this is your mobile phone in asia

This is your phone:

this is your phone

This is your phone in Asia:

this is your phone in asia

Me: People in Thailand always get so mad when I don’t answer my phone. I’m like, hey, I turned it off, I was sleeping.
My friend Gerri from Singapore, looking puzzled: You turn off your phone when you’re sleeping? Wow, I never thought about doing that!

Asia and North America have different attitudes about mobile phones. In Canada, especially in pre-iphone days, a phone is just a phone, you use to phone people, you forget it at home half the time, it’s not that important. In Asia, YOUR PHONE IS YOUR LIFE.

I was once sitting in the doctor’s office in Bangkok, discussing my upcoming surgery, when my phone rang. I went to turn it off, the surgeon urged me to answer it, no problem. This would NEVER happen in Canada. A surgeon would be livid to think that your phone was more important than her time.

Asians also personalize their phone a lot more. When I bought this new phone, I decided to do as the Romans do: my new phone has a cute charm, a wrist strap, a sock cover with cartoon characters, custom wallpaper, ringtones. (Asia is like the paradise of 13-year old girls) It has gmail, twitter, I post to flickr from it. It’s kind of out of control, man.

One reason Asians are so much more into mobile phones is that the networks here are so much better. In Japan, something like 80% of teenager access the internet primarily through their mobile phone. In Thailand, phones are super cheap (you can get a basic mobile for 20$, cheaper for second hand), and a sim card for 2$. You can phone anywhere in Thailand for about 1-2 cents/minute. It costs me 8$/m for unlimited GPRS access, which means I can twitter like a maniac from my phone, wherever I am.

In Canada, the networks are crappy, and expensive. I paid 60$-100$/m for mobile service, locked into a 3 year contract. C’mon, Canada, we should be ashamed that third world countries have better infrastructure than we do!

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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