It's been about 2 weeks since I arrived in TJ. I love living here, I like learning about the culture, dealing with Chinese people via gestures and trying to say the words (like how much money something is in Chinese).
A couple days after moving here, I signed up with China Mobile for an 11Gb data plan and was thrilled to have access to the network, thinking it'd be wicked fast. There was few issues though. I also paid for 3gb of data for the remaining few days in March, 'cause, I actually could use that much data if I made a small effort. The China Mobile SIM only gave my iPhone EDGE network service. So then, I stooped and bought an Android, (Hauwei P8Max -- mostly for the HUGE screen) not wanting to pay the drastic markup of an iPhone 6S. Especially not before the new model release. However, I think what happened was I didn't go back into China Mobile to tell them to roll my data over, and on April 04, I get my service cut off.
After messaging a colleague at the school to come with my to China Mobile, I find out because I didn't come in and tell them to roll it over I forfeited my ~$65 for my 11Gb. I was pretty cheesed. Why else would I pay that shiznat in advance if it wouldn't roll over? Whatever. I told them to cancel and went to go check out China Unicom after discovering China Telecom didn't work at all.
This should have been my first choice. When I landed, this was the network my phone connected with for the first few minutes when I roamed to message my contacts after I couldn't activate a sim at the airport.
So, there I was. Had my Hauwei phone which couldn't really do anything without the Google Play store, the VPN wouldn't connect over cellular and my iPhone had EDGE. Talk about.a rock and a hard place. The Hauwei was only getting 2-4mb/s, 4mb/s at peak, PEAK on China Mobile! That's barely any faster than EDGE which reaches 2mb/s. What's worse? It was essentially pointless as I had no apps or other information on the device! Then, I'd go home to Internet service which varied greatly with the time of day.
I love data, I need the access for things like GPS, translation, WeChat/iMessage etc. People here keep telling me "just use the free wifi everywhere". Yeah. Sounds great in theory. There literally is wifi everywhere, and I'm sure it works great, if you can read Chinese to follow the varying connecting instructions. All you have to do is translate the text and fo.... Wait, you can't translate, you have no wifi and no cellular. Given my drastically varied ex-eriences on my home wifi, I wasn't about to sign up for a repeat. And who wants to explore and find a wifi each time you want to look something up? That's not a mobile device... That's called a desktop.
Once I arrive at China Unicom, my colleague is trying to explain how everything works in her still developing English. I was hesitant to sign a one year contract now having seen how poor China Mobile service was, especially since it's the largest of the three nationalized carriers. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a three year contact with horrible data speeds like CM.
My colleague convinces someone to let me try their SIM in my phone... No service, service with no bars, 3G.... And then, 4G!! Alas! Notifications are coming in, VPN connects immediately, Instagram loads, Weebly app updates and I am back in business!! My colleague couldn't believe how much my spirit had risen over lunch. I'm a simple guy, running water, hydro, and a decent data connection. Not too much to ask, right?
I felt pretty suffocated having such slow data speeds to the point they were useless and couldn't load data. Asking for a lighter to burn the tip of the string on my new necklace is fairly easy to gesture, and buying stuff or asking the price can be read on a cash register, or typed into the calculator respectively. But what about asking a taxi driver to take you to the opposite side of town and things which aren't simply gestured? It get complicated and frustrating quickly.
Anyways, now I can get back to my usual constant messaging with my best friends Quincy and Angie back home, posting here on the blog and updating my site, finding new places to try and explore, meeting new people on WeChat, and taking selfies with random girls who speak no English but want a pic with me. Yeah. I'm at 9 so far. It's a hard life out here. Cheers.