Archive for March, 2012

Falling Occupancy Levels on Samui Island

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Occupancy levels for hotels on Samui Island were release today (27th March, 2012). They showed that for the first time in many years occupancy levels have fallen below 40%. This is according to Vorasit Pongkumpunt, the vice-president, of a chain hotels on the holiday island in the Gulf of Thailand. The figure may be in slight dispute, but what is not in dispute is that many hotels and resorts are offering huge discounts often enticing people to stay by offering a free night’s accommodation if they book one night (effectively reducing rates by 50%).

Overall, prices for hotel rooms in Koh Samui have dropped by 15%. Worst effected are small and medium-sized business. Indeed the most expensive hotels have seen an increase in tourist numbers by 16%.

Koh Samui is Thailand’s third biggest island. It was discovered by backpackers in the 1970s and has flourished ever since. It is an island full of white sand beaches, towering palm trees and beautiful natural environment. When an airport was built on the island in 1989. This gave a massive fillip to the tourist industry on the island and many beaches saw the construction of many new resorts. Room numbers have increased quickly through the years. At present there are over 17,000 rooms for rent on Koh Samui, and more are planned. The breaking point has been reached. Tourist numbers visiting the island can no longer keep up with the new construction.

There is a lesson to be learnt from Koh Samui. It is often the case that in developing countries like Thailand regulations are relaxed to help boost the economy. Unfortunately, this slack given is often detrimental to business in the long run. Opening a new resort seems like a way to guarantee a successful business. What many people fail to see is that over development makes a place look ugly. It also removes the exclusive cache of a destination. Regulations are needed to protect nature, preserve the beauty of the location and to make sure that a once beautiful stretch of sand doesn’t turn into one long piece of concrete.

The surplus of rooms has lead to a price war in Koh Samui that hurts all medium and small resorts. It is only a matter of time before the high-end tourists also start looking somewhere else for their holidays.

Accessing the BBC Iplayer by Proxy

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

For Expats and travellers across the globe, the internet was something that could help keep you in touch with home.  When companies like the BBC, ITV in the UK and Hulu, ABC and Pandora in  the US started putting most of their media content online it got even better.  However as many have discovered it’s not quite that simple to watch BBC Iplayer whilst sitting in a hotel room in Sydney or watch a baseball game online whilst in Europe.

The difficulty is that most of these companies have blocked access to their content except to their own countries.  Which is fine if you really would rather watch everything via your computer but pretty pointless for the rest of us.  This is an example of what you’re likely to see – a nice polite warning saying you can’t watch this show on BBC Iplayer in Spain, for example.


Fortunately it’s actually quite easy to bypass if you know what’s going on.

BBC IPlayer Via Proxy

The reason you are blocked is down to your IP address, all these websites the BBC included check your location using this.  They then decide what you can or can’t see, on the BBC site for instance a NON-UK Ip address would block you from most of the Iplayer content.  Exactly the same thing happens on all the US media sites, in fact just about every big National broadcaster in the world does the same.

Fortunately it’s not that hard to solve this issue – you just need to hide your real IP address.  To do this you can just use a proxy server, this is a server you can connect to which will then hide your real location. If  the server is based in the UK then you will look like a UK web surfer for instance.  So you just connect to a UK proxy and you’ll be able to access BBC Iplayer by proxy.

If you want to see a video demonstration of this happening using a real BBC Iplayer proxy then you can find one at this site –



Better Wine Gift Baskets

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

When you’re looking for better wine gift baskets, things can get pretty complicated can’t they?

There is so much marketing going on, that it is hard, if not impossible, to tune all of it out to find something which is going to really work for both your budget and for the person receiving the gift.

So what’s news worth about wine and wine gift baskets? The state of New York is trying to dramatically cut down consumer choices.  Funny, I thought living in 2012 that state governments knew that consumers were sophisticated enough to make good decisions about their own buying habits.

I guess getting the state of New York to mind its own business when it comes to wine shipments is asking too much!