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A Mobile is a Mobile is a Mobile Oct 25

Well not if you buy your mobile phone (aka. cellphone) in Japan. To start with they use a completely different system from the rest of the world. In Europe you buys your mobile, charge it up (and tell me who ever changes it the recommended first time!), and off you go. Travel off for a quick tan in the sun, no worries you mobile will work, everywhere you take it. Not quite.

The use of mobile phones when travelling has become as second nature as making sure you have credit card. It probably now ranks higher than travellers cheques on the list of things to make sure you take with you. When I first started my own little juant around the globe 7 years ago this was not the done thing, mobiles were still abilt chunky, chargers were a hassle and networks/tariffs did not interlink, or were prohibitively expensive. How much it has changed!

We used to have to rely on email and "internet" phone calls to communicate with friends and family from the outer locations of civilisation (Chaing Mai/Chaing Rai, and forget Luang Prabang – no internet, delightfully refreshing). Even then if your F&F were online you could hear back from them in the same "email session" and the really radically would use Yahoo Messenger and AOL, MSN was not quite the giant it is today.

Makes you think back to the days when there was no such thing as email and communication had to be done by snail mail. Maybe I was one of the very last lucky travellers here as Mum and Dad at that time had a computer, but the internet had not hit the sticks of New Zealand so they were not "Online". The closet they got to real time would be me sending an email to my sister in-law who would print it out, phone them to tell them a fax was on the way, then fax it to them. Many communications back then were done with good old fashioned pen/paper and post office stamps.

Today the next generation of travellers leave with there mobiles all primed up for international roaming and are really never out of touch with friends or family as they as just a phone call/sms message away. The odd impractical time zone issue arises, but in essence we never really lose contact now. Does this dimish the experience of travelling around africa and then phoning to tell mum and dad about it. Hell I phoned Sue from Petra, who am I to talk. I do however feel that we may have lost some of the magic of travel because now its no longer the remote experience it used to be. We used to wait for people to arrive back in the country to sit down and tell us all about it, now we know it all before they land. Still there are always the pictures – Digital – another story to.

Back to phones, well got one, will explain the gory details later. Culture shock is diminishing slightly.

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