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China, 4 questions: WhatsApp; WeChat; VPN; Mecan

China, 4 questions: WhatsApp; WeChat; VPN; Mecan

Jan 30th, 2017, 12:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 126
China, 4 questions: WhatsApp; WeChat; VPN; Mecan

1. Does WhatApp work in China? If so, can it be used to make free WhatsApp phone calls from China to the US? Is it necessary to add the country code?

2. Is WeChat better for this?

3. Planning a 2 week visit to China. Would you recommend a VPN to retrieve Gmail and, if so, which one and why?

4. Have you visited the Mecan Hotel in Yangshuo, and if so, how was it?

dflawyer is offline  
Jan 30th, 2017, 06:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 394
I receive WhatsApp messages from a Chinese friend. It's possible she's using a mobile phone VPN, but I don't think so.

WeChat functions similarly but has a great deal of other functionality including a payment system you won't need. It also famously has a back door for the Chinese government and so should not be used for any confidential or commercial information.

I've found Witopia to be consistently successful as a VPN in China, working on both laptop and mobile phone.

I cannot think of any good reason to visit Yangshuo. When in China I prefer to visit China.
temppeternh is offline  
Feb 1st, 2017, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 296
1- Sure it works but you are calling other WhatsApp accounts, not landlines in the US. So there is no country code. to enter.
2- WeChat is the same, you call other WeChat users (for free). If you wish to call a mobile phone ot landline in the US then better use Skype. Create an account and put some money in the account. The cost per call is very small. You'll be able to make calls over Wifi.
3- If you only need it to access gmail, there is no need to pay for a VPN. Just create an email account with another service such as Hotmail and set up your gmail account to forward your mail to this alternate account. You can get a VPN if you wish to access other services from Google like Google maps or other blocked websites. You can use this tool to check if a website is blocked: http://www.blockedinchina.net/?siteurl=facebook.com
4- Not many reviews on this B&B: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Re...y_Guangxi.html
CanadaChinaTraveller is online now  
Feb 2nd, 2017, 11:38 AM
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temppeternh: Please explain what you mean by saying: "I cannot think of any good reason to visit Yangshuo. When in China I prefer to visit China."
dflawyer is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2017, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 394
Yangshuo was once the waterside village amid sleepy countryside where tourist boats from Guilin disembarked their passengers. They wandered through a few souvenir stalls and went back to Guilin again by bus. But then a few enterprising backpackers decided to stay overnight instead, and in the mid-80s it became a backpacker destination in its own right, with two or three primitive hostels, some of which had been taught to produce the usual backpacker babyfood (banana pancakes). 'Spicy chocolate cake' on menus was a bit of bread with chocolate spread on it. It was completely silent at night, and largely devoid of electricity, but it was possible to sit on the roof of the hostel, admire the moon over the peaks, and drink an unchilled beer.

By the early 90s it had become a known backpacker stop, with a choice of cafés with clever names like Hard Seat Café (referring to a class of Chinese railway travel), serving just about anything except Chinese food. But it was still possible to rent a bike for next to nothing and pedal off around the countryside to visit the peaks, and be greeted with surprise on entering neighbouring villages.

More and more hotels and restaurants opened, and Yangshuo became a destination for Chinese to come and marvel at Western youth being Western youth. Eventually the old town wasn't enough, so some more old town was built to provide more capacity.

Today Yangshuo is a tourism maelstrom. Whereas it was once a genuine bit of Chinese countryside at a time when only a limited number of cities were open to visitors and the countryside was mainly seen from train windows, today it's the place where you sit and eat something distantly resembling spaghetti carbonara while fighting off pestering (and entirely unnecessary) tour guides. KFC, McDonald's and other fast food outlets are also available. Every peak now has an entrance fee, and instead of silent moonlit nights there's the thunder of the giant sound system and flashes of light from a Zhang Yimou-directed son-et-lumière.

China, it isn't.
temppeternh is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2017, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 296
There is plenty of Chinese food in Yangshuo. Places that serve western food remain in minority and the western food in Yangshuo is terrible. Sure there is a KFC and McDonalds but you don't need to eat there.
The main issue with Yangshuo these days is that transportation is better. First with the construction of a highway from Guangzhou a few years ago and not with high-speed train. The result is the construction of a large number of hotels and a lot more people.
Pretty easy though to rent a bike and you'll be out in the countryside after 5 minutes.
An alternative next door would be Xingping. Only small hotels and pretty quiet and actually closer to the Yangshuo train station than Yangshuo itself.
If you want to see small villages that have not been too influenced by modern life, you can go and hike to the poor villages of Guizhou. But Yangshuo is certainly China as much as Shanghai is China in its way.
CanadaChinaTraveller is online now  
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