For a China veteran traveler like myself, this 2-week journey has not been worry-free, yet it has been productive, if not efficient.
The difficult part of working in China, or just vacationing in China, could bring unwarranted stress if you care much about using the Internet, which may be better known in China as an Intranet behind the Great Firewall. This could be especially troublesome when you have multiple large files to transfer between the Pacific Ocean. Here are some of the stress points that are particularly painful:
- Internet speed: This is a problem particularly for budget hotel travelers, who at times could be experiencing Internet connections as slow as a few Kbps, see chart below scenario #4. The fastest (WiFi) connection I’ve hopped on so far in China was at a university library, almost triple my NYC home’s already impressive 50 Mbps (#7). But even with this truly fast connection, it is still pretty slow to visit sites overseas, especially if you need to go around the Firewall using a VPN (virtual private network). Most hotels don’t offer fast Internet as taken for granted in the US, at least not for budget hotels. I’ve stayed at hotels (that cost a lot) where they have installed a master VPN before beaming the WiFi to your rooms, which is really sweet, but note that any connection going through a VPN most likely only allows you to visit Facebook, YouTube, etc., but it also slows down the connection a great deal, so watching videos could still be a painfully awful experience. I haven’t tried many VPN services, but I have always seen the connection dropping to excruciating double digits of Kbps, or even single digits, from as fast as dozens of Mbps (according to speedtest.net).