China: Take Three

Our departure for Shanghai is fast approaching and as we enjoy these last few days in Thailand, we are also getting ourselves China-ready. What's China-ready you may ask? Well, it involves a western-style pharmaceutical stash for emergency medical situations and arming your IT to combat the Great Firewall.

My tasks generally relate with household matters while Christoph has the task of getting all our gadgets secure with encryption. I have bought antibiotics, eye gels and creams, nasal sprays and a pot pourri of painkillers. Thailand is fantastic for this type of stockpiling as most pharmacies don't require a doctor's prescription! Woohoo! (To our doctor friends, please don't be too horrified and trust that we will only use the medications according to the instructions. We promise!) Household goods also include any personal hygiene product; toothpaste, shower gel, moisturizers etc. It's a precaution we've always taken to safeguard us from using any fake products and for me, beauty products with whitening agents. Eeeww!

Christoph has set up his computer, again, from scratch and is still trying to find the most powerful VPN (virtual private network) service provider to circumvent Chinese internet censorship. Two years ago, VPNs were the most common way to bypass the Great Firewall but these days, it is much more difficult. VPNs allow you to access sites like Facebook, Youtube and Google- all things that are blocked in China. Last year, gmail accounts became inaccessible due to Google's nonfunctional relationship with the Chinese government. Notice that we don't use gmail anymore?

So, other than the usual learning of the local language and culture, it takes a lot more to truly be China-ready these days. I'm almost there; I just need one more fresh coconut please!