This story is related to our previous post: http://saragiovanni.com/raising-money-for-22-year-old-male-college-student-in-luang-prabang-laos/
We were truly overwhelmed with the generosity of our friends and family. After less than 3 days of receiving donations, we had enough for the laptop and were ready to go to the store and buy a computer. It wasn’t quite as easy as we thought. May returned from university and said he saw one computer store on the way which had 4 computers and only 1 netbook, which cost 2 million and 800,000 kip. He had never gone to a computer store in Luang Prabang and didn’t know of any other stores. That was out of our budget so we decided to ask around. We were recommended one store, so we went with May that same day but it was closed. When we returned, that store only had 3 laptops all of which were priced over 3 million kip. So we decided to keep biking.
We were riding down a side street when we saw a sign with a picture of computers and netbooks. However, the cheapest netbook was also 2 million and 800,000 kip. We were getting a bit hopeless and worried that we would have to raise more money since prices were higher than we expected. And there was no realistic possibility of a used laptop since May happened to buy his previous laptop from a friend who had upgraded, but none of his friends were currently selling their computer. And it’s not like there’s Craigslist here! We biked a bit further, and we decided to stop after seeing one last possible computer store. There was construction so we had to duck under a wood plank just to enter the store. Inside, the Lao owner told us he had one netbook and the price was 2 million and 600,000 kip. We were able to negotiate it down to 2 million and 500,000 kip, and planned to return with May the next morning to get his approval. We came back to the guesthouse pretty tired since we didn’t expect to bicycle around town for half a day looking for computer stores.
The next morning we all returned to the store on bicycles. May was very happy with the netbook so we purchased it, and received a mouse for free! It was nice because the computer comes with Microsoft Office and a handful of other programs. It’s interesting that the laptops are imported fromThailand, so the keyboards and software is in Thai. Thankfully, they give you stickers to place over each key for the Lao alphabet in addition to the English keys. So with a plastic bag in hand carrying his new netbook and a smile on his face, May bicycled back to the guesthouse! We all celebrated with mango shakes when we returned “home”!