Mobile e-mail on the high seas

There’s probably room enough for only 10 people on this islet of six trees (or shrubs) and a single hut.

Yet on this islet near Olango Island and for several kilometers near it, you can still connect to telecoms networks and send and receive text messages, make calls, and browse the mobile Internet. It boggles my mind when I thought I’d “get away from it all” during a trip to several islets yesterday that I was never out of range of the telecoms network.

Gmail on Sony Ericsson k750i E-MAIL ON THE HIGH SEAS. Checking Gmail on a boat in the middle of nowhere. Click on photo to enlarge image.

Up until two years back, I still heard of stories and jokes on how people on several areas of Cebu had to go to a certain spot or climb trees just to send and receive text messages. I seem to remember being told of connection problems in Olango.

Yesterday, my family went island-hopping in the Olango area, an island four kilometers off Mactan island. Lapu-Lapu City beaches are great but swimming in its waters is nothing compared to the experience of dipping into the pristine waters of remote islets and shallows that stretch for a kilometer.

Gmail on Sony Ericsson k750i BLOGGING PARADISE. All you need is a laptop with PLDT WeRoam, a few kilos of tuna and pork, a grill, and a liter of your favorite drink and you’re in blogging paradise. Click on photo to enlarge image.

I took my phone with me because it also serves as my blogging camera. Before boarding the boat, I did a final check of messages because I was certain I’d be off the telecoms grid in the next few hours.

After swimming for more than two hours, our group was on our way to the floating restaurants of Olango Island when we passed a curious islet with one small hut. The boat’s guide pointed it out to us and said it was the biggest of the three islets named Tres Rosas (three roses). On one point, the name of the islets makes sense: I got stung by a sea urchin half a kilometer off it.

Tres Rosas is “owned” (or managed) by Cebu White Sands beach resort. It’s exclusive to its guests but I doubt whether the resort would have known had we decided to dock and take our lunch on it. It is that remote.

Gmail on Sony Ericsson k750i IT’S SUMMERTIME in the Philippines and the living is easy. Stop blog-hopping, turn your computer off, and hit the beach. Click on photo to enlarge image.

When we passed the islet, we took photos of it and as I closed the camera cover of my phone, I glanced at the screen and found that the Smart Communications (my telecoms provider) signal was still strong. On my Sony Ericsson K750i, the signal was four bars. For a non-telecoms guy, this was disconcerting. How can the signal possibly cover this part of the seas?

In no time, I launched my GMail for mobile application to check my e-mails. It loaded quickly and I was informed that 1.) this blog had a short downtime, and 2.) I sold another text link.

I also read Jhay Rocas‘ emailed question on using sets in Zooomr. I wrote him a quick reply, sent the mail, and then held tight as the boat started bucking under big waves. After we ate at a “floating” restaurant, we proceeded to Sta. Rosa, effectively going around Olango Island. I then checked GMail again and read Jhay’s reply to my message.

The entire time yesterday I was connected to Smart’s telecoms grid. My wife’s phone, which is with Globe, was also connected to its network but I do not know whether it was connected the entire time of our trip.

In these days of always-on connection anywhere, can we ever get away from it all?

I can just picture myself on Tres Rosas, blogging with a laptop connected to the Internet via PLDT WeRoam. A few steps away, a huge chunk of tuna lies on a grill, beside it a smaller piece of pork belly.

How does one get to own an islet?

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5 responses

  1. Oh. My. Gosh. If there is internet in those islets, I want one too. That’s paradise for photographers. Just capturing the changing lights of the sky and sea should keep me busy for a long, long time.

  2. Wish I could go to the beach this summer. I’m stuck on dry land because of my summer classes.

    Thanks for the quick reply, I was surprised you made it in the middle of the sea.

    Also I’m planning on getting a K750i myself this summer. Goodbye Nokia’s for me.

    Anyways, thanks for the mention and I’m still waiting for your tips with Zooomr. 😀

  3. Hi Connie,
    The connection will just be GPRS but what the heck, with such beauty around you, I wouldn’t mind a GPRS connection, even a spotty one 🙂

    I’ll e-mail you later. K750i is a great phone. When you do buy, make sure to check the firmware version. Just search this blog, I wrote how you can check the version.

  4. You know, Max, after I first read this entry I went straight to the PLDT WeRoam site hehehe. Affordable naman pala.

  5. hi! i have a k800i SE phone and i was wondering if it’s able to use the email client of the phone? i tried inputting the details needed for pop email using gmail but it just wont connect. i also tried gmail app but it wont load for me. my provider though is globe

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