Friday, January 25, 2013

Electric bike shop - sale and rent

i just saw this new electric bike shop not so far from the M-Point in Sihom. It's actually opposite the Mpoint mart in Sihom. Apparently they're selling electric bikes in many different sizes and they have them also for rent, and it seems that they also sell spare parts and recharge batteries. I didn't rent or buy something there, but I think it's worth a visit if you want to have a electric bike.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Please apply for the Mekong ICT camp 2013

Mekong ICT Camp 2013 – Apply Now!

The bi-annual workshop-camp designed for the individuals and groups who are committed for ICT4D (information, communication and technology for development) starts the application for its 2013 camp, the third of its kind after 2008 and 2010.
The 2013 camp is, following the preceding camps, a five-day activity offering three tracks and each is comprised of lectures, hand-on technological workshops, case studies, program initiation and collaboration under the principle of participation, spontaneity, innovation and collaboration. The three tracks of trainings are: Disaster Management, Info-Activism and ICT for Rural Social Development. Each applicant is required to choose one track of the three that best fits your line of work, expertise and experience. Please read course/track description carefully before applying. Should you need clarification, please contact us.

Activity Name: Mekong ICT Camp 2013

Date: May 6-10, 2013

Place/Country: The Sirindhorn Environmental Park

Cha-am, Phetchaburi, Thailand (official English website)

Read the Introduction of Mekong ICT Camp 2013

2010 Camper testimonies

Co-Organized by: Thai Fund Foundation, Open Dream, Thai Netizen Network and
Frontier Foundation.

For the ease of processing, we only accept Online Application

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hillary Clinton issues statement about Sombath Somphone

The case isn't forgotten. Even if the powerful hoped media attention will fade, it is actually the opposite. After ASEPF parliamentarians issued a blunt statement about their visit with Lao authorities yesterday, now US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about Sombath. It seems the ice is getting thinner for some.

Press Statement: Disappearance of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 16, 2013

We are deeply concerned about the well-being of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who disappeared one month ago. Reports indicate that Mr. Sombath went missing on December 15, 2012 after being stopped at a police checkpoint in the capital city of Vientiane. We call upon the Lao government to pursue a transparent investigation of this incident and to do everything in its power to bring about an immediate and safe return home to his family.

Since receiving his education in the United States, Mr. Sombath has worked tirelessly to promote sustainable development in Laos and he inspired a new generation of young leaders. He founded the Participatory Development Training Center, which trains Lao youth and local government leaders in community development and poverty reduction. His disappearance has generated a tremendous amount of concern from his family, friends and colleagues around the world. We urge his immediate return home and send our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Top 5 restaurants in Vientiane (updated 10/2014)

I was thinking about writing this article for a while, but never wrote it. The main reason is that it is hard to find 5 TOP restaurants. It is quite easy to have two or three, but then it gets difficult. So what is my benchmark for a good restaurant? It needs to balance the three main factors well. Those are food, service and ambience. The food must be not only of good quality, but should also show some creativity in preparing and displaying it. The service needs to be customer focussed with at least knowing the basics (and providing this every day). The ambience must be outstanding compared to the mainstream, something special. None of the restaurants in the list below will score highest in all categories, but at least they are close.

1. Acqua Italian Restaurant

The owner Gerado is very ambitious and has high expectations of his staff and work (he co-owned Aria next door before, but opened the new Acqua just recently).  The italian restaurant is fin dining at it's best, from homemade paste to finest lobsters and seafood. The owner has highest expectation to service and food quality, and to show that, he installed a big window to the kitchen, so guest can see how their food is prepared. Acqua also offers a huge selection of wines and private rooms upstairs. 

10 Rue Fran├žois Ngin, Ban Mixay, Open daily for lunch and dinner

2. Le Silapa (French-Asian Fusion)
In terms of food and creativity Le Silapa is the best place to go. The Menu is very unique in Vientiane, quality of food always on a high level. Le Silapa recently moved form a beautiful small house that gave guests a lot of privacy, to the first floor of I-Beam. although the reasons for the move or understandable from the owners point of view, it lost a bit of it's charme, and suprisingly the level of service dropped significantly. It's still above most places here, but one would expect more for the price they pay for the - again - outstanding food.

Setthathirat Road, opposite Wat Inpeng. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

3. Fujiwara Japanese Restaurant
Fujiwara was one of the first Japanese restaurants in Vientiane and for a long time the most popular. It lost customers to the recently opened Thai owned Fuji, and both are in the same league of quality of food. Yet, Fujiwara still has some advantage when it comes to ambience and dining experience. It is one of the places where you like to sit just a little bit longer.

Rue Setthathilath, Vientiane, Laos

4. L'Adresse
This might be the best french restaurant in town, yet it has it's problems: It is overpriced, if you are not french you don't feel much welcomed, and a sense of arrogance was in the air when I visited it last time (or better try to visit: We came a bit early before opening at 6.30pm, and were told to come back later).
Yet, if it has to be french cuisine, this place is the hot spot for this type of restaurant. Well decorated, it is a nice place to have dinner. The menu contains the usual suspects, from duck liver to lamb with rosemary, but of good quality. 


5. Muzaic Restaurant
This place is a little bit different: It is not fine dining, but something so special that it has to be on this list. They serve outstanding salmon laap, pumkin curry and many other Lao and Asian dishes. It's interior shows that someone cares about it, although it is simple and basic. Its just some special place. For lunch, go to Lao Kitchen, serving Lao food on a higher level.

Manthathoulath street. Open daily for dinner

Those didn't made it to the list:
Le Signature at Ansara Hotel is totally overrated. We always got a terrible service for a place in this category of fine-dining, the menu is boring and the prices are too high. La Scala has quite a nice interior, but service sucks and the menu isn't something special. Yet, the lunch buffet is a pretty good deal.
Makphet is a place where you should eat because they employ street kids. I rather like to eat at a place where they serve good food.
Lao Garden is a very solid place to go, and should be number 6 on this list. Le Opera had it's good times, but the menu is the usual italian dishes, nothing special and for this too expensive. In case you are looking for a good well priced steak, go to Veena Cafe opposite the City Inn Hotel. Avoid the restaurants of the big hotels like Mercure, Green Park, Lao Plaza and Don Chan Palace. Benoni is more Cafe than restaurant, but has a decent and reasonable prices selection of dishes. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Help aka money needed for the Animal Rescue Center Laos

So the good news is we found a place for the Animal Rescue Center Laos, a beautiful piece of land, large enough to take also the horses in, with a new small house, a lake and a lot of space to set up kennels.

What is needed now, is money. We need donations to pay the rent, to buy construction material and food for the animals. We can't pay that just by ourself (we are just 4 people anyway right now and pay a lot already). We NEED you.

Please use our donation boxes at
Dr. Khamdengs Vet Clinic, 
Lao Garden Restaurant, 
Suite 21 bar and
Diethelm Travel (Nam Phou Square).

 Or use bank transfer

Bank Name: Banque Franco Lao Ltd. (BFL)
Account number: 00106962110101
Account holders name: Animal Rescue Center Laos Sole Ltd.

Or Paypal through our website

Or just contact me and you can handover money to me. We are also looking for construction material donations, like fence, poles, electric cable...

Friday, January 4, 2013

South-East-Asia a perfect place for start-ups

Jon Russell, much admired writer about tech stuff in Asia, wrote a piece on TheNextWeb about how South-East-Asia is a good place for start-ups.

Some quotes:
(...) Let’s not be simplistic, Southeast Asia is a hugely complicated market thanks to its diversity. Language, culture and ethnicity vary across the region, even if you just assess the biggest countries. Yet, a new wave of successful startups have shown that employing a regional mindset from day one can reap big rewards.

(...) Irrespective of big company involvement, Internet access rates and regional thinking, Southeast Asia’s startup scene has grown at a fast clip, and that’s certain to continue on in 2013, regardless of any other factors. One big reason behind that is the grow in opportunities.
(...) Much as I despise the word, ‘startup hubs’ have emerged across Asia. Bangkok, for example, now boasts at least three top co-working spaces (from around zero a year ago), while TNW regularly hears from startups in thriving communities in places such as Vietnam, Cambodia and other off-beat areas. 

Unfortunately, Laos isn't playing any role in it, and that's not Jon's fault. The country still lacks inspired and passionate people, in particular in the tech business. Although it offers at least some key features: Young workforce, two campuses to study IT, cheap office space in houses, affordable internet connection. And for Lao citizens it is quite easy to set up a business and keep taxes low. But JICA is still failing with it's incubator concept at NUOL, and meetups like the Google Developer Group have quite low response. It may take more time for Laos to keep up with neighbors, but it needs to hurry. I haven't seen much progress here in the last two years.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Metal Destruction II Concert at Mark Two

I case you are not a big fan of traditional Lao music or you just want to take a break from it after all the New Year parties in your neighbourhood, this event might give you a different perspective of the Lao music scene.

Relatively unknown to foreigners (and even many Lao people), there is a quite active and vibrant Metal scene in Vientiane. Wind West Pub was famous for Dark Metal concerts, and it seems that Mark Two (right behind the Mercure hotel) is the new place to go for some the friends of the Prince of Darkness.

So here is the event information

Saturday January 12th, 1pm (yes early afternoon)

At Mark Two Pub

For more info and reserve the ticket call: 020 23040 666

Band List:
 1. Sapanakith (Laos)
2. Dictator (Laos)
3. Killerz Virginal (Laos)
4. Carnivora ( Thailand)
5. Hereafter ( Malaysia)
6. Killing Fields (Thailand)
7. Psychotrain (Thailand)

Ticket Price: 65,000kip+1 beer (at door) 55.000kip for pre-order+beer+poster

To get an idea what to expect, here some videos:
Carnivora (Thailand)

Hereafter (Malaysia)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lao workforce not in private companies

So the 2011 census is there and, it is quite interesting: In a country that is, following World Bank and other reports, booming and growing fast,  "only 174,000 people or 4.33 percent of the total population within the working age group of 15 to 64, work for private companies" according to a Report by the local newspaper Vientiane Times.

So that means all this new businesses aren't creating jobs?

But it comes even better: 1.4 million people, or 35 percent of the working population, are self employed. That means they sell noodle soup, run a 4x4m grocery shop, work as handy man. Not much income from that, and of course they don't have any social insurance at all.

But it's not the end: 1.1 million people or 28.57 percent of the working age population work for their own families without payment, 218,342 or 5.42 percent are home makers, and 558,905 people or 13.87 percent are students.

Ok, let's do the math: 28.57 percent at home, plus 35 self-employed in mainly very low paid jobs, 13.87 percent students without a job, 6.8 work for state agencies. More than 70 percent of the work force. And don't even think calling Laos a paradise for entrepreneurs - the self-employed are mainly quite poor people with very low profit (if any) in what they sell. 

I wonder how a country can develop with nobody working in the private sector?