Douwe Osinga's Blog: Black Rebel Whiskey (Grass)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We're back from two weeks in Thailand and Laos. It was excellent as expected; This part of Asia has this perfect mix of tourist friendliness and mild exotic. One thing that was sort of remarkable, however, is how copied the guesthouses in Laos were (and the same thing was noticeable in Cambodia)

What I mean is that for example in Vien Vang, all guesthouses had little platforms for the guests to sit on with cusions and small couches on top of them. Very cozy, but quite unique for Vien Vang. Could be that it is part of the local culture, but more likely is that one guy came up with the concept and it was a success, so everybody copied it. The menus are the same thing; extremely similiar. Banana pancakes everywhere, but no banana poridge (another breakfast item popular with the backpack crowd). There were three places that continuously played Friends reruns on their DVD installation.

So what is this, a very efficient market where innovation spreads really fast or Intellectual Property Theft? I am tempted to go with the first, but it must be frustrating if you are the innovating guy in the backpackers town. All your innovations copied in just no time with people hanging around for only a few days so not much of a chance to build up a loyal customer collection either.

About the title of this post, it is from a Laos menu. At first I though that it was some sort of exotic Whiskey from the Indochina war times, made from jungle grasss. As it turns out, it was just some Asian confusion with Rs and Ls, and it should read Black Label Whiskey and Grass means nothing more than 1 glass of the stuff.