Moving to China can be a daunting and scary experience. There is so much to prepare, from general bags being packed with clothes, to what medicines will be needed, what maps you can use, and the obvious and most difficult question, ‘How am I going to communicate?’
Well to say the least, technology has this all sorted for you. In this article, we will touch on a few Andriod and iOS apps that can help make this transition much easier.
The first thing to know is that China uses a great firewall to censor its internet usage, thus sites like Facebook, Youtube and even Google are not allowed in mainland China. In order to get around this, most foreigners and some locals use what is called a VPN. There are many VPNs out there that offer their services, but over the years i have found 2 VPNs to be highly effective.
The first one is Astrill VPN. This is a paid VPN service that allows a years subscription with the option to use it on more than one device at the same time
The second VPN service is called Express VPN. This offers the same service as Astrill
Although these are two great VPN, there are many more out there that are just as good, such as; AppVPN, HotShield VPN and even Viper VPN are also great.
So now we can access the internet, what about maps? Google maps will not work in China unless you have a VPN installed on your phone or computer. So what are you going to use? Baidu maps can come to the rescue. With this app you can locate any address in Chinese and in pinyin and it even shows satellite images of the landscape. This is a great app if you want to find your location, or even your buddies location. It can also tell you which bus routes to take and how long it will take to get each destination.
Great, so now you have internet, and a map for location services, but how are you going to tell your taxi driver where to go? Over the years, I have found 2 apps that work great for translation. One is excellent if you want to learn the single words and characters, the other is great for translating written word, pictures and even speech and text.
The first one is the famous Pleco tranlsation app for iOS and Android. This app helps you find single word meanings and allows you to type in pinyin as well. It is also available for offline use.
Finally, the app I use the most,m for translating menus, speech and text is Microsoft translator. This app is connected to your camera and microphone so it can translate speech into any desired language. With fast interactive time, it really helps with on the go translation. You can also download dictionaries of various language to be used offline.
So there we have it. The few apps that can help you get started on your journey through China. Remember, there are thousand of more apps you can use to make your transition easier. Don’t be afraid of technology, embrace it as it is shaping our world today.
Have a lovely day everyone.
Gianluigi Nicolosi (Weeg)