Monday, 4 March 2013

Breakfast at Starbucks and getting my phone to work

If Japan has one failing for tourists it is the ready availability of decent coffee. We did some research and there are a few independent coffee shops around that do serve a decent cappuccino or espresso but none within "oh my god I've just woken up give me coffee now" distance.  There are, however, plenty of Starbucks. Almost on every block in fact.  Starbucks, we found last time we came, does do a reasonable approximation of a decent cappuccino. You can even get it a ceramic mug and not one of those god awful paper cups. They also have great sugar donuts.

So I was set for breakfast. In Tokyo at least. Michelle is eating for two and Georgia needs a more balanced diet than donuts, so we'd also drop into Dotour on the way to Starbucks and pick up a Milano Sandwich A, a ham and salad roll, and something like and egg sandwich or ham and cheese sandwich for Georgia. And sometimes toast for me. Dotour's toast is pretty good too.

As soon as we step into Dotour or Starbucks the friendly servers pull out their English language menu cards and thrust them at us even though they have the same pictures as the Japanese menus. We usually just point and gesticulate. The service in Japan usually extraordinarily good. Even in Starbucks every customer that walks in the door is greeted with the Japanese welcome shout of "irashaimase".

We'd also duck into the Family Mart or Lawson Station across the road from the hotel for their delicious fresh sandwiches and yoghurt (for Georgia).

Last night I was too knackered to be bothered loading the data SIM from b-mobile into my phone so I did it at Starbucks this morning. Goddammit, but I got a SIM locked message when I put the new SIM in the phone. The phone was supposed to have been unlocked. I had never checked because I'd assumed I done it when I bought it. I phoned Vodafone in Australia, stressing the whole time because how long the call was taking and speculating how much Vodafone would charge me for the call, and stressing that they wouldn't or couldn't unlock the SIM. In the end the lady I spoke to texted the unlock code to me. The phone accepted the code and I was able to load the b-mobile SIM and configure it to connect. Squeeeee, I'm back on-line baby. This data SIM doesn't have phone call ability but I have Skype and use WhatsApp for messaging so I don't need SMS and cell phone connectivity. Mate, the Facebook App loads data fast. Back home the mobile phone networks are touting their "new" 4G speeds but this 2 year old 3G smart phone is getting download speeds comparable to the advertised 4G speeds at home. Another reason to hate the big 3 mobile phone companies in Australia. I'm actually able to load 5 photos on to Facebook faster than it takes to load one at home. The speed seems comparable to my WiFi network at home amazingly.

If you're travelling to Japan the data SIM I got, and recommend, is the 14 day 1GB SIM for 3980 yen (about $40) from b-Mobile. As I mentioned, use Skype to make phone calls and WhatsApp for messaging. The cost of roaming in Japan with Vodafone is horrendous. About $30 per MB! Having my phone on this morning and phoning Vodafone ended up costing about $40. Using my phone as I usually would could cost hundreds of dollars a day when roaming. Fuck that for a joke. Thank you b-Mobile for your $40 SIM. Just make sure your mobile is unlocked before you leave.

Coffee and donuts done it was time to look for lunch. Seriously, we came here to eat.

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