Where to use bitcoin in Asia

Bitcoin in pocket

Inspired by Alexandra Talty’s excellent The Top 10 Bitcoin Cities in the World piece in Forbes, which looked at cities with the most bitcoin shops and businesses, I looked at doing the same in Asia.

Alexandra’s research showed that the leading 10 locations globally for bitcoin businesses were in Europe and the United States, followed by South America. There was no room in the top 10 for Asia, home to some of the world’s leading financial centres and fastest growing economies.

I used the same tool mentioned in the article, Coinmap, created by SatoshiLabs in the Czech Republic, to display ATMs, cafe, restaurants and other vendors in the form of a heatmap. The results were a little surprising.

The map clearly shows a concentration of services in East Asia, led by Korea, Japan and Taiwan, but bitcoin businesses are also clustered around digital nomad hotspots. Lit up heavily in red are Phuket and Krabi in Thailand, and Bali. Drilling deeper reveals hotels, bars, shops and transport companies, all taking bitcoin.

So yes, the big cities are there, but so are Asia’s holiday hotspots, or those locations traditionally associated with tourism.

It suggests that if you’re a digital nomad, or travelling widely within Asia, you could do worse than carry a few bitcoins in your pocket (virtually of course), which can of course be used irrespective of location.

Bitcoin venues in Asia, generated by Coinmap

However, we might not be seeing the full picture. As Alexandra also pointed out in her article, Coinmap relies on crowdsourcing – so there will almost certainly be gaps in places. There are also regulatory pressures – for example the currency in China.

Wavemaker encourages employees to work abroad

A beach in Bermuda

In a popular LinkedIn post, UK Marketing Director Loren Penney-Thomas described working abroad as the best career decision you’ll make. I believe she’s right.

She explains that her company Wavemaker, a London-based media agency, gives its staff opportunities to work overseas under its Globaltrotters programme:

which gives staff the opportunity to be immersed into another global market for a 2-3 week cultural and learning experience. With destinations such as Lisbon and Singapore, Sydney and Dubai, the beauty is that you don’t know where you’re going to go; it’s the ultimate work roulette for nomadic souls.

Wavemaker announced last month on its Facebook page that eight ‘Wavemakers’ were selected to experience a destination that included Dubai, Sydney, Dusseldorf, Hong Kong, Warsaw, Singapore, Istanbul or London.

It’s a great initiative that more companies should be offering, while 2-3 weeks of course is a mere teaser (it takes years to get to know a culture properly). Also, people should experience an overseas culture and work environment first before fully committing to a long-term overseas assignment, which is fraught with risk.

Working abroad is not only a great career decision – in many cases it’s a great life decision. There is a gargantuan difference between travel to a foreign location on holiday and fully immersing yourself in it (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

I remember visiting places like Malaysia for the first time as a tourist, and while fun and ‘exotic’, unravelling them like an onion took years. But with that came things like deep and meaningful friendships, the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, empathy, experiencing cultural celebrations, and travel to destinations recommended by locals rather than foreigners.

Flight Network names World’s Best Journeys List for 2018

Road trip

As we head into summer (or winter, depending on your hemisphere), we can allow ourselves a respite from the usual to recharge body and soul.

They say that travel broadens the mind, and the most rewarding travel in my experience is through the trips themselves – hiking, biking, road trips, and boat rides, and whatever else that takes your fancy to get from A to B.

It’s one reason why digital nomads do what they do; you can either work from an office, or mix things up a little and do what you have to do while island-hopping across the Andaman.

Of course, some trips are better than others – anti-clockwise on the M25 isn’t the most inspiring journey in the world – which is why the FlightNetwork and more than 500 travel journalists, agencies, bloggers and editors came together to create the World’s Best Journeys list for 2018.

I consider myself a reasonably well-travelled person, but looking at the list of 50 journeys from around the world, I have a lot of catching up to do. Cruise to Alaska, yep – done that, and it’s a hai to the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, but I have only completed bits and pieces from the others listed.

It’s tempting to say these are timeless trips. They are not. The world is changing quickly, and destinations such as Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica and Mont Blanc will not be the same with ice in retreat. Better to travel sooner rather than later – other things in life can wait.

Here are FlightNetwork‘s top 20:

  1. Expedition to Antarctica
  2. Cruise the Galapagos Islands
  3. Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway
  4. Trek to Machu Picchu
  5. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
  6. Drive Iceland’s Ring Road
  7. Cruise to Alaska
  8. Camino de Santiago
  9. Sail the Greek Islands
  10. Drive the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia
  11. Road Trip on Route 66
  12. Fjord Cruise in Norway
  13. Amazon River Cruise
  14. Explore the Italian Countryside
  15. Travel the Silk Road
  16. Drive the Amalfi Coast
  17. French Polynesia Coast
  18. Safari in Kruger National Park
  19. Drive the Great Ocean Road
  20. Hike along Cinque Terre

As for my own favourite journeys, it’s the usual smorgasbord of landscapes and experiences that were more personal than anything.

They included the road trip from Madrid to Almeria when I was a 20 year old student, joining others in drinking red wine as olive groves led to high mountain sierra; driving through the ember-hued Scottish Highlands during twilight having just scaled Ben Nevis; and seeing the jungle-clad Perhentian islands come into view as my buttocks collided repeatedly with the speedboat; among others.

FlightNetwork‘s list of top 50 journeys, that includes galleries and info on how to get to destinations (at the end of the day, FlightNetwork is an online travel agency), can be seen here.