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China Daily Website


Problem of the Chinese package

Updated: 2009-12-21 10:05

If you’re an expat in China, you’ll be familiar with one of these places at this time of year.

Inside my local branch, the festive cards instill fear in me.

She may be celebrating next year with her tiger hat – I am dreading sending good wishes for 2010.

This is my mood. Grrrrrrrr.

As a new expat, I didn’t know the China Post requires everything is shown before it can be sent. Just in case you’re sending…like in this girl’s case…a lethal text book. But lucky lady..she’s about to get….yes, the stamp of approval.

I wanted to tell you about my woes….but there were other people being ticked off first.

So, we all waited. Now where was I?

I have got postal scars. I have already tried to post two presents which were beautifully wrapped in Chinese paper that had the symbols for ‘Happy’ and ‘Long Live’. But the clerk wanted to unwrap them. I said that will make them ‘Unhappy’ and ‘Short Live’. But she wouldn’t listen.

Grrr. Again.

And hang on – someone sound the alarm – there is a Wrapped Parcel in the post office. Was this one he’d had checked earlier? Why didn’t he have to display his package? I watched and couldn’t believe the smooth handover.

Irritated, I asked expat colleagues what they were sending …and how.

Tym Glaser: ‘Kids stuff. Remote control cars. Trucks and things. But for about four or five different people. It’s all going to be in one big package. So I’ll carry it all down to Fed Ex. Write my name on it and hopefully it will get over there before Dec 25’.

Fed Ex? Wow. But there are yet more impressive ways to bypass sending your parcels at the post office.

Tony Murray: I am thinking I am quite fortunate, as my wife is Chinese and she is quite adept at handling the vagaries of the Chinese postal system. I don’t think I would be brave enough to go into a Chinese post office without a Chinese person to counsel me.

Dear Santa. Can I have a Chinese spouse?

And problems are not just for Christmas. They happen all year.

Mark Hughes: I sent a bunch of DVDs and they never apparently arrived. A few weeks later, I took a Chinese person along and they said they had never been posted as they had found DVDs and this wasn’t allowed.

Oh dear, there’s a lot of anger around. And other post offices don’t require you show gifts – merely that you sign a form - so China Post….what do you think? Change is good. Of all kinds.

The only way I can see of making this work is by taking your parcel unwrapped and showing it to the very nice lady here at the China Post, and when she has approved it, you take away your present, and then you start wrapping it, and then you requeue. And you hope to goodness that the China Post isn’t closed by that time and that the festive season isn’t over.

See you in the queue folks. At least China Post has a sense of humour. For if you get this card (it bears the slogan ‘Lucky’) then that’s what you’ll be.

Camera:Lou Yi

Video:Linda Kennedy

Related story: Unwrapping the riddle that is China Post