Cell Phone Use in China (I’m Not Illegal Anymore!)

Yes, it’s true I’ve now given up my life of crime, I am an illegal fugitive no more! As I mentioned before, my tourist visa expired two days ago on the 21st of August, but I stuck it to the man and went no where. Well, it really wasn’t that exciting for a life of crime, and my short stint on the dark side is officially over already. I just wasn’t cut out for it. Since my visa was to expire on the 21st, technically my current place of residence (the International College Dorms in Nankai University) was supposed to kick me out. When I came on the 11th to rent out a room, they actually booked me to check out on the 21st due to this little problem…but as with all things in China, nothing is actually impossible. So I just went up to the desk a few days ago and mentioned that I want to stay until the 25th instead, no fussing or fighting actually, just an exchange of money and my problem was solved. To get my visa changed from tourist to student, the Exit Entry Bureau had to keep my passport, so if they put up a fight I would have been camping on the door step anyways (every hotel needs your passport to book if you are a foriegner).

The only other time that my lack of passport was a problem was when I tried to buy a new sim card for my cell phone.  When I went out to buy a Tianjin sim card the other day, I needed my passport to buy it, which I didn’t have. Allow me to explain, I love me some China, but the cell phone business is very condaluted and strange here. In order to get a cell phone plan, one must simply buy a sim card and put it into your Chinese cell phone. There are only two mobile providers here, China Mobile and China Unicom. In my personal opinion, China mobile is better than Unicom, I had Unicom last summer and had more connection problems, while this year with China Mobile there are none. Also, I know we hate feeding into a monopolizing monster, but Mobile is a bigger company with a larger net, there are more China Mobile booths and stores, so there is added convenice with their service as well. Anyways, after you have selected a company, be sure to look at the details of every sim card plan, there are those that cost 10 Chinese cents for each text and 15/minute for calls, and some with better international plans but more expensive texts, etc. Choose the one that fits your personal needs (I got the one with the best texting rates). On this cell phone is where you’ll find your cell phone number, Chinese people can be very superstitious about numbers, so with an extra charge you can choose a number with only auspicious, lucky numbers. Or be foriegn like me, and not care. Cell phone use in China is basically like having a pre-paid cell phone, and there’s no other choice. When your money runs out, no one can call or text you until you find your companies booth/store on the street and add money. The most annoying part is, if you don’t use you sim card in 6 moths, the card service gets cancelled, so every summer that meant a new cell phone number for me. Also, calling cell phones numbers from other cities, for example a person from Shanghai calling a Beijing relative, cost more…So now I have to buy a new si card here in Tianjin, or risk having any new friends I make here complain about the “International rate” of calling me. Sidenote: (Wondering about bringing your own cell phone to China and using it here?) If you don’t have the latest smart phone, I think Apple is the best, or you may want to consider just buying a cheap cell phone here (My cell phone only cost me 250 RMB and it’s not too shabby). The reason why ordinary phones that take sim cards may not be ideal is because my friends who have done this in the past have problems where they can’t read text messages on Chinese. Very annoying when texting is so important here, everyone texts, a person is more likely to text than call, even to teachers (especially to teachers, which is strange to my American sensibilities).

Anyways, I’m expecting to get a new cell phone number anyday now…now that I am legal and can buy one that is 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: