Can I live without an iPhone? F*ck No.
Those of you who know me know that I’m unhealthily attached to my iPhone. So I have no idea why I thought I could manage seven months with only an iPod touch, relying on free WiFi.
Well, not everywhere in Bangkok has free WiFi. You have to work to find it. There’s the Green House on Rambutri, which usually has great free WiFi, and right now I’m at Thammasat University, which restricts WiFi for all departments except the law school. (Score!)
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the other night, when a bunch of friends and I ended up missing each other for a dinner. I told my friends I was going to be a bit late but to wait for me. After an insane tuk-tuk ride during which the driver stopped to say hi to his family (!!!), I finally got there, sweaty and sooty and unable to find anyone.
I then ran around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for WiFi, since we mostly communicated by Twitter. Not a chance. No WiFi in the mall or any of the surrounding areas. I knew that night that I had to make a change.
I tried jailbreaking my iPhone. After many hours and many, many attempts, I was finally able to break it using Limera1n.
My ecstasy turned to terror when I realized that, though the phone had been jailbroken successfully, it could not be unlocked. At all. Ever. Until some developer figures out how to unlock it.
It was time to buy a phone.
I ventured to Siam Square for the first time, home to several shopping malls. I loved Siam Paragon, filled with designer shops, though I was a bit underwhelmed by the neighborhood in general.
MBK, a major mall, though, was where it was at. They sell a LOT of iPhones there — many earlier generation iPhones — and they are ALL unlocked. You can use them anywhere in the world. YES.
I found a 3Gs, the same as the current model that I have. And I paid a lot for it. I’m not going to say how much, because I’ll weep, but my upcoming car insurance refund will thankfully more than cover it.
Having a phone has been amazing, and I’ve been as happy as a clam in a casino — not just calling and texting my friends here in Thailand, but also finding out information when I need it. You can’t rely on free WiFi here.
The point of this story? Times have changed. You may not have needed a phone while you were abroad a few years ago, but now, in the age of the Smartphone, you do.
If you want to bring your iPhone abroad, jailbreak and unlock it before you arrive. Have one of your techie friends help you. But even then, you might not be able to unlock it. It depends on the software.
I really wish I had known this before arriving in Thailand. Don’t make the same mistake as me! But if you do, MBK is where to go.