Our family is almost entirely committed to Apple. It’s a solid, if sometimes tense, marriage. We decided to bring a third (old model )iPhone (with a standard tetchy unpredictable battery) on this trip as an emergency backup to our two phones. Well, only two weeks in and having a third phone has been a revelation. We’re able to put in a local SIM, using it as a roaming hotspot for all our other devices (an apartment we stayed in didn’t have wifi), while still keeping our two Australian numbers active (in case someone at home needs to reach us or a work contact). If it sounds extravagant, it probably is, but let’s get on with the story…..
Fast forward to Day 3 in Bangkok and, sure as eggs, I lost said third phone. It was somewhere on the walk-taxi-skytrain-walk trip to the Children’s Discovery Centre and turning over our apartment mob-style several hours later was fruitless. Lisa was sure I dropped it in the taxi.
I was dejected, as much about my capacity for such a corny Griswaldian bungle with barely a foot out the door (when I’m trying so hard to morph into a capable world traveller) as the lost phone itself. We tried calling it but the local Thai phone plan was for data only. Darn. Sitting on the bed a little light bulb flickered and, for the second time in eight years, I opened the ‘Find my iPhone’ app and, risking an eye-watering roaming bill, I nervously switched on mobile data……. and there on the screen was a little dot showing our phone 9.3 km away. It felt like a modern day miracle.
With the generous help of a local Thai couple (who happened to be hanging in the lobby and had amazing English) and a protracted chat about the merits or otherwise of going straight to the police, I bundled into a taxi clutching my phone with the map and the little dot. They said ‘just ask around when you get there’. Really? My neighbours in Adelaide, as nice as they are, wouldn’t have the foggiest idea whether I was alive or dead let alone whether I’d picked up a stray phone.
Deep in frenetic, suburban Bangkok (and admittedly feeling sick with nerves) I got out of the taxi and walked up to a local middle aged woman standing on the footpath near my virtual dot, said hello in Thai, then muttered something unintelligible and shoved the phone in her face. After some strident yelling, I was surrounded in seconds by the entire extended family (and a bevy of neighbours) of our taxi driver from earlier in the day and had the phone back in my hands. I counted about fourteen people reinforcing the notion of community connectivity and, by our cultural norms, a mind-bending shortness of personal space and privacy. They were beaming, clearly as happy and surprised to see me as I of them. Many clumsy Thai thank yous and wais (bows) later and I was heading back to the apartment, feeling foolish, relieved but mostly grateful for the cascade of fortunate events ….. having a lovely taxi driver, encountering helpful strangers, an iphone battery surviving as long as it did (praise be) and, yes, even Apple itself.