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The 110cc power plant of South East Asia

Tanutam Thawan

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The 110cc power plant of South East Asia | The Thaiger

Please ensure that you are properly licensed and wear a helmet anytime you hire or ride a motorbike in South East Asia.

Whenever you visit South East Asia one thing becomes immediately apparent – the economies would never survive without the ubiquitous 110cc step-thru motorbikes. Some may have bigger engines, some might have been ‘modified’ and some might have been cared for more than others. But without the ever-present ‘scooters’ it’s doubtful that most of the these economies would survive. Indeed many small businesses are invariably powered with this four-stroke assistance in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and The Philippines.

Where many more developed economies have moved to the ‘family car’ to do the shopping and daily school-runs, the family motorcycle is quite capable of doing some of the same jobs with not just one or two passengers; sometime up to FIVE on one small motorbike, plus the family dog as well. For expats living, or tourists visiting, the sights and sounds (and sometimes the smells) of the swarms of motorbikes can be overwhelming.

In places like Thailand the horns don’t get used very much whilst in Vietnam the symphony or motorbike horns is a constant soundtrack in the country’s biggest cities. And then there are those brave souls that will actually venture onto one of these two-stroke beasties – the expats that want to get into the local groove or the tourists that rent one (in most cases having never ridden a motorbike in their home country).

For most expats and tourists the first tentative steps into motorbike traffic is an onslaught on the senses. Or terrifying, or maybe even exhilarating. And dangerous. Every country has its own motorbike traffic rhythm and you need to get into the swing of the local traffic flow quickly to avoid a nasty and sudden introduction to the road surface. You learn very quickly that tar and human skin don’t mix well – the tar always wins. If you want an analogy I would say the best lesson to learn is to treat the motorbike traffic like a school of fishes. Swim with the fishes and you will do a lot better than trying to drive defensively.

The 110cc power plant of South East Asia | News by The Thaiger

Honda has been the world’s largest manufacturer of the scooter since 1955. Production peaked in 1985 when Honda produced three million motorbikes. That annual figure has dropped dramatically partly, we suspect because most of those 1985 models are still on the roads of South East Asia. The step-thru motorbikes built in Thailand are tough as nails. Really tough. Although they can look quite fancy with the colourful fibreglass fairings, underneath they’re mostly the same. Steel tubing with an almost unbreakable four-stroke engine and, these day, really slick automatic transmissions.

There are some famous examples of people putting these machines to the test – dropping them off buildings, driving them off piers into the sea, running them on cooking oil – most of these bikes are tougher than the Terminator and just as difficult to kill off. I suspect that most of them have never had their oil changed – they just keep going!

And when you consider that a shiny new ‘scooter’ will cost less than US$1200, you have to ask how they can possible produce these magic machines for the price. So if you are brave and want to jump on one of these motorbikes (we’re assuming you’re a newbie) here’s a few tips. Firstly, in most countries you will actually need a motorbike license to ride legally, including Thailand.

Certainly, if you fall off, you’ll end up with a costly hospital bill as your travel or health insurance won’t cover you without a valid license – your International Drivers License for a car may secure your rental but not your insurance. Secondly, go for a test run on a quiet road, if you can find one. Get familiar with the acceleration and braking of your bike. Lastly, enjoy yourself as you ‘swim with the fishes’, wear a helmet every time and consider how much quicker you can get from A to B than all the cars that are stuck in the traffic whilst you drive around them and get to where you’re going.

The 110cc step-thru is going to remain a constant part of the micro-economies of South East Asia for the foreseeable future. Although passenger cars are growing in popularity as the rise of the middle classes demands, the scooters will remain the four-stroke engine of the South East Asia economies for a few more decades yet.

The 110cc power plant of South East Asia | News by The Thaiger

PHOTOS: advetureinyou.com, Peter Tsai Photography



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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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Thai Life

Finance Ministry wants to give 1,500 baht to each domestic traveller

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Finance Ministry wants to give 1,500 baht to each domestic traveller | The Thaiger

The Finance Ministry says they are launching a new stimulus package to boost the country’s domestic tourism by giving Thais 1,500 baht each to spend when they travel to 55 provinces under the promotion campaign.

Under the campaign, Thais aged 18 and over can register for the program. The government will then deposit 1,500 baht into their accounts though the e-payment system. They can use the funds to make e-payments the shops that have joined the project.

“We are collaborating with the Tourism and Sport Ministry and Krung Thai Bank for the campaign and have set a budget of up to 15 billion baht. We will now propose the program to the deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak and the cabinet to consider as soon as possible. We aim to launch the campaign before July this year,” a source from the Finance Ministry said.

The ministry expects up to 10 million Thais to register for the program, he added.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

Bangkok named most popular city for Japanese tourists

Tanutam Thawan

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Bangkok named most popular city for Japanese tourists | The Thaiger

Thai PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha says he was happy after hearing that Bangkok was named the most popular destination for Japanese tourists during their Golden Week, a five-day long holiday which begins in late April.

The survey was conducted by Agoda, the online booking platform. Pattaya and Phuket were also ranked among the most popular destinations at #4 and #10 respectively.

“Japanese tourists are among the top 5 nationalities of foreign tourists visiting Thailand, particularly Bangkok where there are many beautiful attractions, delicious food, not-too-high cost of living, and friendly Thai people. The two countries’s cultures are also quite similar. They can go along quite well,” said a spokesperson for the PM.

Lt Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak, the deputy spokesman of the Thai government, added that the PM loves to follow the updates on the tourism industry. Thai tourists love to escape the summer heat in Thailand, and visit Japan to experience the Japanese spring, visit popular tourist locations, sample authentic Japanese food and the Japanese people. The PM also invited the Thai people to be a good hosts, making all tourists feel welcome and helping keep them safe.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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Bangkok

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling

Bill Barnett

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Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

PHOTOS: Rosewood Bangkok

For hotel owners and managers in South East Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past ten years has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set. Despite soaring and sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economy, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.

Have we reached the tipping point?

I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.

What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.

While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provides a bespoke appeal.

Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101 key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.

So, what about rates?

On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at the MahaNakhon skyscraper.

With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.

As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push up average daily rates. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.

Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?

To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and  smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rates, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | News by The Thaiger

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