When I joined aboard in September I didn’t bring a personal laptop or cell phone with me. I sort of had the idea that I would be “off the grid” for a little while. It would be a huge change from back home where I never went anywhere without my cell phone and used my computer several times a day. At first it was a nice break to be a little disconnected and not spend so much time staring into a computer screen. But eventually I started to miss having a computer and found myself often searching for an internet café when traveling through different cities so that I could check my email, transportation schedules, travel guides, or get in touch with the rest of the crew, friends, or family. Also, I’ve taken hundreds of pictures and I’m starting to get bogged down with them!
So not too long ago I decided that it was time for me to get a laptop, something that I’d been considering for a long time. I decided to get one before we crossed to Sri Lanka so that I could get some work done while on the long crossing. On December 14th I had one mission: to visit every store selling laptops in Phuket and purchase the best deal! The night before I did research and knew exactly what kind of laptop I wanted and I also looked up where all the major stores and malls were located on the island so I had a rough game plan of where to go. So I woke up early that morning, grabbed a map and my camera, hopped on my rented motorbike, and headed off!
I visited five places across the island. Big C, Festivus, Tesco Lotus Superstore, Super Cheap, and Jungceylon. These were all either stores like Wal-Mart of big indoor shopping malls. At each store I would take pictures of the laptops they had and their prices so I could comparison shop as I went to each place.
Tesco didn’t have any laptops like I was looking for but it did have a really cool food court. There were several stalls each selling a different type of food, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, drinks, soups, etc. Each of the food stalls was run by Tesco and they did not take cash. In order to buy food you had to go to a nearby counter to purchase a card which the food vendors swiped when you bought your meal. My meal cost less than $3 US and was very good!
While I was driving around I saw a sign for an orchid farm so I stopped to check it out. Not much was flowering at the time but the farm was huge!
Super Cheap was probably one of the biggest single stores I have ever been to. It was a massive building with a roof but it was open to the air so there was no air conditioning. It was like a Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Office Max, famer’s market, Sam’s, Costco, food court, fish market, auto store, bakery, and Best Buy combined! It seemed like everything you could want was in there and I wandered around for a long time. There were very low priced shoes but none that were really big enough for me!
The last place I visited was a massive shopping mall called Jungceylon in Patong Beach. Patong is the main tourist area in Phuket and is a pretty big city. Jungceylon is a fancy mall complete with a lagoon/fountain with a pirate ship in the middle! I decided to go ahead and get my laptop here since prices were pretty standard at every store that I went to and it was starting to get late. After I picked out the one I wanted I wandered around the main street area as the store installed Windows 7 for me. It was dark by the time they were finished and I started heading back to the boat. I found that leaving Patong was much harder than following the signs to get there! There weren’t any signs pointing back to the small town where our boat was and I think the locals would tell me one of many ways to get there! I ended up driving around Patong a lot and somehow kept ending up where I started. Eventually I found the right road that took me back up over and the down the mountains (sometimes 40% grade!) and back to the boat after a very long, but successful, day.
I’m very happy with my new laptop. It works great and now I can use it for all sorts of things. Plus, the keyboard has those cool squiggly Thai letters on it!