Monday, July 21, 2008

The things we put up with.

Students at Starbucks.

Internet access is expensive in Cambodia. We have free access through our cable box here in Singapore until the end of the year (although there are rumours it will be extended) and there are hundreds of places on this little island that you can get free wireless access (although on weekends you will have to fight for a seat and probably kill for a powerpoint). In NZ free access is also available through some internet providers or you can get fixed cost highspeed plans (40 times faster than dial up) for about 60 NZD.

It was relatively expensive in Samoa (the first time we’d had to pay per Mb) only dial up and old and crumbling phone lines meant it was farcically slow ( I had 2.4Mbs one day-connection but nothing opened) and unreliable. To add to that when someone in our neighbourhood complained to the local phone company about their dodgy phone line our phone would invariably get cut off completely or we would inherit said defective line as the easiest fix was to simply swap the lines over. This would buy them time as it usually took a while before the new person with the old dodgy line found out and made a complaint of their own. Can’t blame them really at 2 tala an hour (about 1 NZD) I wouldn’t be in a hurry to work either. This trick was working for them until it happened one day while I was happily surfing on a good line and got cut off. I unplugged the internet from the phone line and plugged the phone back dial tone. Picking up my cell I walked out onto the driveway (no cellphone connection inside our house) and while I was on hold spotted a Samoatel van parked up by the fence and a big burly Samoan hunched over the bundle of phone wires. I asked him what number he was ‘fixing’, ‘not your number’ he said. ‘You’ve just cut mine off’ I said, ‘Not fixing your number’ he said, ‘You’ve just cut it off put it back on’ I said, ‘Not your number’ he said. I tried another tack, ‘See this phone?’I said ‘Im ringing Samoatel to complain that my phone has just been disconnected ’and I turned back down the driveway. Before I hit the bottom he was gone. We got connected again the next day after I did indeed call his boss but it happened every few weeks regardless.

Ancient, failing/ed phone lines were annoying and frustrating, especially when the internet was our only means of communication with our deaf son at school in New Zealand, but they weren’t as much of an imposition as no water during rainy season. We lived in a house owned by ‘the company’ J worked for, an Australian company, so they should have known better considering Australias water woes. It didn’t have rain water tanks, something vital in Samoa because during the rainy season the mains water gets turned off as the rickety pipes can't cope with the extra deluge. So we spent about 4 weeks without running water in the house. At the beginning ‘showering’ under the spouting at the secluded side of the house was like camping but the washing was not a joke. I quickly developed an appreciation of Samoans in the villages who still wash and was very glad I had only to cart water from strategic spots under crumbling guttering to the laundry tub or, when I’d forgotten to replace a bucket or it had been knocked over by the river that raced down our driveway, from the pool!! I hear they have finally installed those tanks.

Singapore’s little annoyances pale in comparison really. The only thing that really gets my goat is coffee shops crowded with students surfing and studying for hours on end with barely a drink in sight oh and the inevitable smells that get silently expelled when using the otherwise pretty amazing public transport system......please people hold it in until you reach a less confined space!!

Oh and by the way I would move back to Samoa in a heartbeat.....anything can be placated with an hour or two on an unspoilt white sand beach with feet steeping in water so clear you can see the coral and fish from metres away.


Verity said...

Hehehe -I know the frustration. Thanks for visiting my blog and for the baby food tips! I can't wait to try them all out. It was also lovely to find your blog! I am looking forward to reading more.

Tanya said...

Thanks Verity enjoy little Yashar while he's a bub, they grow up too fast!!