June 30, 2010
Even though iPads aren't officially available in China yet, there's no problem using them here, even the 3G versions, since (unlike US iPhones), the iPads are not SIM-locked to AT&T.
You first need to get a China Unicom 3G SIM with a data-only plan. You cannot use the 3G from China Telecom or China Mobile because they use different (read: incompatible) 3G standards. There's more information here on what to get.
Next, since the iPad only takes the new microsim size cards, you need to cut the China Unicom SIM card to the right size. This is pretty simple. I used the template on this site and had no real issues. Just remember to measure twice and cut once.
Once you insert the SIM into the iPad, go to Settings and turn on Cellular Data. Your iPad should find China Unicom right away. You need to set the APN settings; "3GNET" is the APN, username, and password.
Tada! You should now be surfing at a pretty fast speed, anywhere there's coverage!
June 11, 2010
I'm glad Michael (9) hasn't forgotten about life in Seattle. This morning as we're preparing to leave for Seattle he shouted with joy, "I'm wearing socks and sandals! It's time to go back to Seattle!"
June 7, 2010
Back in March as part of our trip to Singapore, we spent a few days with some friends on a private island in Indonesia. (Yes, I realize I'm more than a little late with this post.) It was probably the best vacation we ever took.
The island is called Pulau Pangkil Kecil; it's a tiny island about a half mile long near Singapore. It's owned by a wealthy guy in Hong Kong who has done a fantastic job building out the island, outfitting it with rustic but luxurious driftwood buildings and training a very attentive and professional staff. The island is available for vacation rentals where you basically get the whole island to yourself and your family/friends. There are enough bungalows for forty people to comfortably stay on the island; it was especially roomy with just seven of us plus the staff on the island.
The island has electricity and water but no real internet access and barely even mobile phone coverage; it was kind of a treat, really, to not be connected for a few days. We spent the time playing the tidepools, swimming in the lovely pool, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, reading, napping, playing board games, and getting massages (at our request, they brought a masseuse to the island who stayed the whole time and was basically on call for us.) Oh, and of course, we ate. Well. A lot. The cook was fantastic, preparing amazingly great Indonesian and Malaysian food -- curries, seafood, and other treats.
Another treat was stargazing; since the other islands nearby had very little or no people, there was virtually no light pollution. We could see zillions of stars; we even saw the Milky Way quite clearly. I'm pretty sure it was the first time the kids had ever seen the Milky Way.
I can't recommend this place enough and am dying to go back.
Michael (9) in front of the main building. This is where we ate and hung out a lot.
The inside of the main building. You can see the open bar and coolers on the left and bunch of tiny, amazingly delicious bananas hanging in the middle. The "floor" of the building is all white sand.
This is the biggest of the bungalows. It's the only one with the bathroom inside; the others have a nice bathroom next to the house.
Here's a shot of the inside of the bungalow. Tropical/rustic but comfy and clean. The mosquito netting was necessary. Bugs were maybe the only bad thing about the island.
At night they built huge bonfires on the beach for us. We roasted the marshmallows we brought over them. You can see the kids sitting near the fire (they're about as close as they could get -- it was a big fire.)
Here's Andrew (12) near their iconic tent/table on the beach.
On the other end of the island they have beautiful freshwater swimming pool, tucked behind the rocks. You walk through a passage in the rocks to get to the pool.
They also arranged fishing trips for us. We used hand reels to catch reef fish for dinner.
Occasionally, a local family would paddle by the island.
The staff was lovely, super attentive, and all-around awesome!
Here's the sad view as we left the island. This boat took us back to a bigger Indonesian island. We then took a 30 minute bus ride (nice air conditioned private coach) across that island to a larger ferry back to Singapore. All told it takes about two hours to get to the island from Singapore.