I write this as my computer charges. (Sorry, no police included in this blog post.) But believe me, it’s taken a lot for me to get to this point. Which is why, I’m drinking a much needed Gin and soda.
It all started when I woke up with good intentions to finally do some school work…like, actually do school work. As you may know, I’m working to finish my masters while I travel. I admit, I have done very little since leaving Canada a week ago. Anyway, I set out with good intentions this morning - that will teach me! I plugged in my computer to charge so I would have no excuse to leave the beach bar where I intended to set up shop for the day.
Just before packing my laptop I checked to see how charged it was. It had not charged at all. I only had 49% power. What was going on? My phone had charged fine. I assumed the hostel had lousy outlets that weren't strong enough to charge my computer. So I went to the local Starbucks – I swear, it was my first time! A Western-chain could be relied upon for its power source, right? Apparently not. No charge. And that’s when the panic started to set in.
I must have killed my computer cord somehow. But how? I had always used a power converter. There was no logical explanation. But with all of my masters research saved on my computer and 2 papers (one being my final research paper) still to write over the next 4 months, I needed my computer. I was also headed to an even more remote island in a few days so I needed to find a new cord ASAP.
So I began to walk…stopping at every shop that sold electronics. Seeing as my cord was manufactured in nearby China, I figured I could find a new one in Thailand... It was soon clear that they only sold travel accessories. The shop owners said I could find one at "Lotus" and pointed up the road. So I kept walking. It couldn’t be that far. Two kilometres later in 35 degrees, I broke down and purchased a fedora adorned with a large yellow satin rose (to be later removed) that would only be cool to wear in Thailand. I also stopped into yet another electronics store. They too did not have the cord but thankfully they knew exactly where Lotus was located. It was in Krabi Town – about 20 kms away...
Given I had no other options at this point, a quick trip to Krabi Town could be chalked up to an adventure. The bus/taxi (the back of a modified pick-up truck with 7 other strangers) cost about $4. A very reasonable price given the growing pit of panic in my stomach. An hour and a half later (stopping at every street corner to pick up more passengers), I arrived at Lotus. It was a mall. "Ok", I thought. "I should be able to find a new cord here." I found my way to the one store selling apple computers and accessories. Out of Stock.
"You’re kidding?" I even asked to buy one of the cords they used with a floor model. They said no. They said I could come back tomorrow. After my long and hot ride there, this was not a good option. After pressing them, they said they could get another cord by 7pm…7 hours later. What would I do in Krabi (a big dirty city) for 7 hours?! Before settling in for the 7 hour wait, I asked if they could plug my cord into one of their computers. Maybe something was wrong with my computer connection? An even worse problem but at least I wouldn't wait for a new cord to realize it was my computer.
Low and behold, the cord worked on their computer. What?! "Let me try on my computer,” I said. After waiting for the longest second, the green indicator light snapped on, mocking me with every blink. The charging lightning bolt appeared. Oh my. I could have kissed the (very perplexed) computer store worker. As I departed on cloud nine, I know he was thinking "Tourists!"
Could it be that both the outlet at my hostel and at the Starbucks were faulty? Who knows, but my cord and my computer worked. Crisis averted. Relieved but annoyed with myself, I picked up a bag of pineapple and a bottle of water and set out for my long journey back to the beach, working computer and cord in hand.
What made this long and apparently completely unnecessary trip totally worth it? Along the way, I met many interesting people. Here's some of the most memorable...
· A couple from Australia who were making a “pit stop” in Thailand after spending Christmas with their family in Denmark. They were on their way to the Tiger Caves in Krabi. They gave me lots of great tips and suggestions for my upcoming trip to Australia. Maybe I'll even bump into them again in Melbourne!
· A lady on her way to Ao Nang for two days of relaxation before heading back to Paris, France. She had just cycled from Bangkok to Krabi – some 750kms. She had never done such a trek and I could tell she was proud. As she should be! She’d once been on a flight from Paris to New York and had it grounded in St. John’s, Newfoundland for 24 hours after losing an engine. This reminded me of 9/11 when dozens of planes were grounded in Newfoundland for about two weeks and the subsequent book that documents the unique people and stories that unfolded called “The Day the World Came to Gander”. I highly recommend this read!
· And last but not least - two Canadians! Both strangers to one another but departed with plans to have dinner together. A young girl from Kingston, Ontario. She was going to Ao Nang from Krabi for some time on the beach. She had awesome long blond hair braided down each side of her head. Her day bag was adorned with the obligatory Canadian flag. The second Canadian was Ken from Vancouver Island. He was in Thailand after travelling from Australia. After he mentioned where he was from I told him that I was studying at Royal Roads University located on the island. Turns out, he was one of the founders of the Emergency and Disaster Management program at RRU. We chatted about the recent earthquake – he wasn’t home for it so I filled him in. Small world.
So here I sit at a beach bar, my computer now fully charged. A bowl of curry finished and my Gin and soda a distant memory. I think it’s time for a massage. I’ll do school work tomorrow.