law, but they know someone who is! For the first part of the show we welcome our friend Saksith Saiyasombut, a blogger, journalist and all-around nice guy who has reported extensively on the uh, entertaining Thai political scene over the past few years. He joins us on Skype from Germany (excuse the fuzzy call quality) and fills us in on what exactly the hubbub was about, what the decision means, and what happens next. 

The other topic we wanted to get into for this show is something that we get asked a lot – just how expensive is it to live in Bangkok? Dreams of $5 hotels rooms and $1 feasts still somehow fill the brains of the never-ending stream of visitors, but unfortunately, price-wise, Bangkok ain’t what it was 20 years ago. Today, it’s a major Asian metropolis, a global transport hub, and home to big industry and big money. Tony and Greg go over what it takes to live in Bangkok from month-to-month with a comfortable western lifestyle. From groceries to entertainment to rent to maids, there’s a lot to take into account.


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Bangkok Podcast 73: The Return

Sun, Jul 01, 2012

Welcome back! Ten months after our last regular show, Tony and Greg are back with a new format but the same focus - Bangkok in all its wonderful, weird, awesome, odd glory. With Tony in Japan (but still heavily involved in Thailand) and Greg now married and busy with a variety of projects, a weekly hour-long show just isn't possible anymore. However, with the magic of Skype and a few new high-quality microphones, we decided that a monthly show focussing on the Big Mango's top stories would be a nice way to ease back into the podcast bath (uhh...so to speak).

On our first show back, we talk about two of the top stories that have been burning up social media and coffee houses this month. First is the Thailand's Got Talent show in which a nice young lady came on stage and proceeded to strip off her shirt and bra, dump paint all over her chest, and rub her boobies on a big canvas! Art or trash? Well, watch the clip on Youtube and decide for yourself. Whatever it was, the powers that be certainly weren't pleased - and it got even stranger when it came out that the TV show had paid the girl to do it!

Next we talk about a CNNGo article titled How to be a Bangkok Local: Ten Tips on Faking It, a humorous, tongue-in-cheek jab at some of Bangkok's stereotypes and eccentricities. But apparently, subtle humour and sly satire don't translate too well into Thai and the story was soon the talk of the town, with people accusing the (Thai) author of being a traitor, of insulting the country, and being just a very rude person. Of course, there were those who 'got it' and thought the story was funny, but that didn't do anything to quell the back-and-forth on the comment section.

We are also happy to mention our partnership with Coconuts Bangkok, the city's newest news and reviews website, which we browse to see what people are talking about. Head on over and see the most up to date information on everything Bangkok.

We also wanted to send a big thanks to our sponsor, the Bangkok Treehouse, an environmentally friendly retreat in the heart of Phrapradaeng, a lush expanse of jungle just across the river from Bangkok. It's a beautiful and peaceful place to escape the city, with awesome food and some pretty badass surroundings. As they say on their website, it's a view with a room, a very apt description.

And don't forget our random plug of the month - PechaKucha, a fun and cool presentation event taking place in Bangkok on July 9. Check it out online (https://www.facebook.com/PechaKuchaBangkok) and if you feel like seeing Greg make a fool of himself, come down to check it out - he'll be one of the presenters!

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Bangkok Podcast 72: Greg & Aom's Wedding

Fri, Mar 16, 2012

On this special INTER-CONTINENTAL episode of Bangkok Podcast, Greg and Tony connect via Skype to talk about Greg's recent wedding. 

Getting married in Thailand is a very ceremonial process that involves two ceremonies, 9 monks, and hundreds/thousands/millions of baht in dowry (prices vary greatly). Greg talks about what he went through with his wedding, from his first day of planning as an ultra-naive n00b to a happily married man. There's lots to consider - should you get a wedding planner or not? How many people will you invite? Will it be the oh-so-romantic beach wedding or a more traditional hotel ballroom event? What do you do about gifts? It all worked out wonderfully for Greg and Aom, but it was a lot of work and toil.

Greg and Tony also discuss the latest topics in Thailand from what the Thai government is doing to assure Japanese investors that their factories won't be flooded out again, to how it's possible to lose and recover 13 million baht in gold in a taxi. Greg also gives us an update on his latest project - Bangkok Scientifique.

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Bangkok Podcast 71: Encore

Tue, Dec 27, 2011

Welcome back to Bangkok Podcast!

Since Tony had to come through the 'Kok again, we thought we'd dust off the old equipment and record a quick reunion show! On this episode, we're joined by past guest Hamish Chalmers, who tells us his amazing story about escaping the recent floods that devastated central Thailand. Hamish went to bed one night, and woke up the next morning in the middle of a lake. He tells us about his flight to dry land, and how not fun it was wading through waist-high pitch-black water in his pitch-black neighborhood with his wife, baby daughter, and dog in tow. It was anything but safe - and that's before you factor in the crocodiles and snakes that were floating around.

We are also joined by Michael Biedassek from Bangkok Vanguards, a community of like-minded young guys who want to create a real community around Bangkok that involves charity, exploration, and making friends around the world. Michael tells of their recent program 'Wipe the Tide' which saw over 2 million baht raised for flood relief.

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Bangkok Podcast 70: The Finale

Sun, Sep 11, 2011

Well, the time has come. With Tony moving to Japan and Greg's wedding quickly approaching, geography and limitations on free time have conspired to take Bangkok Podcast off the air - for now.

On this episode, Tony and Greg discuss the Bangkok Podcast Farewell Dinner, go over some of their favorite shows from the past, get into a few details on what it took to put a show together, and thank a few very important people who worked with us behind the scenes to make sure the podcast grew. 

We also want to say a special thanks to each of our guests, who came on the show in their free time and gave people a glimpse into the cool personalities that help make Bangkok such a great city.

Thanks again everyone - keep your Bangkok Podcast iTunes, Facebook and Twitter links active - we might be back sooner than you think.

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Bangkok Podcast 69: Do You Believe What You Believe?

Sun, Sep 04, 2011

On our last episode our Buddhism series with Venerable Pandit Bhikku, we switch things up a bit and let Pandit interview us for a change. As someone who has always been curious about what regular layfolk like ourselves think about eastern religion, he quizzes us on our thoughts on monastic life and the orange-robed monks that we see everyday but often don't take much time to understand.

Phra Pandit asks us if we believe in God and if we, in fact, believe what we believe, which is one of the key introspective aspects of Buddhism. Needless to say, it gets a bit deep as Tony, Greg and Pandit debate the meaning of belief and the freedom to choose if you even want to believe in anything.

Phra Pandit also asks us some less esoteric questions such as - can monks wear jeans? How about ride a bicycle? Smoke? Go computer shopping? You might be surprised to find that even monks can't agree on the answers.

And don't forget to join us at for the Bangkok Podcast Farewell Dinner on Saturday, September 10, at Basilico restaurant on Sukhumvit soi 33 to say goodbye to Greg and Tony and meet some of the guests of the show.

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Bangkok Podcast 68: Korn Chatikavanij

Sun, Aug 28, 2011

On this episode of Bangkok Podcast, we are very happy to be joined by Mr. Korn Chaitikavanij, Thailand's ex-finance minister. Although his Democrat party lost Thailand's most recent election, he is still an MP and is a high profile member of the Thai political landscape.

Khun Korn talks to us about what it was like running in the election, which was one of the most fiercely contested in Thai history, and what his thoughts are now that his party is the opposition. Tony and Greg also ask his opinions of the current situation in the US financial markets, and get his views on what constitutes an acceptable protest. 

We also discuss how expats who are moving to Thailand can best protect their assets and maximize investments, and where he recommends people go to find Bangkok's best street food.

Come join us on September 10, 2011 to say goodbye to Bangkok Podcast. We are going off the air and we’re inviting our audience to join us for dinner at Basilico Pizzeria on Sukhumvit Soi 33 at 7:00 pm. Please RSVP on our Facebook page.

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Bangkok Podcast 67: Peter Tuinstra

Sun, Aug 21, 2011

In our continuing Thai language series, we are pleased to welcome film and television actor, translator, and all-around nice guy Peter Tuinstra. Peter's path to learning Thai was a bit different than most students as he studied under the watchful eye of the U.S. Air Force at the elite Defense Language Institute; 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 1 year. 

Peter tells us what methods were used by a US government program with 60 years of proven success teaching languages. He goes into detail about how different styles of learning affected different people in his class, what worked and what didn't work for him, and how his brain handled the intense 40-hours per week.

Peter also talks about what methods he would recommend a newbie try out, why he thinks it will be a verrrrrrrry long time until computers become as good at translating as humans are, and the difficulties of acting in Thai when you have to use the words that someone else wrote for you, without taking any of your own creative shortcuts.

Also, don't forget to check out our sponsor, A Village In The City, and remember to come and down and say goodbye to the podcast on September 10th at Basilico on Sukhumvit 33.

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Bangkok Podcast 66: Bhikkuni Suvijjana

Sun, Aug 14, 2011

In our continuing Buddhism series, we are joined by a special guest, Bhikkuni Suvijjana, a female monk who is visiting Thailand from the US. Female monks are rare, but the tide is slowly turning, and Bhikkuni Suvijjana gives us an interesting look into how she sees Buddhism on a daily basis.

From differences in how female monks must act in public, to the efforts to promote all-female monasteries to eschewing virtual communities like Facebook and Twitter to focus on building real communities, she shares some of the challenges she faces. But it's not all hardship - she tells us of the great relationship she has with her son, now a grown musician, laughs at the time some Christian missionaries tried to convert her, and ponders the differences between how British and Thai immigration treat female monks.

We're also joined by Kathleen Speake, Executive Director of ECPAT International, an organization dedicated to eliminating child prostitution and the underage sex trade. She tells us about the projects they have going right now, and how easy it is for you, me, and everyone, to visit a Body Shop store and help contribute to a very important initiative that will affect positive change in the lives of a great number of abused children.

And don't forget to check out our sponsor Village in the City, a great new company that takes old, run-down Thai houses and fixes them up into trendy lofts and condos with style. If you're looking for a funky, well-built place to live close to downtown, check them out.

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Bangkok Podcast 65: Raising Kids in Bangkok

Sun, Aug 07, 2011

We get a lot of questions from expat parents and parents-to-be about what it's like raising a family in Bangkok. Since Tony and Greg are little more than man-children themselves, we brought Jack Prinya on the show to talk about just this thing. Radio host, MC, actor, and father to three little boys (triplets at that!), Jack has an intimate knowledge of the challenges that raising a family here brings.

Many of us were raised in towns or cities where we'd leave in the morning on our bikes and come home for dinner, but Bangkok's not like that. Jack tells us where he takes his kids for some R&R, the challenges of letting them run around in one of Bangkok's few parks, and a few suggestions on where to take them if you want a day out of the city. He also tells us about how he pushes back against the 'over-coddling' that is so common in Thai culture, and tells us just how different triplets can really be.

We are also happy to introduce Village in the City as our new sponsor, a great new company that takes old, run-down Thai houses and fixes them up into badass lofts and condos with style. If you're looking for a funky, well-built place to live close to downtown, check them out. 

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Bangkok Podcast 64: Travelfish

Mon, Aug 01, 2011

Today we're joined by Stuart McDonald, President, Founder, CEO and all around big boss at Travelfish.org, one of the most respected independent travel websites. Stu gives us a fascinating look into building of a travel site from nothing, and shares with us a few inside tips on the travel industry, like how to remain anonymous when reviewing hotels, how the guidebook industry is evolving, and what 'travel' means for different people. He also talks with us about what he does when he realizes another website is ripping off his content, how Thailand may be in danger of losing its crown as Asia's top travel spot, and what part Travelfish and sites like it play in the over-touristing of a chosen site.

We're also joined by Ryan White, a filmmaker who is working on a film called Mondo Banana. It sounds weird to our limited western way of thinking, but bananas actually have some pretty serious cultural and religious significance in Asia, and you'll be surprised just how far his journey has taken him into a world most of us know nothing about.

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Bangkok Podcast 63: Bangkok Free Ambulance

Sun, Jul 24, 2011

Every Westerner knows that when you're hurt back home, you call the emergency number and get taken to the hospital, but things in Bangkok work a little differently. Today we talk with Marko Cunningham from Bangkok Free Ambulance, a service that he has run for many years - at his own expense, no less - that provides free ambulance services for those who need it, Thais, tourists and expats alike.

In between his regular day job and finding time to enjoy Bangkok, Marko and his team respond to emergency calls, dealing with everything from lost snakes to mangled corpses. Marko gives us the inside scoop on how Thai emergency services work, what happens when an ambulance is stuck in traffic, the scary truth about how much training EMT's in Bangkok have, and why he's usually the first person on his team to touch a dead body.

We are also joined by Wendy Edney from SCAD (Soi Cats and Dogs) who tells us about her efforts to rescue, save, clean, and support the thousands of cats and dogs that run around Bangkok. SCAD arranges everything from spaying and neutering to overseas adoptions, and is a great service to our furry friends that are often overlooked in the Big Mango.

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Bangkok Podcast 62: Learn Thai With Mod

Sun, Jul 17, 2011

On today's show, we're happy to be joined by Mod, who is a Thai language instructor. We wanted to see what it's like for a Thai person to teach Thai to foreigners, and she gives us some interesting insights into what problems we all have, how we sound to Thai ears, and how our native accents affect our speaking ability.

We also talk about how what you *expect* to hear can sometimes have a bit of influence on what you *do* hear, why it's okay to shun Greg for his use of old-fashioned Thai that instantly reveals him as an old geezer, and the difficulties of pronouncing the Swahili word 'mxosa'. 

There is also a VERY IMPORTANT announcement regarding the future of Bangkok Podcast, which you may even be able to play a part in.

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Bangkok Podcast 61: Thai Spirit Houses

Sun, Jul 10, 2011

Have you ever walked down the street and wondered what's up with those dollhouses on pillars that seem to be outside every building? Many have, and this is why we're happy to have Marisa Cranfill on this episode, who is one of Thailand's foremost (non-Thai) experts on Thai spirit houses. Despite Tony's mysterious mic problems, we talk to Marisa about what exactly these houses mean and where they come from. She also gives us the lowdown on exactly what's inside the little structures, why you'll most commonly see red Fanta soda sitting on the mini 'porch', and what happens to all that food that people leave as offerings? It's a complicated part of Thai culture that has deep roots in Brahmin, Hindu and Buddhist religions, and plays an important part in how Thais see the luck and success - or lack thereof - of their households.

We are also joined by J.J. Grill, one of two reviewers at a website called What We Went Through that aims to give an honest and impartial review of restaurants in Bangkok. No frills, no bias, just honest reporting about the level of service, food and value from a customer's point of view.

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Bangkok Podcast 60: Religion & Science

Sun, Jul 03, 2011

We're very happy to welcome back Phra Pandit, the British-born monk who joins us to talk about everything from Buddhist canon to nuclear power. Today, Phra Pandit talks with us about how Buddhism views science. Is it as hostile as some other religions often see it, or is it more of a peaceful co-existence? Are there areas which conflict with The Buddha's teachings, or does Buddhism take every new discovery in stride?

Phra Pandit also educates us on why writing might not be the most reliable method to pass information down through generations, what Buddhism believes heaven and hell to be, whether or not we have a soul, and even a few theories on neuro-plasticity and something called the God Helmet.

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Bangkok Podcast 59: Transgender Lifestyles

Sun, Jun 26, 2011

The image of a beautiful Thai women is one that is known throughout the world; however, only slightly less well known is the image of a beautiful Thai women who was born a man. Call them what you willl - transexual, transgender, ladyboy, katoey - their place in Thai culture goes back thousands of years, but despite the history, and despite Thailand being very accepting of them, it's not always an easy life.

On this episode we're joined by Ms. Prem, a transgender lady who was born a man but now lives as a woman. We have a fascinating chat with Prem about her life and the difficulties she faces everyday, not least of which is the perception that all transgenders are only capable of prostitution, beauty pagents, or hair salons. Prem - who has a very good job with a high-level international agency - has fought against this stereotype and has seen progress, although it's slow going.

She also talks openly about how she grew up knowing she was different than other boys, how the media's perception of what is beautiful creates stereotypes, what it's like dating men who may or may not know her past, her experience fighting a military draft that labels all transgenders as mentally unstable, and what she thinks about *that scene* in the Hangover 2.

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Bangkok Podcast 58: Learn Thai From A White Guy

Sun, Jun 19, 2011

On today's episode we're joined by Brett Whiteside, one of the few foreigners in Thailand who teach Thai. Brett's road from wide-eyed tourist to competent speaker, translator, consultant and tutor is unique in that the only person he had help him was himself. Brett tells us the methods he learned to drill the new language into his head, from returning to the same restaurant over and over again, to refusing to learn transliteration, to watching Thai soap operas.

Brett also explains why he doesn't think there's any such thing as 'bad Thai', and how a mnemonic story he created about a boy, a chicken, a turtle and a fish have helped all of his students become competent Thai speakers much faster than they expected.

Tony and Greg also talk a bit about food delivery in Thailand, and why Pizza Company - despite protests from some - has the system nailed.

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Bangkok Podcast 57: Voranai Vanijaka II

Sun, Jun 12, 2011

On this episode of Bangkok Podcast, we are very happy to welcome back Voranai Vanijaka, a columnist for the Bangkok Post whose articles focus on many of the most important issues facing Thai society today - politics, class struggle, stereotypes, corruption, and more. His writing is read by many who appreciate his no-nonsense style of facing problems head on and exploring some ugly truths; coincidentally, the same reason some are not fans of his articles.

With the Thai election just around the corner, Voranai gives his view on the current landscape of Thai politics, what he thinks will happen after the election, why the election is about more than just one person, and how we all play a part in making sure Thailand moves forward instead of backward.

We are also joined by Benjamin Lord, owner and head baker at Urban Pantry, Bangkok's best option for fans of bread - real bread. Ben started selling loaves to friends but word spread so quickly that he's now moving his kitchen-based business into its own shophouse. He brings some of his wares into the studio for Greg and Tony to try, who nearly forget about the podcast because they're so busy eating.

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Bangkok Podcast 56: American Ambassador Kristie Kenney

Sun, Jun 05, 2011

On this week's episode of Bangkok Podcast, we are very happy to be joined by Ms. Kristie Kenney, the American Ambassador to Thailand. Formerly Ambassador to both Ecuadaor and the Philippines, she is a career diplomat with a deep understanding of geopolitics, history, and diplomacy, and is also the first female ambassador to the Land of Smiles.

Kristie talks to Tony and Greg about a variety of topics: her very active Twitter account, American foreign policy, how outsourcing is affecting American competitiveness, and her advice to young Americans who might be a bit hesitant about leaving the comfort of home. We also touch on some more serious topics - America's voice in rights abuses in Thailand; the embarrasment of Wikileaks; and the rather broad methods that the US is using to deal with online piracy. 

Also on the show is Berthe from ChickyNet, the first social network for women in Thailand, who tells us about how her frustration at the dearth of active women's networks in Thailand led her to create her own.

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Bangkok Podcast 55: Chris Lowenstein

Sun, May 29, 2011

Thailand is a country that offers foreign film productions everything they need - amazing locations, skillful crew, talented actors and more. With foreign film productions come big money and jobs, so it's no wonder that the Thai government is pushing the country as a movie industry hub, but if you want to film here - who do you call? You call Chris Lowenstein, this week's guest.

As one of the owners of Living Films, Chris is the main man when it comes to bringing in film productions - anything from small commercials to long-running television series to full-scale Hollywood blockbusters. His latest project is the mega Hollywood blockbuster "The Hangover Part 2", and Chris's roles as the film's line producer means he's in charge of everything that happens here: catering, work visas, film permits, transportation, hiring local crew. working with the cast and director to make sure everything's going smoothly, and more.

Chris talks to us about the film industry in Thailand - what they're doing right, what they could improve, and what it's like working within a system that's notoriously fickle when it comes to censorship. He also tells us a few stories from The Hangover Part 2 such as how hard it was to shut down parts of Chinatown, and how a boat they hired in California ended up getting lost on a Chinese river.

Greg also tells us about a baby shower that he attended where he was equal parts amused and horrified to find a pi?ata in the shape of a pregnant mermaid.

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Bangkok Podcast 54: Daniel Fraser

Sun, May 22, 2011

In our continuing series on learning Thai, we're joined by Dan Fraser - co-founder of Smiling Albino adventure travel company, film actor, television host, and of course, speaker of Thai. Dan gives us a very funny and insightful overview of the Thai language - how he learned it, how it's helped him, and the nuances and cultural queues that it takes its structure from. Dan tells us a few of his interesting stories about how Thai has both confounded and blessed him - from talking about unique architectural history, to muddling through 2 years of Thai with a fellow who (as it turns out) knew English, and talking about the monarchy on camera for his television show Long Krung using the nuanced and very sensitive dialect reserved for the royal family.

Greg and Tony also go off on a tangent about good western movies, and recap the great time they had at their one-year anniversary party at Q Bar.

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Bangkok Podcast 53: Robin Moore

Fri, May 13, 2011

In our continuing Buddhist series, we sit down with Robin Moore, who spent over a decade as a monk in both the UK and Thailand, but eventually left the monkhood and rejoined lay-life. He tells us about his interesting journey, from being drawn to Buddhism as a teenager, to going on alms rounds in the UK (and trying to make it not look like begging), to why his mother cried when he joined the monkhood - and cried again when he left.

We also cover the difficulties in fitting back in to a life that is generally at odds with a monastic one - everything from dating to driving a car to playing sports. Robin gives us a personal and fascinating look into his life pre-, during, and post-monkhood.

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Bangkok Podcast 52: DJ Octo

Sun, May 08, 2011

If you've found yourself out at a club at any time during the last 5 or 6 years in Bangkok, chances are you're familiar with DJ Octo. As one of the best known and most popular DJ's in town, he spins at hot venues like Q Bar and Bed Supperclub, and collaborates with a wide network of musicians, videographers, performers and artists to keep Bangkok's party crowds going late into the night.

But just like many others who move to Bangkok, Octo came to Bangkok with a much different plan ten years ago. From retreating to forest monasteries, to scuba diving on Ko Tao, to sweating away in the 9-5 grind, he tells us what it's like entertaining crowds of thousands, how technology has completely revolutionized the industry, and what song you should ask him to play if you want to get punched in the face.

Greg and Tony also talk about the many holidays in the month of May, and Greg ponders if he inadvertently contributed to the brutal death of a poor pigeon in Lumpini Park.

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Bangkok Podcast 51: Joe Cummings

Sun, May 01, 2011

In today's digital world, the requirements for being a travel writer are pretty minimal: do you have a computer? Have you travelled? Bam! Travel writer. But a few decades ago, being a travel writer was something rare; an exotic, sometimes dangerous job that took you into the dark, unexplored corners of the world on adventures of all kinds.

On this episode of Bangkok Podcast, we welcome Joe Cummings, legendary travel writer, best-selling author, badass musician, and all-around cool dude. Back when the tallest building in Thailand was the Dusit Thani Hotel, Joe pitched the idea of a guidebook to Thailand to a little company called Lonely Planet, and ended up being in charge of the company's best-selling guide for 25 years. He's also written guidebooks on Burma, Laos, and Mexico, as well as one-off volumes on various aspects of Asian art and architecture. His new book, Sacred Tattoos of Thailand, will be released in June. Joe also tells us how he ended up stranded on a boat for three days in the middle of the ocean with three Indonesian fishermen, how advanced technology has changed the art of travel writing, and what he thinks will happen with Thailand's ongoing political troubles.

Also, don't forget to join the BANGKOK PODCAST 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY on May 15th at the swanky Q-Up lounge. Good people, good drinks, good times!

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Bangkok Podcast 50: Our 50th show!

Sun, Apr 24, 2011

ZOOM! That was the sound of a whole year going by! 

It was in May 2010 that Tony and Greg put up the first episode of the Bangkok Podcast, and it's been a fun, interesting (and sometimes frustrating) year. This episode marks the 50th weekly show for the Bangkok Podcast, and to celebrate we thought'd we take a look back at the topics we've covered in the past 50 weeks by updating you on what our past interview guests have been up to; where the important issues we discuss have ended up; and how some of the interesting developments that have taken place in Thailand have affected Tony, Greg, and the people they know.

From Scientology to bird crap, beaches to heart attacks, and boobies to weddings, we give you the lowdown on what the past year has shown us.

Also don't forget to join us on MAY 15 to celebrate our birthday at Q BAR. Thanks to their generous support, a 500 baht cover gets you free flow drinks from 8-10pm. Spend the night at Bangkok's hippest night club (in the swanky, upstairs lounge, natch) with all who have made Bangkok Podcast such a success over the past year!

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Bangkok Podcast 49: Is Learning Thai Hard?

Fri, Apr 15, 2011

We've done a fair number of shows so far about learning Thai, but one of the most fundamental questions has yet to be discussed - is learning Thai actually hard, or do we foreigners just make it seem that way? 

We're joined once again by our Thai language Jedi Rikker Dockum as he talks about the particulars of the Thai language, how the human brain processes it, and some of the roadblocks that we encounter (or make) as we attempt to learn it. He also tells us how he keeps his Thai skills sharp, how age plays a role in learning language, and the value of making mistakes.

We are also joined by the crew from BangkokFoodTours.com, who will be leading our upcoming walking food tour. They tell us a bit about their company, how it began, and what we can expect on our outing.

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Bangkok Podcast 48: Moving Away From Thailand

Sun, Apr 10, 2011

In most western cultures, moving out of your parent's place and into your own life is considered a rite of adulthood and one which many are eager to do as soon as possible, but in Thailand things work differently. It's very common for people to live at home until they are married - often into their 30's - live with their spouse, and then have their parents move in with them when they reach retirement. Family plays a very big role in Thai society.

So what's it like for a Thai to move to a strange country and be forced to live on their own without the emotional or financial support of their family? We are happy to be joined by Ms. Orapa, a young woman who recently returned from living in London for four years. It's a very interesting look at some of thing things that we, as expats in Thailand, must deal with but through the eyes of a Thai. What happens when the novelty of a new city wears off? How do you make friends when everyone is constantly moving away? What are your options if you miss Thai food? Orapa gives us some great insights into what she loved, what she missed, and how she coped on her own in her time overseas.

Greg and Tony also discuss details of their upcoming ONE YEAR ANNIVERSAY PARTY at Q-BAR, which is sure to be an epic event; and talk a bit about Songkran, and how they're looking forward to not taking part in it.

We also take a look at three events from BK Magazine this week - a night of metal; a night of multiple DJ's; and a T-shirt festival with a ton of music.

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Bangkok Podcast 47: Q-Bar Andrew

Sun, Apr 03, 2011

On this episode of Bangkok Podcast, we sit down with Andrew Clark, co-owner and co-founder of QBar, Bangkok's hippest, coolest night club. Besides being a superb and friendly chap, Andrew talks to us about the humble beginnings of QBar, and what it takes to stay at the front of the line in an indusrty that's notorious for big openings and quick closures. He also gives us the lowdown on playing by the rules when the rules are constantly changing, the difficulties in keeping working girls (and guys!) out of the club, and the dirty tricks that other bars resort to when they're jealous of the industry leader.

Greg and Tony also discuss Tony's upcoming trip to Ko Chang, the annoyance of sitting on a bus for more than a few hours, and the secret to how they both stay so pasty-white (hint: we never leave Bangkok).

We also continue our partnerships with BK Magazine, Bangkok's best source for what's going on, and give a few quick details on a cheesy concert that the girls will love, a sobering photography exhibit, and a SUPER GIANT FUN TIME!

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Bangkok Podcast 46: Untranslatables

Sun, Mar 27, 2011

Joined once again by the Thai language Jedi Rikker, he schools Greg and Tony on a few Thai phrases that have no direct translation into English. What exactly does 'Mai Pen Rai' mean, and why is more than just a phrase? How do you tell someone 'Greng Jai' without leading to a Marx Brothers-style contest on who wants to disturb the other person the least? We also go off on a few tangents that include where 'Krap' and 'Ka' come from, and how Chaucer's original English has mutated into the 's we use today.

This is also the first show where we talk about our partnership with BK Magazine. Starting today, at the beginning of each show we'll highlight a few random selections from Bangkok's best English weekly to give you a few ideas for what to do over the coming week. This week: beer, bodies, and a certain skinny fat boy. 

Greg also gives us the lowdown on his first bicycle accident and how even the act of getting thrown over your handlebars in Thailand can turn into a unique example of Thai hospitality.

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Bangkok Podcast 45: Phra Pandit II

Sun, Mar 20, 2011

In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Japan, we are extremely pleased to have with us on this show Phra Pandit, the British-born monk who first came on our show in episode 30. On this show, Greg and Tony ask Phra Pandit to give his views on how such a tragedy can affect people, and how religion - and Buddhism in particular - can either become the one things that helps people get through such a hard time, or ceases to mean anything to them at all. What did the Buddha say about grief? How does psychology fit into religious counseling? And how can people use Buddhism to give them inner strength in dire situations?

We also get off on a tangent, and Phra Pandit will blow your mind with his in-depth knowledge of nuclear and solar power, the latest developments in the technology driving them both, and how he sometimes eats an entire pizza, but doesn't sweat the small stuff.

Greg and Tony also recap their awesome Phrapradaeng jungle ride last week with some friends of the show.

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Bangkok Podcast 44: Christopher G. Moore

Sun, Mar 13, 2011

The amount of foreigners who try to write a book about their craaaazy adventures in Thailand is only slightly larger than the amount who try to write hard-boiled fiction based in Bangkok, but among this group Christopher G. Moore stands out. Not only has his career as a writer thrived, but his 12-title Vincent Calvino series will soon be getting the big-time Hollywood treatment.

Greg and Tony talk to Christopher about how Bangkok has changed in the 20-plus years that he's lived here, how the city's rich tapestry inspires his story lines and the structure of his books, what he does to make his characters believable, and what it's like getting shot at while doing research on a police ride-along. He also tells us what effect rapidly evolving technology is having on the publishing industry, and if he thinks we'll still be reading books in 10 years.

Tony and Greg also talk about the tragic earthquake in Japan, and discuss an interesting and emotional new film made in Thailand about HIV-positive children who are making great strides despite their condition.

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Bangkok Podcast 43: Bangkok Reality Smackdown

Sun, Mar 06, 2011

When you first come to Bangkok, everything is new and strange. Nothing makes sense, and even a trip to the corner store can be an adventure. But after a while, these things fade, and pretty soon, the things that made your eyes bug out when you first arrived become old hat and - dare I say - boring. That's why we wanted to talk to Megan Kobzej, a new transplant to Bangkok with a very entertaining blog that makes us think back to the halcyon days of our first arrival; when Bangkok was stil an unexplored realm and the possibilities were endless. Or, to put it a more cynical way, before the city made us jaded, bitter, grumpy expats.

Anyway, Megan tells us what impresses her, what scares her, and why she's obsessed with chips (or crisps, if you're a Brit). She also gives us her opinion on Bangkok's nightlife, what it's like to face a cockraoch in your shower, and what her friends and family back home think of her life in Asia.

We are also joined briefly by Patricia Weismantel from Spice Roads, the company that will be leading our bicycle tour of Prapadaeng on March 13, to explain the ride, and Tony gives Greg a special gift.

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Bangkok Podcast 42: Matchmaking

Mon, Feb 28, 2011

On this episode, we talk with Khun Bee, owner of Bangkok Matching, Bangkok's #1 premium marriage matchmaking service. It's a very different ball of wax from a simple dating site, and in a very interesting conversation, Khun Bee tells us how she got the idea for her business, some of the (often unrealistic) expectations her clients have, and a few of the surprising problems she encounters on a day-to-day basis. We also get an inside track into the sometimes brutal task of finding love - what happens when you want someone out of your league? How do you tell someone that no one's interested in them? And what happens if a date is a disaster?

And to top it all of - Tony gives us his experiences as a client of Khun Bee's, and tells us what it was like going on 11 dates over a period of a few weeks, and why he now has the nickname "9-11".

Greg also talks about his Restaurants of Bangkok Running Dinner experience, and we remind everyone about our upcoming Bangkok bicycle trip on March 13 - head to our Facebook page to sign up!

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Bangkok Podcast 41: Online Dating

Sun, Feb 20, 2011

Continuing with our month of loooooove, this episode of Bangkok Podcast deals with the risks and rewards of online dating. Only ten years ago, meeting someone online was considered a bit of a nerdy way to find a mate, but today, it's almost considered strange to meet people in real life. Add to that the stereotypes and gossip of finding love in Thailand, and it can quickly become a bit complicated.

To see what all the fuss about, Tony went and signed up for a few dating services to find out what kind of attention his profile would get. He talks about which sites he chose, how each one works, what types of response he got and, more importantly, from what types of women. Greg... well, if you listen to the show on a regular basis, you'll know that due to his upcoming nuptials, Greg had to sit this one out and live vicariously through Tony.

Tony also tells us about his recent visa run to Vientiane, how he miscalcuated the expiry date of his visa, and had lunch with one of our listeners!

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Bangkok Podcast 40: Kaewmala

Sun, Feb 13, 2011

Argh! Yet another wacky cable problem has made Greg and Tony's voices sound weird and echoey, but never fear! Our esteemed guest's voice came through loud and clear.

On this episode - the second of four in our Valentine's-themed month of February - we are joied by Kaewmala, author of the fun, sexy, and educational book 'Thai Sex Talk'. She is also a noted commentator on social issues, prolific blogger, talented translator and all-around cool woman. She educates Greg and Tony on all the nuances of sexuality, flirting, dating and love in Thai culture, and helps us understand some of the more complex facets of the area, such as why so many beautiful, smart, funny, middle-class women in Thailand remain single, and some of the hangups and problems that foreign men find when they approach them.

Greg and Tony also announce the next Bangkok Podcast get-together - a guided bike ride to one of Bangkok's hidden gems, the lush and peaceful semi-island of Prapradaeng.

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Bangkok Podcast 39: Thai Wedding Ceremony

Mon, Feb 07, 2011

To start off our month of luuuve, Bangkok Podcast will be talking about the who, why, how and how much of Thai weddings. Despite some strange microphone issues in this episode, we are joined by Jason and Nim, two friends of Greg's who got married last year. They join us to discuss what their wedding was like, which ceremonial and traditional aspects it included, how it differes from western weddings, and how Jason dealt with the well known phrase 'When you marry a Thai woman, you also marry her family.'

Greg and Tony also discuss the latest political developments in Egypt, what it means for the region, and how online tools and social media are once again showing the power they have in disrupting long-established ways of oppressing the masses, as well as rising up against that very same oppression.

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Bangkok Podcast 38: Canadian Ambassador Ron Hoffmann

Sat, Jan 29, 2011

It's a strata of expat life that few of us have to deal with on anything more than an administrative level, but the particulars of how two countries interract and overlap is a complicated Venn diagram that needs to be carefully controlled. On this episode, Tony and Greg are honoured to be joined by Ron Hoffmann, Canadian Ambassador to Thailand. We talk about a whole range of subjects - what his day-to-day roles are, how Thailand compares to his previous posting in Afghanistan, what he thinks of the whole Wikileaks debate, and how no one knows just how deep and complex the relationship between Thailand and Canada is.

We are also joined by Willem Deenik, Managing Director of Restaurants of Bangkok, the best place to find online information, reviews and great deals at restaurants throughout the city. He lets us know how users can benefit from his website, as well as some of the interesting dining-centered events coming up.

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Bangkok Podcast 37: Adam Bradshaw

Sun, Jan 23, 2011

We are lucky to be joined by another farang Thai speaker, Adam Bradshaw. Adam has a large online following who enjoy watching his energetic and easy to understand YouTube videos where he explains the more commonly heard English phrases to his Thai audience. Things like "What's up?" and the difference between "Up the street" and "Down the street" can be very confusing for non-native speakers, but Adam makes it easy.

He talks about how Thai students learn English, the methods he used for learning Thai, how his Thai YouTube audience thought his voice was dubbed by a Thai speaker, and tells us about how he interviewed the Prime Minister of Thailand in Thai. He also helps us translate a phrase that we all use on a daily basis: 2 Legit 2 Quit.

Greg also tells us abou this swanky new glasses, and he and Tony talk about how Thailand is a great place to get some routine personal maintenance done if you have the chance - things like seeing the dentist, getting your eyes checked or going for a physical.

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Bangkok Podcast 36: Finding a job in Bangkok

Sun, Jan 16, 2011

On this episode, Tony and Greg discuss the ins and outs of finding a job in Thailand. A lot of people - after a vacation full of fun and frivolity - think that moving to Thailand will be a sure way to leave the rat race and live a life of blissful utopia. However, while working in Thailand is still (in our opinion) an infinitely better and more interesting experience than working at home, the truth of the matter that working here is not the endless party many want it to be. 

Office politics, rush hour, overdue bills and looming deadlines are inescapable truths to any job, and Thailand is no different. On top of that, there are things such as work permits and the lack of social safety nets to consider. Tony and Greg talk a bit about this, as well as the best places and methods to find jobs here, including a discussion on the most popular route into the Thai workforce - teaching English.

Tony also tells us about his recent illness, and Greg recounts the horrifying day in High School he had to be sent home because of chicken pox.

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Bangkok Podcast 35: Woody Milintachinda Pt 2

Sun, Jan 09, 2011

On the second part of our interview with talk show host and all around cool dude Woody Malintachinda, we learn a bit more about Woody's job and some of the crazy stories that come from being on TV. From being told he's "nobody" by American celebrity handlers to dealing with self-censorship to what he thinks of Twitter and his fans (even when they criticize him), it's a fascinting peek into one of the most well-known (and certainly most energetic) Thai TV personalities around.

Greg also talks about a book that he's reading that takes place in Bangkok 300 years in the future, and how its plot is taken from some of problems that we have to deal with in Bangkok today.

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Bangkok Podcast 34: Woody Milintachinda Pt 1

Sun, Jan 02, 2011

On the first part of a special two-part episode, we are very pleased to welcome one of Thailand's top talk show personalities, Woody Milintachinda. As host and producer of 'Woody Kerd Ma Kui' (Born to Talk), Woody is well known to Thais all over the country for his unique style of interviewing everyone from supermodels to fortune tellers to politicians. Sometimes controversial but always interesting, Woody joins Bangkok Podcast to talk about his childhood in the US and Switzerland, the positive and negative aspects of being a high-profile TV star, and how he hides his mid-afternoon naps from his staff.

In addition, Greg talks about his New Year's Eve party, and Tony goes into detail about his recent trip to Japan, explaining just how different Tokyo is to Bangkok, and how Tokyo would likely simply stop working if a bit of Bangkok's chaotic nature were introduced into the mix.

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Bangkok Podcast 33: Five Questions

Thu, Dec 23, 2010

For the last show of 2010, Tony and Greg decided to learn a little about more about how each of them views their adopted city. To that end, each of them came up with five questions about life in Bangkok without telling the other what they were; improvisational podcasting at its finest! What did Greg ask Tony? What did Tony ask Greg? The answers are all in episode #33 of Bangkok Podcast.

They also talk about Tony's upcoming trip to Japan, and how Christmas is celebrated in Bangkok... or rather, how it's not celebrated.

Happy New Year and thanks for making our first year a huge success! 

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Bangkok Podcast 32: Hamish Chalmers

Sun, Dec 19, 2010

While our regular Thai language Jedi Rikker takes a well-deserved break, we're joined today by Hamish Chalmers, another noted Thai speaker, blogger, Tweeter and all-around nice guy.

As a teacher at a well-regarded international school, Hamish has some unique insights into how students of languages (Thai or otherwise) learn, what methodologies work best, and how teachers can shape their lessons to suit each students' particular needs. Hamish also tells us how he learned Thai through pure stubbornness, how he hopes people use his website, and how much he loves Japanese pears.

In addition, Tony and Greg talk about last night's Bangkok Podcast Christmas party, and want to give a BIG thanks to Dani and Martin for helping us with registration, as well as a wonderful, awesome gift that they gave us that makes all this podcasting rigmarole worth it.

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Bangkok Podcast 31: Visa Runs

Sun, Dec 12, 2010

On this episode we disucss the much-hated, much-maligned visa run, the process of renewing your visa by traveling outside of the country that you live in. Most anyone who lives in Thailand has experienced this process, and Tony and Greg go over the who, what, why, and how of the whole process, drawing on personal experience to try and answer a few questions: is it better to do on your own or use a service? Can you send your passport with an agency and stay at home? How do you deal with border bribery, and which border crossing is the best?

Also, Tony - in the name of research - has used three of the most popular visa run services and gives us a rundown of the pros and cons of each one. Who has the best lunch? Who has the friendliest staff? And most importantly, which ones use a big bus, and which ones use tiny vans?

Greg also tells us about his recent trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and we discuss how Twitter came to the aid of our friend, adventure-seeker @Vaitor, when he found himself in a Thai hospital and needed the help of a translator.

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Bangkok Podcast 30: Phra Pandit

Mon, Nov 29, 2010

Ask anyone in the world what they see when they think of Thailand, and chances are that one of those things will be monks. They are a part of life here - wandering the streets early in the morning, shopping at markets, riding the skytrain - but for most foreigners, they remain somewhat mysterious and at a distance. To change those perceptions, Bangkok Podcast is very happy to welcome Phra Pandit, a Brit who was ordained as a monk in 1996 and is now a very visible part of Bangkok's Buddhist community.

We ask Phra Pandit all the nitty gritty about being a monk: why are the robes orange? What time do you wake up? What does your family think? And what's the deal with meditation? He gives us a very unique and interesting insight into a side of life that most of us will never see, including details on his blog and Facebook group. Look for Phra Pandit on future shows, as he will return to further school us in the many interesting aspects of Buddhism.

Tony and Greg also take a cue from some listener mail and discuss the best places to go for a jog in Bangkok, and also continue with information on the BANGKOK PODCAST CHRISTMAS PARTY!

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Bangkok Podcast 29: Thai Language Series 7

Sun, Nov 28, 2010

On this show we're again joined by Thai language Jedi Rikker Dockum who goes through the calendar with us looking at the Thai holidays. It can be confusing sometimes keeping them all straight, because while many western holidays have made it to Bangkok - Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day, etc - there are also the Thai holidays to keep track of - Songkran, Macha Bucha, and Father's, Mother's and Children's day, among others. So how are the western ones celebrated, what is a Macha Bucha, and what exactly does Songkran have to do with the moon? 

We also give some more details on the BANGKOK PODCAST CHRISTMAS PARTY! As it is the season of giving, we are asking everyone who attends to donate any unused items they may have lying around the house - from cups to clothes to toiletries. Bangkok Podcast will collect them at the Christmas party and donate them to the Second Chance Foundation, a charity that ensures that used items get distributed to the residents of Bangkok's sprawling Khlong Toey slum. We are joined today by Jodie, founder of the Second Chance Foundation, who explains why she started the project and how it helps those in need.

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Bangkok Podcast 28: Expats and Technology

Sun, Nov 21, 2010

Living overseas can often caust a bit of separation anxiety. You miss your family, you miss your friends, and pretty soon work, social life and time zones get in your way. As little as 5 or 6 years ago you were pretty limited to email, but over the past half-decade, the tools and technology available to expats for staying in touch with your peeps back home has exploded.

In this episode, Tony and Greg chew the fat on which methods they use to stay in touch with their families around the world, and how these various methods can serve not only as a powerful took to keep you from getting lonely, but also a powerful tool to keep you close to your culture, as well as help you integrate further into your adopted society.

From videoclips of newborns sent from cellphone to cellphone to funerals that are live-streamed around the world, current technology is something that can be used to make your life overseas richer and more rewarding than ever before.

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Bangkok Podcast 27: Jerry Hopkins Pt 2

Sat, Nov 13, 2010

On this week's show, continue our interview with Mr. Jerry Hopkins. You may not know his name right away but Jerry is a legend in the music and publishing industries. Before he retired to Thailand, Jerry was a journalist - and not just any journalist - a Rock n' Roll Journalist! As a former editor of Rolling Stone Magazine (when it was just a wee start-up trying to sell ads), Jerry got to know some of the biggest up-and-coming names in rock n' roll, from Jimi Hendrix to The Doors to Elvis Presley.

It was through these friendships that Jerry was able to write several of the most influential rock biographies in history, most notably the seminal work on The Doors 'No One Here Gets Out Alive', which was TWICE a New York Times best seller, and was used extensively by Oliver Stone when he made The Doors.

In the second part of our interview, Jerry talks about his adventures with everyone from Yoko Ono to Raquel Welch, the future of journalism, why he chose Thailand to retire in, and gives some advice to any budding writers out there.

Tony also tells us about a football (aka soccer) game that he went to recently where the fans were very well behaved... until the game finished, that is!

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Bangkok Podcast 26: Jerry Hopkins Pt1

Sun, Nov 07, 2010


If you like real music then you are in for a treat with this weeks guest as we're very lucky to interview Mr. Jerry Hopkins. You may not know his name right away but Jerry is a legend in the music and publishing industries. Before he retired to Thailand, Jerry was a journalist - and not just any journalist - a Rock n' Roll Journalist! As a former editor of Rolling Stone Magazine (when it was just a wee start-up trying to sell ads), Jerry got to know some of the biggest names in rock n' roll, from Jimi Hendrix to The Doors to Elvis Presley.

It was through these friendships that Jerry was able to write several of the most influential rock biographies in history, most notably his seminal work on The Doors 'No One Here Gets Out Alive', which was TWICE a New York Times best seller, and was used extensively by Oliver Stone on his movie about The Doors.

In the first part of our interview, Jerry talks about his days following bands around, how music culture now is different from music culture then, and shares a few choice stories about hanging out with some of the biggest names in music history.

Greg and Tony also complain about the weather and how it's given them colds and allergies, respectively, and why Bangkok just won't let them get better.


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Bangkok Podcast 25: Halloween Special!

Sun, Oct 31, 2010

For the final show of October, we invited some friends of Bangkok Podcast down to the Bangkok Podcast Intergallactic HQ to join us in a creepy crawly Halloween-themed episode - eating bugs! Insects have long been a part of the Thai diet, especially in the northern Isaan region, and while a good number of Thais in Bangkok don't indulge, many still do and you can often see bug vendors plying their wares in various locations around the city.

We assembled 9 big bags full of creepy-crawlies: red ants, giant grasshoppers, pregnant crickets, swolen grubs, deep-fried frogs and stir-fried bamboo worms, all delicacies in their own way. Tony and Greg were the first to indulge, but we soon had our intrepid group of friends digging in with us and crunching loudly away. 

We go over what each type of bug looks like, tastes like, and talk about how the same horrified looks that we were giving these things are also applied by many Thais at some of the snacks that we foreigners consider quite delicious.

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Bangkok Podcast 24: Thai Language Series 6

Sun, Oct 24, 2010

In our continuing series on the mysteries of the Thai language, linguistic lion tamer Rikker Dockum talks about the complexities of the vowels. With around 33 (depending on who you ask) vowel sounds, which can come before, after, above, below, or around the consonant that they modify, it's no wonder that Tony and Greg (and many others) are left scratching their heads.

We also announce a special episode of Bangkok Podcast on October 30 - the last one for our Halloween month - where you - yes, you! - can come down the BP Intergalactic HQ to see us record an episode, and take part in a creepy crawly event that's part of Thai culture, but something that often causes many foreigners to break out in a sweat.

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Bangkok Podcast 23: Tourist Scams

Sun, Oct 17, 2010

Bangkok is a big and fast-paced city, and you need a significant amount of street smarts to avoid the many pitfalls that are present. One thing that many people find - despite the well-publicized 'Land of Smiles' image - is that Thailand has jerks and scam artists just like any other city around the world. Often these hosers weave incredibly intricate and cunning schemes to get some money out of unwitting tourists; the variety is incredible and people often lose anywhere from hundreds of baht to thousands of dollars.

In this episode, Greg and Tony talk about some of the more common scams they've heard of and/or experienced, and share a few inside tips on what to look for, how to react, what to avoid, and - most importantly - what to do if you somehow find yourself a victim.

Greg and Tony also wax lyrical about the delightfully cool weather this week; talk about a great giveaway from one of our former guests; and Tony gives everyone a pro tip on avoiding the rain.

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Bangkok Podcast 22: Paul Garrigan

Sun, Oct 10, 2010

Bangkok is a city of many vices and more than a few temptations. If you're not careful, it can be frighteningly easy to let these things go from a sometime-hobby to a full-blown addiction, and the end result is usually not pretty. But every once in a while you hear a story about someone who sank to the bottom and then, against all odds, pulled themsevles back up.

Continuing our Halloween theme in the guise of discussing inner demons, our guest today is author Paul Garrigan. His book 'Dead Drunk' recounts his harrowing tale of alcoholism that saw him travel the world trying to escape a problem that was part of who he was. It was only in Thailand, near the end of his rope, that Paul ended up at Wat Thamkrabok, whose well known detox program showed him the way out of the darkness. Paul gives a very personal, open book account of the challenges he faced, and what it was like when he finally emerged clean and sober on the other side.

Greg and Tony also welcome guest Scotty "Hockey" Murray, one of the organizers of the upcoming 2010 Land Of Smiles Ice Hockey Classic. Ice hockey in Thailand? That's right, and the tournamet will be pretty badass. Make sure to check it out!

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Bangkok Podcast 21: Fortune Tellers

Sun, Oct 03, 2010

For many westerners, fortune tellers - more often referred to as psychics - are generally seen as dwelling in the fringes of legitimacy. However, 'mor doo' ('seeing doctors') in Thailand play a much larger role. From Prime Ministers to street sweepers, seeing a fortune teller is something that many Thais do regularly and with quite a bit of conviction, and as any long-term expat can tell you, making fun of their craft or trying to disprove a session with a cold dose of reality will only earn you scorn.

In the first Halloween themed episode, Tony and Greg take a visit to a fortune teller to see what it's all about. Greg consults a tarot card deck, while Tony gets his palms read, and both are subjected to the power of the crystal pendulum. What did the fortune teller say? Is the future so bright they need to wear shades?

Greg and Tony also get off on a tangent discussing scams of the heart, armed thugs taking over a part of the airport (again!), and how to know you've been in Thailand too long.

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Bangkok Podcast 20: Thai Language Series 5

Sun, Sep 26, 2010

Joined once again by Bangkok Podcasts's Thai language guru Rikker, we get into the very unique way that Thais tell time. For instance, in Thai the day is divided into four sections: morning, afternoon, evening, and then after midnight. At the change to each section, the time is 'reset', so for instance, 8pm wouldn't be 8pm, but rather 2 o'clock, or 2 hours after 6pm. It's a system that has confused many a foreigner who is told to meet someone at a time that makes no sense - "Meet me for dinner at 2 o'clock!"

Rikker breaks these zones down for us, and explains a bit of the linguistic gymnastics that go along with assiging names to the times of day.

Tony also tells us how is mobile phone bills have (hopefully) been sorted out after the phone company somehow calculated that he was spending 8 hours a day, every day, online with his phone.

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Bangkok Podcast 19: Thai Education System

Mon, Sep 20, 2010

It's no secret that the Thai education system is in need of an overhaul. Everyone from government ministers to concerned parents regularly voice their opinions in the press, and there is a real concern that the Thailand's education system is being passed by its regional neighbours.

One way a concerned parent can ensure your child has an international-level education in Thailand is to enroll them in an international school. However, many parents find that the cost of tuition is often outrageously high - many thousands of dollars per child per year, or more. So what are the options? Is there any way around this? And what does it mean for a parent living here who may not have the necessary resources?

Greg also talks about his recent trip to Europe and a big development for him there, which leads to a discussion about European history vs Thai history, the nuances of driving in Europe, and the trust you must have in your GPS system while navigating unfamiliar roads.

We also thank loyal listener Jamie Milkovich for his awesome addition to our Facebook page, and we tease a few details of some pretty cool shows we have coming up in October.

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Bangkok Podcast 18: Kaila Krayewski

Sun, Sep 12, 2010

With the legendary beauty of Thai women and Bangkok’s shadowy red light districts, Thailand is a well-known destination for men who like to act like they wished they could when they were teenagers, but what about the foreign women that live in the Land of Smiles?

The reality is that there are many farang ladies in Thailand who are smart, successful, and beautiful, but who are totally ignored by the male population. It may sounds like a silly little problem but not having access to a successful relationship can lead to a bigger problem that is common in Thailand and that is loneliness.

We talk with Kaila Krayewski, a writer, blogger and traveler, about her travel experiences in S.E. Asia and her impressions of being a foreign woman in Thailand’s dating scene, and the effect that the relative dearth of options can have on a person’s enjoyment of living here.

Greg and Tony also take a moment to thank the guys who gave Bangkok Podcast it’s look and sound – Marc Griesinger, who created our logo, and Alec Harrison, who composed our theme song.

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Bangkok Podcast 17: Finding an apartment in Bangkok

Sun, Sep 05, 2010

Landing in Bangkok,  finding a job and fitting into a new life isn't easy, but finding the right apartment is often the most challenging thing to do. With a city as big as Bangkok, it can be a confusing, frustrating and tiring experience. On this episode, Tony and Greg talk about the nuances of finding the right apartment and the shortcuts they've taken in the past to explore the housing market and what it offers. They also give a few tips on what to look for on your search, as many of the 'little details' of renting here are not the same as they are in your home country.

Tony also talks about his continuing lucky streak with taxi drivers and the money they keep returning to him, while Greg remembers a particular ride when a taxi driver thought a tip that was 110% of the fare seemed appropriate.

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Bangkok Podcast 16: Thai Language Series 4

Fri, Aug 27, 2010

In this episode Rikker elightens us on what it's like to raise a child in a bilingual country and household. Seeing that Tony and Greg have exactly 0 children each, Rikker - as a father of two - is much more qualified to tell us about what teaching methods work best, how a child percieves language, and the fears that any parent has when trying to teach their child the skills that will help them in life.

Greg also vents about an injustice toward a Thai garbage collector, and Tony talks about his video project with Prae 'Fluke' Sunantaraks (who you may remember as our first guest), which may see them chosen to attend the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

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Bangkok Podcast 15: Is Bangkok Safe?

Sun, Aug 22, 2010

Bangkok is a sprawling, steamy city of roughly 8 million that can give any other metropolis a run for its money. Naturally, crime and violence are a reality of everyday life, although not on the same scale as other notorious places like Rio de Janeiro, New York or Johannesburg. Despite this, one of the most common questions we get is: is Bangkok safe? 

The short answer to this question is: yes, Bangkok overall is a very safe city. However, living here does require a certain amount of street smarts and a bit of knowledge about how things in Thailand work if you're to navigate successfully around the odd pitfall. On this episode, Tony and Greg talk about their experiences trying to avoid crime and violence, give a few sage tips on what to do if something does go awry, and share a few of their personal encounters with the ugly side of living in a huge city.

Tony also vents about Google's dominance over online advertising, and Greg talks about his trip on the new Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link (SARL) and ponders whether people will choose to avoid the taxis for the new electric rail system.

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Bangkok Podcast 14: Voranai Vanijaka

Sun, Aug 15, 2010

As an editor at the Bangkok Post, one of the Kingdom's English-language daily newspapers, Voranai Vanijaka is afforded an opportunity to have his voice heard, discussed and argued about that few of use ever have. As a journalist, his job is to look at the world through a long lens and comment on what he sees. However, in a country like Thailand - where long-held perceptions are hard to change and powerful personalities enjoy the stability of the status quo, turning that lens inward can often cause a bit of... uneasiness.

Khun Voranai joins us to talk about the somewhat controversial nature of his writing, and especially about a recent article he wrote, 'Amart and Prai', which challenged the long-established class structure that governs Thai societal interactions. 

Tony also talks about why his trip to Japan was postponed, and Greg rattles on about another one of his bike rides, this time to the village of Baan Bat, where the locals work to preserve their unique art of beautiful, hand-made copper bowls.

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Bangkok Podcast 13: Thais Love Whitey

Sun, Aug 08, 2010

Ahh, summer time. When everyone heads down to the beach to get that wonderful golden tan that makes you look like a Hollywood star. Except in Asia, where perceptions of skin tone often run counter to what they do in the west. Over here, pasty, white skin is much more desirable and has come to denote affluence, wealth and success. 

In This episode of Bangkok Podcast, Anthony and Greg discuss how Thais shun dark skin and yearn for white skin, how beauty products and advertising try to promote the message that you'll only find love and success if you're pasty, and what effect it has on the psyche of someone growing up with a dark complexion.

Anthony also gives us the lowdown on his visit to a part of Bangkok that most western expats never see - the cloistered Japanese nightclub scene.

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Bangkok Podcast 12: Thai Language Series 3

Mon, Aug 02, 2010

In this episode we ask Rikker to walk us through the different ways to address people in Thai, from the polite, to the familiar, to the not recommended. Not all of the terms are direct nouns, and many can be quite creative – for instance, the word to refer to yourself in front of a judge is to essentially insult yourself, thereby elevating the judge to a higher position! Greg also recounts the time he referred to an older person by the right word but with the wrong tone, with unhappy results.

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Bangkok Podcast 11: Patrick Winn

Sun, Jul 25, 2010

Being a journalist in the 21st century isn't easy. The industry that has essentially functioned the same since it started centuries ago is undergoing massive changes. In fact, in another ten years, journalists and the journalism industry as we know it might not even exist. But thankfully there are still plenty of good journo's out there, and one of them is the Global Post's Patrick Winn, who has written about everything from ghost festivals to redshirt riots to eating dog.

On this podcast, we chat with Patrick about what challenges he faces as his industry changes around him, and what dangers come with being a journalist in Thailand - someone whose job it is to write about topics that some people would prefer to keep quiet.

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Bangkok Podcast 10: Launch Party!

Sun, Jul 18, 2010

Thanks to all who came to the Bangkok Podcast launch party at Bistro 33! It was a great success and we truly enjoyed seeing old and new faces and making new friends. On this episode of the podcast, Tony and Greg talk about the party and how it's the first step into building a community based on none of the boring ol' cliches that Bangkok is known for - girls, bars, and booze.

We also talk about how important it is to have these little outlets - parties, networking events, meetings, and such - because no matter how a foreigner fits into Thai culture, you always need the psychological pick-me-up of having a connection to your own culture. Be it a Seinfeld joke or finding a kindred spirit in deciphering the mysteries of Thailand, having a network of like-minded folks - Thai and foreigner alike - can really make you feel like part of a team.

We would also like to thank all of you who brought donations of unused clothing to the party, and Smiling Albino for making sure it gets to the people who can use it most.

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Bangkok Podcast 9: Smiling Albino

Sun, Jul 11, 2010

Traveling is never as easy as they make it look on television travel shows. What many people forget is that an entire production team has been hard at work for weeks before the host ever shows up. As they say, the devil's in the details, and no one knows more about the details of travel than Smiling Albino.

For the past ten years, Smiling Albino, founded by Canadians Scott Coates and Daniel Fraser, has been offering unique, custom-built adventures throughout Thailand for anyone who likes to avoid the package feel of package tours. Over the past few years, their success has seen their trips expand into Nepal, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, with more destinations on the horizon. In this episode, Tony and Greg talk with Scott about the nuances of travel, the work that goes into planning a trip, and the difference between Japanese and Thai taxi drivers.

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Bangkok Podcast 8: Thai Language Series 2

Sun, Jul 04, 2010

In the second of our ongoing Thai language series, we continue talking to 'Thai Language Jedi' Rikker Dockum about the complexities of the Thai language. In this episode, we jump onto the much-discussed tone system of Thai, and why foreigners have such a hard time wrapping their head around it while our Thai friends are wondering what the big deal is. Greg and Tony also each share a story or two about how the tones and Romanization aspect of Thai have gotten them into hot water a few times.

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Bangkok Podcast 7: Transportation

Sun, Jun 27, 2010

When people hear 'Bangkok' they usually think of either red light districts or traffic jams. Well, because they are such good boys, Tony and Greg don't have much experience with the former, but plenty of experience with the latter, and that's what they'll be talking about today. From haggling with tuk-tuk drivers, paying traffic fines for motorcycle taxis or trying to avoid eye infections on the Klong Saen Saeb canal boat, we'll discuss all the modes of transport in this sprawling city, how they fit together, and how to get the most of out of using them.

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Bangkok Podcast 6: Jodi Ettenberg

Sun, Jun 20, 2010

For our second interview, we are very happy to be joined by Jodi Ettenberg - lawyer, world traveler, riot survivor, political commentator, and fan of all things related to chowing down. Those of you in Bangkok have probably met Jodi, and if not you've likely read her tweets on Twitter, viewed her pictures on travel blogs and news sites, seen her speak about Bangkok's recent political troubles on various television stations, or read her Legal Nomads blog, where she chronicles her adventures over the past 2 years as she's traveled the world. We sit down with Jodi to hear about her trip, what it's like being a solo female traveler in the wide world, and why she left a lucrative career in New York to take third-world buses with chickens, visit refugees in prison, and get crapped on by birds the world over.

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Bangkok Podcast 5: Thai Television

Sun, Jun 13, 2010

In this episode of the Bangkok Podcast, we discuss something that many foreigners living here have a hard time wrapping their heads around - Thai television shows. From dramatically-enhanced soap operas to variety shows with singing, dancing Nazis, to the brilliance of funny television commercials, the range of options for the average viewer are pretty broad.

But what can we learn about Thai society from watching these little diversions? Will sitting through a cat-fight between a rich bitch socialate and a put-upon Cinderella give you an insight into why they have to slap and scream so much? And more importantly - do you care?

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Bangkok Podcast 4: Thai Language Series 1

Tue, Jun 08, 2010

One of the problems with living in Thailand is that it’s so easy to get by without being very skilled in the Thai language, a mistake that many expats make. To provide some inspiration, we are very happy to be talking to Rikker Dockum, a researcher and Thai language scholar, who will be joining us every month on the Bangkok Podcast. Rather than standard ‘word of the day’ type lessons, Rikker will be chatting with us about the mysteries of the Thai language, tips for learning it, secrets to using it, and his experiences navigating a culture where fluency by a foreigner in the local language will likely be met with wide-eyed stares of anyone you meet.

On this first episode, Rikker tells us what methods helped him most as he learned Thai, how it's helped him adapt, and a few funny stories about the reactions he's received. 

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Bangkok Podcast 3: Your First Time In Bangkok

Mon, May 31, 2010

Rarely does someone move to Bangkok with a full support network of friends ready to help them out; more often than not, the first few weeks or months are a bit of a struggle as you figure out how the city works. For this episode of Bangkok Podcast, Anthony and Greg dish out some advice for anyone thinking of moving here, or even for people that have lived here for a while but haven't yet settled fully into their groove. From joining the right networking events to knowing where in the city to live to avoiding the red light districts, they go over a few things that they wish they had known, but instead had to learn through cold, hard experience, with many a night spent wondering if we made the right decision to come here. 

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Bangkok Podcast 2: Prae Sunantaraks

Sun, May 23, 2010

After a tumultuous week that saw many deaths and widespread arson and rioting in Bangkok, we discuss the fallout from the army’s breakup of the redshirt protest site and what it means to Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. We also talk about how most of Bangkok continues as normal, even as a temporary curfew puts a major dent in Bangkok’s nightlife.

In addition, we are very happy to be joined by Prae Sunantaraks – nicknamed Fluke – who was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease that is slowly robbing her of her sight. She shares with us the details of The Little Light Project – a charity she started for blind children – and helps us understand how she remains so positive and upbeat even as her world becomes darker and darker – an outlook that many in Bangkok can appreciate these days. She also lets us in on the biggest mystery of all – how a visually-impaired person navigates the treacherous Bangkok sidewalks!

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Bangkok Podcast 1: Best Source of Thai News

Sun, May 16, 2010

In the first edition of our weekly podcast, we discuss the major issue at the moment – the ongoing redshirt protests and the continuing efforts by the military to end them. We also touch on the causes of the conflict, and then discuss what we think are some great resources for keeping on top of new developments in one of the biggest crises to hit Thailand in a very long time.


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