----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: Chiang Mai: The Simple Life

Friday, January 05, 2007

Chiang Mai: The Simple Life

Nothing is simple any more. Jellybean says that all the time. Everything has become complicated. While cell phones and cheap long distance is nice, they are a lot more hassle than when you took the simple black phone that AT&T rented to you and were grateful to get it.

You can't just buy anything anymore. Now you must research the product and company on-line, to make sure you are getting the best product for your needs at a good price. This used to involve twently minutes in the library reading Consumer Reports, and then only for major purchases like dishwashers.

Now it's hours on-line to check out everything. The cheapest blank DVDs for backing up your photos. Find the best deal on pots and pans, or paper towels. Check out twenty destinations and ten hotels in each one before that long weekend away.

Backpacking used to be different. Of course the backpacker wanted the best deal. But by definition, there were only so many deals a backpacker could make in any given time period. These deals were: accommodation, food, drink, transportation, tours, and book exchanges. There literally was nothing else.

Now we have become flashpackers, not backpackers. In addition to the above, we now have to choose the best communications deal instead of being grateful to have any communication options at all. E-mail or phone? Which internet shop? Or do we need wi-fi for our laptop? Paid or free? Do we want to get a sim card for our cell phone? If so, which one? If we don't have a phone, are we going to use Skype? Or do it the old-fashioned way from a storefront telephone center?

For backpacker rooms, the choices were: private or shared dormitory style, with or without fan, with or without bathroom, which would have either a hot or cold shower. Soap and towels were never provided. Now there's A/C or no, TV or no, with or without cable, free internet or no, pool or no. I guess all these things were there before, but not in the backpacker budget. Getting them meant spending relatively serious money. Now they are options in many hostels, at least on a shared basis, and the cost differential is considerably less. Not only do backpackers have more money than they used to, but the cost of comfort isn't that much more than the cost of deprivation.

A few things have become simpler. Exchanging books is one. Usually the used book places have set rules on what credit you will get for a book, and the prices for the used books are fixed. Another is taxis. More and more places have metered taxis or fixed rates for standard routes. A taxi from the airport in Chiang Mai is 120 baht. Fixed. No negotiation, no discussion.

No comments: