Recently I went on a work trip to China. It was definitely one of the coolest work experiences of my life. Partnering with Cathay Pacific Airlines and The Peninsula Hotel for a week in Hong Kong and Shanghai — pretty much amazing. Part of the deal was that I was to be sharing with my readers and followers on social media my experiences while I was there. Which I would typically do on any trip anywhere, except that China poses one little problem — there is no access to Facebook or Twitter.
Luckily in Hong Kong, this is not an issue as Hong Kong is a little different than the rest of China and does have access to Facebook and Twitter. Instagram works everywhere in China (right now), but for Facebook and Twitter I was going to have to figure out a way to post to them if at all possible.
So I started researching just how could I still use certain blocked sites in China while there. If you Google it, there are a lot of blog posts from travel bloggers and expats with step-by-step instructions on how to install a VPN. If you are going for work, or will be in China for a long time and want access to blocked sites, that is probably the route I’d suggest. Since I would only be in Shanghai for a few days, I was hoping I could find an easier solution.
I did find what I hoped would work, but wouldn’t know until I got there, but I did have a backup plan. I gave my logins to a friend/colleague and would email her the copy and images for tweets and Facebook updates I wanted to post, and specify a time, and she’d get them up for me as a last resort. Since Hong Kong and Shanghai are exactly 12 hours ahead of East Coast time, that solution would have worked just fine, but I didn’t want to inconvenience a friend if I didn’t have to.
What solution did I find?
Well, I figured out that bufferapp.com was not blocked (yet) in China. Buffer is a social media scheduling app/website you can use from your phone or computer to schedule tweets, Facebook updates and more. Using the app on my phone, I scheduled tweets and Facebook updates through the app to post while I was in Shanghai. The only downside was that I couldn’t interact with anyone who commented on the tweet or Facebook update until I got back in Hong Kong and the USA, but that was OK for a short three days.
I’m sure there are a lot of other scheduling sites that would work in the same way Buffer worked for me for this particular trip. With a little research you can probably find out or email the company directly to see if their site/app works in China. If you need access to all sites while in China, I suggest getting a VPN. You can find lots of tutorials and advice on current VPNs with a quick Google search. I would look for a recent one (just because China changes all the time) from a trusted travel blogger or frequent traveler.
Have you ever been somewhere where certain websites are blocked that you’d like to use? Did you find any solutions? Please share!
Photo of Hong Kong by Meg Biram