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Calling abroad | China style

It was time to take care of my return flight to Europe. My next stop, Japan, was also my final destination and the flight back home had to be from Tokyo. Some friends that lived in Japan had recommended using the services of H.I.S. Co (a big Japanese travel agency). Since H.I.S website offered online booking, I was done with it in no time.

…well, if that’s the way it actually happened, it would be one blog post less here.

Phone kiosk, China



Step #1: Things don’t quite work out as expected

      Compared to other online booking sites (such as Expedia), H.I.S offerings were indeed better. I’d already booked online several times throughout this journey without a hitch – even with Laos Airlines, so doing it with a major Japanese agency seemed simple.

But the H.I.S online booking system would only allow me book a two-way flight. A note said that for one-way ticket requests I had to fill in an online form with my desired destination (and some extra details) and wait for an answer. I did. On the next day I got this:

For your inquiry, we need more information from you directly as we are unable to communicate for booking ticket by e-mail. So, please “CALL” us.

Step #2: Making the call from my mobile

     I tried to “CALL” them right away using my mobile (which now had a Chinese SIM card). I heard a message in Chinese and then in English “It is not possible to make international phone calls. For more information call 10086”.

Step #3: Calling 10086

      I dialed 10086 as instructed. This time there was no English version. I listened to some pre-recorded message for over a minute and it was all in Chinese. I handed over my phone to the girl at the hostel reception and asked her to translate for me. “Your SIM card is no good for international calls”, she told me. So why was it in the first place that they’d told me to call 10086?! How could I enable my card for calls abroad? Where could I get a SIM card that worked? The girl at the reception had no clue. Instead she suggested searching for a street phone kiosk. Read more of this post