It’s funny how quickly you become dependent on technology. Despite that my first three overseas trips were accompanied by only a camera and a phone – my very first trip actually involving a FILM camera – I can no longer imagine travelling without a computer, especially if it’s for an extended time. I rely on it for all sorts of things, from researching my travels, to uploading all my photos [I take a ridiculous amount of photos], to watching movies on long bus or train trips to, of course, updating my blog.
So it’s fair to say that when my previously-mostly-trusty little computer decided to die on me, I wasn’t too impressed. I was frustrated, angry, and stressing out something fierce. Everything was on the computer – all my music, movies and TV shows to keep me entertained when I can’t read, and most importantly, all my photographs. I wasn’t completely unprepared for the possibility of computer failure – I have a 500GB external hard drive as well, with a selection of the most ridiculous ‘documentaries’ ever made that my brother gave me – eg. one about Atlantis that starts with dolphins flying through the sky and talks about crystal magic and aliens – a few movies, and thankfully most of my photos backed up. The only problem was that I’d been a little lax in regards to backing up my photos and upon realising that I hadn’t copied any of my photos from Ukraine onto my external hard drive, I started freaking out. What if I’d lost all my photos from Ukraine? A whole country of memories made hazy with the loss of visual reminders? I knew I’d copied them onto the computer, but I couldn’t remember whether I’d deleted them from the memory cards. I knew I’d cleared a couple of my memory cards recently.
The computer stopped working when I was in Sighetu Marmatiei. When I returned from Săpânţa and tried to turn on my computer to copy the photos over, the stupid thing just wouldn’t start. It was turning on, but Windows would not open even in Safe Mode. I couldn’t restore the computer to a previous backup as it claimed that the backup file was corrupted. I ran diagnostics and followed every instruction I could find on the internet [thank god for iPhones] for about eight hours, not getting any sleep because I was in a panic. Absolutely nothing worked. Who would have thought that the internet would fail me? I couldn’t remember if I had any important files on the computer. Given I couldn’t think of any, I figured that I must not have, so I wasn’t worried about that. I was concerned for my Ukraine photos, and pissed off that I was probably going to have to shell out for a new computer. The upside of this was that I might have a computer with a working down arrow key, as well as working left Ctrl and Shift keys, plus an F7 key. My computer had been dying slowly and painfully over some period, just to make things difficult for me.
I kept trying the next day, and in the end came to the conclusion that it was not going to miraculously cure itself, and my computer-fixing skills are pretty limited. Swearing at the inanimate piece of technology surprisingly did not encourage it to get better, nor did smashing my fist on the keyboard. Clearly, violence is not always the best way to get what you want – however it was fairly satisfying. It was decided that a new cheap, crappy little netbook was required, and that upon finding a new one my current piece of traitorous blue Samsung plastic was going to get what was coming to it. [Those who know me may not be surprised that this involved removing the battery, placing the computer on a solid surface – a brick path – and jumping on it until it broke into a number of pieces. I felt better about it. I doubt the computer did, but hey – it decided to break. I was just finishing the job. Plus, enacting my vengeance was very therapeutic. Call me childish, but sometimes it’s healthier to let it out and let it go. Plus I didn’t know if there was any personal information on there still and didn’t want to risk it.]
I couldn’t find a computer in Oradea – everything being closed made electronics shopping difficult. When I arrived in Timişoara, my first priority was NEW COMPUTER so I started my search at the Iulius Mall. It’s big and fancy however lacks a decent selection of computer-selling stores. I found a netbook in one shop but the price was ridiculous – almost double what I would pay in Australia. So I decided that I should check how much it would cost me to buy a new computer online – I’d also checked every other computer store I could find in Timişoara to no avail.
I was a little nervous about buying a computer online, despite that I buy plenty of things online at home. Firstly, I didn’t really want to have to provide credit card details to a Romanian website. No offence to Romania, but I wasn’t feeling very trusting. Secondly, I would have to have it delivered and so would have to stay in Timişoara until it arrived. It’s also frustrating to try to research computers using just an iPhone, and there was an old Spanish man at the hostel that spent every minute of the day on the one hostel computer. In the end I had to ask him to finish up so that I could use it. Given that I’d been waiting for more than four hours at that point, and he’d told me he would only be another ten minutes two hours ago, I don’t think that was unreasonable.
I managed to find a reasonable computer at an OK price [Romania seems to only have access to the most basic models], and they not only promised delivery within 24 hours but also payment via cash on delivery. This was perfect! Both my worries solved! All the information and details were of course in Romanian, and so I was making use of Google Translate and Raul, one of the guys who owns and runs the hostel, to ensure that I ordered the right thing. Pasting things back and forth into Google Translate and then having Raul check things, I was able to fill out the order form. The only problem was that the company policy was to telephone the customer to confirm the order before processing it. While I’m carrying a phone with me, due to the fact that Vodafone is
f***ed completely and utterly useless I can’t actually use it as a phone as I have no signal. I also haven’t bothered to get a local SIM.
Raul came and saved the day again, telling me that I could put his number down and he would confirm the purchase for me when they called. I know this wouldn’t fly in Australia, and I wasn’t sure about in Romania so, having accepted his generous offer, I sent an email to the company explaining my situation [poor backpacker sans phone and unable to speak Romanian needs new computer ASAP] and asking them to accept Raul’s confirmation on my behalf. I sent it in English, just in case, and hit up Google Translate again to be sure.
The next afternoon I was waiting at the hostel when a courier arrived with a box for me. The company had called Raul early that morning and shipped the computer immediately. I was so happy, and so thankful for all the help that Raul had given me. He’d gone out of his way to help me, and was woken up early in the process. He’d also offered to wait for the courier so that I didn’t have to and could do more sightseeing stuff, but he wasn’t supposed to be working that afternoon until later so I didn’t let him do that. So, if you’re ever in Timişoara and looking for a hostel with friendly, incredibly helpful staff – Freeborn Hostel is the place to be.
I don’t like the fact that my new netbook is shiny, but I’m fixing this problem with stickers from various countries. That’s really the only fault I could find with it. It’s slow, but you get what you pay for and as much as I would have loved to buy a new Mac laptop there’s no way I was going to cut short my travels by months to have one. I also have to thank my wonderful mother who, upon hearing that my computer had broken, transferred money to me to buy a new computer – fearful that her travels [vicariously through this blog] would come to an end. She didn’t have to do that, as I had the money to do so – just would have cut the budget back a bit for a while to make up for it. All in all I went more than a week without a computer, and I was so happy to have a new one. I’m blaming this for the fact that I’m so behind in my blog…
In the meantime, I’d searched through all my memory cards [I have four 8GB cards, one 4GB, one 2GB and one 1GB card] and found that I hadn’t emptied the cards – at least not all of them. I think I’ve lost a few photos, as there’s some things that seem to be missing, but it’s also possible that those were times where I thought ‘that would be a great photo’ but was too lazy to pull out my camera. So, within just over a week the computer catastrophe was solved. I was ready to roll and my old blue netbook was in pieces in the garbage. I felt much better.