If everything else fails, turn the bloody thing on and off!!

I know. Since proudly announcing on Facebook that I was breezing through Hong Kong airport, there has only been silence on my part.  This was certainly not due to lack of inspiration or exciting events, but mainly lack of cooperation on the part of the Chinese internet system…

Since my Independence Day I have learnt things I never thought I could or needed to master;  I have developed a confidence with things technological and digital to a level I had not believed possible.  And although I have to admit that ‘coping on my own’ often still involves sweet-talking outside helpers (mainly men…), I am watching and soaking up knowledge as never before..  But even then, solutions are not always easy to come by.

Whereas my phone obediently connected wirelessly to all WiFi floating in China’s ether, my laptop remained stubbornly deaf to all calls.  I came prepared, believe you me, having bought and installed the necessary VPNs which would allow me access to websites such as Facebook, and the use of the in-the-Western-world-indispensable Google and Gmail…  You know, nothing fancy, just the normal stuff people in the West take for granted.  I tried to connect my laptop in the hotel, but to no avail.  Although just one day, Pavel (another teacher, from the Czech Republic) managed to breathe some life into the thing and I enjoyed a full 24 hours of magic on the internet .  I did not think there was any point in trying to connect my iPad.  Surely, once we arrived in our accommodation, these teething problems would fade away.


Green tea, Chinese style.  How to avoid eating the leaves…

After three days of aimlessly wallowing in the hotel and biding our time (there were about 7 of us, all teachers waiting to be shown our final destination and schools..),  drinking green tea Chinese style, we were eventually  dispatched to our various  schools last Monday.  However, not until we all had had our ‘medical’ to ensure we were not importing any infectious diseases, such as HIV, into the country… On the other hand, it was good to know that the only thing that warranted mentioning on my card was the tattoo on my right foot and imperfect eye-sight; I am wearing glasses, so that was an obvious one…


There were many initial misgivings about my accommodation which might or might not have been on campus (dormitory style?? no privacy); or might or might not have to be shared (no privacy), so I was pleasantly surprised to find a spacious flat waiting just for me.  But unfortunately what you see is what you get: bed, wardrobe, cupboard units, washing machine, fridge up so high I can’t use the top shelves, and one kettle and a one-ring electric cooking device…  no such luxuries such as sheets, towels, pots, pans, utensils… And clearly my 20 kg luggage allowance on Cathy Pacific did not stretch to that either.  So my first trip was indeed to the local Ikea Store…


And if I had hoped that moving into my own flat would have been the end of my internet troubles, I was bitterly disappointed.  No internet yet…  There was a connection in working order and a router with flashing lights but the password had disappeared with the previous teacher, now residing in a different time zone.  Many hours lapsed before it could be retrieved, only to find it did not do the trick either.  Intervention from the internet company resulted in WiFi access for my phone and iPad, but still no success on the laptop front.  Yes, I was connected but not a single website allowed, with or without VPN…

Desperation set in as lesson planning relies on good internet on my laptop.  I took the thing to school and just briefly the IT guru in the school managed to open a few websites on my computer.  Hooray, I thought…only to find that no sooner had I left the building, and I was back to square one.  I consulted my son at the other side of the world; him being an expert I kept my fingers crossed… Conclusion: it was definitely something in China, and not something he could do much about…

Taking my laptop into school again the next day, my assistant (YES, I do have an assistant in the classroom!!!) suggested: how about restarting your computer???  I admit, I close my computer often, closing the lid, but shutting down???  I was sceptical at first, but felt that as every other avenue had been exhausted, I had nothing to lose.  AND it certainly did the trick!!  For a while at the school anyway…

The real issue is that my laptop is at the mercy of the unstable Chinese network, which means poor internet connections most of the time…  But I have discovered that Saturday and Sunday mornings may be the better times to  surf the net as the Chinese youth will still be tucked up in bed and not yet on their phones, leaving spare capacity for the rest of the population…AND ME!!!!






3 thoughts on “If everything else fails, turn the bloody thing on and off!!

  1. Doreen Frusher

    Hard to believe isn’t it in such a commercial place as China! Otherwise it sounds fine and you should do better as the children are much more disciplined, or it would appear that way! Hope it gies well for you.



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