I'd appreciate a bit of advice on my trip to Thailand and Vietnam. I am planning on bringing a Macbook Air and a Canon 5D + a couple of lenses. Both of these together are worth about 4K. Is this just stupid of me? Should I count on being mugged at least once while I am there? Meaning I can kiss these things goodbye? Or maybe I should just bring a more "replacable", less valuable, laptop and camera?
The crime rate in Thailand & VN is not as high as many western countries, but there are thieves in every country. When you consider most of the people you will meet in both countries make less than $150/month, you would be walking around with more than they make in years. This might be a temptation that some will not be able to resist. Another thing to consider before you decide: where do you leave them? The rooms most of us stay in are not secure. The maids have keys, as do other hotel workers. The door locks would not stop any thief, local or western. I doubt you want to take your laptop & camera out to dinner or drinks every night. You have to take them with you or trust your hotel. Most hotels have lockboxes for your money, passport, etc. but many are not large enough for your camera bag and computer bag. Add in the chance of damage when getting on/off taxis, buses, trains, boats,
I am going to vote you leave your expensive gadgets at home. Or get insurance on both items. Check with several travel insurance companies and make sure your camera/computer are covered for theft. That way you can take them and not stress out that you will take a major financial hit if the worse happens. Good luck.
I would vote for leaving both at home! Get yourself a good digital camera with a large memory card. Don’t bother taking a laptop there. Either way it will be a hassle! Travel light is my advice
I travelled through Thailand for two weeks with a Nikon D200 + lenses + Toshiba Portégé. (And through Peru for a month, and, and, and... Basically, I always travel with camera and laptop.) I've never felt unsafe doing this, either. Just use common sense (don't walk through scary alleys after dark, don't flaunt your possession of these things, etc), make sure you have good travel insurance (mine covers electronics and photography equipment separately), and make sure you have backups in a separate location. (Burn photos (and other files from your laptop) to DVD, and send the DVDs home by mail.)
Yes, it's a bother at times to have these things with you. You'll always want to keep them in your daypack, and you'll always want to keep your daypack in sight. (Not leaving them in the room is part of the "common sense" bit.) But it's totally worth it. The photos you can take with a real camera can be so much better, the convenience of the laptop for making backups and having your email and bookmarks right there and being able to do safe internet banking is so high... I would never travel without.
In the end, what I always say about the camera: it's a tool, not a fragile possession to be coddled. What use having it if you're not going to use it on a trip of a lifetime? Yes, there's a risk that it'll get damaged or stolen; so you do as much as you can to make that unlikely, or to be able to painlessly recover from it - but the risk should never prevent you from using the tool altogether.
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 27, 2008, at 3:51 PM by Sander ]
It seems to me that much depends on your history with expensive gadgets. Some people are just naturally more careless with possessions than others (I'm one of those people). I can't even wear a good watch when I travel let alone an expensive camera or computer! If you are the cautious type and are careful with your electronics, then by all means take them. As others have mentioned, SE Asia is not a den of thieves. You also have to be honest with yourself - would you be sweating bullets worrying about your "stuff" every minute of the trip? I prefer to travel very light without gadgets, and just a simple point and shoot and use cyber cafes or hotels with good internet terminals.
I agree with you on leaving the expensive gear at home. I take my $200 Kodak Z612 and fire away. I like my camera, but it will not ruin my holiday if it is damaged/stolen. The photos in my gallery from 2003 on were taken with point/shoot digital. They might not measure up to a pro, but I am happy with the vast majority of them. By the by Johnny, I have a photo in my blog of one of those tall, skinny hotels in HCMC as well. Looks like the same one you have in yours. I usually end up on the 5th floor, cheaper room. I get some exercise and pay less per night, a win, win deal!
WALLETS get stolen in THAILAND every 4 minutes... local or toursist.
But Laptops? perhaps once a year. cameras... less often...
I am just assuming...
It can be intimidating bringing expensive gear into unfamiliar environs. However, the answer is simple:
1) Insure all your gear. Make sure the policy covers full replacement.
2) Buy one (or a few) high capacity thumb drives, 8GB or better.
3) Empty your laptop of all non-essential information before you leave and back up your entire hard drive.
4) Buy online storage. I like www.ibackup.com, but there are others.
5) At the end of each day (or more often), copy your photos, travel notes and other important information to your laptop, then to the thumb drive.
6) At least every other day, go to a PC Room, get online and copy the contents of your thumb drive to your online storage. PC rooms are plentiful, cheap and fast in most of Thailand and parts of Viet Nam.
7) DO NOT just buy one big memory card for you camera and try to save all your pictures in one place. If that card is lost, stolen or corrupted, you will lose all your pictures. I once had all my pictures from South East Asia stolen because they were all in one place. It was not a good day.
Now get out there, take pictures and have fun!
You bought your Mac book so you could use/enjoy the benefits of the internet wherever you are, and your camera to take really great photos....so what in heaven’s name is the point of leaving them behind??????.
Take them with you and use some common sense...#i.e. insurance etc....but get a good security cable and think about how you pack the stuff. You don't what your life-style to be a shop-window for thieves...walking around with a case that obviously contains a laptop is not a good idea, don't wave you lenses about. A little bit of forethought and one or two basic security ideas and you'll be fine.
if a professional wants you stuff there's little you can do, but chained to a fitting or anything like that will stop an opportunist thief in his/her tracks - remember too that thievery is not carried out exclusively by locals, your fellow travellers are just as likely to be dishonest.
Vietnam is safe but you'd careful!