Vincent Laforet’s Blog

Great Firewall of China and Whac-A-Mole…
August 9, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Olympics


It’s been ridiculously difficult to access my e-mail let alone my blog (or any blog for that matter) in China – they’re all blocked.

Particularly in my hotel it seems.   Every VPN I set up works for a day and then gets blocked – same goes for utilities that I download to work with my web browser(s).   I’m convinced that there’s some Chinese ISP technician (or worse the Chines Gov’t) that  I’m playing an endless game of Whac-A-Mole with – and I’m on the receiving end and losing!

So I apologize for not getting back to many of your comments.  I’ll keep trying to figure out a way – or at least to stay ahead.   I am reading every single one of your comments as they come to me as e-mail  – and BIG thanks for the encouragement, and kind words.  Keeps me going… when I get a chance to both connect and have a little time – I’ll fire off some responses.  So keep them coming – they’re not going unnoticed!

I’ll never take my “internet freedom” for granted again.


13 Comments so far
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Have you seen this:

May be of service to you.

Comment by Joey Baker


Thanks so much for your extra efforts. Your blog is making these olympics so much more interesting. Thanks so much and keep up the good work.

The opening ceremony was cool of course, but it was awesome to read that you opted for the much riskier option at the wall and just rolled with it. Thanks for sharing.

Dustin Bradford

Comment by Dustin Bradford

Vincent, wonderful job your doing.
But I have to ask (or just vent) how the heck could China have won the bid for this event with all the human rights issues going on, much less the censorship issues. Could not the committe see what a press nightmare this would be?

Well, your doing your best, your pictures are awesome and be safe.
Tom and Jared

Comment by Tom and Jared

Despite the lack of sleep and stress of covering such a difficult event, I love how you’re still able to come up with a clever title for a blog post. I hope you continue to be able to bypass the firewalls because you’re updates are riveting.

Thanks for everything!

Comment by Michael George

i have worked in China, and vowed never to go back. the government honestly scares me, and a government that is afraid of its people is a government that is dangerous. no way. I am ashamed that they won the olympics bid. I am sure there are some IOC chairmen with fat wallets from kickbacks over this one.

Comment by John

I have been a huge fan of yours for a long time and first saw your work after Katrina. I thought your work was by far the strongest to come out of that first week.

I think it would be incredibley difficult to get a unique image from the Games and looks like you are on your way with the fencing image and half an image with the fireworks shot. With all your extra time there in Bejing I would look at what the Orange County Register guys did back in 1984 and at David Burnett’s work (1988?).

My guess is your best shots will not come from one those giant lenses but rather something much shorter. I would take a brain and a 50mm lens over a 400 2.8 and a quick finger.

Comment by Thomas Broening

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Beijing and I’ve always been able to get around the Great Firewall by using Ultra VNC to dial into my home computer in New York City. It allows file transfers and you essentially have your home desktop’s connection in front of you in China with unfettered access to the internet. Just a thought in case things get completely unworkable over there.

Good luck and keep the stories coming! Likewise, your stories keep some of us working slobs’ lives bearable.

Comment by Pius Lee


There are a few nifty tricks to bypass the wall, especially if you are comfortable with the command line, which I think you are.

Firstly, set up a remote SSH tunnel to a server that has a proxy on. There are a handful of tutorials out there that help with this, but the 2 main ingredients are:

1: a proxy outside of the US with ssh and squid running
2: the ability to setup a tunnel on your computer and configure your browser to use that for net access.

Drop me a mail if you need any help in setting them up or testing the route from your laptop out, last time I was there, it was pretty easy to bypass most of their restrictions.

Comment by Daniel

Joey – yes saw that…but guess what – that site can’t be accessed from China!

Michael – thanks – I’ll try to keep the “witty” titles coming… sometimes I’m so tired I’m just trying to make complete sentences – good to hear it comes through as witty…

Thomas – you might be right… but when the nearest photo position to the action is 50 yards away from the action – and the setting is blah… that 400mm 2.8 comes in handy…

Pius – Oh I know about VPN – trust me… that’s the funny part… I had one VPN working for one day – and it got blocked… then the next VPN got blocked… they’re watching!

Hope you don’t my answering all in one post – little time – prefer sleep 😉 v

Comment by Vincent Laforet

As an aspiring photojournalist your unique perspective to the games is fascinating for me. Thanks for taking the time to let all of us know how it is to shoot such an incredible event.
Thomas Cain

Comment by Thomas Cain

It’s just stunning to hear what the government are doing down there. Cool of you to keep trying to stay ahead of them 🙂
I recently discovered your blog, and I will continue reading here. Really interesting to hear about your Olympics experiences.

Comment by Kjetil

Keep on keepin’ on, I am officially hooked on your blog. You sound like one of the high school kids I teach trying to get on to MySpace! In the end they are always sneakier than we are, maybe I’ll have one of my students send you some tricks! Looks like you have some great ideas from readers above though…

Comment by Adam Leahy

If woul join I here’s allowed to make websites for whoever wants them:

Comment by Air Max Sale

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