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Life behind the great firewall of China: VPN in China

Life behind the great firewall of China: VPN in China

Update China internet – January 2015

As of 1st January 2015, the Chinese government further tightened it’s grip on the nation’s internet access.
A rude awakening for many expats hoping to get on the ‘net – nothing worked.

Things have calmed down a little, but the fall-out is as follows:-

1) All foreign sites are throttled.

Regardless of CDN’s, font-libraries, supplementary elements, platforms etc.; foreign sites are subjected to government level ‘throttling’.

2) Mobile VPN’s don’t work.

Astrill, one of China’s largest VPN’s – no longer able to support mobile VPN access.
Hidemyass, the VPN I use, connection is intermittent at best.

This thread on Shaghai expat reports, some are experiencing more luck than others, depending on what VPN you subscribe to.

China’s Internet access – Life behind the great firewall

Since May of last year, when the troubles in Hong Kong first erupted, the Chinese government has been changing the way the internet works inLife behind the great firewall of China China.

We’re all aware of the ‘great wall of China’, the system by which China monitors and prevents sites it doesn’t wish it’s residents to view.

Previously, this would have been Facebook, Twitter, certain searches or selected content would be blocked.

Also Youtube.

Not really a massive problem, you could still update your phone, look at maps and do a quick translation. At home, sites were slow to download, but acceptable.

Since May 2014, that’s all changed

China internet restrictions since May 2014

The following sites have been blocked wholesale.

Twitter, Facebook, Google (all sites), Soundcloud, Instagram.

New York Times, Bloomberg, selected international Wikipedia pages, Wikileaks, BBC news and radio.

Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, iStockPhoto.

Flickr, and most VPN sites.

China now throttles all foreign websites

Something the government does now is ‘throttle‘ foreign websites. ‘Throttle‘ it, makes elements ‘timeout’ and leaving you with an improperly rendered and unreadable page.

This maybe due to font libraries, or CDN (content distribution networks), such as Google font libraries or Edgecast respectively.

Many sites access these services to serve content in a more efficient manner. When this content is blocked, the whole site fails to work.

As a foreign speaking resident, this causes you problems.

The only way to get around this is –

China VPN

There are a number of companies offering VPN, or Virtual Private Network services

**A VPN is a protocol executed to access the internet through a tunnel, a tunnel where your real IP address and location is never revealed.

to get round these restrictions, and be able to go on the websites and access the services you would at home.

I won’t trawl through them, there are sites which tell you how much and the relative features etc.

I picked the one with the largest network of servers. Hide My Ass!

It’s got services in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Read More Read More

Access Google Play in China, download playstore apps in China

Access Google Play in China, download playstore apps in China

Google Play China: Making US Google play into Chinese Google Play

This guide will instruct you on how to access Google play store in China, or any locale in the world!

It works for all phone types.

It works for all models and carriers.

It will show and make available all the apps and content as available in Google Play Store, US.


Phone, USB cable, Internet connection, VPN access (I use HMA), Supporting files.

** Your phone MUST be rooted and running ClockWorkMod OR be able to INSTALL FROM ZIP**. You’ll need to access configurations and allow programs superuser privileges in the /system folder.

[sociallocker id=”5377″]

Supporting files.



Installing Google Play Store on any phone

  1. **Firstly, we need to access the Google Play Storesupported devices page and locate your device. If your device is supported, move on to step 4. If not, (and you’ll find many of the devices sold in China aren’t supported by Google), choose a device from the device list that is the closest approximation to your model.
  2. Install File Commander (included in supporting files). With File Commander, access the /system/build.prop, it will look like this…
    Access Google Play Store in China
    Change the product code for your phone so it works in Google Play Store

    Scroll down to the ro.product.model = GT-S7566
    change it to the model compatible with Google Play Store.
    in my case ro.product.model = GT-S7562. Save the file. A number of screens will come up asking if you wish to change the write permissions of the new file.
    Accept them.
    Restart your Phone.
    It will tell you Android is loading updated software and gave you a short waiting screen.

  3. Next you need to transfer the GAPPS file to your phone’s SD card.
  4. Install the GAPPS file: restart the phone in Recovery mode by pressing UP+DOWN+HOME+POWER simultaneously. Navigate to the GAPPS zip. Install the zip.
  5. Reboot
  6. You will now need to fire up your mobile VPN software to access Google Play from your mobile phone in China. As it is now blocked.

Your phone will now work with Google Play Store and all free apps.

Access Play Store apps in any location Worldwide

This little cheat will allow you to ‘pretend’ you’re a U.S. resident.
Google go to great lengths to make their products available under the correct jurisdictions. If you want your phone to ALWAYS have the maximum apps and content, things will be changing regularly to make sure this stays the case. Search on the ‘net or should subscribe (to my blog), to keep abreast of changes.

  1. Install the Market Enabler apk included in the Supported Files.
  2. Log on to your VPN service. From your VPN go to the ‘Help’ section or knowledge base. From here you should find information about allowing their service to be accessed from your mobile device.
    Using a proxy
    This is the Knowledge base from my VPN

    My VPN’s knowledge base looks something like this. It has all the information you need.
    The process isn’t a difficult one. The hosts guide will guide you through it.

  3. Fire up Market Enabler. Select one of the carriers (in the U.S.) by pressing and holding.
    Select ‘fake this connection now’.
  4. Fire up your VPN Proxy you just set up in step 2. from your mobile device. In mine, it’s in the other settings section.
    Access Google Play Store in China and Worldwide
    Access Google Play Store in China and Worldwide

    If all goes well, it will tell you your device is connected. You will now be surfing from the U.S. from a U.S. carrier for all intents and purposes. (Check this with

  5. Fire up Google Play Store. This will now be running as if you’re a resident of the United States even if, like me, you’re accessing Google Play Store from a mobile in China.

Disclaimer: If you follow this guide exactly in facsimile, you won’t encounter problems. I take no responsibility for your actions other than those following the method above.


Root Galaxy Duos GT-7566 – Galaxy Duos GT-7562

Root Galaxy Duos GT-7566 – Galaxy Duos GT-7562


Samsung Galaxy Duos S-7566
Samsung Galaxy Duos S-7566

The time has come.

My phone is getting slower, and I want to use the WIFI teather without operator charges! The best way to do this is to ROOT my GT-S7566, get into the manufacturer installed bloat, and cut it out, like the cancer it is.

Rooting a Samsung Galaxy Duos s-7566

This will allow me access to ALL the installed files, right down to the core C:/ drive, (as it were). It’s called Superuser rights. It’ll allow me to change anything on my phone. Install a new operating system, (if I want).

I’m not much of a techie. But I had a motorbike. I fact I had a few. I don’t see this mobile phone as any different.

This guide will guide those of you who have a methodical mindset and the will, through the process of rooting a Samsung Galaxy Duos S-7566.

Samsung Galaxy S Duos Rooting Guide

Without wasting your precious time, let’s quickly jump to the rooting tutorial:

  1. Download the Samsung Galaxy S Duos Rooting from Mediafire or
    This file contains almost everything you will need to get through the process and is approximately 12 MB in size. Won’t take too long to download, right?
    Note: Mediafire link is down due to unknown issues Mediafire is having. Use the Devhost link instead.
  2. Install the drivers for your Galaxy S duos using KIES.
  3. Power off your device as you have to go to downloading mode.
  4. After your phone has switched off, press Volume Down + Home + Power button simultaneously until the Samsung logo appears on your device.
  5. Release. A warning will appear on your device. Read it if you wish. Press Volume Up to continue to the downloading mode. You should see a screen with “Downloading” written on it along with some other stuff.
  6. Connect your phone to the PC using USB cable. It should detect your device as you have installed the drivers in step 2.
  7. Extract the rooting kit, (using winzip or other program), you downloaded in step 1 and open odin from the extracted ‘odin’ folder.
  8. Copy to your phone’s external or internal sdcard. The file is present in the rooting kit.
  9. ODIN should detect your device on any of the COM ports. Y
  10. You will be seeing various boxes: some checked and unchecked. Tick or untick them so that:

    F. Reset Time is ticked.

    Auto Reboot is ticked.

    PDA is ticked.

    All other boxes should be unticked.

  11. Click on PDA under the Files (Download) section in ODIN and browse to recovery.tar file. You will find this file in the extracted rooting kit.
  12. Remove the back cover from your device before you follow the next step. This is required as you will need to remove the battery with a perfect timing, after you complete the next step.
  13. Click on start. Let ODIN complete the flashing process. Don’t interrupt the process. A green bar will tell you the progress of the operation. When the green box in Odin window shows “Pass”, your phone will start a reboot.
  14. It’s time for you to jump into action. When the phone vibrates, remove the battery.
  15. Disconnect your phone from the PC.
  16. Power off your device and boot into ClockWorkMod recovery by pressing Volume Up + Volume Down + Home + Power buttons simultaneously until the Samsung logo appears.
  17. You’ll boot into the ClockWorkMod recovery mode. Your normal touch input won’t work here. Press Volume up to scroll up and Volume down to scroll down. Home button is used to select while power button will take you a step back.
  18. Scroll down to Backup & Restore and select backup. Let the backup process complete. Make sure you have atleast 2 GB storage free in the external sdcard before performing the backup.Note: If you want to unroot later on, boot into CWM and restore this backup. Then flash Stock recovery (present in stock recovery) using Odin, the same way you flashed recovery.tar in step 10.
  19. Go to Install Zip from sdcard option and select “Choose zip from external sdcard” or “Choose zip from internal sdcard” depending on the choice you made in step 12. Finally select the and browse through the long list of “No” to select the only “Yes” option to install superuser to your device.
  20. It will run through the installation process, and the phone will take around 2 minutes to boot.

After that your phone, Duos Trend model, in my case s-7566, should be rooted WITHOUT PROBLEMS!

Thanks to droidiser, who provided the original article.

China Mobile data usage limits

China Mobile data usage limits


Have this smartphone –

Samsung Galaxy GT-S7566
Samsung Galaxy GT-S7566

Have been trying different packages, having visited the store and bought the one recommended at point of sale.
On discussing this with someone that spoke English, the package had far to many talk minutes of which I used about 2 within the first month.

It also had too much bandwidth.

I swopped it down to a lower package with 400mb and some free text messages and no free minutes for calls etc.

There’s no way of telling what exactly what you’re going to get, unless your mandarin is good, or you’ve got someone you trust, (with a lot of patience), along with you.

Samsung data usage
Samsung Data usage screen

As a guideline, you shouldn’t be paying more than 108RMB. And the package you need will probably be like mine with some free texts and bandwidth for around 68RMB.

Shop around though. It’s probably better to go to a shop which isn’t the one that you buy your phone from. China Netcom have 3G if you want to get the better connectivity involved in that.

Otherwise, China mobile, visit one of their main shops. They’ll have the full range of packages.

Hence no posts today, cos my phone has been out of sorts today. 🙁 awww.

China accident

China accident


Nice little accident. First i’ve seen to date.


E-bike meets car.

Not a serious accident and no-one was hurt.

Looks like he swerved off into the traffic, (normal behavior for e-bike riders), and is probably wondering why someone hit him.

Mirror Signal?

Don’t care?

As I was taking the picture, someone decided to park up and begin a fixed turn. Three point.
Reversing out, manuevering parking again, stopping, moving out. Horns blaring all the while.
Accident behind.
Eventually, a passenger popped out the back. Making it all seem like a cul-de-sac drop off.

I guess that’s the scene in China, Mirror, signal, don’t care.

I guess that’s what the shared responsibility of communism does for you.


Posted from Samsung Galaxy S7566 – WordPress for Android

Google Play Multi-region access-Noobs Guide:Google apps without installing google play

Google Play Multi-region access-Noobs Guide:Google apps without installing google play

Samsung Galaxy GT-S7566
The new Samsung Galaxy GT-S7566

 ** UPDATE: The information in this guide may no longer be available. Since the changes in mid-2014, many of the GOOGLE APPS services have been severely restricted or curtailed.

In this guide I talk about accessing and downloading Google apps (apk)’s without having to have the Google Play functioning on your smartphone..

Imagine the horror! After purchasing a brand new Samsung Galaxy S Duo S7566, you discover that due to the regional nature of corporate money making and Geo-politics, you’re disallowed from downloading the latest apps from Google Play just because you live in CHina!

The easiest way around this is to ROOT your phone, remove all the Chinese bloat and apps and set your locale up as somewhere more friendly, perhaps the US or Senegal…

This Rooting will make your phone function like a finely tuned vehicle, or render it useless, depending on your technical skills.

Due to the fact I’ve just purchased my phone, I won’t be taking this route. Instead, I’d like to present…

Accessing Google Play without Rooting your phone – A noobs guide

There’s no rooting involved in this method, just follow the simple steps and you’ll be able to access and download Google Apps on any device from any locale, including China.

Step 1) Check your Device:

No matter what software you’re running, or the state of your build, you need to check your device is supported by the apps store. The list of supported devices is here Find your device on the list.

Step 2) Log and and visit Google Play:

1 Visit is enough for Google Play to recognise your device. If it doesn’t do this automatically, select the My Orders & Settings link at the bottom. Navigate to the settings tab and it should show a picture of your phone.

Step 3) Download the newest version of Kies:

This is the bundled file management software for Samsung phones. Each manufacturer has a different software. For Samsung phones, you can find the latest version of Kies here

Step 4) Install Kies:

It may take some time to apply the hotfixes. For my build and locale it was enough time for me to make a drink and then some. About 10-15 mins in all. Once the installation starts, you can wait a little longer.
Installing Kies simply INSURES you have the latest drivers and firmware installed on your phone.

Step 5) Download Snappea:

This is a GUI that draws information directly from your phone. It allows you to transfer files, apps, contacts, mails and messages directly to and from your PC. Download Snappea

Step 6) Launch Kies:

Navigate to the ‘Apps Store’. This may require more time whilst changes are made according to your set-up and locale. Be patient.

Step 7) Launch Snappea:

Step 8) Plug in your phone (USB).

Step 9) In Snappea:

The dropdown on the top-left. ‘Connect new phone’. Select ‘connect from USB’.
If this fails, (as was the case with my Chinese market GT-S7566 Samsung), Enter the name of your phone manually in the ‘Phone name incorrect’ option.

Snappea will launch a new window with the name of your phone and all the different functions provided by the software (messages, contacts, sync, etc.)

Step 10) Click the ‘Google Play’ icon:

Select the ‘sign in’. Log into your account and begin downloading.

Hey Presto! Access Google Play apps from all over the world!

No rooting

2 Software downloads.

About 1/2 an hour of your time.


Unfortunately, your device still needs to be on the list of Google Play’s supported devices. Which can be found here.