7 Facebook-less days in China : When I experience life again

As you would have known, I went on a trip to China in the first week on November, for the China-ASEAN Youth Camp 2011. An indeed enriching camp and everyone enjoyed themselves. All the actions and highlights, you can find it over in that post.

Today, I’m more of going to share my own experiences during my 7 days in China. Actually the title already told you my experience. No Facebook for 7 days. This is not news, and I’m sure you’ve already known they are famous for their Great FireWall of China.

In my trips to China so far, I have successfully climbed to the top of the Great Wall of China, twice. Kind of tiring, but it’s manageable. But this is my first time encountering their Great FireWall. No Facebook, No Twitter, No YouTube… and I can’t even have updated news on my iPad Flipboard.

I don’t know about you, but it’s quite a challenge, or rather, a torture for me not able to access those sites even if I have the Internet. Back in Singapore, I access Facebook when I’m bored, till I’m bored. Some says Facebook is like an addiction, and I confess, I’m addicted to it! Haha…

So no Facebook for me in China. Some friends suggested trying VPN. But I have no idea how to use it, and it turns out to be super lagged when my friend finally accessed Facebook through VPN. Probably the VPN Is not strong enough to withstand the heat from the Firewall, that’s why.

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No Facebook, What to do?

What to do?

Enjoy the trip (lah)!

After all, this trip is not about Facebook, nor I have a duty to update all my whereabouts on Facebook. A breakaway from Facebook allows me to ‘BE THERE’ for the whole trip. “BE THERE”, is easily said, not easily done. I sure can’t do it when I’m in Singapore.

BE THERE, or a better explanation. means to have your body, mind and soul altogether in one place. When it’s not, it means like you are in a lecture, but your mind is thinking about the Korean buffet you’ll be eating later, or thinking how many friends will respond to your funky picture you just uploaded on Facebook.

How many of these actually happen to us daily? For me, I can say it’s everyday. Or every hour, especially when I can access Facebook simply with my iPhone in hand. My mind is always separated from my physical being. But now, thanks to the Great Firewall, I can BE THERE the whole trip, without any distraction from Facebook.

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A Little Girl Who Taught Me Happiness

There’s one part of the trip that is quite memorable. In Nanning, there is a little girl, whose Dad is the coach driver who fetch us around when we travel in the city.


We came to know this girl when we are about to depart Nanning to Beijing, via domestic flight. We took the coach to Nanning airport, and that’s where, during the trip, we learn so much from her. She was just 6 years old.

When we board the bus, she was sleeping at the back of the coach. Her blanket and pillow were there, and that gave us the idea that she probably spend the night in the coach.

She also had a cute little school bag, though  a little torn, has allowed her to carry her notebook and stationery to school. When we saw her notebook, she opened it and read us a Chinese poem. Oh, by the way, she’s called Shan Shan.

Shan Shan is a cheerful little girl who always smiles and giggles when answering our questions. During our ride, she saw my friend, Estella’s Cannon camera, and she became so excited that she took it and kept on snapping us.

I heard from Estella that she took a few hundred photos in less than an hour of ride. Of course, some are just random or blurred shots, but some are really good ones.

Throughout the ride, we talked to her, played with her and joked with her. After about an hour or so, we are kind of tired and wanted to rest but she’s still full of energy. It’s just like how parents can’t match the energy level of their kids.

Moments later, we reached the airport and was going to alight the coach. Upon hearing this, Shan Shan looked surprised that we were in fact going to leave, and that’s why we were in his Dad’s coach.

When we were packing up to alight, we could see sadness in her eyes. But still we had to leave for Beijing. All of us had our share of joy with Shan Shan. My delegate leader Eric enjoyed the ride tremendously too.

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What I See…

From the short few hours we had with Shan Shan, I see that happiness doesn’t derive much from the things we have, but from the relationships we have with others.

Of course we are happy that we have this gadget and that toy, but I believe we will be really more happy when we have good relationships, and share good times and memories with the people around us.

Also, those few hours also brought me back to the pre-Facebook or pre-Internet days. Then, we do not have lots of gadgets like iPhone, iPod, iPad, Playstation, Xbox, Kinect…etc. But we are able to create joy and entertainment through simple toys or card games. Or we can just simply hang out with our friends at some neighborhood and play games like ‘Catching’ or ‘Ice-Man’.

Then, when we play, we play our hearts out, and don’t care so much. Today, whatever we play, we will post at Facebook first, and while we are playing, we will keep checking Facebook who respond to our update. We are there physically, but not mentally. I admit I did this sometimes. Haha…

My friend, a mother, also had a revelation. She felt that her daughter, who has the same age as Shan Shan, is so much more fortunate than Shan Shan. She has proper books, bags and shoes, but Shan Shan has to make do with her torn bag and dirty shoes for school. She said that she will tell her daughter about Shan Shan, and teach her how to appreciate things more. And she is also going to send some nice shoes and bags over from Singapore to Nanning for Shan Shan!

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Goodbye Shan Shan!

Whoooo…. I didn’t know there’s so much things to say just because I didn’t manage to use Facebook for 7 days. Probably I conserved all my postings from those 7 days for today’s post.

Coming back to Singapore, I’m back to my usual Facebook regime, accessing it every now and then. I even logged in during every break I took from my revision for examinations. I’m allowing it to come back to my life again. I’m trying to minimize the usage of it… but I already said that 9 months ago. Oh yea.

Thinking of it, the Great FireWall Of China is actually not as bad as I first thought. It makes China a first class rehabilitation center for Facebook addicts (like me). How about you? Will you consider going to China, as a tourist, and also to break free from the Facebook-dominant world?

I will definitely go again, for it brings back my life!

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