Thursday, June 28, 2012

Insurance for car, home and content in Laos

When you move to another country, one concern is always if there is any reliable insurance company. While insurance for your car and motobike is mandatory, it is up to you if you insure house and contents by your own. My advise: Do it, and not just for your own stuff, but also for the house. The owner is required by law to have his onw insurance, but laws do not count much here. So where to get an insurance? We do have two companies I can recommend: There is AGL, Allianz Group Laos, what belongs to the German Allianz Group. Their office is located in the ANZ building on Lane Xang Avenue. Just go to the second floor, the staff there speaks English and is very helpful. For some reasons their fees are higher that TOKO.TOKO is a local company, but also popular in the expat community. You can go straight to their office around the corner from True Coffee at Setthathirat Road, and get your things insured.For your home, you should have insurance for the building, also fire, water, burglary, electricity damage and damage to neighbors or third party. Make sure you have the name of your village, the house adress, maybe a screenshot from Google Maps Satellite view, Name and adresse of the house owner, your passport and work permit with you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Laos has it's own iTunes store - but no Lao content

Yes, now you can buy in Laos with a Lao credit card at the iTunes store. But unfortunately I couldn't find that much of Lao content. Singer Aluna was listed at iTunes way before, but I am looking forward to see Lao movies (At The Horizon) and bands (The Cells, etc) showing up there. Or is it again to much work to apply, upload and sell content there?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ASEAN shopping mall and others

It seems Vientiane want to become the capital with the most shopping malls in the regions. Current projects are the ASEAN shopping mall, That Luang mall, Regal mall, CAMCE, Ce la Vie and World Trade Center. ASEAN mall recently announced their opening on July 22nd, and I was confused why I could have missed a new mall. It isn't a new one: ASEAN mall is not far from ITEC on T4, and it is there for 2 years already. Don't get fooled by the shiny pictures you saw in the business edition of the Vientiane Times - this was the architects sketch. Reality is quite far from it, it is another dark, small shop based conglomerate of Asian style shop houses under a huge but ugly metal roof. Pictures show the ASEAN mall entry and the That Luang mall, where constructions doen't go forward that much.

iMusic: Guitars, Keyboards and other music instruments from Yamaha

Musicians, attention please: iMusic just openend a shop near Dongpalan and the new Pizza Company branch there. I was overwhelmed by the friendly staff and the greeting. Not only unusual English language skills surprised me, but the owners and staff seem to be quite passionate and professional about music. Give it a try, they will open a music school soon as well.


i made my first Salapao today, it is kind of a Chinese bun with a delicious filling (mushrooms and nuts).

Monday, June 25, 2012

2nd Vientiane Career Fair

It was a huge success last year and they do it again: The Vientiane Career fair attracted a lot of companies and young people seeking for opportunities, and it was and is a good place for human ressources. Don't miss it. I quote the description from the facebook page:
We are pleased to announce that our 2nd Annual Vientiane Career Fair will be held on June 30 to July 1, 2012. We welcome any company, NGO, non-profit organization, and educational institution to join. Last year, about 25 organizations participated and over 2,000 visitors attended over two days! Even if your organization is not currently looking to hire, you are still welcome to join to allow visitors to learn more about your organization. Admission is FREE! Just bring copies of your CV. Lucky draw prizes and events throughout the day! For more information or to sign up, you can: 1) email us at, 2) leave a comment below (and a VCF organizer will contact you), or 3) call 020 5500 2056. Hope to see you there!

Drowning doesn't look like drowning

It might not be common knowledge yet, but the same way cars don't really explode in an accident (like in the movies) people don't really drown like in the movies. There is an excellent blog post by Mario Vittone based on an article in OnScene Magazine that is worth reading. I just quote som important facts.
Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
Since a lot (yes, a lot) people are drowning in Laos, this article might help a bit to prevent it - maybe some people just didn't realize their friend was drowning.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Haircut: New places, no service

When I was driving around Samsenthai road recently, I saw a new sign advertising a hairdresser "Bangkok style". So I wanted to give it a try and went there today, 9.30am as the opening time was written on the signboard. Of course it wasn't open. I am a nice guy, so I tried again 30 minutes later. It was kind of open. The girl inside was rearranging the stools, but only with one hand, because the other hand had to carry the fashion magazine she was reading. Of course she was now way to busy to notice me.

A friend suggested me then Freesia, a place next to one of my favorite coffeeshops Cafe Nomad. You have to take your shoes off, what is usually a nono for me - I am not leaving my 100 USD shoes unattended outside - where is no cover from rain as well. Only one staff was there, running to the door to open for me, but that was the first and last contact. She was busy dryblowing the hair of the old lady who I was guessing was the owner of the mercedes in front. More important than me of course. Unfortunatly the girl was the only staff, so no one was taking care if me: no water, no price list, not even "wait a moment" (in any language). I left after five minutes.

It is still an exception to be treated well in Laos, in particular fancy shops - usually owned by rich kids, or better kids of rich parents - are not interested in customer satisfaction at all. That combined with the experience of a non-capitalistic system, where
you as a seller had more power because there was no other choice for the customers, leads to bad business habits.
I still recommend the Star Barber next to Joma Ponthan, where staff is friendly and prices are reasonable.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sushi goes local

Someone commented these days on facebook that a friend was banned from the night market, because he was trying to sell sushi. I was wondering why sushi on a night market, since I couldn't see any cooling facilities. The answer was "Lao people like sushi", and this might be the reason why now sushi is available even on the local market in my village. Of course, no cooling, not cover, and not even a meter above ground where most of the mud is made from bacterias..

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Laos gets a civil code

Good news from Vientiane Times today:
Laos is drafting a civil code that will embody civic affairs in various laws, which will benefit the public by systematically categorising those laws that most affect them. This will be the first code ever to be enacted in Laos to develop a complex set of laws to facilitate national socio-economic development and poverty reduction. Minister of Justice Mr Chaleun Yiapaoher made the comment last Friday at the first seminar on the drafting of the civil code, supported by JICA's legal project. He said the enactment of the civil code would help to strengthen the Lao legal system, building legal understanding and raising public awareness of such matters.
That could mean that foreigners actually can go to a Lao court with at least a small chance to see justice...

A new Lao food creation: Blue Chili sandwiches

Living in asia is heaven for those who love food. There is no limit in local dishes. I myself love cooking, love to try new things, but also like to create new things. Whenever I went to a Lao restaurant, the food is always the same. It is good, but nobody (or at least the majority) prepares dishes the same way as the cook in the neighboring restaurant. Because that's how people did it for a long time. More than half a year ago, I was chatting with my friends Hans about street food. I once had the plan to sell sausages in Saigon, but gave up, mainly because I had no idea where to get good sausages from. So we talked and joked, and suddenly I had the right idea: The Luang Prabang sausage is one of my favorite dishes. Why not stick it in a sandwich like a hot dog? But instead of ketchup or mustard, I wanted something special: Lao salad. It took me six months, to find the right sausage supplier, to get a cart build where the sandwiches are made and sold, to work on the recipe to assure every sandwich is the same - and finally find local partners to realize it. (A big thank you to Nini and Bebe, who believed in it and who are now the proud owners). Meet now Blue Chili Laos, a new fast food concept. The first cart is right now in front of Wine 95 on Settahthirat road, but we may move along this road back and for the next weeks. From 10am to 3pm we are selling three different sandwiches: - With Laap - With Papaya salad - With Cumcumber salad We will have special editions coming soon! And we do have a Facebook page: Please like us and let us know, what you think about our products.