Stickman Readers' Submissions April 21st, 2006

My Mia Noy Jill


This isn’t a well put together submission, mostly it’s a cut and paste of several posts to a forum I frequent, but nonetheless I think many of you will find it useful.

He Clinic Bangkok

My totally average Thai wife and I are very averagely happy and I never thought I’d take on a Mia Noi but.. TIT! Things happen, things change, requirements come up, and if you’re going to live and prosper in the Kingdom then you’ll find yourself adapting and improvising from time to time.

If my wife and I have any problems at all it’s that she can’t read a map. No way I can navigate the streets of Bangkok with a map unfolded and spread out across the front of my SUV so the dubious honour falls to my wife.. and I think we probably own every single map of Thailand ever made in both the Thai and English languages. Still, whenever we manage to go somewhere we’ll get lost, waste hours making wrong turns, my blood pressure goes up, and my normally calm and nice personality turns into someone I don’t know at all. My wife and I never fight, honest.. not a cross word, no insults, we just find nothing worth fighting about.. UNTIL we get in the car and I depend on her to read the map.. After all, she was born and raised in Bangkok so she should be able to find her way around right? Right! However.. no amount of wishful thinking and expectations make that true.. somehow.. I know my way around Bangkok and Thailand in general better than she does..

So.. I set out to find a Mia Noi and my requirements were very specific. First and foremost she must know her way around Thailand and be able to get me anywhere I want to go, find the nearest gas station, expressway entrance, closest hotel, the best places to eat, in short she needs to be the best damn tour guide from the very north of Thailand to the very south of Thailand.. including the islands. Second, she must be young, always up to the task, able to ride in my SUv with my wife and I and not piss off the wife, and if she was high maintenance and would cost a bit then we’d just have to pay the price. So.. I started asking around, starting with my condo manager, the yellow pages, the Bangkok Post, The Daily, internet chat rooms, anywhere we might find such a lady..

CBD bangkok

The big break came when an email appeared in my inbox with an attached CV and picture and I must admit it was love at first site. She wasn’t big at all, rather small but with a rather big viewing area….;o) Hell, she even knew how to get around my home country, convert currency in her head and could speak no less than seven languages. I was instantly in love and left immediately to go to the agency she worked for and meet her in person.

Finding her was hard. The agency gave terrible directions and even worse service if you can imagine. In all seriousness, if this agency wasn’t the only game in town I wouldn't recommend them at all and even with them being the only game in town I still have reservations. I won't go into how rudely I was treated, how poorly trained the sales staff was and how in the end I had to raise my voice to get my way in a business for the first time in years in Thailand.. But guys… she’s worth it!!! It was love at first sight and our relationship has grown stronger every day we’ve been together. Even my wife has taken to her and will use her at will, often without regard to my needs and wants! My only hesitation is that someone might steal her so I keep her under lock and key when I’m at home and when we’re in the car and I make her wait in the car.. I put a towel over her head so no one can see how beautiful she is! I just can’t imagine life without her.

At the moment I call her Jill, sometimes Emiley and even sometimes Gretta. She is rarely wrong with a direction while on the road and by now I’m so used to following her directions that if she told me to stop the car and take my clothes off I probably would.. in fact one can always hope…;o) I appreciate it when she uses her perfect American English accent but when I’m feeling adventurous I’ll ask her to use her Aussie accent.. and when I’m feeling frisky her British accent.. One when she was rather demanding she had a German accent..!

My wife and I who never fight, or used to never fight.. now bicker all the time on who gets to use Jill. I told her to go get her own Mia Noi if she wanted one so bad but she thinks we should share, that two would be too expensive.. Maybe she’s right. Fortunately for me I get Jill most of the time and only occasionally have to share, and quite often we both enjoy her at the same time! Our marriage has never been better and I’m happy to say that now that things have settled down and we’ve gotten used to our new playmate I think we might stay married until we’re old and grey. Here’s the great part. My wife told me that if Jill ever gives me any trouble, ever hesitates to please me, if I find a younger one I like better.. that I can send Jill packing and get a new Mia Noi! Now is that a wonderful wife or what???

wonderland clinic

I know you guys think I’m pulling your leg but I’m not, Stick asked for Mia Noi stories and even though my wife and I had agreed to never talk about our personal domestic situation we talked and decided we want everyone who can afford it to also enjoy a Mia Noi and be as happy as we are. So far I’ve taken a two week trip, just me and Jill my Mia Noi to Southern Thailand and she knew how to get everywhere, found me a great hotel, a KFC, and a couple Wats I was looking for.. She sang me to sleep and even showed me a dirty picture when my wife wasn’t looking.. Last weekend my wife and I and Jill went to the floating market and maybe next week it will be just Jill and I again on the road to Chiang Mai.. I can hardly wait!

Anyway.. now is the time to end my ravings before the wife gets jealous and cut and paste those posts I was telling you about.. I know you’re going to have questions after reading the following cut and pastes so see me at the bottom and I’ll try to anticipate some of your questions.. Here goes:

First copy and paste:

There is a company that makes decent software for the more popular models of the Garmin line-up that compares at about 80% as well done as the Garmin software I've used for North America and Europe.

If the Garmin GPS is capable of giving voice directions then the software will give voice directions. If your Garmin GPS has "voice to text" speech (i.e. instead of "turn left in 50 meters" you get "turn left on Sukhumvit in 50 meters") then this will also work and you'll never have to take your eyes off the road.

The software has a decent database of most of the established businesses that you can select from menus and then get automatically routed there.. and it will allow you to save your favourite places so that from wherever you are at the time you can get routed to these places. For instance "home" is one of my favourites so from wherever I find myself when it's time to go home I can just entre "home" and away I go.. and you can set it to take advantage of the expressways.

The voices are pretty decent and you can choose from American English, British English or Aussie English.. men or women.. and I've found the British female to have quite the sexy voice to lead me around town all day…;o)

They can also be set up with "Travel Companion" software that includes language translation, currency conversion, and much more.

The unit I selected was the Nuvi 350 which came pre-loaded with the North American software and the Thai software.. and you can ge the Nuvi 300 with the European software and Thai software. It's also an ebook reader, MP3 player, picture viewer, and a lot more. If you pay attention you'll notice that even though this unit it much smaller and thinner (and also has internal lithium ion rechargeable batteries that last for up to eight hours so you can use it while walking, etc) the screen actually has more physical area, higher resolution, more colours, etc, than does several of the more expensive dedicated auto units. This is the hot ticket in mobile GPS's imo if your goal is to have a auto unit and a walk around unit combined.

I don't think I have to tell anyone exactly how easy this makes things to get around the city.. it's like having a English speaking lady who's spent a lot of years driving a taxi in Bangkok sitting next to you.. she'll almost always be right but will occasionally make a mistake. No problem if you overshoot a turn as the unit will automatically re-route and prompt you where to turn to get back on track.

In June the Nuvi 360 will hit the streets and the only change will be Bluetooth connectivity which will come in very handy for hands free cell phone use.. The price will even be lower I think..

If anyone is interested I'll fill you in on the company, prices, etc..

Second copy and paste:

Ok.. I've had it about 5 days now, used it every day, sometimes several times a day.. and I think it's going to save our marriage. Everyone should have a Nuvi 350!

Bangkok is not the easiest town to get around in.. I've driven in NY City, Chicago, grew up in L.A., Honolulu was no picnic.. but Bangkok is all those put together times 1000. Until you've been here you just can't mentally picture trying to get around this town. If it's not the mix-match of dual language signs, the illogical placement, the one-ways, U-turn areas that change at different times of the day, or that if you miss a turn during rush hour you can add at least an hour on to the drive.. but much much more..

This thing KNOWS what time of day they change roads from three lanes one way and one lane the other, to any mix of four lanes, when they open u-turn areas, just about all the time changing traffic condition changing things.. and I suspect it's receiving a lot of this information via the traffic radio system they installed last year.. So far it has not mislead me once.. and it's saved me HOURS in just days. The thing is so damn intelligent I changed it a mans voice because no lady is this smart…:)

The screen zooms in/out automatically (or you can manually change it) by the speed you're going, changes brightness automatically and even does a day/night thing.. turns itself on/off with using the powered aux socket in the SUV, does a 3d view, head on view, north up view.. and many other smart smart features.

I know this is AI.. but it's the most intelligent thing I've talked with in a long time..:) Before I changed the voice to a mans voice I think I was falling in love.. "Turn right on Patthakarn Road" "yes darling" "keep to the right and prepare to make a U-turn" "thank you dear" "you've now arrived home" "do you want me to take my clothes off now…."

I wasn't sure the screen would be big enough.. or if the windshield mount would be shaky or not.. but the windshield mount is first class all the way, the unit disengages from the mount to slip into it's leather case with the gentle push of a button, the screen is plenty big enough thanks to the autozoom feature, brightness, and high rez.. especially if you can easily read a laptop screen.. it keeps itself charged and the li-on batteries are good for up to eight hours and it somehow knows when you're walking.. at 5 ounces and the size of a deck of cards it easily goes in a pocket.. though the leather case adds some bulk.. It's a first class high quality product in every respect. It even takes less than ten seconds (usually 2-3) to get a fix when you first start it up.. It has two internal speakers of just the right quality/tone/volume that you can easily distinguish/hear it over a fairly loud stereo.. what else can I say.. except you REALLY need one of these…:)

Did I tell you it's also a pretty quick jpeg viewer? Once Canon releases the new firmware for the 1D series I'll have it dump small jpegs to the SD card, then insert the SD card directly in the Nuvi's SD card slot, and flip through the pics.. The ebook reader is fab.. I've got about 30 ebooks and 200 songs on it's internal memory and it's still got about 500kb left. The MP3 player is first class and you can use headphones or an FM modulator through the car stereo.. I can only guess the language translating features would be first class as well.

As I've said before, it comes with either the European maps pre-loaded.. or the North American that includes Canada and Mexico (PR too). Garmin sells all the Euro maps, several M.E. maps, and the language guides.. but Thailand, Japan, and some other Asian countries I'm researching aren't offered though GPS companies in those countries do offer the software. So if you don't see the software you want for a country do some research in that country because it's probably available if it's a country of any size.

There's one small niggle I'm dealing with. In Bangkok it doesn't automatically route you through the expressways though it does show you where the entrances are along your route and if you jump on one it auto re-routes you and works fine on the expressways. I'm going to stop back in and talk with the main guy who does the programming and ask about this.. it might just be operator error.. probably is considering how well everything else is set up. In all honesty I have to say I'm very surprised a Thai company did so well with this software. They give you a copy of the software on a CD and you can put it on any Garmin product that accepts "City Select" maps..

If I could rate it 1-10.. I'd give it a 25… My wife is very jealous of my Nuvi 350 and thinks it's ridiculous it has it's own pillow next to me in bed…;o)

BTW – I've been using GPS maps/devices since before they became available to the public.. and have owned about 10 devices at least.. including two Street Pilots. The Nuvi 350 and it's software is generations ahead of anything I've used before. My last Street Pilot compares to the Nuvi 350 like my original Commodore 64 compares to my new Dell laptop.

In June the Nuvi 360 hits the streets, identical in appearance and most functions but adds bluetooth for hands free cell phone use, etc..

The website address is: http://www.esrith.comcontact/Econtact.htm

My Nuvi 350 has enough internal memory to hold all the original North American software plus the Thailand software, but it comes with a disk anyway with just the Thailand software.. The software will work on any Garmin GPS that can use the City Select
or Streetmap software but it will only do the “text to speech” (where it tells you to turn on a road in so many meters and gives you the road name, instead of just the number of meters) function with units that can do text to speech.
I think they have the Nuvi 300 which is the same thing but with all the European software.. but they won’t sell the software separately. Overall, by the time I get my VAT refunded on my next visa renewal trip, the unit and software will
have cost me about $110 over the beset internet price in the states.. not bad. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the software was being sold in Pantip.. after all if they can sell Bill Gates finest I doubt they’re shy about anything

The Nuvi is perfect for a car, perfect for a hiker, and if you update the operating software it will give you the numbers for the lat and long which many reviews says it won’t. Updates to the operating software is available on the Garmin website
but use caution when doing the update and DO NOT TURN OFF THE UNIT WHILE IT’S UPDATING!!!! Be patient and wait for it to finish..

If you measure the actual area of the screen you’ll find that not only is the screen brighter and a higher resolution than the dedicated car units but it is also bigger.. not bad for a five ounce unit with it’s own built in rechargeable
batteries! There is the professional truck driver model with a 7 inch screen but you’d have to be .. well driving a big rig to want that one. I really enjoy dropping this in it’s case (included) and taking it with me to the states
and being able to find my way easily around big cities I visit. I also enjoy the SD card slot and JPEG viewer.. and if your digital camera uses SD cards then you can use it as a SD card reader to transfer your pictures to your laptop while on
the road since as you connect the Nuvi to your laptop with the included USB cable it becomes a mass storage device that you can use like a hard drive if you wish.

I wish there was more I could tell you.. but my wife and I and Jill are living happily together in matrimonial bliss and I don’t see us ever separating.. There are a few glitches now and then with the software but as they update it regularly (for
registered buyers) they get worked out and so far none have been serious.. My only regret? Why I didn’t find this sooner! Absolutely wonderful and you don’t even need a condom!

Stickman's thoughts:

Away on holiday, so no comments…

nana plaza