I ordered, paid for a case via ShopCrackBerry. The site is supposedly the place for all BlackBerry mobiles and accessories. The cost of the “custom BlackBerry Passport skin case” didn’t bother me, though the USPS courier (US$47.95) did.
Priority Mail Express International, that’s what its called, and despite the hefty price-tag, I decided to burden the cost as I wanted the case to arrive in Thailand as swiftly as possible. I figured the only problem faced would be delays on the Thai Customs.
But then again, ShopCrackBerry tells me after days after the failure for timely delivery, that the stipulated time was merely an estimate. I’m expected to be patient, despite the delays and that horrid thought of not knowing what else I (they) could do. So what now? I’m left at the mercy of a foreign courier system that seems to take forever to reach Bangkok and curious why after paying so much that the package is still in the US. So how long will it be in the US?
And I’m not happy with ShopCrackBerry either, after all its my first time ordering online from them and the obvious delay is causing me to be edgy, and terrible anxious.
- Keep on pushing ShopCrackBerry for answers, namely what’s happening with the delivery and when will it safely reach the destination.
- Avoid using USPS.
- Just maybe, this will be my first and last time that I shop via ShopCrackBerry. After all its, not worth the headache.
The state of public transportation in Bangkok is often tarnished by the unavoidable presence of drivers who either would take a passenger to where its convenient for the person steering the vehicle or when the taxi meter is not used. Welcome to the troubling state of affairs of not only Bangkok but other cities in SouthEast Asia.
What started in Malaysia, has spawned to other countries in the region, as their enterprise model cleverly supplements the urban transportation industry, a synergy of internet, gadgetry and travel.
During a “Meet and Greet Wei Zhu” event in Bangkok, GrabTaxi’s chief technology officer outlined the fundamentals of the growing company, which relies on their app to efficiently link passengers with their taxis.
Wei Zhu gives an impression of safety, of travel monitoring via the app, and that one is able to get around without the hassle of negotiating with the driver to use the meter. GrabTaxi takes pride in their selling points of “Speed, Safety and Certainty“.
Though its obvious while user-friendly technology and effective supervision makes the service attractive, there are no guarantees that you may not end up with a moody driver who may just make your trip unbearable. However the plus point on the service, since the taxi is registered with GrabTaxi, is that lodging a complaint would be easier.
There’s also the 25-baht booking fee, on top of the metered fare, that one has to pay the moment you reach your destination. I don’t mind, depending on how far I go, transportation (when using the meter) via taxi is usually affordable, unless one gets caught in Bangkok’s notorious traffic.
The GrabTaxi app on my BlackBerry Passport looks amazing, compared to a tight, poorly aligned visual when one uses the BB Q10 or of a lesser OS. Its available in BlackBerry World, a free download. I recommend this app for those travelling in Bangkok and especially in Malaysia.
If you’re planning to travel in the city, check it out, download and then use it.
For months, I’ve been toying with the BBM Channels, which one can access via the BlackBerry Messenger. Its not half bad, the ease of uploading images and writing (e.g. add post) whatever comes to mind, well with a 400-character limit. A micro-blog of some sort, its actually quite fun.
I created a “Thailand” channel with photos of my travel, news and opinions.
All you need is a BBM app in your smartphone, and you’re off into another realm. I don’t see this replacing Twitter, nor would I categorize this as in the same league with it. With my BB Passport and the wide screen, the interaction, data input/output gives it a different but enjoyable experience.
I travel often to Thailand, and depend a lot on my BlackBerry for internet and communication. In the land of smiles and armed with my BB Bold 9790, I have tried the local telcos, for prepaid BB packages from Dtac, AIS and True. While as in Malaysia, I’ve tried TuneTalk, Maxis, Digi and Celcom. Huge difference to the pricing of the packages and the service.
Let’s start (click on the images) with…
I’m inclined to stick with Celcom at this rate, solely for the internet volume and naturally the features. TuneTalk is great when it comes to customer service (though at times they get confusing via call), though most of the time with far better responses than Celcom.
I’m never going back to TrueMove. Quite a horrid experience, since 2011. I recommend AIS, and if you’re a foreigner in Thailand, best to speak to a customer service officer who understands English, patient and professional. I have no problems with their service whether in the AIS stores and the call centre. Problem with Thailand: BB is unpopular and dead.
AIS, along with other Thai telcos, offer expensive BB prepaid packages. There are questionable moments of whether Thailand’s 3G coverage is actually working or simply an illusion. Don’t hold your breath.
As for Malaysia telcos, the main problem is the lack of efficiency in their customer service. Many personnel do not seem to have the right training in managing the customer, or maybe its the “tidak apa” (loosely translated, “Hey Mister, I don’t give a shit”) behaviour of those answering the calls and those manning the booths/stores. Epic fail on Malaysian courtesy.
The weekend, an off day for me, yet I managed to allow a friend to drag me across town. Our destination, the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok. There was a computer fair, which was quite crowded. I tried in vain to avoid the multitude, and found myself facing a few women behind the table, diligently working their fingers on cellphones and even laptops. Screen protectors, affordable and custom-made. Showed my BlackBerry Passport, and inquired whether she could do one for me. She smiled, and said the magical words:
“80 baht ka”
Okay, that’s done with. I’m happy with the quality, as I can’t depend on Bangkok for official BB accessories, particularly for my Passport. As for ordering it online, why pay for somewhat similar product at cut-throat rate (US$14.95)? Beats me.
Sunday, hellishly humid and blisteringly hot. Bangkok. I’m in one of those random moods to explore places, away from anything that looks and feels elaborate in structure and decoration. The feet, thighs and lower back set in motion, and I’m off. Bangkok holds much for a traveller, particularly when one is away from the main roads and shopping malls. Life, as in many cities, begins in the older districts, where tourists would not venture, where the middle-class are conveniently absent.
Elderly Thai man walks slowly to the roadside, in search for discarded wealth, at least to him. Bottles, recycled goods, a source of income for him, and many others like him, who wander the old streets in search for something to sell, to trade, in exchange for baht. Survival, in this city, is challenging for those without a stable income. High cost of living, in particular, the rent of a small flat or a hut in the slum. You’re expected to pay, whether to the landlord, gang or corrupted official, to stay, to live on the space we call land.
I see a decline of what’s left of empathy among the middle-class population of the metropolis. Aye, people seems to be quick to offer the coin, or two, to the street beggars. But that’s just about it, about the act of giving, a confinement of empathy. Passing loose change to the vagabond, the disabled homeless person in Bangkok is habitual in nature, almost an instinct to reach into the pocket to offer unused coins. Behaviours are still the same, as we walk by the bowing beggar, and within a heartbeat, we forget their faces and their existence.
Just over a year ago, I bought a Blackberry Q10 in Bangkok. By then Thai-urban appetite for BB plunged, them preferring the comforts of Androids – freedom of limitless apps, fashionable designs, bigger hardware and interface, and touch-screen convenience are among the many reasons for the abandonment of the security of device. Fashion over encryption, style over the no-nonsense of BB.
In August, my Q10 fell, due to an unfortunate, terrible encounter. The small portion of the screen shattered, almost hair-line, though just enough to prevent me from reading anything on the screen. Repairs, aaah the problems started from that word.
It has served me well, in three countries, during the course of my travel and work. Though the thought of its history left me deeply annoyed. Calls, emails, and DMs, tried them all to inquire about repairs. No such luck, as by then Bangkok moved away from BB’s influence. What about @BlackBerryHelp on Twitter? Forget it, sent several DMs, asking for location of a BB service centre in Malaysia, and all I got was evasive replies that left me fuming. So much for a progressive BB-service via Twitter.
Went to MBK, Fortune IT Mall, Terminal 21 then wandered into well-visited IT shopping havens, and the not-so-popular ones too. Nothing. The irritation of dependence, I guess; when I am completely at loss with the usage of other brands, and unable to shake off the BB10 obsession. The technician at the 4th flood in the Fortune IT Mall wasn’t much help, and the appearance of my BB left him appearing puzzled at perhaps an obsolete model. The so-called BB Centre at T21 was merely a lone cut-throat salesman trying to rid of his remaining stocks of Z10s and fake 500-baht battery. Aye, its within his business nature to attempt at ripping off a “tourist”.
OK, fine, so I adapt, somewhat. A second-hand Blackberry 9790 at a small stall in Rama 3 Central. Reminded me of a phone I once owned, a BB 9780, minus the touch-screen. Negotiating is an art in the countries I’ve visited, and my skills are less than proficient in Bangkok. So I called a friend, who managed to bargain from 3200 baht to about 2800 baht. Clone battery, a charging cable, a generic earplugs and hell yeah, the second-hand BB was mine. A wink, a hug and coffee was all I gave my friend, for her wondrous ability to tolerate my impatience.
I upgraded the OS to 7.1, and to my horror the BBM was without the BBM Channels and the Stickers. I could do without the Stickers (emotions), personally not my kind-of-thing to replace stickers with words, however I do have several micro-blogs in BBM Channels.
Not a good start with the 9790, and even now I am at loss of how the system prevents me from deleting the defective BBM and reinstalling the latest version applicable to my OS. Oh well, I’m already making notes of pricing for second-hand Q10s, when I return to Malaysia… unless BB Passport is released, hopefully soon; then I won’t be bursting my budget for the year.
Battery drain on the 9790 is incredible, so I uninstalled whatever apps I didn’t need. Encryption of device and memory card, wonderful. Emails via BB, fabulous and reliable. Local data plan for Blackberry Internet Service (BIS), costly though that’s within the budget.
Second-hand BBs (Bold versions) are quite good actually. Reboot the device, and you’re back in action – that is if you’re not fussy with a second-hand bruised model. As a traveller cum relief worker, I depend on sturdy phones, for report-writing, secured email environment, drafting blog-posts/articles and tweeting. I am bias, the Qwerty keyboard allows me to type quickly. Addition to incredible apps for recreational use or to keep one occupied in the loneliest moments, aha not for me.
Anyway, despite the BB hype years back in Bangkok, the reality is Blackberry is dead and buried in this city and most of the other neighbouring provinces, though still in usage by most people I know in the conflict-torn south of Thailand. BB is somewhat in subdued demand in Malaysia, while still holding strong, for now, in Indonesia. Oh hell, its practically useless in Cambodia, at least that’s what some locals tell me, preferring the Samsung or iPhone, or some suspicious-looking China-by-product of copy-and-paste R&D.
I think in this day and age of modernization, we move away from safety, preferring the comforts of apps, or half-baked security gibberish. Being a minimalist, I look for other aspects of life for nourishment, definitely not on social and “self-development” apps. The BB is useful for work, for my travels, allowing me that reliable tool to facilitate the adventure. For the moment, I’ll stick with the 9790, and will, as usual, try to push the device beyond its capacity and originality.
Its always good to be back in Penang, even though the times spent is usually on a cocktail of work and pleasure. Relaxation, no matter how brief, is something of a rarity nowadays for me. The cold weather, with the whipping sea wind and gloomy sky promised moments of rain. Nature didn’t disappoint me, as Penang was covered by the kisses of the storm. Magnificent, really.
Outreach, that dreaded word that armchair activists glued to their computer screens and urban Starbuck-sipping social workers dread. Outreach is all about being mobile, providing services to marginalized communities outside of the office and into the realms where support does not exist or injustice runs wild. I’ve done outreach work, since the beginning of 1990 and grown quite accustomed to moving about; supported by random, flickering emotions.
I’ve been focusing on work, and the northern communities living in semi-isolation, whether in small forgotten towns, a track of land devoted to bananas and papayas, or in the chicken farms and fishing villages. Out-of-school young people continue to be marginalized by their urban peers and adults who demand that the “mischievous youths” bow in obedience to the so-called societal norms. With the little funding I have secured, the work takes me to the states of Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Kelantan and hopefully Terengganu.
The break, merely one day, gave me some time to wander alone on the seashore, contemplating on the approaching storm and warding from the overbearing thoughts of work. I quite enjoy the times I spent roaming in Penang, with the local tasty cuisine, the old architectures and the narrow roads leading practically nowhere.
Indeed, what a marvellous day to unwind and consume the sights.
We swing, most often with relish, from euphoric intensity, then to the other, to immortality of emotions; self-emptiness, shreds of self.
Ramadan, during the month, Muslims engage in the ritualistic obligation of fasting; the deprivation of cycles, the consumption of limitation, of modest portions and outwardly respectable behaviours. Not an easy task for many, if one is conscious of the glares and the mock looks of disgust from other Malaysian Muslims. Society’s obsession with trying to subdue others into similar paths of emotional repression, to share in the growling hunger, the throat-constricting thirsts, usually reaches epic proportions; the every bit of anxiety that exposes one from the norm, that almost sadistic delight that those who cannot, would not, shall not fast are still expected to submit to the might of superficiality.
Despite the ridicule, the boasts, the attempt at religious lecture and the peculiar looks some would surely give me during the particular holy month, I care not, to be blunt; as if their world evolves around my personal space, my faith and my responsibility, and as if I care to indulge in the whims and fancies of attention-seekers. I have always found their intention, the great holier-than-thou behaviour, coupled with talks of racial supremacy over the lesser race, to be offensive, and would not hesitate to match foul words to lessen their interest in me.
There’s a high degree of immaturity, of expectations from both society and religious pressure groups. One is expected to blend into conformity, during Ramadan, to display a mockery of solidarity, when in reality there is none. Diversity of free-will, of common sense and identity works against the institutional wheel that moves, and at times crushes the resistance of those who are different. One conforms, simply for appearance sake, or fearing the ostracization that comes your way when actions and thoughts differ from acceptable norms. Of which, these people fast for societal acceptance and in accordance to their character flaws.
For as long as I can remember, people begin their fast with prayers, then off to the work place and expecting the world to stop just because they are restricting themselves from food, drink and seductive thoughts. Then after hours of the absence, they indulge in the Malaysian art of buying food that can, for a couple of days, feed some poor or homeless family. Abandoned food, are kept in containers and left forgotten, or simply thrown into the trash bin, where at times the beggars would search for scraps.
Ramadan, brings about memories of seeing waste, the loss of consumption and the gluttony of senses. I dislike the waste, having experienced hunger and poverty in my late teens; and homelessness thereafter. I dislike the culture, this period when society feast; with large and sumptuous meals, sinking their teeth into tender meat, and the tongue tasting the savoury delights of fine desserts and gulping, almost greedily, the sweet, cold beverages.
During these times, I offer prayers, most importantly the private devotions. Not for world peace, nor for the good name of a country or to a dysfunctional race and supreme individual. My devotions are partly focused on the demise of society’s common sense; the absence of humanity when groups are at this rich embroidery of food, and their part-worship to fill their bellies with waste, and allow their hive-mind to shroud in loss. In fact, I look forward to the start of Ramadan, away from the egocentric masses, I find with the presence of loved ones, the rare tranquillity of self.