Friday, March 7, 2014

Thailand Trip Report. Planning.

This won't be my most interesting post ever.  It will help someone who is planning their trip to Thailand.  I hope my friends just skim this, because it gets pretty nitty gritty and dull.  

I feel like Thailand isn’t one of those places you can just “wing it” when you land.  But maybe that’s because I’m a neurotic over-planner.  Not sure.  I read one million Tripadvisor forum posts* and reviews and did enjoy knowing answers to lots of my questions beforehand such as:

How should I take care of my cash situation over there? ATM.  My bank allowed a withdrawl of 20k baht at one time, about $615 USD.  I’m paranoid about overseas ATM transactions, because I’ve been stuck overseas with my ATM card not working a few years back for no apparent reason, but I’m going to assume from now on, that was a fluke and will never happen again.  Contact your bank, let them know where you’re going and you’ll be fine.  We took some cash just in case ($300) but never needed to convert it.  

We did have a duplicate ATM withdrawl occur, which we found out when we went to withdraw some cash and there wasn't enough money in there. I called the bank from Thailand and had them run through the list of transactions, and eventually matched them up with my ATM receipts and was able to identify the duplicate charge.  There wasn’t much to do about it while I was there, so I went to the bank the day after I got home and they reversed the charge the day after that.

ATM in front of our guest house in Phuket.  I don't blame it personally for the fraudulent behavior, but this is where it happened.  

I had opened a separate account just for our vacation and mom and I put our money into it so that we wouldn’t worry about our main checking account.  I would definitely do that again.  Look into what your bank offers regarding foreign transaction fees because the account we opened reversed all our ATM fees.  Nice!

Are the mosquitoes crazy?  Am I going to be one big weepy mosquito bite and end up with dengue fever?  I read somewhere that if you take Vitamin B weeks before you go, the mosquitos won’t bite you.  I religiously took that B vitamin for 6 weeks before the trip.  I don’t know if it helped or not, but I did not get bitten like I thought I would.  That could also be the heavy duty DEET repellant mom brought which we applied whenever we were going to be eating outside for dinner or going somewhere we thought might be mosquito-ey.  
Evening near water = DEET it up

The bites I did get were the kind that swelled up immediately in a big ole welt and then disappeared down to nothing within the hour.  Mom’s were more red and long lasting though.  Neither of us got dengue. Bring a few lightweight cotton scarves to cover your shoulders and neck if you end up at a mosquito ridden place. Okay, enough about mosquitos.  Bring repellant. 

Can I use my phone in Thailand? You need to buy a SIM card in Thailand.  My Samsung Galaxy phone didn’t have a removable SIM card so that phone could not be used.  Zack's Windows phone did.  I called Sprint and had them check to make sure the phone was unlocked.  It wasn’t.  They unlocked it.  I had to shut it off, then enter some code.  Zack showed me where the SIM card was on the phone; he didn’t show me how to take it out, or maybe he did, but I wish I would have paid attention.  You should know how to take the SIM card out of your phone before you get there. 

When I landed in Bangkok I went to the first phone kiosk that we came across at the airport. He worked on the phone for awhile, 10 minutes at least, then said the SIM card wasn't working and to go try another place.  I got frustrated and said, never mind – I don’t know how to work this stupid phone and huffed off to our next flight to Phuket.  Went to the first kiosk in Phuket and the girl got it to work right away.  I thought for sure she was scamming me, that I’d turn the corner and the stupid phone would just implode, so I asked her to show me it worked, to call herself on her cell phone.  And she did.  And it worked.

That's the code you enter in to find out your baht balance.  And there's a little sticker inside so you can tape your home SIM card so you don't lose it.  That's important!

From then on, whenever I was running low on baht, I would run in to 7-11 or Family mart and tell them I needed to top off my SIM card.  And then I’d turn off my phone and take off the back and hand it to them,  they’d take out the SIM card, look at it, enter some code and off I’d go.  Mikey told me later that if you know who your provider is, you tell them that, then how much you want to add to the SIM card, they give you the code and you enter it.  So, obviously they could tell I was a bumbling tourist and took pity on me.

Pick up some great flavored chips while you're getting your SIM card topped off.  

If your phone has GPS and you’ve got a map installed on it, be very happy and use it.  I have no idea how much baht it used or if we were just using baht when I was making calls, but we didn’t spend more than $20 on the SIM card and we weren’t skimpy with using the phone.  

Next Post: Germs in Thailand.

*search for JBR on Tripadvisor.  Took a while for me to figure that out but it stands for Just Back Report.  

1 comment:

Rachel said...

very interesting! thanks for giving us "details"