Rev. Mark Grant in Asia

  Locations of visitors to this page
be notified of website changes? subscribe

Rev. Mark Grant in Asia

The Rev. Mark Grant - like many of us - report back to the Technomad mailing list when we're on the road. This was his 1996 report from Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, and Hong Kong. I keep it because it reflects those early days when a net connection was a novelty when travelling. (A year earlier I wrote about my attempts to stay connected and submit chapters of a book I was writing during a 1995 trip to Eivissa and Gran Canaria.) Enjoy.

Date: Sat, 13 Jul 1996 14:37:49 +0000
From: Rev. Mark Grant
Subject: Technomadism in Asia
To: technomads@UCSD.EDU

Well, here I am in Hong Kong after a month of travel. So far I've been off the Net entirely for about two weeks of that and too busy having fun to email much the rest of the time. Here's a quick report on the Net Cafes I've visited, for those who might need the information in future.

Cyberpub, Bangkok, Thailand

Hmm, so far the best Net Cafe I've visited in terms of Cafe, and the worst in terms of Net. There's plenty of live music, good but slightly expensive food, moderately expensive beer (100 baht, about $4, for Thai Singha beer) and at least in the evening, lots of very cute Thai girls. There are also a bunch of PCs with modems running Windows 95.

The first problem is that unlike the other Net Eateries I've been to they won't let you ftp files to and from a floppy disk. This means that those of us who travel with laptops cannot simply download our incoming mail and upload our outgoing mail with the minimum connect time. So the only option is to log in remotely to your account and try to send email when you have a two or three second delay between typing a key and seeing it on the screen. Privacy is also a problem if you are receiving or sending confidential mail. The screens are high up and face into the pub, so anyone nearby can read your display. The Net connection is quite slow, as you're limited to the speed of the modem (I'm not sure if that's 28.8k or 14.4k). OK for interactive sessions, but slow for ftp.

This wouldn't be so bad, but... in order to use the PCs you have to get a smartcard. This costs 150 baht (about $6) before you actually get any Net time. The computer gives no indication of when your card is running out and you must refill with a minimum of 100 baht (about $4), so if your card runs out in the middle of an email session the PC will just lock up and you have to pay another $4 simply to disconnect. There is an indicator on the smartcard reader, but it seems to be carefully positioned so that it's impossible to read while typing. Connect time at 5 baht per minute (about $12 per hour) is about average.

So if you want a nice pub with live music where you can occasionally log on to check your email, or you can afford a long session at $12 per hour, then it's a good choice - it's certainly the smartest Net Eatery I've visited so far. If you want a cheap way to send and receive email, I'm afraid you'll have to go elsewhere. I'm told there is another place in a record store, but I don't know where that is.

The cyberpub is situated in the Dusit Thani Building on Rama IV Road, next to the Dusit Thani hotel. As you enter the hotel car park, head over to the left of the hotel entrance and you'll see the cyberpub hidden away in a corner. Descend some steps and you're there. The full address is: Cyberpub, Basement Floor, The Dusit Thani Building, Rama IV Rd, Bangkok, 10500, Thailand, and telephone number Bangkok 233-0313. They seem to open around 6pm and close around 2am, often with live music in the evenings. They may also open for lunch. The contact email address is

Boat Quay Net Cafe, Singapore

I'm not sure of the exact address and name of this place as I forgot to take any blurb when I left. It's located at Boat Quay - to find it, follow the Boat Quay signs from the Raffles' Place MRT station, fight your way past everyone trying to drag you into their bars and restaurants, then it's almost at the end on the left. As usual, they have lots of PCs running Windows 95. The computers are hidden away in cupboards under the counter, but they are happy to let you use the floppy drives.

Prices are quite cheap at S$10 (about $8) per hour, and I'm sure that they undercharged me both times I was there. Food and drink prices are quite good for Singapore as well. If your net.friends are online they can even watch you from the video camera on the wall, which can be accessed from their Web site. The net connection is very fast (128k or above, I guess), taking only a few seconds to download my inbox from California.

Future Cafe, Hong Kong

Bangkok has two Net Cafes, Singapore has four, Taipei has four, Hong Kong has none. Well, sort of. There used to be a place here (The Cyber Cafe Club) which was open only on Saturdays and claimed to allow travellers to telnet for free, but the building is now boarded up and covered with For-Sale signs. There is also a Net Mongolian Restaurant (Kublai's on Luang Road in Wanchai), but that's more 'eat Mongolian food and use the Net while you wait' than 'use the Net and eat if you want to'. There's rumored to even be a Net Hairdresser, but no Cafes. The Future Cafe should change that when it opens in a few days.

They saved my life (I'm still trying to arrange to meet my net.friend in Taiwan) by letting me use the computers for three hours for free even though they're not open for business yet. Admittedly they had no telnet or ftp installed at the time, but I was able to use Netscape to read my mail via POP and forward on the messages I'd composed, and the boss gave me a talk on the job situation in the country. The site is large and full of yet more Windows 95 machines, and if their post-launch hospitality is as good as pre-launch, it should have a lot going for it. Oh, currently the machines are all set up in a mixture of Cantonese and English, but they said that would be sorted out when they open.

The Cafe is located at Shop 70, B/F, Home World, Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom, Hong Kong. Tel 23560438, Fax 24982155. They also have a Web page at Unfortunately they are some distance from the nearest MTR station, so the easiest way to get there is to take the Star Ferry to Hung Hom from Central. Then follow the Whampoa signs and pass the Whampoa ship (a very odd structure, a shopping mall and cinema disguised a cruise liner... in the middle of a built-up area). Turn right and follow the signs to Home World (or the 'Internet Zone' if they're still up). In Home World take the escalator to the basement and turn right. From there you'll have to find your own way through the warren of computer stores. Hung Hom seems to be a very Chinese part of town, but most signs are in English as well as Cantonese.

Otherwise I've had no problems travelling with a laptop. No country so far has given me any customs hassles. In China I was supposed to declare it (at least according to the huge pile of forms I was handed on arrival), but when I tried to they simply waved me into the green channel and ignored it. Power supply has also been OK, and I've only needed the single adaptor that I bought before my trip (it has several different sections which plug together to give three different prong shapes and angles). Even being sand-blasted by the wind in Beijing didn't seem to worry it, though it will carry the marks on the exterior forever. Biggest problem is the battery which always runs out partway through a long plane flight. Oh well...


|Reverend Mark Grant M.A., U.L.C.		EMAIL: |
|Approximate Current Location: Kowloon Hotel, Kowloon, Hong Kong	| |-----------------------------------------------------------------------|

Have you found errors nontrivial or marginal, factual, analytical and illogical, arithmetical, temporal, or even typographical? Please let me know; drop me email. Thanks!

What's New?  •  Search this Site  •  Website Map
Travel  •  Burning Man  •  San Francisco
Kilts! Kilts! Kilts!  •  Macintosh  •  Technology  •  CU-SeeMe
This page is copyrighted 1993-2008 by Lila, Isaac, Rose, and Mickey Sattler. All rights reserved.