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My Hotel Has Wi-Fi … At Least ‘That’s What She Said”

December 29th, 2011 · Tags:Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

The first time I started a blog about Wi-Fi back in ’03, most people thought it was pretty interesting — especially this new thing called “Wi-Fi.” So, I explored … found a hotspot here and there … shared anecdotes … blah, blah. blah.

My passion continues today — seeking out wireless and mixing in tall tales — but I admit I hear lots of naysaying. “What for? Isn’t Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere now?”

Well, let me tell you, as a service to the readers, we have in fact found a place where the Wi-Fi cup doth not runneth over.

Thailand.

More specifically, Ayutthaya — the ancient capitol … with more monasteries, temples, ancient ruins and Buddhas than you can shake a chopstick at. It’s teeming with tourists, motorcycles, computer manufacturing plants, motorcycles, automobiles plants, more motorcycles … and yet finding reliable wireless Internet here is like finding a chunk of jade, discarded from a statue, in some abandoned gravesite. (Ha … yes … it’s just like that.)

Livin Large In Tuk Tuk

Livin Large In Tuk Tuk

But rest assured Wi-Fi, “I will find you!”

Yes … it took a bit of stalking, but I have found a Wi-Fi treasure. Hidden right under my nose.

But first, let me get this bad taste out of my mouth. My hotel has the dubious distinction of being the very worst Wi-Fi experience of my eight years of searching. (Multiply my frustration by 60 days …) Ha … The T.M. Land Hotel scores lower than places that don’t even have Wi-Fi. How is that? Well … places that don’t have Wi-Fi typically don’t claim to have it. The Land has a big Internet sign out front, and there are more T.M. Land networks that pop up … than you can shake a chopstick at … (There, I have used both chopsticks.)

Yes … all of these different networks pop up for various floors of the hotel … and if you get a little piece of printed paper with the code from the non-English speaking front desk … It is easy to get on this networks for a week … sometimes. However … the hotpots are one step above useless. I assume someone is paying for minimal bandwidth. And between all of my wireless devices, my buddies and the umpteen Japanese who kick the walls all night long in the surrounding rooms … well, we are some bandwidth mongers.

A couple of examples:

I have a new “guilty pleasure” … the drug-laced, organized crime melodrama “Breaking Bad.” Without English-speaking cable here, I can’t get that show. Or much of anything. For the first time ever, I resorted to purchasing a TV series at the iTunes store. No dice! I can leave the connection running all night and if I am lucky, I may land one episode successfully. I NEED me some Breaking Bad, fix, yo!

OK … that’s a bandwidth hog. How about simple e-mails? Yesterday i replied to someone’s e-mail with a simple smiley … you know … just a : and a ). That e-mail took about 30 seconds to process.

Can you believe this?

So … all of that ranting was the dark, dank, dusty burial chamber of my analogy. Here is the jade … or sapphire … or ruby … the hidden treasure.

A block down the busy highway from my hotel there is an Esso gas station. It has a huge half circle driveway out front. I think it must be mandatory that every motorcycle and moped in this portion of Asian pulls through that driveway. If you are on foot, btw, they will run over you in the parking lot. They are focused on the congested, fast moving road they are about to enter. They’re tricky too. Cars here, drive on the left side of the road. Scooters? They drive on both sides, with little rhyme or reason. So, look both ways … twice. I digress …

Tucked in the corner of this huge gas station parking lot is Rabika Coffee. OMG … It is so cute. It is a polished, shiny, modern, well-branded little shop … not much bigger than a food court kiosk … but so well done. There are a few tables … HA! and a tall counter that the baristas can’t even see over … a cool little zen garden with fountains and a big shade tree … I am wondering if Rabika is the “Starbucks” of this part of the world. I saw on their site that there are quite a few.
http://www.rabikacoffee.com/
So … when I am not living large, cruising the town in a three-wheeled tuk tuk … or slip sliding in sludge at The Dirty Gig … I kick back with some green tea and Wi-Fi with my new homeys at Rabika.

Let me tell you ’bout my homeys. There are three very cute Thai women who seemed to be at the place 24/7. Unlike many Thais, they don’t speak a single word of English.  I don’t even know their names, but I can say “hello” and “thank you.”  They do make a mean chai tea frappucino, however. And they quickly realized that I come in to work on the laptop.

OMG2 … The have so adopted me. I sit and type and rant … and they bring me drinks whether I pay or not. Ha! This place is going to make a big tipper out of me yet. I dropped 20 boht in their jar the other day. (Simmer down, that’s about 70 cents, but it sounds pretty fly …)

And we have great conversations. In between making drinks and constant cleaning, they walk around and sing, and call out Thai comments to each other, and I look at them and say, “That’s what she said.” (You know, the ongoing joke from The Office …and now Rabika …)

So, they are giggling and washing windows, and pointing at a motorcycle whizzing by, and I pipe in “That’s what she said.” They laugh.

Then they are laughing, and singing along with a Thai pop song, and bringing me tea and a piece of cheesecake, and I say, “That’s what she said.”

This goes on and on … amusing them almost as much as it does me.

Anywho … Rabika has saved my life. The Wi-Fi is passcode protected, but I have the hookup, yo. So, several mornings, I have walked from my hotel to Rabika to fire off some tweets and e-mails before work … before the coffee shop is even open. The stray dog that guards the place — the one who about bit my caucasian arse the first time I entered the store — now drinks from the fountain peacefully, in total zen, ignoring me as I type in the garden.

At night, the little Wi-Fi garden is dark, but has a great view of the bustling highway, the moped madness … Ha! You can even see the pink neon heart of what I think is a bar/brothel across the highway. I stay on the good side of the road and work, in the dark, after the shop closes at eight.

Well … the other night, I was about to plop down my laptop in my secret garden when I noticed this small, but white, frilly-looking exotic flower on the table (I thought).

Crap! It moved. I looked closer. It was a whitish green, huge, dangerous looking spider. I took a photo of him and thumped him as hard as I could, probably sending him spiraling into the path of a moped, going the wrong way. I wonder how many nights he had been reading my Facebook updates over my shoulder.

i digress …

Rabika has some of the nicest baristas who laugh at your jokes they don’t understand, great drinks and deserts and free, plentiful bandwidth — 6 pings.

Know what I sayin?