One of the more mundane things we do – a lot, of thank you Mr. Blog – is find Internet access. For those of you who haven’t traveled abroad recently there are a lot of ways to get online. Some are surprising, others surprisingly stupid. And for those sitting in the comfort of your home or office relaxing and taking as much time and bandwidth as you please – we envy you. We tourists are getting clipped a couple of dollars for every hour we’re online. Remember, accessing the Internet is a privilege – not a right.
So far we have seen or used Internet terminal in – convenience stores, airports, information centers, libraries, hostels, campgrounds, gas stations (yes, gas stations) and of course the infamous Internet cafe.
The worst possible way to get online – the coin operated “Internet Machine” – you will find these in your lower quality hostel, your higher quality campgrounds and every airport. Woe upon you if you have to resort to using these devil machines. They are almost always slow, outdated, expensive and probably owned by hackers.
The easiest way to get online – find the Chinatown in the city you’re visiting. I know it’s wrong to generalize, but Asians do love to get online – and usually in Chinatown it’s going to be cheaper, faster and the computers may have had a security update in the past 18 months.
If you want to do some online banking – don’t. But if you must, generally the library has the most locked down moderated computer lab. But the days of free Internet access for tourists at your friendly local library are gone my friend. Get ready to pay.
Every Internet cafe proprietor in the world includes World of Warcraft in his or her prayers every night that game alone keeps them in business – well, that and Japanese tourists. I have seen many sad things on this trip already, but none so sad as the overweight 40 year old man who kept hogging one of the two coin operated Internet machines (that cost over 8 dollars an hour!) playing WOW for over four and 1/2 hours in a hostel in Auckland. The most damming thing – he was there with his family, teaching his toddler the way of the Orchs and avoiding his wife.