Mobile Tech, Ko Phi Phi, and Phuket Part 4

Continued from Mobile Tech, Ko Phi Phi, and Phuket Part 3

Travel sites and Phuket

I'm all for doing your research on a travel web site such as TripAdvisor or WikiTravel before pushing through with a trip. However, travel sites are only as dependable as the site's contributors. The people who frequent the travel forums and fill out those comment boxes are generally "travelers" (emphasis on quotation marks) who went on their trip with preconceived notions and often unrealistic expectations that may or may not have been met. Culture, country of origin, biases, and their objectives for visiting a place all vary and affect how they view hotels, people, food, language, and cost. It's incredibly easy to complain about a place where you're not familiar with the language, the economy, or the culture.

My mom had a bad experience in Bangkok and has held a negative overall opinion of Thailand since, though I know people who love the country's mixed cultural heritage and Asian flavor. When a German writes "Didn't like Phuket" or "the hotel staff was unfriendly" in, that's his or her opinion and don't let it control your own decisions. Travel sites are great and mostly helpful but they aren't even close to 50% accurate - you'll find out the truth when you actually get there.

There are thousands of better beaches in the Caribbean or Europe than those found in Phuket so know why you're going there - the excellent Thai food, the Thai ladies or she-men, just to chill out, shopping, Muay Thai, or you live in Asia and it's a short and affordable hop away. If you're going there because you have the money to do it, don't go visiting Trip Advisor and posting exaggerated complaints about old hotels, unimpressive accommodations, uninspired activities and tours, or the language barrier. A country is not defined by its tourist spots.

During my trip (emphasis on "my"), Phuket actually felt more expensive than the capital Bangkok because everything about the place is aimed at tourists. Very few meals, services, and goods ever went below 100 baht (though you can get bottled water for 7 baht at a convenience store away from Patong). I also found the people in the tourist industry, from the tuk-tuk drivers to the salespersons, were hard-working and focused on making ends meet like everyone else in the world. I hope people keep that in mind when they encounter a nasty saleslady or a clever shyster during their trip. In general, Phuket and its visitors were a great reminder how an economic ecosystem actually works.

Tiger Kingdom and Windows 8

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Acer and Lenovo computers used for the kiosk, displays, and by the staff at Tiger Kingdom ran Windows 8 (the lady behind the counter was probably wondering why I was taking snaps of her workstation). The Windows 8 PCs were at desktop mode by default and competently allowed visitors to check the picture CDs (created using ACDSee Pro) purchased at the tiger park. Now that's the way to do it if you use Windows in your business! I hope the IT administrators update to the excellent Windows 8.1 soon though. I was almost tempted to leave a message for them via regedit (which wasn't user locked).


Like most hotels in Phuket, the customer service staff at Tiger Kingdom provides a slip of paper for wireless access if you're suffering from Internet withdrawal while your kids are having their photos taken with the tigers.

Micro-SD card adapters and Beats headphones

While buying bottled water at a nearby 711, a couple from India asked me if a 711 micro-SD card with SD card adapter set would work with their digital camera (I can't seem to get away from tech questions even in Thailand). I answered that it should work but I didn't have time to tell him that I don't recommend it - micro-SD card adapters are generally unreliable when used with a digital camera. Moreover, the speed class of the micro-SD will hobble write performance if he uses it in conjunction with an adapter on his digital camera.

The non-branded and even branded micro-SD card adapters are actually designed for desktops, laptops, and printers. The gentleman was actually better off buying a full-size SD card from Jungceylon (the nearby mall) or from even one of the gadget vendors dotting Patong beach. Although you'll probably be charged more than what you would expect for a Kingston or Sandisk, buying an SD card is better than settling for an adapter and micro-SD bought from 711.

In my haste to get to the airport, I actually left behind my cheap Creative headset and my backup Sony headphones before flying to Phuket. However, I was at no point tempted to buy any of the affordable Beats headphones available all over Patong and Phuket. Although they're more likely China-made knockoffs, they will work and you will see foreigners walking around wearing Dr. Dre's popular music accessory (the earphones/headphones are dirt cheap so don't blame them). Still, I had no intention of listening to podcasts or learning Mandarin/Spanish while sitting in a sun lounge anyway - the waves provide a great soundtrack on their own.

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