You win some, you lose some.
I haven’t had the best luck with my gadgets, gear and gizmos when travelling because I am 1) a klutz 2) careless and 3) selectively coordinated. So I am used to losing one or two during my trips –I even surprise myself when I get back from my adventures and find them in good condition. This year though, since my average number of travels doubled, I also doubled my irresponsibility.
I can’t get over the fact that Laos is in the middle of five countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar) and you’re free to cross every so often, passport and VISA requirements met, of course. You can drive around for hours or days, or book a flight, or just cross the Mekong River on a motorboat –country-hopping in the Greater Mekong Sub-region is always exciting. Unfortunately, there is only one low-cost-carrier flying in and out of Vientiane and that is Air Asia, which has only one destination out and that is Kuala Lumpur. So what we, Lao people, do 🙂 is cross the border to Udon Thani, Thailand, a 1-hour drive from Vientiane, then to Udon Thani International Airport and take the flight to Bangkok or anywhere else; the promo rate is around THB1,700. Not bad!
My friends and I began our journey by crossing the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge around 7PM. After dinner, we checked-in a hotel because our flight was at 7 freakin thirty in the freakin following morning. The girls went out for the night, I stayed behind cos I wasn’t on party mode. I know, hormones. We almost missed our flight but because Eauy Linda (Ate in Filipino) is a scary good driver, she didn’t hesitate to swerve and overtake, swoop and then perfectly curve her way into the parking lot at the airport –we made it just a few minutes before the counters closed. Lucky us, huh? The 50-minute flight to Don Mueang Airport was a breeze. Nok Air is Thai Airways’ LCC, so don’t be surprised when you notice that the color scheme of the aircraft is similar to that of TG.
From the airport, we took a cab to our hotel, The Residence Rajtaevee. It was a rather fabulous family room; two bedrooms, bathroom with tub, a living room, and complete with kitchen amenities (refrigerator, hot pot, microwave, utensils, etc) for THB 1000/day (USD 30). The best thing about this hotel is they got a 7-11 at the corner, then just a few steps, it’s already Pantip Plaza, the electronics capital of Bangkok –then you’re in Platinum Fashion Mall!
Before heading off to the much-awaited Beach trip, we took a detour at Samut Sakhon and visited their Floating Market. Interesting place; you’re on board a motorboat, the driver speeds up when no other boat is around, you stop at the shops where you see something that caught your attention and your wallet. Food and beverages are also available on boats you bump into. From handicrafts to textiles, good finds await your visit.
After another hour, you can just imagine how senses snapped at the sight of the beach. I’ve always loved the beach. It’s beautiful, serene, and relaxing. So we took off and feasted on Thai food along the shores, played around the water, took photos and chilled with beer. It was almost sunset and there were amazing rock formations in the waters and I was like, I am so gonna get a shot of that. So I did. Then it all went downhill from there.
I waded my way toward the humongous rock, I even got cuts on my legs cos the of sharp edges of the rocks and a few slips along the way. I struggled to climb the slippery wonder, and when I was already on top, I did a sweep panorama of the whole place. The sun was glistening over the waters and I felt that it was the best way to end my travel chapter while I’m based in Laos. Being all sentimental, I slowly walked my way back. I was just a few inches away from the shore, when I tripped over a submerged rock and my camera was in my hand. A split second rockbottom, the shutter started acting up like it has been possessed, firing multiple frames in seconds and you cannot even view the photos. It says Err 99: Shooting is not possible. I thought about my career, my pending shoots and my blog. My life was over.
We went back to Bangkok the following noon, everyone was tired and sleepy –I was depressed. Suddenly the waters didn’t attract my fancy anymore. My digital point-and-shoot was just a display, I wasn’t in the mood to take photos. I was really devastated that my partner for almost two years is gone just cos of my utter clumsiness. I know it can be fixed, but it will take some time and it’s going to be pretty expensive that it will be better to buy a new one. Unfortunately, at this point, I can’t afford to get a 5D.
Feeling wretched and down, I wallowed in solitude for the whole night. I wasn’t even up for food and more shopping, I was just looking up the ceiling and thinking what I can do to make this right. I placed my camera on the nightstand, turned the switch on and heard that blood-curdling shutter sound again. Maybe it was because of too much thinking, I fell asleep. I woke up after an hour, and I pushed the display button of my camera. I couldn’t believe my eyes, when I saw my picture of the sunset.
Err 99 aka Mirror Lock is the dark cloud with Canon EOS Cameras. It is believed to be caused by incompatible or filthy lenses, or the camera has already reached the maximum number of exposures. The quick fix for it though is for the 8 golden contact pins to be cleaned with a pencil eraser, and perhaps cleaning the whole camera and the lens; or take out the batteries and CF card and restart it. So the seawater most likely damaged the insides of the camera and that my exposures are almost 7000, that’s why my camera gave up earlier than expected. But at least, it can shoot but cannot render continuous shooting anymore. My memcard is still intact, my lenses are okay and that the camera is working –enough to get me by once I get my full-format. Question is, when?
My trip of a lifetime turned into a stressful soul searching by the beach. However, it also yielded some value-reorientation. My priority is to get a 5D and a new lens, so why am I spending too much on stuff I don’t really need? I wanted to make a career out of writing and photography, so why am I leaving a job that will eventually financially support this ambition? Among other things.
Being a believer of destiny, I know this was something bound to happen to make me more careful with my actions in all aspects. And even if I feel crippled by the fact that my camera will not be of service like before, I will still get there and have that 5D in my hands. It’s time to be results-oriented; if I want to get a new camera, I know what I should do –I am just too darn stubborn to pursue it.