Here Comes the Pain

This is not entirely unexpected but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.

I’ve been using Smart mobile in Manila, pre-paid SIM card – LTE service, unlimited internet, costs P50 per day (about US$1) with discounts if you’re registering for multiple days at a time.

We went out to the house today. It’s a new house on a new street in a new phase of the subdivision. There are two wires running to the house for electricity. That’s it. The houses in the older phases have a choice between Sky and PLDT for cable and internet. The houses near me all have small satellite dishes for Cignal, a company offering most of the popular cable channels. No internet service.

I tried using OpenSignal and Speedtest to check the signal for 3G/4G at the house. No 4G anywhere. The 3G was so weak that Speedtest basically didn’t run (except from the 1st floor balcony). Using my phone as a hotspot, I was able to load Gmail and Facebook on my laptop. But  I don’t believe I’d try any downloading or streaming.

I’ve found some cell coverage maps and they just about tell the story. The red arrow is pointing  to the approximate area where I will be living. It’s borderline zero coverage.smartGlobe is ever so slightly better, at least for 3G:


The 3rd largest provider, Sun, has no coverage for miles around me.

Even in my current service apartment, which is on a main business street in a business district, internet is not great. The building is using Eastern Telecom and I’ve got a 2 Mbps WiFi connection. But that’s giving me a download speed of an average 75 Kbps on a file that has more than 7,000 seeders. Switch to my mobile phone, where Speedtest tells me I should be getting around 5 Mbps, and torrents are coming in even more slowly than the WiFi connection. Perhaps the mobile companies are throttling on certain ports.

Meanwhile, the pricing is quite odd. At Globe today, I see they are using the label “Tattoo” for various Internet connectivity services. A pocket wifi thingie with internet costs P999 (under HK$200) per month on a postpaid account, but is capped at 5 gig per month. If Apple releases an iOS update, that’s 4 gig used in one day to update our four iOS devices. So that’s useless.

Except if one does not postpay, if one prepays – again P50 per day, P200 for 5 days, and I think it’s P999 for one month – then internet usage is unlimited.

I suspect that what I’m going to end up having to do is to hunt around near my office for the best 4G signal and then stop in the nearest coffee shop for an hour each day before going home.

There’s an answer for everything, just sometimes the answer isn’t so pleasant.


I’m in Manila

So here I am.

So far the move has been tiring but relatively pain free.

We ended up having 260 boxes of stuff – 1,200 cubic feet – 200 cubic feet too much to fit into a 20 foot container. If I had another couple of weeks, I’m sure I could have gotten it down to 1,000, but in the weeks leading up to the move I was busier at work than expected. I’ve heard some horror stories from other friends who made the move recently – some reporting goods stolen or broken, others saying the ship made it from Hong Kong to Manila in 2 weeks but then the goods took 5 weeks to clear the port.

At least everything went smoothly with our dog. We spent our last night in a hotel, so the dog export company boarded him that one night. We used a company based in Sai Kung called Export-a-Pet – I had used them back in 2001 when I brought my other dog over to Hong Kong from San Francisco.

We met Bogey at the airport at 6 AM and he was obviously not happy to have spent a night without us and to be stuck in that crate. He was checked through as “excess baggage”. Cathay has a special section in their cargo hold that is pressurized and climate controlled, and he was the last piece of “luggage” loaded onto the plane. I could watch from the terminal as his crate went up that little conveyor belt into the cargo hold.

Arriving in Manila, basically I was counting every second until he was back with us. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long. And customs clearance for him was a matter of minutes since Export-a-Pet had arranged everything in advance. The plant/animal quarantine lady looked at the papers, stamped them, charged us 350 pesos, and we were done.

So actually collecting our 4 bags from the conveyor belt, getting our dog and getting him cleared – from the time we got off the plane until we were outside the terminal loading stuff into the van we’d already booked took 45 minutes at most.

Last night we went to a nearby supermarket to stock up our kitchen. I found Hebrew National hot dogs! But the big surprise was that when the guy boxed up all our groceries and we told him we were going to get a taxi, he asked where we were staying and said he could deliver it for us. “How much is the delivery charge?” “No charge.” “When can you do it?” “Right now.” He even said he’d bring over the bags of stuff we’d just bought in the department store (other household items we needed right away). (Of course we tipped him.)  Need I mention that the supermarket was about 3 times the size of a Hong Kong supermarket and had much greater variety of stuff on the shelves?