What is communications technology like in Thailand?

by Laurie

I am going to be backpacking through Thailand for a month and a half on my own (to my mothers dismay). I would like to carry some means of communication/entertainment with me. I'm a graphic designer/web designer and originally considered carrying my (expensive) laptop and working while I travel but decided that I didn't want to attract any unnecessary attention myself, so I am opting out of that. BUT being the technology junky that I am, what do you suggest bringing instead? Is there enough wifi there to communicate? Will I not have the time, because I'm having to much fun?

iPad? iPod? Laptop? Netbook? None of the above?

Answer: Laurie, Thailand is one of the best-connected places in the world so you'll have no problems logging on anywhere. I think I've only failed to get a signal in the very remotest parts of the country and even there... I have traveled with a laptop and a Blackberry, although iPhones are now popular.

There is plenty of WIFI in Thailand as this directory shows. There are plenty of others - just Google 'Thailand WIFI hotspots' and you'll see how common they are. This list of hotels with WIFI might also be useful, as could this list of Internet cafes.

The other thing you should bear in mind is that comparatively speaking, Thailand is quite safe and crime is low. Of course you won't want to be parading your brand new iPad in front of everyone (Thais OR foreigners) but I lived in Bangkok for two years and used my laptop in coffee shops all over the place with no adventures to recount. If I had to take an expensive laptop, I might opt for a stick on which to put my documents, and Internet cafes along the way...

So don't worry about technology - worry instead about what you plan to do on your trip and what tools you'll need to do it, in comfort.

Have a wonderful trip!

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What is the best kind of transportation to get around Brazil?

by K.C.

Hi! I just read the post on Goa... that's awesome! I can totally relate to your feelings of fear! This is why i decided to take some time for myself and go to Brazil. I have family in Brasilia, which is where I'll be spending most of my time, however I really want to visit other cities. I believe you've been to Brazil, how would you suggest I travel to get the most out of my experience? Thanks so much!!

Answer: Brazil is such a wonderful country I barely know where to begin. And yes, I've been several times, once for several months, or long enough to begin learning Portuguese.

There are wonderful places to visit in Brazil, and many of them aren't where you'd think. While Rio may be a must-see, for me the beaches of the North are far more beautiful. As far as I'm concerned, the Pantanal (the wildlife-filled wetlands of the center) and the Amazon rainforest are two wonders of the natural world, not to be missed. But there's hardly a corner of this immense country that isn't worth visiting...

As far as I'm concerned, there are three main ways to travel across Brazil.

If you have limited time, fly. As far as I know both Varig and TAM offer them, and they're a great deal if you plan on visiting several cities over a week or two. You have to buy them outside the country, so make your decision before getting to Brazil.

If you have more time but are traveling on a budget, the Brazilian bus system is excellent and they go everywhere. Some buses are crowded and rickety but you'll find plenty of comfy overnighters and really low prices. Beware of the distances though - Brazil is huge and you don't want to spend your entire trip on the road.

Possibly my favorite method of transport in Brazil is by riverboat, which I used to sail pretty far up the Amazon. There are touristy-type boats but the ones I used were local transport ferrying people and goods up and down the river. We slept in hammocks strung across the bridge - an adventure in itself.

Don't forget to come back and share some of your travels with us when you come back!

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How feasible is hitch-hiking across Australia?

I want to set myself a challenge and wanted to know (honestly) if you think it's feasible... I want to hitchhike by myself around Australia! I think it'll be challenging...but fanastic! But that may be me being my foolish self :) Any thoughts?

Answer:

I can't tell you specifically about hitchhiking in Australia but generally... it's not the safest way to travel but a lot of women do it (more than you'd think) and emerge unscathed. Once in awhile you do hear a horror story - kidnap, rape, murder, but you don't hear about safe arrivals, friendships made and wonderful travel experiences. I personally prefer not to hitchhike, but I have done it when I've absolutely needed to. I've had mild trouble once (the driver was drunk and I didn't know it before getting in) but managed to get out before damage was done, courtesy of an alert police car. Other than that I've been fine. Others haven't been as fortunate.

If you do decide to go ahead, make sure that you at least put luck on your side by observing some basic safety advice: never hitchhike at night; never get into a car with a man alone or worse, a group of men; stick to single women or families with children; don't hesitate to change your mind if you don't like the look of the car once it stops...

Have a look at my page on female hitchhikers for additional tips and some good web resources for female hitchhikers and stories of women who have stuck their thumbs out and loved it - and others who would never do it again. Stay safe!

Comments for How feasible is hitch-hiking across Australia?

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Aug 24, 2010
Hitchhiking gives me the willies
by: gwen@algarveexperiences.com

Hiya

I have to admit that the thought of anyone hitchhiking gives me the willies. But I know that a lot of people use that mode of travel and have a wonderful time.

I'm a Canadian who has spent some time in Australia. Not sure where home is for you, but keep in mind that the distances in Oz, like Canada, can be mind-boggling. And much of that land is uninhabited and extremely hostile due to heat, lack of water, poisonous snakes & spiders and challenging terrain. To be totally honest, I think it would take a skilled veteran hiker & naturalist to be able to truly get around Australia on their thumb.

Now, is you mean exploring the East and South coasts your job won't be quite a challenging, but there are still vast stretches of largely vacant land between major centres even in those much more populated areas.

So you might want to consider a combination of hitchhiking and getting a ticket on one of the 'traveler' buses they have that take you to out-of-the-way places on a hop on and off basis.

Whatever you do, plan, plan, plan this type of trip. It can be extremely exciting ...and it can kill you just as easily. Remember, the Australian landscape has more poisonous snakes and spiders than anywhere else in the world. If you aren't from there, who knows what you'll find on the side of an isolated road, besides killer heat & sun!!

Like the other commentor said, make certain you practice safe hitch-hiking. To that, I'd ask how good your camping/outdoor survival/wild outdoors skills are.

Sure hope you let us know what you decide ...and how your trip turns out.

Aug 25, 2010
Don't even think about hitchhiking!
by: Anonymous

I'm an Australian and i would not even consider it as there have been many misfortunes that happened that way to Australians and to non-Australians. Hitch a ride with fellow backpackers who have a car.

Aug 25, 2010
Addition to original post on hitchhiking around Australia
by: Anonymous

Well basically, you have to know me as a person to understand what I'm on about... but in short sometime in the near future I plan on travelling around Australia (I live in Sydney) by myself. In all honesty I will probably end up hitching a ride somewhere along the way as, being 18 and having not much money, I assume I'll get to the point where I wont have a choice!! So I don't really have a question in particular, but do you have any essential pointers (aside from trying to persuade me not to go!!). I want to try and "break down the walls" that surround my life, by not being attached or defined by things in my life like my job, school or attend etc... I just want to learn about my country and people!

Aug 25, 2010
Options to hitchhiking in Australia?
by: Leyla Giray

My 'answer' at the start of this post stands... but since you're asking for pointers I would suggest that you can discover your country and its people cheaply in many ways. Hitchhiking is indeed an option, although in my opinion not the best one. If you want to save money, as Gwen suggests do a bit of research and find travel companions who are driving from one place to the next. At least you'll get a chance to vet your co-travelers first. You can also save money by couchsurfing (visit couchsurfing.com) in people's homes along the way. And if the money really becomes tight, there's also the odd job to pick up along the way just to pay for a bus ride. I would never try to discourage any woman from traveling solo, but I would definitely caution you, especially as this sounds like your first major trip, to be careful and think of your safety as well as your adventure.

Aug 26, 2010
You have options
by: Wilna Wilkinson

When reading your question and then the well-thought out answers to you, I could not help but smile and think -- this is not the advice she asked for! I also thought to myself: I will not write an answer to her, because mine would be the same.

Australia is simply not a place for anyone -- no matter the age or gender or experience, to hitch hike -- for all the very founded reasons already given and many more. In fact, even in a vehicle on your own would not be a good idea.

And then you added to your original post"I want to try and "break down the walls" that surround my life, by not being attached or defined by things in my life like my job, school or attend etc..."

The moment I saw that, it confirmed what I had decided for myself your motivation probably was.

If this is your reason for wanting to start this mammoth undertaking, then Australia is not the place for you. You will be battling with the heat, the dangers, the risks -- so busy surviving that you will have no time or energy to break down any walls. Every person who will pick you up will be giving you a lecture of why yu should not be on your own -- in fact, if ever you are going to be defined by your job, your school, your age, your gender, it will be on a hitch-hiking trip through your own country!

My strong suggestion and speaking from the experience of someone who has been exactly where you are now, is that you borrow the money for a cheap ticket to Spain and that you go walk the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago de Compostella. Walking this pilgrimage route -- on your own -- will be the best thing you will ever done in your life. You will find the answers you are looking for -- and many you did not even know you had. You will break down the walls in your life and discover the real you. You will find that on the way you are never defined by anything other than you, yourself. Nowhere will you ever be allowed to be just exactly who you are like on the Camino. And although you will be on your own, there will be other fellow pilgrims -- meaning people who are there exactly for the same reasons, -- who understand why you are there without having to ask, who will listen when you need to talk and be silent when you feel you want to be alone. And don't worry about it being a 'pilgrimage' -- it was a pilgrim's route to Finisterre -- 'the end of the earth' -- thousands of years ago -- long before religions were even thought of. It is a spiritual experience -- an 850 kilometre meditation.

Jan 05, 2011
Hitchhiking in Australia
by: Dianne Sharma Winter

Hello there! I felt moved to make this post, having been a hitchhiker for many years across NZ. PLEASE DO NOT HITCHHIKE IN AUSTRALIA.

I really do not believe that it is safe, based on stories I have heard and the vast distances between places...A better option is to log onto a site like Gumtree where you will find heaps of backpackers looking for rides and people willing to share rides. This gives you an opportunity to check out the people before you commit to the ride!

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Do I need a driver's licence abroad?

by Manouk Uytdehaag
(Holland)

I've just turned 18 and have finished secondary school. Instead of going to a university, I'd love to go and see something of the world. I was so glad to find the existence of your site, mainly cause I just don't know where to start!(have not evenly decided where to go!)

I wonder if it is wise to get my driving license within the 3 months before departure? I don't have much money saved and I guess that 1/4 of my savings would then go to my license. Is it easy/essential to have one abroad?

Thank you in advance!!

Answer: This will be short and sweet - you do NOT need your driver's licence abroad. Even if you did have it, at 18 you'd be hard-pressed to find a car rental company who would rent you a car. Most require you to be 25 or over, or certainly in your twenties. So no, there is absolutely no need to have one if you want to travel overseas.

Some people do use drivers' licences as identification, especially if it has a photo, so just make sure you have two pieces of valid identification with your photograph. One would of course be your passport, but the second could be a credit card (some of them have photographs) or a medical insurance card, for example. Beyond that, though, enjoy your trip and worry about your driver's test when you come home.

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Speaking English in Costa Rica during volunteer travel?

by Rosana G.
(Wixom, MI, USA)

Hello, I really like your site. A lot of good information! I am going to be doing some volunteering work in Brasilito, Costa Rica and I would like to find some people from the USA to be able to talk in English. Do you recommend any site that is good?

Answer: I'm not sure I understand your question - so I'll give you two answers. If you're looking to practice English, I would recommend mylanguageexchange.com - you can find plenty of English-speakers with whom to practice.

If what you're looking for are English-speakers at your destination in Costa Rica, I suggest you check out some of the Costa Rican-based resources online, like Transitions Abroad, or place a classified ad in one of the many Costa Rican online or newspaper ad services. Hope this helps!

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Do you have tips on traveling in countries where you do not speak the language?

by Freya
(Canada)

Argentina cafe society, even if you don't speak Spanish

Argentina cafe society, even if you don't speak Spanish

I'm sure you get this question all the time, but do you have tips on traveling to countries where you do not speak the language? I'm a young first time solo traveler, and one of the points that makes me the most nervous is not being able to communicate well with local people, especially if I need help/directions or get lonely. I will be traveling to Costa Rica, Argentina, France, Czech Republic and Norway. Do you have any country specific info that might be useful?

Answer:

You're right, Freya, it's a common question - and rightly so, since most people do not speak the languages of the countries they're visiting!

First, a few general tips. I'd try to learn a few common phrases, just the basics - where is, how do you say, please, excuse me, thank you, how much does it cost... that sort of thing. If you're challenged by languages, and many people are, I'd suggest a good phrase book or two.

Lets see. Costa Rica and Argentina are both Spanish-speaking, although you'll find more English speakers in Costa Rica since there are so many travelers from North America. France - is France. Don't expect much English because you won't find it outside a very few places, such as major tourist attractions in Paris or Provence. Even there... Norway shouldn't actually be a problem because many Scandinavians speak excellent English, and most speak at least a bit. I spent some time there and never had a problem being understood. As for the Czech Republic, German and English as a second language are common but if you're headed to the rural areas, a phrase book might be helpful. Bottom line: English is the second language in many countries, so finding someone who speaks English and can help you out is never impossible.

If you're in desperate need of English-language companionship, here's where I'd head: a youth or backpackers' hostel (it usually takes about 5 minutes to meet someone in the lobby), an American church, a student center or university campus, an English-language bookstore, McDonalds, or any place mentioned in popular guidebooks like Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. All the countries you mentioned will also have an American Women's Club or a British Council office (you'll find these easily on the web - but these should be your last resort).

Another option might be for you to prepare some encounters beforehand. Even if you don't stay with anyone, couchsurfing or similar hospitality groups have plenty of members who want nothing more than to meet English-speaking travelers from other parts of the world for a few hours.

There are also some fantastic expat blogs with forums where you can post questions before you go and make a few friends. I'd try Expat Forum, Expat Blog, or Expat Exchange.

Here are a few country-specific links that could be useful - after you've looked at the official government and commercial travel sites, of course. For the Czech Republic, try getting in touch with Dean and Martina at My Prague Sights. In Costa Rica, Doug at Travel Costa Rica Online might be able to help with recommendations. If I were headed to Argentina, I'd browse through Argentina's Travel Guide and, if you're headed there, there's Living in Patagonia. In Norway, there's Best Norwegian for the coastline. Finally, in France, the Anglo Info portal is filled with useful information.

Still need more? Then go to Twitter.com and try finding the members and tweets for #argentina #costarica #prague and so on. Bon voyage!

Photo credit: Tran's World Production via Flickr CC

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What are the best language translation gadgets on the market?

I would like to be able to speak in English, and have this translated into most other languages, where ever I am. I would also like the response to be translated back to me into English.

Answer:

I've never used one of these on the road but I've met backpackers who swear by them and wouldn't leave home without one. Your question is making me think: should I get one too?

It's worth a thought. I can't make brand recommendations but I trawled the web a bit and came up with the following criteria - at least these are the things I would look for:
- languages supported
- the number of words and phrases it stores
- whether it 'talks' or not (a mixed blessing)
- size and weight
- size and type of display
- size of keyboard (make sure you can at least type with it!)
- conversions available: metric, currency etc
- price (range from $30 to well over $200)

So you're not lacking for choice.

The easiest way to find reviews is to search for reviews. What seems to provide good results is 'handheld translators reviews'. Or you can try one of the popular review sites, like Epinions.com.

If you do come up with a great choice, please come back and tell us which one, and why!


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Nov 23, 2009
Great idea!
by: Scribetrotter

I always thought they were too expensive but they sound affordable. In simple languages a phrasebook is often enough but I can imagine that in languages that are more complicated it would be great to have one of these, especially one that speaks out loud!

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Learning Hindi

I will be travelling to Kolkata, India in a few months and was wondering if there was a website somewhere that looked at ways of learning languages while you are travelling. While my interest is in a short course in Hindi, it would also be interesting to know if there was some kind of resource for that information in general as well.

Answer: It's wonderful that you plan to learn a bit of the language before going. I wouldn't do it any other way I travel. When I went to the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, I was fortunate enough to have the time to spend six months in Brazil before the meeting and used that time to become fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. Right now, I'm learning German and have been for several months because I live near the Swiss border and also have a lot of friends. I'm also going to Bangladesh with a group of Germans so I thought it would be great to be able to speak their language.

But I digress. I suggest you read and use the resources you'll find on the page entitled How to learn a language, which I wrote with people like you and I in mind. If instead you'd rather learn the language once you're there, you'll be wanting to study a language abroad.

This of course in no way replaces learning a language but I received the following question from a reader: What are the best language translation gadgets on the market? I didn't think much of those in the beginning but I'm now becoming converted to their use. They don't replace language but they certainly do help if you're just trying to get around and don't speak a word of the language.

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