Monday, March 30, 2009

Messages From Nowhere - Roaming Services in Asia

Just before dusk, Secunderabad, India.

ONE OF THE MORE AMUSING things that I enjoy during my solitary journeys all over Asia is receiving "roaming welcomes" and reminders upon entry into a country, which is a very welcome occurrence. This signifies that my lifeline back home is working – and it makes me feel safe; I have an avenue to make calls and receive messages. During these travels, I have succeeded in collecting some of these messages. Some are introductory messages. Others are useless text ads! Whenever I cross a land border, my next concern after having to deal with the immigration would be that particular anonymous roaming message, reassuring me that I am still within the realm of the civilized world – and within reach from my country.

In this special post, are some of these roaming messages from the different countries in Asia. Some are as banal as invitations to discounted shops; others are information on
where wifi services are available; of which restaurants and bars are having special events for tourists. In India, movement out of and into the different states - in trains or buses - are precisely demarcated by these roaming messages. It’s like arriving into a different country altogether. Crossing the border from Phnom Penh to Vietnam also has specific roaming activation. Just 5 to 10 minutes after your bus leaves the border, you get a roaming salutation. Even the communication airwaves are aware of borders – and I find this very interesting! Borders crossing the airwaves!

Snoozin Putrajaya!

In India, these messages will provide address and contact numbers of the local Philippine Embassy, if in case you would need the services of your Embassy. In Indonesia, they provide you with a local number that you can temporarily use as your own while roaming in, say, Jakarta.

I am particularly glad to post this, as it would decongest my phone’s inbox, and for some reason, someone out there may be able to use the information provided herewith. Enjoy your ruminations - and safe travels to everyone!

Scurrying around, watching over - this is the Eye in the Sky.

Boat family, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

DTAC - Welcome to Thailand! Stay with DTAC, a member of AMI allianceto enjoy caller ID, GPRS, MMS, as you do at home. Call 1678 for assistance and 112 for emergency.

DiGi - DiGi welcomes you to Malaysia, we wish you a pleasant stay!

MAXIS - Welcome to Malaysia. Maxis hopes you will have a pleasant stay. If you need a taxi, please dial *8294 or key in *TAXI and press

818 XL - XL provides you an automatic local number - +6281908514174 -free incoming call to this number, allow you to accept calls and MMS endlessly. Info: +622157959818

INDOSAT - Enjoy your stay in Indonesia with Indosat network and get a special tariff to call your fellow roamers in Indonesia by dialing #0

Change of hands, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.


Philippines basically shares roaming charges between 2 major networks: Smart Communications and Globe Lines. Like the other countries, your roaming will alternately switch every half day or so between these 2 major companies.

SMART - For seamless SMS service, please ensure your SMSC address is +639180000101. To check, just go to your phone settings and select message center no.

BANGALINK - Dear Smart roamer. call 2727 to get travel related information, anew feature of Yellow Pages Directory Service. Thank you for using Bangalink. number - +8801911304122

WARID - Dear Smart subscriber, Warid welcomes you to Bangladesh. Stay connected with Warid to experience the best networdk at the most affordable call charges.

WARID - Dial 786 or +8801678600786 for updated currency rate. Thank you for roaming with Warid.

WARID - Dear subscriber, For any emergency, please dial the Philippine Embassy at 029891590. Thank you for roaming with Warid.

WARID - Dear Smart roamer, Stay in Warid network (BGD 07) and enjoy 10% discountat our nominated restaurants and shops. You will receive SMS upon your usage.

GRAMEEN Phone - Dial 2007 for your updated currency exchange rate. Dial 2222 for news update. For any assistance, dial 121.

GRAMEEN Phone - Dear Smart subscriber, Grameen Phone welcomes you to Bangladesh. the number of the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka is 02-9881578. For any assistance, dial 121 - 880170000123

AKTELWSMS - Use AKTEL Virtual Local Number (VLN) to call within Bangladesh @the lowest rates. Please call +8801819232477 to register. Experience the best networkof Bangladesh.

DiGi - For more travel info, contact Tourism Malaysia @ 1300885050. Stay with DiGi for the hottest IDD and roam rates in town.

Hyderabad spires. Haha!

VODAFONE: (In Tagalog) Welcome sa HK! Enjoy Smart Tone - Vodafone quality GSM DualBand network! Local calls: itawag lang ang (just call the) HK phone no. Para sa (For) IDD: press (+)(country code)(area code)(

THAILAND - Bangkok
AIS - Welcome, Globe subscriber. You are entitled to a 20% discount at southeast asia's largest shopping center Centralworld. (Thanks to Carlo G for this entry.)

Fragment of a skyline, Shah Alam, Malaysia.

AIRTEL - Airtel wishes you a pleasant stay in Uttar Pradesh (UP). For assistance, kindly call 9935012345. Your Philippine Embassy number in Uttar Pradesh is 0222024792.

VODAFONE - Hello. Have a pleasant stay . The customer care number of Airtel Rajasthan is 919829012345 and the Vodafone Care no. in Kolkata is +919830098300. Happy to help.

VODAFONE - Hello. Have a pleasant stay. Vodafone Care in Rajasthan is +919828098280, in Kolkata is +919830098300. Stay connected to Vodafone to access emails, surf the internet, use GPRS and MMS service on your Blackberry, data Cards or GPRS enabled devises. Happy to help.

Bag peddler in Secunderabad.

AIRTEL - Airtel wishes you a pleasant stay. For assistance, call 9829012345. Your Philippine Embassy number is +911126889091.

AIRTEL - In Rajasthan, stay only on Airtel! Make calls or use data on Airtel/Oasis Network and take back home a beautiful RAJASTHANI MEMENTO for your loved ones. T&C Apply.

As my train was getting near Delhi:
AIRTEL - Airtel Rajasthan wishes you a pleasant journey! Looking forward to your next visit

IDEA - IDEA slashes its roaming rates! Now enjoy local outgoing and incoming calls at 1 rupee/min and STD at 1.50 rupees/minute while roaming. Be in touch with your loved ones when away from home. Happy roaming! IDEA Rajasthan Helpline is +919887012345.

VODAFONE - Hello. Have a pleasant stay. Customer care of IDEA Gujarat is 919824012345; in Kolkata is +919830098300. Stay connected to Vodafone to access emails, surf the internet, , use GPRS and MMS services on your Blackberry, data Cards and GPRS enabled devices. happy to help.

VODAFONE - Hello! Welcome to Gujarat! the Philippine Embassy can be reached at +911124101120, 26889091. Access your voice mail and other services just like you do at home. for any assistance, call +919825098250 ande we'll be happy to help.

As usual, a very friendly child at the Golconda Fort near Hyderabad.

VODAFONE - Hello. You are roaming on Vodafone Rajasthan. Enjoy reduced callrates on all networks except Airtel: Local: Rs1.00, STD:Rs1.50, Incoming: Rs1.00, Outward.


Texting in India is an expensive preoccupation. It will cost you about 3.45 rupees (almost PhP3.50) per text message. Moreover, the person you shall be texting will also be charged a certain fee, thus affecting a double billing. Since per-call rate is just in the vicinity of 1.50 rupees, then "calling" is more cost-efficient than texting.

A boat house, Mekong River, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

VODAFONE - Hello! You are roaming on Vodafone Delhi. Enjoy reduced call rates on Vodafone Delhi. Enjoy reduced phone rates on allnetworks except Airtel. local: Rs 1.00, STD: Rs 1.50, incoming; Rs 1.00, Outgoing SMS: 3,45. Call rates on Airtel networks: Local: Rs 1.40, STD: Rs 2.40, Incoming: Rs 1.75, Outgoing SMS: 3.45. For details visit (some text missing - ang haba kasi - hehe).

Bright "billboards" in Hyderabad, south india, Andhra Pradesh.

INDIA - MAHARASHTRA (where Mumbai is)
VODAFONE - Hello! You are roaming on Vodafone Maharashtra. Enjoy reduced call rates on all networks except Airtel.

Train bound for Klang, Malaysia. If you're going to Shah Alam, this is also the same train to take.


MAXIS - Welcome to Malaysia. Maxis hopes you will have a plesant stay. if you need a taxi, please dial *8294 or key in *TAXI and press .

For some reason, I wasn't able to save my Lao roaming messages, but their service was good. There were less messages floating around during my month-long stay, most probably coz there's not a lot of telecom companies competing.

Damsen Park, Saigon, Vietnam


With the prodding of my friend, an Indian doctor I met and crossed the border with from Bangladesh to India's Haridashpur border, I purchased an Indian SIM Card. To do this, you need a passport photo and an application form. This whole process is a well documented procedure and will take about an hour to complete (you have to come back for your sim card). Once you have it, you can refill or recharge (they use those terms instead of reload).

It is important to remember which state you bought your SIM from. As I moved from one state to another, I had to keep reloading my Indian SIM. Everytime I do, I had to inform them of the origin of my sim (the state from where I bought my sim) - which was Kolkata, the main city of Uttar Pradesh state. Now here's the problem: it turns out that this Indian SIM cannot receive any text message from Manila, so i used it basically to call people within India and back home in the Philippines. The international text messaging wasn't working at all! I had to tediously switch back to my Philippine SIM every so often to retrieve messages. I should have brought a separate phone with me for my Philippine SIM, and another for my Indian SIM. Validity of an Indian SIM is 1 year. Another annoying feature of Indian SIM cards is the way they would ring several times in a day. Thinking it would be a friend or family who's calling, I'd take the call only to listen to a Hindi song! This resulted to a greatly diminished load - because of spam calls and messages! Indian telecoms are notorious for these piranha services! And how does one really avoid it? What if it was an emergency call from a friend of family?


Since each purchase of an Indian SIM is duly registered with the authorities, criminal use of such phones is easier to follow. This was what the Philippine government wanted to implement a few years back but it smacked of inter-agency abuse, with the government policing your intimate moments. Looking back, this registry didn't help the Indian authorities stop the horrific Mumbai terror attacks. However, they were able to trace the Indian guy who sold the Indian SIM used by the terrorist! Kawawang tindero (poor sim vendor)!


Now here is one country whose political shenanigans don't encourage roaming services. If you consider your phone as your lifeline to your family and friends back home - to your country of origin, then consider it cut off for the duration of your stay in Myanmar (Burma). You will be on your own. Internet cafes have sprouted in Yangon and Mandalay, so emails can be sent although connectivity and speed are still allegedly sketchy. Most mail services are blocked but I'd usually use log in through the wap addresses - not the usual log ins. These days, tourists are allowed to purchase a Myanmar sim card worth $20 which can be used for calls (outward and incoming). However, texting I believe isn't possible at the moment.

CuChi Tunnels, Tay Ninh, Vietnam

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