Nastavljamo u istom tonu.
Laos and Thailand
Continuing from the previous blog post, I exited Vietnam with my 250$ motorbike and entered Laos. Laos is one of the less developed countries; at least in the technological sense, when it comes to biodiversity it is very developed and seeing signs “Our province is proud to have tigers!” kept me warm inside, hoping another bike breakdown won’t happen (I had more than 10 breakdowns but luckily never at a too remote area or at night). Laos has only two Bitcoin locations marked on coinmap.org and I visited both.
The first location was Utopia bar and restaurant in Luang Prabang. It’s a great place and after quite some time I could eat western food (after days and days of Lao soup). However, people who worked there haven’t even heard of Bitcoin. Maybe at some point they were accepting Bitcoin payments but didn’t have enough volume so didn’t educate the staff about it. In general, I found that the majority of places that are marked on coinmap actually don’t accept BTC once you get there. So these locations should be revised and inactive ones removed. What was nice though was that there was a charity library near by where I got to play chess with a Buddhist monk.
Soon after leaving Luang Prabang I had an accident in the mountains in the rain. Someone mentioned bad karma regarding eating that snake in Vietnam…well, seems I didn’t have to wait for the next life.
After some more driving, and developing serious butt problems by that time, I reached Vang Vieng, the most touristy place in Laos. There was Pan’s lodge, and as expected, they actually haven’t heard of Bitcoin either! (at least the guy who worked there). So as far as I know, there is not a single place in Laos that deals in Bitcoin. I think the potential is huge though, because even though the country is relatively poor there is a large number of people who have relatives working abroad. If someone finds time to tap into that remittance market, and find a way to keep authorities at bay, it could be very fruitful.
Eventually, I entered Cambodia and drove straight through the eastern part of the country towards Saigon (HCMC), Vietnam. In that part there were no Bitcoin locations marked, actually most of that region has no electricity so it’s not too surprising. Roads were so bad I was cought up driving well into the night, with a spark plug cable loose so every now and then the moto would shut down, and there’d be often a gang of angry dogs near by. When I’d turn on the mobile phone light, there’d be a huge number of insects instantly there that looked like flying centipedes and passing trucks raising massive clouds of dust. Probably the worst day of the trip. I didn’t have time to visit the capitol Phnom Penh, and coin cafe there. I then entered Vietnam, and after a few days in Saigon took a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. (I will get back to Saigon and write more in detail about the situation there, hopefully install a BTM as well).
Bangkok was a different story. A huge, bustling city, with a strong middle class, it has a number of Bitcoin locations. Though most actually don’t accept Bitcoin once you get there, some did. “Eat me” restaurant and bar is one location, very nicely decorated, great menu and live music. The most interesting place was Kido 2, cafe and bar. It is something like a Clockwork orange Bitcoin temple. Look at the pictures and you will understand. It is also the location of Thailand’s only BTM (2-way). We are working on installing a second 2-way BTM in Thailand.
Coming up next: India and getting India’s first BTM to Mumbai.