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It’s our big holiday-of-the year soon – to China – with our long-time travel companions, Ralph and Karen. ๐Ÿ˜

But this trip is going to be a little different from our previous adventures together in terms of how we keep you up to date.

Why? In China, most western-based social media activity is completely blocked or banned, and therefore (officially) we’re not able to post to any of the ‘big’ social media platforms.

Click on the above to find out whether a particular online domain is available in China

Although the situation is pretty fluid, the smart-money suggests the situation isn’t going to change any time soon, and we won’t really know the latest until we get there. Realistically I’m expecting some (very) long periods of radio silence until we finish the holiday in Hong Kong where things are a tad more relaxed!

So it all looks a bit grim! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

There is a glimmer of hope though! Whilst Ann has worked on a really interesting itinerary (see below), Ralph and I have been ‘on the case’, looking into the techy side of things – and the legal workarounds (more of which later). ๐Ÿ˜
…and just in case PRC’s President, Xi Jinping, and his staff are monitoring this, we’re certainly not going to be doing anything that’s illegal!

Phew!

What’s so different about China? ๐Ÿ˜ง

Well, as we all know, the Chinese Government already has a tense relationship with the good ol’ US of A. More specifically, ever since Google and the Chinese Government had a falling out a few years ago about censorship, the local ‘tech-landscape’ there has deteriorated. There is now a wider mistrust of the West, where even accessing the BBC is banned! ๐Ÿค

The State now proactively blocks/bans virtually all undesirable internet traffic both ways (and for ‘undesirable’ read – unsurprisingly – anything provided by Google – Gmail, Maps, Photos, Translate, Search etc etc). If that’s not significant enough, there are other tech-casualties in the shape of social media…

…quite a few more actually, so let me be as specific as I can! From what we’ve read and been advised, the following (as of September 2019) are also on the ‘naughty step’ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Linkedin
  • Messenger
  • Pinterest
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp (Although some recent reports suggest it works in some locations)
  • WordPress (to some degree)

That doesn’t leave an awful lot of choice does it!? ๐Ÿ™„

What about that workaround?

As I mentioned, fortunately, there IS a perfectly legal way round all of this, even though the solution sounds like it’s illegal!

And that solution is to use some software on your phone, tablet, laptop etc called a VPN (a Virtual Private Network*). Ralph and I have done our techy-homework and are now all kitted out with all we need (with a Plan B too) – Hurrah!

*VPNs are subscription services that encrypt your internet traffic and route it through an intermediary server outside of China. By installing a VPN app on your computer/phone and connecting to a server, you can bypass the ‘Great Firewall’ and freely access the web.

…but just to keep things interesting, the State monitors these official solutions too, and regularly blocks them. In fact, the past few weeks, leading up to the PRC’s 70th celebrations have been a nightmare, where many VPNs have just stopped working! – Boo!

Oooo, We do love a challenge! ๐Ÿ˜‰… and if we can get it all to work, you’ll be one of the first to know!

See you (virtually) on the other side – or not! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Any comments?