Getting Set Up in a Foreign Country

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Getting Phones (SIMs)

We got our phones almost immediately our first full day there.  Love found a shopping center near our hotel.  New Town Center.  It was much like being in Tokyo really.  There were a lot of people (of course).

Oh, I’m mildly ashamed to admit we got away with a great deal in the first couple of days until we figured out what was going on.  We had only purchased one Octopus card not truly understanding what they were for or how they worked.  I’m sure there were many eyes rolled in the name of Americans.

It was a mess of learning how to access the trains and buses and even the cable cars.  We learned quickly about Octopus cards and how currency worked.

I will say anything in Hong Kong dollars just needed to be divided by 7 (7.3 to be exact, but 7 is easier) to figure out the American total.  As we are still fairly new (well, brand new), we were working in USD still.  We had our US bank accounts with our US totals.

As Love said, multiples of 7 were annoying because they always seemed the least important.  Japan was easy.  It was just a matter of moving the decimal to get the approximation.  In Hong Kong, we would have to do actual math to find out how much something was!

We went to the shopping center to get SIM cards for everyone.  Love, Monkey, and I were the only ones with devices right away.  We had devices for Dude and Monster, but they were in the boxes being shipped from the States.  It was fairly easy.  Their phone numbers are 8 digits with a 3-digit area code.  There is only one area code that I know about.

The clerk displayed numbers on a handheld device for each of us to choose from.  I chose one with the same beginning as my American number.  Love chose one that had the numbers from his high school number.  The kids chose totally at random, I’m sure.

Love worked on getting our devices to work with the SIM cards.  I walked around the shopping center with the kids.  We found a grocery store with square watermelons.

Finally, Love succeeded, and we were good to go.  After that, we headed to Hong Kong Island to get the visas from the main center.

You see, my visa was approved just over a week before we were supposed to leave. The school was not sure about posting the visas to the US with such a short amount of time left.  We had to go to the main office to get the visas.

Because we were in Hong Kong on visitor visas, we needed to leave the country and re-enter with the residential visas.  It was a pain in the butt.

Our choices were a train to Shenzhen, China or a ferry to Macau.  The problem with Shenzhen was Americans cannot get a visa at the border like most other nationalities.  Americans had to apply for their visas and wait a minimum of 3 days. The advantage to this is the visa lasted for 10 years.  The disadvantage was to apply there had to be tons of documentation.  That is all assuming the Chinese government would accept your application.

The other choice was Macau.  For whatever reason, no visa other than passport is required.  Bad news was the ferry ride is an hour after a cab ride (so not cheap).

We went with Macau.  We were already on the island, so getting to the ferry was not as hard.  We took the ferry and had to go through immigration.  We didn’t venture far at all.  We had dinner at McDonalds (Love thought it was funny to eat American in China).

We also didn’t want to make too much of a change to the kids given how tired they were.

We ate and went through whatever again.  I put the visas in our passports.  Going through immigration to get back into Hong Kong activated our visas.  I’m pretty sure we took a cab home.  The kids crashed, but we got a lot done.

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Categories: Family, Hong Kong

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