Getting Internet Ready for China with IVPN

IVPN Screenshot

As with anywhere you go to, one should not go totally unprepared. Leaving a good portion of a trip to adventure is wise, yet there are always a few things that are better not left in the arms of opportunity. When travelling to China, one such thing is the internet. So many times I have seen as well as heard westerners who just land to China realising that they can’t access their emails or favourite social media. It happens all the time, after all it’s the republic where big brother is always watching.

For your trip to be more enjoyable you need to have full access to anything you need. For this, the most useful technology you can have is known as VPN. This three letter combination stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’. In short, it’s like a server outside of China and when you connect to it, all the traffic is transferred through this server. In other words it gives you the same access as being in that country that you are connected to. So for example, in Hong Kong which is a popular place for VPN servers amongst the Chinese you are allowed to access Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and so on. In mainland China these websites have been blocked. So if you are trying to access these sites from mainland China it will not let you open the pages. If you are in Hong Kong, even in a virtual manner so to speak, you will have no problems accessing the websites I just mentioned.

Of course the government knows about this technology and has also blocked access to the websites that offer these VPN services. That’s why you need to apply for one before you enter the country. So if you are following me so far, you should be already browsing for these services if you are planning a trip to China like me. But wait, there many different qualities of service available and I happen to know one that is very suitable and good quality. Well known as the IVPN, this highly rated VPN server is not the cheapest but of high quality. Level of support is very high, which is a crucial factor if you don’t want to get stuck in between your travels.

But there are also concerns of privacy, because if they are logging your IP address I think there is not much point in all of it. As for IVPN not only do they not keep any logs at all, also they only require your email address. That’s right, no real names needed or addresses either. It’s really a one of a kind and unique service that you can really trust on. That’s why I even use it back home in South Korea!

As soon as you land to China you find out that everything is running on trust. Even more than in Korea or western countries. That’s why it’s equally good fortune to continue that chain of trust that continues to take it’s form on different levels within the country. Ones you have your internet working, it’s just a fun ride where you need to just take a bit care. The rest is adventure, exploration and a trip to an ancient land of culture. And btw, don’t forget to check out the link for a discount coupon code for IVPN, the link is above!

Let’s get ready for China!

Kangdae Seo

Planning Things and a Trip to Xi’an, China


It’s been a while and I am already planning my next trip to the big mainland of China. But having toured Beijing, and even Shanghai quite a lot already. It’s time to take the next step and introduce myself to a new cool city, with new cool shows and places to visit. I think everything has it’s order of importance, but some people just don’t understand. And I have been included into one of those people, who totally missed the ancient and sacred capital of China in Xi’an. It is the current capital of Shaaxi province and located in the northwest part of China. This place is cold during the winter and hot during the summer, with wind blowing from the desert sending sand up your nose. Sounds lovely? I think so too! Also there is a significant muslim population which encourages me to get to know the side of China that is virtually unknown. However the city of Xi’an is very popular already with tourism and there is a mind blowing and traditional show to be witnessed. Known as the legendary “Tang Dynasty Dinner Show”. If you are looking for things to do in Xian, well look no further and I have booked my tickets to the fantastic show already too.

Basically it’s a very classic story of emperors, old dynasties and their women. Only kidding for the last part. Well, I don’t care for the story as much as I care for the Terracotta Army which is another great thing to do there. For the show stuff, I just want to have a very good dinner with dumplings as well as enjoy dancing, music, singing and the usual strange and mystical Chinese performing arts feeling. If you don’t know what I mean, then you perhaps have never been to China yourself. But I can assure you, that when something is “Chinese”, it’s a characterestic that truly sticks to you and the venue as well of course. What’s unique in Xian’s case is that these guys are truly and authentically pioneers in many ways. Probably the biggest pioneering influence being the Silk Road which the city is the starting point for.

While I would love to walk along the Sillk Road to Europe, I don’t think it’s possible. That’s why the Tang Dynasty Show is definitely one of the closest things you can have to that experience. They say that even though the population is almost 8 million, it still remains a uniquely small town feel. With beautiful and narrow streets that are simply buzzing with life from different cultures of the world. A China ike that sounds optimal to me and for sure there won’t be any problems of findings things that I can do there. Just feel the vibes of the streets, the wind and lovely relaxed people. In some ways from what I have read, many people like it even more than Beijing or Shanghai.

It’s hard to believe, having experienced so much of the “hard side” of mainland China. But time will tell and I am always ready to change my opinion and concepts for a better one. Perhaps the next one is headed for a new addiction known as Western China!

Loving regards,
Kangdae Seo

PS. Sorry for being so silent for so long. I hope to be back to more blogging in the future. Although the pace will never get back to the original. I am rather busy with work, a typical South Korean syndrome. One that usually Chinese people symphatize with! =)

Koreans in China

Korea Against China Table Tennis

I have been to some Korean neighbourhoods in Beijing for example, but I have yet to see a really vibrant community. Surely I just haven’t found it, but I must say that I am not just curious about Korean tourists in China. Yep, I am especially interested in those who live in China because I want to know what they are doing there. Of course work is one thing, but how they integrate is what fascinates me.

When you go to Korean restaurants in China, you realise that probably half of them are owned by Chinese. You really need to go to a little bit more run-down places, where they serve dog and such to find real Korean owners. Also it is difficult to say if they are from North or South. Some are also couples who own restaurants, perhaps with a Korean woman and a Chinese husband, where interestingly the woman has thought a group of Chinese men to cook and herself is the waitress of the place. This scenario is also not uncommon there.

While I have never actually lived in that country, I know that if I would it is not that difficult compared to some other countries. While pollution, and cleanliness is one thing on the other side you can find a lot of Korean food products from a lot of shops because the close approximity. That is what I guess is making all these Korean people feel like at home in China. Beijing has one of the biggest populations, and also Shanghai, Qingdao is famous for having such neighbourhoods.


Kangdae Seo

Followed Koreans to Performing Acrobats Show in China

Performing Acrobats in China

In an earlier post, I mentioned about my culinary and entertaining trip to Beijing. They are truly fond memories, and it’s really one of the advantages of living in Seoul. It’s a very short access to China as well as Japan, making it possible to do even “one night trips” to these countries. But I do like to stay longer of course and really get to know a place. It’s also interesting to note that both of the mentioned countries, have a big Korean population. While some Koreans try to avoid it while they are travelling, or the other way around when they live in those countries they embrace themselves in everything Korean.

I believe that there needs to be a balance. So that if I live in one of the countries, I would prefer to try and get to know the locals and learn the ways of that country to settle in. When I am travelling however, I like to get a glimpse of the life of those Koreans living abroad. As well as observing the differences, I look at similarities. All in all you could say that travelling for me is a lot about exploration, discovery and learning.

While there are a lot of theatres in all of the mentioned countries. South Korea, China and Japan. There is one for of performance that just does not match up when put in comparison. And that is the fact that the best acrobatics show you can find, is located in China for sure. I went to Korea, I went to Japan, but nothing.. until I visited Chaoyang Theatre which is located in the buzzing Chaoyang District in Beijing. It’s really a beautiful building and a huge theatre at that, something that normally Koreans or the Japanese would excel at. But in the field of acrobatics, China has taken the longest straw.

What arouse my curiosity was that there are so many Koreans going to this show. I know that a lot of non-koreans, everyone looks the same. That’s why when foreigners go to see it, they are thinking that most of the spectators are Chinese. Yes, we look somewhat similar but being Korean you can see the difference a mile away!

Checking out some of the tours and other touristic magazines in Korean, you can see that people are even travelling to Beijing just to experience these famous performances. While Chaoyang Theatre is definitely the most popular, and the most famous. It is also known that Beijing contains a lot more such venues, and also I’ve heard that the ones in Shanghai are most excellent.

But having limited experience in Beijing is from what I’ve heard more than enough since you really get to see some of the biggest talent the country has to offer. I very much enjoyed the dancing and vibrance of the acts. One hour goes quite fast at that high pace, and amazement. You know when time goes really fast, it’s usually because you are having a great time!

This experienced proved to me, that it’s not always wise to try and beat the Korean crowd. Since sometimes they just know where the best stuff is as is the case here. So everyone, remember when you travel not to be pessimistic and look for opportunities that you might not know about beforehand. Questioning of course, is always a healthy habit to practice on the side.

Have a great day everyone! <3

Our Friendly Neighbour?

Japan Mountain View

The topic of Japan is pretty controversial here in South Korea. Because of the history, which is fairly blurry anyway. For someone who is Korean, I know that because of nationalistic thought, there are quite some, who like to take things overboard. Not saying that a large part of it is signified, but when you see something so strongly imprinted into the nation.. it’s hard to say that it’s all good. People should decide for themselves which means that they should also find out the facts for themselves. When it comes to war history, most people will not do that. Instead they rely on what something tells them.

Of course I understand those people, but for me I wanted to find out more. Perhaps the best solution for a lot of people, is to just forget about it. We need to move on, and develop. Japan is a very friendly country, hardly threatening at all. Being next to North Korea however, is not something that is fear mongered and hammered into our heads. So naturally, we got used to it and don’t think so much about it.

I guess friendliness is just something that is and is not. One must look at individual cases more and judge on the spot. In South Korea there are plenty of “bad” people, just like anywhere else. So, let’s enjoy the benefits Japan is bringing us and let’s be friends with the new generation that inhabits the island.

As for governments, it’s hard to support any of them. Freedom of speech is fairly oppressed, at least in the media in both countries. So remember folks, it’s not a competition. Focusing on solving your own problems, or those issues that are in a close circumstance are overall much more beneficial. And contribute to the whole!

A Traveling Soul in Beijing: Food & Show Life

Soul Food China, Beijing

While seoul and South Korea in particular is my favourite destination for soul food. It doesn’t stop me from venturing out, and exploring other cuisines out there. In fact, I’ve grown to love food from all kinds of countries around the world. Sometimes the versions we get here in South Korea are different from what’s originally being served in the source. That’s why one needs travel, so that you can learn about what’s authentic and what’s not. As well as about good ingredients and manners that are relating to eating habits.

I haven’t been yet to Europe, but I am planning to visit Finland once in my lifetime. However, there has been plenty to explore in nearby locations. While you cannot head North that easily, I’ve gotten to know well another “good neighbour” of ours. Yes, the majestic nation of The Peoples Republic of China. And I am not saying that jokingly, because they are. And Chinese are very good at cooking, after all they have been doing it longer than anyone else. Noodles (or pasta as it became in the west) has been invented in China. And that’s a pretty big achievement for the cooking book!

The cheapest flights from here are usually to Beijing. So that’s where I usually head to, either just stay there or move on to other cities when I feel like it. It’s pretty inexpensive to travel around China, so those trips have been great fun. But Beijing is just full of stuff to do and I can never get enough of that city either.

Last time, I went not only for a culinary trip, but my flight from Seoul landed right onto the gorgeous land of The Happy Valley in Beijing. Sounds like a dream and it is a dream. I am a fan of theme parks, as well as all kinds of forms of the arts. That’s why, this particular valley in Beijing became for me a huge highlight of the one week trip I did there. Also known for the tremendously entertaining, “Golden Mask Dynasty Beijing” show spectacle. This is a show that is a one of a kind, held at the OCT Theatre every single day of the week. I have no idea where the actors get their strength to perform that much, but obviously these guys are not joking around. I was astonished how a Beijing production could be of such tremendous value. With breathtaking scenes (without speaking), one after another. Effects were top-notch and the stage was huge, even though it could barely accommodate the big crowd of spectators that came to see the tang dynasty show.

The theme park “Happy Valley Beijing” was a gorgeous place. And I wasn’t fond of just the rides, but also the atmosphere.. no just kidding, of course all the amazing restaurants! After seeing The Golden Mask Dynasty, I was hungry and it was night.. the perfect time to go and grab something delicious to eat. The best explanation for the experience I had after that, is the picture above. It is now probably one of my favourite dishes from China. Silver noodles, seasoned with dried shrimp. Something that just takes over your taste buds. I have never had the opportunity to eat anything like that in Seoul. But I know I will be cooking it at home and offering it to some friends of mine.

There were other stuff too I did in Beijing, not just golden mask shows. But that, I will save for next time. I just came back from the trip and I am still tired from all the fun I had. Perhaps I need another holiday from the holiday I just had! 🙂

Your sincere host,

Kangdae Seo

Lost Souls

Korean Nature

I’ve always loved Busan. It’s one of the craziest cities in Korea. But then again, it sometimes feels like it’s the lost soul version of Seoul. It also very much resembles Osaka, which is like to Busan of Japan. Two big cities, with much different mentalities. The capital is usual the more polished, and cold identity. While the neighbour is a crazier place, with more friendly people and fights or something. This is one of the reasons why I originally loved Busan more than Seoul. It was a relaxed place, a place to have fun. But now, I don’t see it in such positive light. I am looking more and more towards the country side, villages, quiet and peace.

Of course it’s always good to have a city next to you and it’s very handy closeby. However, cities have just become such unhealthy places. With people way too concentrated on the external, rather than on your self.

To wrap up my idea, we are not on this planet for ever. At least the words as in me part of us. So I want to enjoy the rest of my time, start preparing for my exit. I think half of my life will be that. And in that moment where do I want to be. It’s not the city for sure. I need things that are natural, peaceful and make me pause in life. Looking at a beautiful sunset and horizon, my goal is to say.

Yes, this is it.

Kangdae Seo

From K-pop to Plastic Surgery to…


It’s really amazing, how Korea has become such a huge commercial entertainment model within Asian countries. Still very small when it comes to the more ordinary western market. But probably thanks to all the half Koreans out there in the world, there is also plenty of demand that way. For me, it is sometimes annoying that such stigmatisation is taking place all the time. I don’t fall into the category of “k-pop” fans myself. Neither am I interested in plastic surgery. Or being together with someone who is. All these incredible stereotypes are very real, in very limited circumstances. Yet, even the Koreans are thinking that everyone is having operations, except themselves.

While the brainwashing is strong, it has created a wonderful underground community which no one seems to have heard of. Take the neighbouring countries for example, China and Japan. Search in English, and you can find plenty of parties. But Korea seems dead in this department? Well, it’s not true at all. Just the type of foreign involvement that would created parties and create an underground scene is so small. Most of it is run by Koreans themselves, and so amazing people they are.

So for a foreigner to actually tap into the underground world of Korea where everyone hates k-pop and couldn’t be least interested in plastic surgery.. is very exciting. And I think South Korea should keep it like that. They don’t need too much attention. Have the popular music industry feed on it, or even perhaps suffocate on it! 🙂

Your buddy,


The Land of Kimchi

The Land of Kimchi

I would say that Korea is probably most famous for Kimchi. For those who don’t know what Kimchi it, it’s in the above picture. Basically it is a fermented Korean side dish which contains all kinds of seasonings and vegetables.. as well as most importantly lots of spices and sour ingredients. It takes several months of storage for it to be edible and it even starts to smell.

Koreans love it so much, that almost all dishes are garnished with it. And most houses are equipped with a separate kimchi refrigerator to keep all the kimchi stock as well as prevent from other food from starting to smell from it.

It is said, that if only if you can make good kimchi, you are able to make good food. It is the basis and foundation of everything. Including several main dishes that use kimchi as a main ingredient. It’s definitely the most important soul food in Seoul!

Most foreigners don’t love it from the first sight or taste, yet after time many become very attached to it. It’s really something that cannot be found anywhere else in the world and very unique to Korea.

Your Korean friend,

Kangdae Seo

Into Seoul, So Are We

Seoul Food is Soul Food

Reporting life from the center of South Korea, the big and favorite city of Seoul. For us Koreans, soul food is a very important concept. One is that we grew up with grate food, the other, is that we gew up with great values of life. Perhaps a combination of these two, and the food that is extremely hard to get outside of Korea.. we really grave for it.

Especially when I am in foreign countries, sometimes you just miss biting on some kimchi with rice or would like to have a big bowl of good old kimchi jjigae. While this web site is not that much about food, it is the center and basis for all the talks presented here.

Looking at life, from the perspective of soul, and subsquently the city of Seoul as well. Everything is a combination at best, and that’s what you are going to get. A mix of load of goodies and a Korean look into the way of life.

Hope it gives you as much kicks as much as we enjoy writing these articles.

Your wicked host,

Kangdae Seo