It used to be that double checking things was a sensible and responsible course of action. Today I am pronouncing that septupling (seven times) should be the norm. I have been preparing for my trip by practicing with my gadgets and posting media. My cell phone is a big part of what I want to do in Beijing. Theoretically, if I am walking down the street and see swimmers Michael Phelps, who is on track to win more medals at one Olympics than anyone...EVER or Dara Torres, the 41 year old phenomenom in the 5o freestyle, I can snap a picture from my camera phone. I can immediately upload it to this blog and presto...you see what I just saw. I can also insert text descriptions or observations as well in case more explanation is needed. This takes a lot of figuring out for my not so agile brain. So after double checking yesterday that my phone was ready to go and adding unlimited text as well as an international data and text package, and AT&T's World Traveler option for phone calls outbound and inbound for China, guess what I find out?
MY CELL PHONE WILL NOT WORK IN BEIJING!!!!
Here I am five days before leaving and my mobile phone with all my new found connectivity that double checking assured me would work...and it's for nothing. I spoke with Roger, Nathan, Cassandra, Chelsea, Victoria, and Linda on the customer service line. It was like playing telephone when you were a kid. You started out with the first person and tell them something like "Be sure to watch American Idol tonite" and it comes out after 20 kids and 20 new permutations..."Your mom wears pink-striped army underwear." I took notes with every conversation and pieced together something helpful from each one. Here are some of the things I was piecing together: I needed a quad band phone capable at 900/1800 mhz. For two phone calls I could use a GoPhone, then I couldn't. I could switch out my SIM card with any phone and then that changed to only a phone on my network. I had the international package and there was no such thing.
At the moment, I have secured a friend's phone. We'll swap phones and SIM cards. After extensive research on the AT&T wireless international website, I have a list of 3 or 4 phones that fit my needs and won't cost much. My friend's is an older model that will transfer data and text more lowly and therefore be more expensive. But, it will work because strangely enough, it's a quad band and my newer Razr is not. I also put my eBay skills to work and found a later version of her same phone for $49.99. I bought it. I didn't bother bidding. I'm in a hurry! I just pressed Buy Now! I probably should have bought seven in the new spirit of septology.
Hopefully, I get the eBay phone by Wednesday which is our departure day. Hopefully, I figure out how to use it, get it registered, and transfer the SIM card with all my information, contacts, and international packages on it. Hopefully, my widgets still work and hopefully, it works in China. I have a fallback. It is the old and ancient way. Uploading pictures from my digital camera on my computer using a cable of all things and posting the text and media to my blog and Facebook hours later.
I'll leave you with this. I watched Real Sports on HBO tonite and saw a piece on Lopez Lomong who is a "lost boy of Sudan". Lomong literally ran away from the rebels who had captured him as a 6 year old boy to fight for them. Ending up in refugee camps in Kenya, he was finally brought to the US and cared for by an American family. He won the NCAA National Track & Field Championship in the 1500 meters while attending Northern Arizona this past spring and qualified for the Beijing Olympics. When asked what it felt like to have the opportunities he has had in the US, he said, "The US is somewhere next to heaven."