Now, some words about China. Depending on whom you talk to, Hong Kong (where we live) either is or isn’t part of the world’s largest country, now with 1.3 billion people–many of whom seem to be here at any given time. The plan is in place for Hong Kong to be fully integrated into China in 2047, but whether that means Hong Kong will be just another Chinese city or whether it will be so distinctive that China models itself after Hong Kong is a complete unknown right now. What we do know is that the best place to get postcards in most Chinese cities is any good-sized outlet of China Post, the friendly post office.
We have no idea how many post offices there are in China so we use those we visit in Shenzhen, just north of here, as examples. Emerging above ground from Shenzhen’s impressive Metro (subway), there’s a philatelic office selling some of the strangest and most brilliant items you could ever imagine. Some of them are in our website, but we’re not promoting them in the Blog, just saying our reaction on seeing new issues is usually “who would ever think of something like this?” As a start, their postcards other than Maximum Cards almost always have pre-printed postage. But it’s how they package and sell these that is so amusing/striking/whatever word you want to use. Imagine, for example, a container with a real jigsaw puzzle on the front, then open the box to find a wristwatch and a pack of postcards.
Or imagine what might be inside the box we’ve chosen as the photo for this Blog entry: to use China Post’s term, a folded “conjoined” card that when extended is about 19 times longer than an average postcard and shows an ultra-panoramic view of the Shenzhen skyline. (They could re-do this every three weeks and it would look completely different.)
Or imagine seeing a stack of postcards in the display case, normal-looking cards with a stub that entitles the holder to a holiday at a resort hotel, all for RMB 388 (about US$60) per card? No, we didn’t invest in any of those. Tempting, though, since that barely buys dinner in Hong Kong these days.
Here’s the best part. Step out from that philatelic unit in Shenzhen, walk about two minutes around the corner, and there’s another post office with a counter of completely different items: Chinese New Year lottery postcards (complete with website address so you can check to see if you won), Hello Kitty this-and-that, and just a Dickensian range of goodies that sell out much too quickly. This is why we can safely write about all this: unless you get to these offices quickly, it’s gone. The attendant in one outlet asked us if we still had a particular set of cards we had bought about four months earlier. She said that “an important person” (Wow!) wanted more of these. What could we say? “Here’s our website address.” These “important persons” also might have the ability to snap up new issues quickly …
Many, many years ago we remember seeing cigarette packages in Japan where the then-monopoly corporation, Japan Tobacco and Salt, sold advertising for other products on the packs. It was not unusual to see luggage ads on individual cigarette packs, or even wedding photos. So now we wait for China Post to do with their postcards as Hongkong Post and some other countries do with stamps, and let us submit our own photos for use. You would probably have some great ideas for that!