On the Road Again, This Time to Beijing, China

If you have been reading this newsletter for some time, you already know that I travel often. That will continue to hold true for the next week. This time I am traveling to Beijing, China.

Unlike most of my travels, this is not a genealogy-related trip. I have some “downtime” in my calendar and decided to take a vacation… by traveling again!

Many years ago, I spent a year in mainland China, back when the country was still a backwater third-world country. I managed a team effort for my employer when we installed multi-million dollar mainframe computers at 13 major Chinese engineering universities in 11 different cities. (This was before the invention of the desktop PC.) It was a great experience.

I understand the country has advanced radically since I left. For years, I have said to myself, “I would love to go back and see all the changes.” A recent email ad for a really cheap airfare to Beijing convinced me that, “If ever I want to go back, now is the time.” So I am flying to Beijing this week.

Now for the impact to this newsletter:

First, I will probably be busy being a tourist plus I am supposed to be on vacation. Those reasons alone may may account for fewer than normal articles in this newsletter next week. Next, I understand the “Great Firewall of China” is a big impediment for foreigners in China who attempt to connect to the Internet services they usually access when “back home.” For anyone in China, the “Great Firewall of China” blocks access to Google, Gmail, Google Maps, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, YouTube, and thousands of other web sites in the outside world. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Firewall for the details.)

For the past few years, the answer has been to use a VPN (virtual private network) when accessing the Internet from within China. In fact, I already use a VPN all the time anyway, both at home and when traveling anywhere. For more information about VPNs, read my articles at https://privacyblog.com/category/vpn-virtual-private-networking.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government recently ordered all Internet service providers in China to start blocking all VPN connections by individuals. (See the Bloomberg report at https://bloom.bg/2fZXuf7 for the details.) The deadline is to block all VPNs no later than February 1, 2018. Reportedly, some of the VPNs are already blocked while the Chinese Internet service providers are still figuring out how to block the remaining VPNs by the February 1 deadline.

Here’s the bottom line: I won’t know if I can access my own email or even this web site until I arrive in China and try to do so.

Don’t be surprised if I am “silent” for the next week. Hey! I’ll be on vacation!

Footnote: There seems to be a web site for every imaginable purpose, including one that tests web sites to see if they are accessible from within China. The site at http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org reports that the EOGN Newsletter at www.eogn.com is NOT blocked as of this time. However, my email service, along with Google, Gmail, Google Maps, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, and YouTube, are all blocked. The biggest problem is that the list of blocked sites changes day-by-day as new controls are enabled.

UPDATE: Some time after I wrote the above article, a new study was made: Which VPNs evade the Chinese Great Firewall? We got inside to find out. See https://comparite.ch/chinavpnstudy for the status as of May 2, 2019.

However, please keep in mind that the status of web sites being blocking by the “Great Firewall of China” changes frequently.


Enjoy the digital detox and the journey to amazing places!


Enjoy your vacation.
We were in China in April, traveling W along the Silk Road, and had a good time. The FireWall was, unfortunately, very much in effect.


As difficult as it may be to manage without an EGON fix each day, I’m sure we can manage. If anyone deserves a vacation – you are # one in line. Please don’t worry about all of us – we can survive and will look forward to hearing all about your trip when you return!
BTW – my mother grew up in China from 1909 – 1927 when her father was head of the Peking Railway Station. It was always my dream to see where she had lived since I know the house is still there! However it won’t happen now as travel is off my lists of things to do – the grocery stores and medical appointments take up all that energy!!


Enjoy your vacation. You have helped us for years, it is time for you to have some time of your own. Have a great vacation. We will be here when you get back on the internet


We were in Beijing 2011 – 2015 then moved to Shenzhen. My husband has a 3-day itinerary to see the highlights of Beijing and the Great Wall. Also, we have an excellent driver who knows how to get to all the places you would want to see plus some like the Nine Villages, Hanging Monastery, etc. His name is Mr. Ma, speaks a little English, a professional driver. Would you like his number?


Hi Dick,
Glad you found the cheap airfare to China you mentioned you were looking for when we wrote each other when I asked about your being in Poland for the 2018 IAJGS Conference. Have a wonderful time, and we are all looking forward to your safe return with wonderful stories of your vacation.
Joan (JGS of Greater Miami)


I agree with all who have said “enjoy your vacation.” I can live for a week or more without EOGN, but will look forward to your reports of your visit when you return. Enjoy your visit!

Liked by 1 person

Just enjoy. You will see a BIG difference from the last time you were there. It’s amazing. We will all be waiting to hear all about your trip when you return. Safe travels.
Sandy Landers


I have to echo the others. Go and enjoy your vacation. We will miss our daily fix but will anxiously await news about your vacation. Travel safely.


Have a great trip! We’ll be here when you return.


We have a grandson in Beijing who has been teaching children English. Last year he was named Teacher of the Year, which got him a promotion and of course a better salary.
We communicate with him with the WeChat app, which was written and approved in China. It allows full messaging capabilities with photos etc. as well as Skype type communication. It can be used on only one of your devices at a time.
Enjoy your trip.


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