Who would have thought that access to my blog is blocked if you are trying to read it from Iran, after I have published so many articles about Iran? The censors of the Islamic Republic don’t seem to like what I write. Luckily, I remember from my last visit to Iran in June 2009 that almost everyone in Iran knew how to circumvent the internet censorship by using proxy servers:
I was sitting in an internet café (in Iran they are called “coffee-net”) at Enqelab Avenue in Tehran and couldn’t access the sites of BBC or CNN. A woman sitting next to me noticed my despair and gave me her memory stick and explained that I should copy a programme called FreeGate which would help me to circumvent the censorship. It worked very well and after looking at the screens of the other users in this internet café, I noticed that more than half must have been using this or similar software because they were watching the YouTube video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan who had just been shot and killed 2 days before.
This is what blocked sites looked like in Iran in June 2009:
When this site first appeared on my screen, I was afraid what the people sitting to my left and right or the owner of the internet café would do, but they just smiled knowingly.
If you live in any other country that regularly blocks internet sites, like North Korea, China, Syria (I remember from my visit to Syria that all websites with an .il domain [from Israel] were blocked) or Cuba, could you please take a screenshot of what it looks like when you try to access a blocked site and e-mail it to me? Thank you very much in advance!
Here is a screenshot of what my blog looks like in Iran in 2011:
The current censorship not only blocks my site, but helpfully suggests many other alternatives for your virtuous browsing.
From a friend in Turkmenistan, I heard in January 2012 that my blog is blocked there. A message “The requested URL was not found” pops up.
Interesting. You’d think the security services would be clever enough to use a “screen shot” of a 404 or 403 to dissuade people – make it look like a dead link or user-secured site.
Then again, totalitarianism and genius rarely intersect. :D
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I can access your blog without any VPN. This could be a changing status, though.
From China… I forgot to add this key info.
That’s good to know!
But it does make me wonder why the billions of your compatriots don’t discover my blog. :/
The reasons could be complicated, but I think I can sort them out now. Language barrier I would say. And behind it exam-oriented language education and mind-closing political influence that infiltrates each and every corner of society. Common Chinese people can barely understand English and even college-educated people find it hard to read English stuff, because they have been long conditioned to “Reading Comprehension” in exams. Once outside exams, most of them could hardly have the patience and real literacy to absord English information. Sadly, it is both the failure of language education and subotaged minds that could have been naturally curious about the external world. But again, the reasons are complicated. Decent resources for natural language learning, socio-economic status, censorship and even business factor (like, the largest search engine Baidu in China is based on the Chinese language, so most don’t even search and read in English… How can you access your blog…) Some statistics showed that only 4% population among netizens in China have a college diploma… paled into shit compared with developed countries.
As a Chinese native, I know your feeling about dictatorship and stuff of the sort. I agree in many ways, but as your are traveling and writing, it would be much much beneficial to deepen your understanding of a country with thousands of years of history and billions of human beings. Chinese comlexity sucks many times, especially used as a front for…social suppression by authorities, but it also provides food for thinking and feeling, in this era, not only to outsiders like you but to insiders like me…
BTW, lastly, I totally share your fondness of Martin Eden, and that’s why I followed your blog… Have a good day!
Thank you very much for your insight!
To be fair, most people in English-speaking countries don’t find/read my blog either. :/
The complexity is really one reason why I haven’t been to China yet. It’s one of the countries where I know I would have a hard time learning even a few words, and any trip shorter than at least a few months wouldn’t even begin to do the country and the people justice.
Or maybe I am not as adventurous/brave as I would like to be. :-( But then, I should at least find the time after the pandemic to go on one of my dream trips: the longest possible railway journey, from Portugal through all of Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China and Vietnam: https://andreasmoser.blog/2016/09/09/train-world/
Wow… a long train journey sounds really thrilling… I love your route and I saw some locations familiar to me in China, which I just visited last year on my motorcycling ride (like Xi’an). I am also planning my RTW motorcycling journey, thought it is still in a very preliminary stage where I keep thinking about the meaning of journey and beyond… and trying to feel my innermost thoughts and of course getting prepared in many aspects… Hopefully the pandemic will ease faster to allow long trips. I am based in Beijing now and if you do stop by the city down the road as your route indicates I might be your guide :)
Wooow, that sounds like a very adventurous journey as well! And much more independent than going by train. (Although I personally like the independence of not having to care for a car or a motorcycle or even a bicycle. It’s all too much technology for me, which needs to be maintained and repaired and everything.)
Na sowas aber auch, da schreibst du so viel über den Iran und man weiß es dort einfach nicht zu würdigen… ;-) Die Menschen müssen sich irgendwie behelfen und haben ihre Tricks. Und ich denke, sie unterstützen einander eher, als sich gegenseitig in die Pfanne zu hauen. Leider habe ich mein Zeitfenster für einen Iranbesuch verpasst, aktuell sind die deutsch-iranischen Beziehungen denkbar schlecht und die Stimmung unvorhersehbar.
Wie und weshalb bist du nach Syrien gekommen? Ach, ich fräse mich am besten einfach durch die Beiträge… :-)
Ja, der Zusammenhalt unter den Menschen im Iran war bewundernswert. Ich habe auch zweimal erlebt, wie eine Frau vor der Sittenpolizei weggelaufen ist und die Passanten ihr geholfen haben. Eine von ihnen sprang in ein Sammeltaxi, in dem ich saß, sagte dem Fahrer, er solle sofort losfahren, und er tat es. Es gab volle Unterstützung von allen anderen Passagieren.
Grundsätzlich empfinde ich den Iran als sicheres Reiseland (wenn man nicht gerade so wie ich auf Demos geht oder sich mit Oppositionellen trifft), aber im Moment würde ich auch abraten.
Denn wenn man Pech hat, wird man wegen nichts verhaftet, nur damit der Iran jemanden zum Austauschen hat. Und dann vergehen ein paar Jahre, und danach wird man gegen einen Mörder ausgetauscht und macht sich sein Leben lang Vorwürfe.
Syrien war mal eine kombinierte Reise mit dem Libanon. Hinflug nach Beirut, Rückflug von Damaskus. Das mache ich gerne, damit ich nicht vor Ort versumpfe (das passiert bei mir leicht), sondern eine bestimmte Strecke tatsächlich zurücklegen muss.
Aber ich war nur ein paar Tage dort, und jeweils nur in den Hauptstädten.
Damaskus hatte eine wirklich fantastische Altstadt, aber man hat die Diktatur schon überall gespürt. Sogar in meinem (sehr zugigen) Hotelzimmer hing ein Foto von Bashar al-Assad. :/