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March 2, 2006

somewhere in the air

just woke up after sleeping for 8 or 9 hours, and am listening to william shatner's cover of "common people" on my iPod (finally got that beast working about 45 minutes before we left for our flight). departure was a blur -- last-minute packing and gear acqusition, stocking up on medicine for my cold, disconnecting all my services and subscriptions, and lots of emotional turmoil.

and now we're an hour out from fiji and eating tiny pancakes with syrup.

(i backdated this one since i wrote it in my notebook on the plane. i'll continue to do so for entries written offline, so don't be surprised when you see several posts appear at once from past days.)

April 2, 2006

fancy flight

when flying into australia on the next leg of our trip, we ended up on one of the many random carriers that our cut-rate one-way plane ticket company assigns us to. while this means that we save as much as we can on plane tickets, it also means that we don't choose the airlines we fly on, and that we rarely fly on the same airline twice. for the new zealand to australia leg of our trip, we ended up on emirates air.

let me prefix this by saying that we were on cut-rate, super economy class, one-level-above-the-pets-in-the-cargo-hold tickets. and it was one of the nicest flights i've ever been on... certainly the best treatment i've ever gotten flying in coach.

the airplane itself (an Airbus A340-500), had massive seats with a suprisingly good recline to them. then you add the over 500 channels of in-flight entertainment (including over 100 new movies. my picks: doom and the simpsons.), the fancy LED overhead seat lighting, excellent food and beverages, and even the fiber-optic stars on the cabin ceiling. and did i mention the in-flight wifi email checking, sms messaging, and laptop recharging stations in the galley?

i suppose the ability to get our tickets so cheaply on them is part of an effort to build brand awareness. and if so, it's working. now if i can just get a ticket on another great carreir (virgin atlantic) when we head to europe later... and will virgin america be running flights in the US by the time i get home again?

May 1, 2006

flying to bali

a surreal moment occurred this afternoon as my royal brunei airlines flight taxied towards the runway: large amounts of steam began to pour from all the overhead vents, evidently from the humidity in air. but the rather disturbing visual effect was that of smoke filling the cabin or the final moments of the victims of a james bond villan's mystery gas. not long after it appeared, the steam began to disappear, finally dissipating not long after takeoff.

i'm preparing for arrival on bali by listening to the mountain goats on my ipod, and reading my bali guidebook's language section. i love the implied narrative that often appears in the order of phrasebook phrases, such as the set that i'm currently reading:

where is the ...? - dimana ...?
i'd like to go to the ... - saya mau pergi ke...
how far? - berapa kilometre?
how long? - berapa jam?
how much is the fare to ...? - berapa harga karcis ke...?
where is this bemo/bus going? - kemana bemo pergi?
when will the bemo/bus leave? - bila bemo/bis berangkut?
where is this? - dimana ini?
stop! - estop!

(from the rough guide to bali, 4th edition)

as much fun as the above transaction sounds it would be with the bus driver, i'm going to spring for the extra $4 and get a taxi to my hostel.

May 9, 2006

flying into kuala lumpur

after a late departure, i'm relaxing on my Malaysian Airlines flight with a can of Tiger beer (a favorite), and getting the lay of the expat land by reading a copy of the New Straits Times. Consulting The Rough Guide to Malaysia has given me some good hostel ideas, as well as a sketch of a sightseeing plan for my day tomorrow in KL. (and mentally preparing myself for the relatively higher cost of living in malaysia.)

inflight service has been great -- simple drinks to smooth over the delay/wait to take off, tasty food, an attentive in-flight crew, and (my own addition) Juno and the Dismemberment Plan and the Garden State soundtrack on my iPod.

not bad for a 2.5-hour hop within Southeast Asia. Royal Brunei Airlines could learn a few things from these folks!

February 8, 2008

how to use a GSM phone to make and receive calls while travelling internationally around the world

A quick question-and-answer about the best way to roam across the world using multiple local SIM cards -- this question was about europe, but it's applicable for most countries.



I just got a free GSM phone from AT&T (Samsung A437) that is quad band. I unlocked it successfully and now need a SIM to use abroad. I'm researching the best SIM to get in order to allow my wife to call me when I travel and allow me to call her.

Any thoughts on International SIM card vs. ountry pre-paid SIMs? I'll be travelling to Western Europe mostly and also Japan.

Thanks for your thoughts!!!


so-called "international" SIM cards are pretty much a ripoff (as is roaming!) :)

the best way to go is to buy a SIM card locally for each country that you're in, then you can buy refills at most tobacco shops or corner markets. to buy the SIM, you can usually buy those at corner markets as well. your passport ID may be required when you buy them.

japan is the one country that (as far as i can tell) doesn't sell sim cards to foreigners. you can roam here using a roaming-enabled european sim card. i recommend using a Vodafone sim card from the UK -- i was able to get on the Japanese GSM network using this. given the high dollar/pound exchange rate, i only recommend using this solution for text messaging (which is like 50p or something per message)

to have your wife reach your new numbers, one easy solution is to register for a Skype account, buy a SkypeIn number in your area code, set the account to auto-refill with PayPal. then whenever you get a new SIM card/number, go to your settings in Skype and tell it to forward all calls to that number.

then when your wife calls the local number, it will forward to your phone number, and then the international rate charged to your account is the Skype rate for that country, which is almost as cheap as it gets. see http://www.skype.com/prices/callrates/ for skype call rates.

this is the solution i did on my trip, and it worked pretty well. you can roam in europe with SIM cards from other european countries, but the hassle is you can't buy recharge cards (for exampel) for the UK when you're in France, even if both countries have a Vodafone company there.

About International Waters

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the International Waters category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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