To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh: Mobile Phones

The other day whilstin Xian my phone took a day off to go sight seeing on its own ..returning in the evening like the boomerang or bad penny it clearly aspires to be. (actually I left it on the table at breakfast.) . When you travel do you take your phone with you?? If so presumably you either expect like me to recieve incoming calls or make outgoing ones. I suspect most people take them merely to avoid a sense of isolation when travelling.(you tell everyone not to call except in an emergency !! as if they were going to call you anyway !!)

Case in point: #2 son goes off on an epic round the world trip; What outbound calls is he likely to make? He knows few people where he is going so he is only likely to call are those back home ie "I am ok" and/or "please send money", Well I suppose he might make the odd local call if he plans to meet someone ie I am at the corner of such and such street, where is the bar?. Any sense of isolation (definately) doesn't lie with him but with those he left behind (his mum!!) who want a means of contacting him to check he is ok ie where the "darn" are you, do you need money ? or to issue a recall ie come home son, your dog's popped his clogs!!"

As #2 would tell you taking a phone overseas is fraught with challenges (apart from risk of losing it or having it stolen) Roaming charges are a killer : it's hardly econonmic to make local calls via home. Indeed it's even an extravagance making "I am Ok" calls home. And do you really want calls in middle of night when you might be getting it on ?. (callers never consider time zone differences) Of course not! if for no other reason than it will surely run the battery down when you are somewhere where you can't possibly recharge it.

To his credit before #2 embarked on his recent tour, he organised phone connectivity so that he could report in periodically. There was discussion of getting a phone account from a reliable vendor with roaming capability (#1 sons prefered solution but it was ruled out on cost: Actually it's a good bet for short trips with low expected phone usage). Instead #2 opted to pay for a service whereby calls theoretically got routed over VOIP (some counties only) - was a total waste of money - rooted (shafted) might be a more accurate description. He then tried local pay as you go SIM cards (my preferred solution) but had issues with these so he periodically dropped off the radar and was uncontactable. I have found that to avoid these problems you need to know which card to buy (which carrier and service) and have a local install and activate it for you. It goes without saying you need an unlocked phone!! (indeed why do you NOT have an unlocked one ??)

just been for a beach break

It was only after #2 left HK on his travels last November that I realised that I had missed a trick. Last month that epiphany became even more significant. Frankly March was a pisser of a month for many. In the Middle East, regimes sought to surpress protests by cutting off phone services and in Japan the earthquake and tsunami took out networks in the north east in same way that the eathquake in 2010 took down mobile phone networks in Haiti. Normal mobiles with sim cards or roaming simply don't work if there is no network. I had realised one sunday morning last November as I strolled down the main road in Ap lei chau village was that there were 3 Shops there supplying Marine equipment including Satellite phones. So here's the thing if you really need a phone and you are travelling somewhere where there is an iffy phone network consider renting or buing a Satellite Phone. It's not cheap but whether you are

you can have a working phone. I want one for Chistmass !!!! (any of the following will do!!)

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