Friday, November 20, 2009

Phone cards

Like the humble coin phone, phone cards are fast becoming extinct in Singapore.

I think the first time I used a phone card was in 1985 when I was in Japan. Along with a group of colleagues from the National Productivity Board, I had been sent to Japan for three-and-a-half months of training. It was called the PDP (Productivity Development Project) Fellowship Programme and we were housed at the newly completed Tokyo International Centre.

We bought phone cards with which to call home. I remember the difficult time we had using the two public phones in the centre. To save on the cost of our trunk calls, we used to make our calls after 11 pm at night which would be midnight Singapore time. And there would usually be a long queue of other residents who wanted to use the public phones. Sometimes I just gave up and paid the extra cost of calling from my room. Most times I just write. No emails or Skype in those days. It was an interesting stay in Japan, but I think I shall blog about it to another time.

This is a photo my room at the Tokyo International Centre in Nishihara. Notice the phone on my table? I wonder if my ever sharp-eyed friend Victor noticed something else interesting thing in this photo?

My …. how much the world has changed since then. Earlier this year my daughter was in Sweden for 6 months on an exchange programme. Most nights we would chat online for free. One Sunday night, we even had family worship ‘together’; singing hymns and taking turns to read verses from the bible. She even created a blog to share her stories and photos.

The other times when I used the phone card a lot was when I was traveling in Malaysia. In the early 90’s, I used to travel to Kuching and Bintulu quite frequently for my training and consultancy assignments. I also had clients in Peninsula Malaysia and that brought me to various towns like Malacca, Kirteh, Kuantan, Port Dickson and even Ipoh. But the one I hated most was Kuala Lumpur because of their notorious traffic.


Using the public phones in Malaysia was quite a hassle because they had two telephone companies - Uniphone and Telekom Malaysia. Uniphone was popular in Sarawak and you can recognize them by the yellow colour booths. However, over in Peninsula, it was very difficult to find these yellow booths. Instead, you see the blue colour Telekom Malaysia booths everywhere.

Hence I had to keep two different phone cards. And I still have one of them with me today.


13 comments:

peter said...

Let me try what Victor coudl ahve notcied:

A business card under the telephone which says, "Room Service is just a phone call away"

Zen said...

I saw a stand-on framed photograph on the upper shelf in front of you. It looked like there were two persons in the photo. Could it be you and a lady - wife?

Victor said...

Er... was that a naughty book with illustrations in your hands?

Tom said...

Tom said...
could it be the heater behind your chair.?

peter said...

Who tooks this photo of Chun See?

Lam Chun See said...

It's an air-con unit but during winter swiches to heater.

The photo was taken by my NPB colleague. What were you thinking? the TIC is a respectable place. No funny people or strange calls.

Lam Chun See said...

In my work I have stayed alone in hotels in many cities including Msia, Indon, Seychelles, Thailand and China. But I don't recall ever receiving unsolicited calls from 'strange' women.

Ironically, the only time that ever happended was in Spore - the River View (maybe Riverside) Hotel. In those days, we were running this Dip in IE course, at NPB and at the end of the course we have a 3-day workshop. One night, around midnight, I received a call from a lady asking if I was from KL and alone. Another time, at Seaview Hotel it was some of our female students playing a prank.

unk Dicko said...

C See,
Being at NPB for some time, you may know some people I used to know very well from the later 70's to 80's. They were then at NPB and were also in my Badminton group of Tun Seri Lanang for many years. TSL Sec School was located at the end of Goodman Road near Mountbatten Road.
Freddy Soon,Ong Yen Her and Teo Seng Meng were some of them. All 3 held quite high posts. When we participated in friendlies or tournaments,I was always made Captain/Manager of our team then. That was a humbling honour as even though we had no ex-national players among the more than 30 of us, majority of my group were seasoned, strong players.

Eric said...

You 'don't recall' doesn't mean don't have. Maybe you have bad memory ha ha

Brian and Tess said...

Chun See, female students playing a prank with that phonecall - there are times when you must be grateful to be a moral man! Whew!

Victor said...

>I wonder if my ever sharp-eyed friend Victor noticed something else interesting thing in this photo?

I give up. Er... more clues please.

Lam Chun See said...

Aiyah ... so paiseh. Nothing really interesting lah. Just that I thought the photo of me and the woman who was to be the mother of my 3 children would interest Victor. I myself never noticed it before until I scanned this photo and looked at the enlarged view.

peter said...

In Chun See's thots, how he wish he could turn the clock back and see that person as a "new woman". Never mind the looks, so long the heart is good that matters.