Technology

Bangkok: Arrival and Tech Hunting

Talk about procrastination and distraction! My trip was a year ago and I am only now getting to finalizing my drafts. Phew! I promised others I would post about my trip so I apologize for the delay.

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My passport page with Thailand entry stamp dated January 17, 2014

Thai Money Token Tickets

I traveled over 8,000 miles and saw two sunrises during my flights to Bangkok.

Two Sunsets

My layover in Hong Kong didn’t show much of the city since it was so foggy, but the airport was pretty snazzy and were plenty of English speaking staff on hand to help. Upon takeoff, the terrain around me looked just like a Chinese landscape painting – the clouds were caught in tall, pointed peaks , and even though it was overcast, the view was fantastic. I travelled to Bangkok in Rolls Royce style courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

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Rolls Royce airplane engine.

 

When I landed, it was early evening. I was met at the airport and it’s a good thing, as I would have been lost. Due to the Shutdown Bangkok movement, roads were closed so cabs couldn’t take us to our hotel. I hit the money exchange, we figured out the BTS Sky Train, and took it as close as we could to our hotel. The BTS is clean and announces every stop in English, so it was very easy to use.

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I easily humped my awesome Zuca luggage with me all way to the hotel over roads, uneven sidewalks, curbs, stairs, and potholes. Luckily the temperature was nice. In fact, the weather was mild and cool my the entire stay and there was no rain to spoil any plans; it was perfect.

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The view from my room at the Courtyard by Marriott, Bangkok.

On my first full day in Bangkok, we visited two areas I was eager to see: Pahurat textile market (AKA Little India) and Pantip Plaza.

Paharut

We took a cab to Paharut because I really wanted to experience Little India and was on a quest to find an affordable saree. Fabrics, clothing and fashion are not really an interest of mine, but it was nonetheless amazing to view all the colours and patterns available. Had I been staying longer, I could have anything I wanted tailor made for a reasonable price. There were many beautiful sarees, but the hunt was on for something ready made and simple. I am now the proud owner of a purple saree that I cannot wrap. Yeah, yeah it’s easy and ready made, but I’m still challenged with it. Maybe I just can’t pull off this much purple. At any rate I need a safety pin to keep the pallu in place before I can go out in it.

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I am now the proud owner of a purple saree.

Pantip Plaza

My next destination was Pantip Plaza, 5 stories of computers, components, games, camera, mobiles, accessories, and other tech! We successfully took a cab, all the while being weaved around by surrounding tuk tuks, mopeds, other aggressive taxis, and protesters. The traffic was wild and the driver even gave us a few scares, but it works in Bangkok, as I never saw any of the near misses make contact.

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Protesters blocked the road and we were at a standstill in the taxi for about 45 minutes.

Now this was the kind of mall I could learn to love! I eagerly dove into the mild chaos looking for bargains and interesting gadgets. The selection was phenomenal, the prices were reasonable, and my companion Steph was able to bargain every vendor down even further with her amazing skills. I saw keyboards with Thai overlay, a suction cup sort of joystick for the ipad, and tons of parts, wires, and accessories for about anything I could want.

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Pantip Plaza is a mall with 5 stories of tech!

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IT City was the single largest store in Pantip Plaza, taking up the entire 5th floor.

I purchased a 6 foot long lightning cord, a stylus, and a blue tooth keyboard that turns my tablet into a little notebook for 900 baht (about 30 CAD). What a deal! In fact, I used that very keyboard to write about all my adventures in South East Asia.

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Asiatique

I wanted to visit one of the famed Bangkok night markets and the concierge recommended the new night market, Asiatique. We took the sky train to Saphan Taksin station, then walked to the piers on the Chao Phraya river.

Asiatique

We took a ferry boat ride down the river to the night market where the scene was much more relaxing and than the other shopping experiences we’d had. There were no pushy vendors, just shopkeepers. Upon approach, the river reflected the lights of high rise hotels, restaurants, and a well lit, 60 meter high Ferris wheel over looking the waterfront. After we disembarked, the river side was full of artisan items, jewelry, restaurants, bars, souvenirs, and was family friendly. Every thing was festive and decked out in white lights. It actually reminded me a lot of being at Downtown Disney. We didn’t stay too late since we had to fly the next day, but I’m glad we experienced it or we would have missed the river and some of the spectacle.

There was a gentleman manning a high end jewelry shop and since Thailand is famous for star sapphires, I was browsing. The store was out of my price range, but he was very friendly and told me how to easily repair a the catch on a pair of my earrings.

Blog Tech

I used the app Easy Writer to write this blog while on the road using my iPad. The app is clean and has a simple interface, with additional options you can bring up with a single gesture. So far it’s been just the right amount of word processing that I need. I used the free lite version, but the paid version has options for font manipulation such as bolding and highlighting and lets you create a PDF or email your document directly from the app. I took all photos for this post with my iPhone 5s. Please forgive my limited point and click experience.

 

Stay tuned for more posts about my trip.

Tribe collecting score: 6

  • Gadgets
  • Tech
  • Travel
  • Questing
  • Adventure
  • Blogging
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Minimalist Tech Travel Part Two: The Best Carry-on Complement

I took a minimalist approach for my travel adventure in February. My goal was to bring only one carry on bag AND pack all essentials for a two-week trip to Southeast Asia. Thus I embarked on a quest to find some awesome gear so I could carry everything I needed with me in the airplane cabin. I also wanted my tech items easily accessible to keep me occupied on the long plane rides. Read about my first investment here: Zuca carry-on. My second investment was the Scottevest Chloe Glow Hoodie.

Chloe Glow Hoodie in Ember

Chloe pocket illustration. Photos from Scottevest and Think Geek

This cool X-Ray image from Think Geek, where I got mine in “Ember” red, shows all the pockets with items inside. The item was on for a great sale and has become an important stable in my wardrobe. I knew the hoodie would not be perfect for the warm weather I am going to be in, but knew also that I would get more regular use out of it than I would a travel vest, for example. The hoodie was perfect for the plane, since I tended to get chilly. In fact, I used the Chloe daily all winter and spring after I got it instead of a carrying a purse. It has 13 pockets with suggestions as for what each pocket could be used for. Here’s what I packed in the Chloe for the plane and I didn’t even use every pocket:

  1. passport
  2. boarding tickets
  3. mobile phone
  4. ear buds
  5. glasses
  6. chapstick
  7. wet naps
  8. kashi bars
  9. keys
  10. cash
  11. ID
  12. credit cards
  13. pill box
  14. pen
  15. stylus
  16. paperback book

More features

The hoodie has dedicated pockets for a camera, extra memory cards, a small tablet, and glasses with an attached chamois cloth. There’s a system in place to run your ear buds into the hood so there are no dangling wires.  The best thing about the hoodie is I don’t feel like I have all of that in my pockets; I don’t look bulky and it fits comfortably. The hood zips all the way up so I can cover my face if I need to catch some Zs in the airport. Going through security was a breeze – I just put my hoodie into a bin and my carry on the conveyor. I also felt secure carrying all my important documents with me because most of the pockets are inside the clothing, so it’s less likely that someone can pickpocket you. I was in Thailand during a political upheaval so making sure my passport was safe was very important in case I needed to prove my citizenship to my consulate.

Scottevest Obsession

After I decided on the Chloe, but before I purchased, I checked out the Scottevest site. They have really cool stuff and I wanted everything! SeV has clothes with enough pockets for all the things I need to carry with me so of course this quest cued a Scottevest obsession that has since seen me purchase 2 more items (Molly [17  pockets!] & Trench). My enthusiasm has rubbed off on my friends who love the items as well. Scottevest is part of my zombie apocalypse plan – I won’t need to fill my pockets with tech, but they will suit just as well for various smaller accouterments needed for survival. Tribe collecting score: 3

  • Gadgets
  • Travel
  • Questing

Minimalist Tech Travel Part 1: The Perfect Carry On Bag

I took a minimalist approach for my travel adventure in February. My goal was to bring only one carry on bag, packing the essentials for a two-week trip to Southeast Asia. Thus I embarked on a quest (I’m always on a quest!) to find the perfect carry on bag. That in turn led me on a side quest to find some awesome gear so I could carry all my tech with me in my pockets.

After a ton of research I settled on the Zuca Pro Travel. This thing is so cool! I got my awesome bag with a black frame and a dark purple liner bag making it even more epic. It’s basically an aluminum alloy frame with a liner of your choice that creates the ultimate overhead carry on. The frame holds up to 300 pounds so you can use it as a seat. It’s very lightweight and also comes with a matching cover that takes care of zipper pulls so you can check it in if you want.

Mine came with 5 mesh pouches of different depths that stack inside of the bag, which opens high school locker style in the front. The pouches are colour coded so it will be easy to live out of my suitcase. If I leave everything in its place, then I  can be sure I haven’t left anything behind when I see all five pouches repacked. I couldn’t wait to use it, so I packed a bit early. Here’s what I packed for the two-week trip.

Clothing:

I tried to make most of the clothing match each other so I could get a good combination of outfits with fewer items. I got about 13 combinations, not counting the little sweater and the clothes I’ll be wearing on the plane. Everything is pretty much wrinkle free and quick dry fabrics. The yoga pants and tank top will do double duty as pajamas.

Bottom pouch

Pouch #1 Bottom pouch:
1 tank top – grey
5 underpants
1 pantyhose
2 pairs of socks

Pouch #2

Pouch #2
1 small cardigan – dark pink
1 dress – black/white pattern
1 sleeveless collared shirt – black
2 pairs of shoes (sandals and flats)

Pouch #3

Pouch #3
Ponte, yoga type pants – black
Cargo pants – army green
1 blouse sleeveless top – green pattern
1 short-sleeved blouse – dark pink pattern
1 hat extra bra

Pouch #4 (no image) Hair brush, cosmetics, sunglasses, earplugs, toothbrush, deodorant.

Pouch #5 I did not use and had room for souvenirs.

Liquids and Gels bag on the top.

Here it is all packed up.

Here it is all packed up.

It has pockets everywhere – I counted 8 on the outside alone and there is also an organization system in the locker door and a mesh hammock on the ceiling. The other items I packed in the pockets, etc:

  • a fabric bag suitable for check in on the way back
  • tablet
  • dual USB portable charger
  • 2 magazines
  • charging cords

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This bag stood up to the abuse of long walking detours along uneven pavement (blame the Shut Down Bangkok protests and riots), was my seating in long lineups in airports, and fit in the overhead for all of my flights. I even had a security check and knew exactly which pouch to locate. The official said he’d never had a faster check.

It’s been several months since my trip and I’ve since taken it to three more countries. I absolutely love this bag.

Tribe collecting score: 3

  • Gadgets
  • Travel
  • Questing