When he’s not cruising the provinces by motorcycle or inviting other foodies to trendy eateries, Chu-Ping Ou has spent much of the past four years toiling in his Ekkamai condo over digital maps.
Fed up with the algorithm feeding people stale listicles on Bangkok’s “must” locations, Chu set out to compete with a massive, personally curated list of places to go and things to eat. And as someone who regularly brings people together for food events, he also baked in some social functions.
“I looked at official travel apps such as TripAdvisor and thought to myself: I think I can do a much better job,” he said.
Earlier this month, Chu’s years on the road documenting the places he thought were special bore fruit with the launch of travel and foodie app Oody, which he hopes will be a definitive resource for tourists and residents alike.
The app, which combines “food” and “odyssey,” aims to provide easy access to information by listing all sorts of restaurants and attractions into the app, eliminating the process of Google searches.
For example, rather than rely on TripAdvisor’s generic and outdated information about Benjakitti Park, its Oody entry links to a video about its new Central Forest Park Virtual Tour.
“It’s boring that TripAdvisor only leads to official websites for their information,” Chu explained. “It’s always better to read an article from someone’s actual experience. This will help travelers understand the place and plan your trip better.”
Chu also wants to list lesser-known attractions and restaurants, things only deep locals would know.
“Each banner has just the right amount of info you need to decide if you want to know more about the particular place or not.” Chu said.
Chu, 40, is no stranger to Thailand’s hidden gems. As the organizer of the Bangkok Foodies & Travelers Meetup, he hosts weekly food tours for its 3,600-plus members.
Those meetups can sometimes point him to places he might have missed or had trouble finding alone. He also combs through Google results, other travel guides, websites, and blog posts for tips.
Oody also includes two social features – OodyMeet arranges hangouts with like-minded peers, whereas OodyKiosk provides a curated selection of travel information for tourists.
Since he began working on it in 2018, Chu has double-checked each restaurant and attraction in person or virtually before compiling them into his one-stop resource. Each entry in the app gives a quick summary of the location.
“I only input locations when I know they are still around,” explains Chu. “For example, the Mahanakorn Skybar recently closed, right? So I would delete the entry off my app.”
Currently, the app lists nearly 1,100 restaurants and attractions in and around Bangkok with more to come as he expands beyond the city this year.
He envisions taking it beyond Thailand, and has already listed several locations in Japan, where he used to live. The Thai-Taiwanese national worked there in the film industry for over four years prior to moving to Thailand to pursue his interests in travel and food.
“I realized that film is not really what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Chu said. “I feel my life is more fulfilling when doing something related to travel and connecting people.”
Oody is out now for iOS with an Android version expected next month.