Sunday, 2 November 2008

a slice of migrant life

A couple of months ago I blogged about our purchase of a Skype phone, and damned useful it's been, both for business and pleasure. However the concept of a wi-fi phone seems to be beyond most people as Skype is something you like use at your computer to make scheduled calls rather than a replacement for an international phone service.

So my use of a wi-fi phone remains an oddity. But perhaps less so than it seems.

Yesterday we were running late doing house things and lunch was a bowl of pho at a vietnamese grocery store in Belco market. While we were slurping, this guy appears, speaks to the owner, is handed a phone, and he then disappears out into the carpark for a bit of quiet to make his call. If we thought anything of it, it was along the lines of 'son calling girlfriend back home'.

By chance I was paying the bill when the guy reappeared and handed the phone back, which was a wi-fi phone, just like the one I bought. More interestingly, he handed the shop owner five bucks, and he wasn't family, he spoke to the shop owner in English, not Vietnamese, and then asked to buy a discount phone card for calls to China (basically a prepaid card that gives you so many minutes at a discount rate to a given destination), ie he was Chinese not Vietnamese.

So I'm guessing that the store had a skype phone for their own use and would lend it for a fee to other people they know to let them make calls overseas if they had to do so urgently.

And a wi-fi phone as you can leave it on, pass it around family members, people can call you and you don't tie up the computer when you need to use it for business.

Makes sense ...

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