Moving to China with Family

moving to china with family

A few months ago, we did a survey to subscribers of our newsletter and asked, “Are there any subjects which you would like to read about on SDC?” and lots of people asked us for an article more oriented towards families.

However, how can we write an article oriented towards families if neither of us has a family?

So, a few days ago when I received an email from a Spanish family which had moved to Shanghai and wanted to share their experience and suggestions, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.

This article was written by Julio Cesar Castro, who recently moved to Shanghai with his partner and daughter.

P.D. In my opinion, this article helps to complete my previous article: “How to move to China to study or work [Read more…]

Shenzhen: The Book – Interview with the Author Ted Rule

Shenzhen: The Book

In today’s interview I’ll discuss with Ted Rule, one of the authors of “Shenzhen: The Book“, a comprehensive guide for traveling and living in Shenzhen that has just been published by

I read the book last week and I must say that Ted and Karen, who first arrived in Shenzhen in 1971, did a great job on both describing what you can do and see in Shenzhen and conveying the atmosphere of this metropolis that, only 40 years ago, was just a village.

Ted, first of all, thank you for accepting this interview. Your book starts with a couple of Chinese sayings. The one I liked the most is this: “If you love him, send him to Shenzhen. Heaven’s there. If you hate him, send him to Shenzhen. Hell’s there,” which remember me the saying “Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford” of Samuel Johnson. What is, in your opinion, that makes Shenzhen so different from the other Chinese cities?

In some ways Shenzhen is very different to other Chinese cities but it shares many of the characteristics that are changing every Chinese city. The main difference – essentially Shenzhen was built from scratch. Before 1979 there was nothing here. That’s true of most Chinese cities in a sense. Look at Beijing and Shanghai. Most of what you see there was built in the past 20 years. The difference is that in Shenzhen there’s no equivalent of the Bund or of the hutong. The “indigenous” population is tiny and its traditions are barely known. Everybody in Shenzhen is a recent immigrant and that colors everything that happens here. There’s nobody to tell you that “we tried that and it didn’t work”. [Read more…]

From China to Laos, the entrance to Southeast Asia

from china to laos

Combining a trip to China and Laos on the same visit may seem strange, however it can be a very interesting thematic tour. The Chinese region of Yunnan for climate and environment could easily be considered part of Southeast Asia, especially its most southern region.

Even from a historical point of view there are many connections between the two, such as the fact that Jinghong – capital of the Chinese province of Xishuangbanna, was once the capital of the Thai kingdom of Sipsongpanna. And what about the Yuan dynasty, that from Yunnan turned toward present-day Laos and Burma in an attempt to subdue rebellious kingdoms for the will of heaven?  You too can follow the footsteps of Kubilai Khan and, if at the most you submit to a Beer Lao and a plate of noodles, you will have entered into an extraordinary land: Laos.

From China to Laos by air

For a trip to Laos from China, the starting point is Kunming, the capital of Yunnan also known as “the city of eternal Spring”. Depending on the time you have available, the trip can be made by land or air. From Kunming Changshui International Airport, situated in the Guandu district (about 25km from Kunming), the national carrier Lao Airlines offers daily flights to Vientiane. Alternately, flights to Vientiane are available also on the Chinese company  Eastern Airlines, though they offer only two flights per week. [Read more…]

How to get a Russian Visa: The Complete Guide

Russian visa

This article is a complete and updated guide on how to obtain a visa for Russia. In this article, we are going to cover the following points (you can click on them to jump directly to the point which interests you):

[Read more…]

Shaolin Temple: Travel to the Mecca of Chinese Kung Fu

shaolin temple mecca chinese kungfu
Today’s article is dedicated to the Shaolin Temple, an emblematic place for Chinese Kung Fu. Here you can find all the information you need to visit this place and much more. Let’s get started!

The Shaolin Temple

Who hasn’t heard of the Shaolin Temple? However, how many people know where it is?
Personally, I have to admit that two years ago, I didn’t even know that it still existed. [Read more…]

Street Merchants of Kashgar, in Xinjiang (Photo Essays)

Sacks of pepper in the Old City

Market of Kashgar

The melon seller

During my sojourn in Kashgar, which lasted only five days, every day I stopped at the night market on Jie Fang Bei Road to buy a slice of hami gua melon (a melon from the xinjianese province of Hami) from the man in the photo below that, despite looking calm in the picture, never stopped shouting for even a second. [Read more…]

10 places to visit in China that you might not know about

10 places to visit in china

When people ask me about China, I always like to make the analogy that it is like a bigger version of Europe. China is a country which is much more culturally diverse than we think in the West.

The majority of international tourists who travel to China do what is called the golden triangle; that’s to say, Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai. There are also some who visit Guilin, which is famous for its landscapes, Datong or Pingyao. Panda-lovers may also visit Chengdu. However, China offers many other places that are equally or more spectacular than these ones.

In this article, I have selected 10 places little-known by international tourists, which are very different from one another and which you might include in your trip. [Read more…]

VPN for China: How to access Facebook and Youtube behind the Great Wall

Facebook China

The first part of this article explains what a VPN is and how it can be used to access Facebook, YouTube and the other websites that are currently blocked in China.

The second part is a comparative review of VyprVPN, StrongVPN and ExpressVPN, which are in my opinion, the three best VPN services in China. We’ll compare prices, functionality and the performance of the three VPNs.

Click here if you want to jump directly to the comparison!

What is a VPN and why do I need it in China?

As you probably already know, the internet doesn’t work like we wish it did in China and a large number of websites are blocked by the Great Firewall. Among the websites that you can’t access there are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google+.

There are many other blocked websites, and depending on what you do, it will be virtually impossible for you to work in China without a VPN (Virtual Private Network) from China. The most striking case is probably given by, which often returns an error message when used from within the Middle Kingdom.

But there is still hope…

In order to solve this problem, you can install a VPN, which masks your I.P. address so that your laptop appears to be connected from the U.S. or Japan even if you are in China.

[Read more…]

Chinese With Mike – Video course review

Chinese with Mike

I “discovered” the videos of Mike Laoshi, at the time Mike Hainzinger, in 2012, a few months after I began writing here on SDC. I spoke well of him on various occasions and a few months ago, John Murray Learning, the English publishing house that has published the course, has asked me if I was willing to review “Chinese with Mike”. I said yes.

So they sent me a copy of the DVDs and textbook that goes along with the video course. If you want I send it to you… just joking, if you’re interested the course is available on, you’ll find it here.

Why is “Chinese with Mike” not just another video course?

If you watch the above trailer (it only lasts 30 seconds) you’ll see that Mike Laoshi is an unconventional teacher to say the least. In fact it was just that which struck me about his lessons: he manages to explain Chinese grammar without boring you. Since I believe boredom is the greatest danger when one takes on learning Chinese, this is not a minor detail. Below you’ll find one of the few lessons available on the Youtube channel Chinese with Mike:

[Read more…]