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Just an update on mailing. ‘international signed for’ packages are taking between 3 to 4 weeks to arrive. Regular air mails are unlikely to arrive if the address has not been supplied in Mandarin script. A DHL courier parcel took 8 days door to door from the UK via Hong Kong. There appears to be a bottle neck in Hong Kong as passenger flights are blocked so all mail has to come via cargo planes. Expect one mail drop per week.
While you can send masks and goggles OK, and hand sanitizers whether gel, liquid or cloths containing alchohol are unlikely to get through customs.
I have managed to buy N99 military grade masks here in the UK. Ironically they are made in China albeit a British product designed to UK gov. specs, However, my courier shipment to my wife in Chengdu containing the first mask has been sitting in Hong Kong for 3 days waiting for “the next scheduled movement” to Chengdu. However a friend of my wife in the US has managed to ship some lower spec masks that arrived today so some things are getting delivered. Hopefully they will deliver on Monday as promised. The N99 masks in question are being marked up by 100% or more in price on eBay and coming from India in 2 weeks but are currently taking 6 weeks if ordered direct from the Cambridge mask Company in the UK.
Air China has cancelled my direct flight from London to Chengdu at the end of March but have offered either a full refund or an alternative flight via Beijing.
DHL have confirmed that they can provide door to door deliveries to Chengdu from the UK in about 8 days. So twice as long as normal. I am currently tracking a consignment and it is being held in Hong Kong. Since passenger planes are not flying between HK and the mainland I guess they have to wait until they have enough mail to fill a cargo plane. After that hurdle has been surmounted I guess there will be a backlog in Chengdu customs dept to contend with.
Looking at a graph issued by the Chinese National Health Commission covering the past week there is a definate pattern improvement. The number of new infections has steadily reduced from 5,000 to 2,500 per day of which 2,000 of the 2,500 are in Hubei.
This is a link to the Chengdu and Sichun stats: https://chengdu-expat.com/coronavirus-chengdu-statistics-and-useful-information/
I was coincidentally back in the UK when it hit. I had booked a flight back at the end of March but expecting to have to reschedule. My wife is still in Chengdu and steadily going crazy with the confinement in our apartment. The management of our residential compound have imposed restrictions on departure/re entry to one person per household every two days. I gather this is common place.
My current problem is in acquiring M99 face masks, goggles and antivirus gel to upgrade my wife’s personal stock as even in the UK they have become in very short supple and are being sold at prices double and tripple their normal priceson eBay and Amazon. Getting them out to Chengdu by courier could be my next problem.
Daily situation reports are available from the World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
Chengdu/Sichuan specific reports are available though Chengdu Expats.
Update: a 10-part Q&A has been published: Life with Coronavirus in Chengdu
Thanks Charlie. I hope that you are surviving OK.
This was before the virus was an issue. The delays might have been related to the approaching Spring Festival. However, it seems as if China Post have gone all pedantic on us as they appear to have new guidelines. Needless to say the guidelines are not necessarily relevant for the UK but failing to follow the guidelines can result in them refusing to accept mail despatches. We ended up using a courier to despatch a simple letter.
I am currently back in the UK scanning the internet for the indications that it is OK to return. Meanwhile we are relying on couriers for important mail since there is every likelyhood that there are going to be massive backlogs on mail deliveries within China for some time.
If it anything has a recycling value then the waste disposal collector is going to retrieve it from the rubbish bins outside your apartment and sell it. However, I would not expect them to recycle plastic bags but they might recycle plastic bottles and plastic food cartons if they are clean. If you roughly sort your rubbish first then they are more likely to be interested especially if they are in a clear plastic sack.
Thanks for the info Charlie. I can only say that SOMETHING is happening out there based on the fact that they have thumping great trenches where the road used to be. My gut reaction is that they are starting from scratch and replacing utilities.
In a recent visit to Flower Town it seems as if the rumors of closure were correct. There was one glass house still standing but traders were having closing down sales. One trader thought that they would be moving back across the other side of the main road while another said that they were moving to a market in Longquan.
Thanks for that Charlie. After an hour on a search engine I finally found a list of branches and phone numbers:
Still no address but at least there is a local branch.
I suspect that this is not a question of hospitals not updating but of minimizing the risks of importing electronic files into a medical computer for fear of a computer virus. So a digital image on would only be of use to a patient as no sensible doctor/hospital would choose to load a third party file into their computer regardless of any virus scanning.
Technically it is possible to take a photographic image in either positive or negative form and scan it to produce a hi-resolution digital image file such as a jpeg. However, I have no idea where you would find a photographic lab to perform this task these days.
My wife, who is a retired Chengdu doctor, tells me that they only give out the hard copies and she has never heard of any hospitals distributing electronic files.
Just because you see a Western brand name is no guarantee that is manufactured to the same formulation or standard as you would expect in the West. This is not a criticism of Chinese manufacturers but an observation of international brands that vary from country to country. Even international brands like Kentucky and McDonalds have gone down this road in China to for the local market. I would supplement a commercial food with fresh meat & fish to improve the quality. If you are concerned then opt for a brand like IAMs but it can cost an arm and a leg here if you need their Science Diet.
I have always thought that vpn companies advertising themselves as ”never blocked” are either operating a vpn that is transparent or have done a deal whereby they release your data on demand. If they don’t fall into either of those categories then it would be only a matter of time before it was demonstrated that bragging about their success comes back to bite them in the arse.
Panic over. We went out there yesterday and it’s expanding. What they appear to have done is to close down the old market(s) & shops on the west side of the man road in favor of the east side of the main road. The east side is flourishing and expanding and, reportedly, there are no known plans to turn it into a residential area or whatever. Certainly not this week. 🙂
I have now confirmed the following:
In a number of tests I established that it was possible to send a surface mail posted in Chengdu to my address in Chengdu even though it was addressed in Pinyin. However, the post office failed to deliver an identical letter that was dispatched from Beijing so obviously bottlenecks exist within China.
An attempt to dispatch a registered letter in Beijing that was addressed in Pinyin was refused and they would only accept an address written in Chinese Mandarin so there is obviously a resistance to the use of Pinyin in China.
Attempts to send standard airmail letters addressed in Pinyin to my address from the USA and the UK both failed as international letters and parcels haven’t arrived for over 3 years unless sent by courier but they used to arrive before that.
An attempt to send an “International Signed” (R) Airmail letter with the address written in Pinyin worked this week and the letter arrived in Chengdu within 7 days. International Signed mail does not get tracked or signed for and you cannot trace it within China but the Chinese sorting office in Chengdu were kind enough to ring me and tell me that the letter would be delivered in a matter of hours. The cost of posting the letter in the UK was £6.35
My bank in the UK does not allow for dispatch of letters unless they are at standard airmail rates. They will, however, allow me to use a mailing address in the UK although I shudder to think of what issues that is going to generate.
The other method that works for an address written in Pinyin is to use a reputable courier service although it can cost over £50.00
It might be possible to successfully mail at standard rates to China if the address is written in both Pinyin (or English) with a translation of the address into Mandarin written either underneath or above. But I have yet to test this. However, UK computers are unlikely to have Mandarin fonts installed and accurate translation from Pinyin/English into Mandarin script requires a user fluency that is not available when using online translation services. I follows that the ability to save an address written in Mandarin to a graphics file can come in useful either that or get the camera out.
When addressing a letter in/to China great importance is placed on the post code and the contact name & number. Within China the Address is typically written in Mandarin script and in reverse order to the Western layout. Return addresses may prove to be useful if written on the back of a letter. Mail of little to no obvious commercial value (letter/credit cards) does not appear to be treated with the same respect as a parcel which may arrive in defiance of all the above but I have personally not been blessed with the arrival of international standard rate parcels addressed in Pinyin in about 3 years.
Apart from testing a Pinyin plus Mandarin addressed letter sent at standard rates, my next test will be to establish if ‘Verified By Visa’ will accept the UK post code of the mailing address in the UK because at the moment they insist that I need a UK post code despite the fact that my home address is on file as China. Of course, having a credit card issued to a UK address and living in China will probably get me blocked on PayPal but that is for another day.
Thanks for the reply. An interesting and informative post which will be useful in trying to get my bank and Visa etc to understand the issue and hopefully allow me to use a correspondence address in the UK without being harassed to prove my identity every 5 minutes because my home address will not match the address on my bank statements etc.
Firstly the main despatch point is the UK which rules out the US postal system. The second issue is that it involves banks and banks are not known for using couriers, registered post and they are certainly not capable of addressing and despatching mail addressed in Mandarin Script because their computer systems prohibit it. Bulk mailing systems have there own set of rules and no exceptions.
What I need is a clear example of the use of an address that will work with ordinary air mail or surface mail. I have refined my address in Chengdu from it’s original Pinyin format (with the aid of Chinese friends) into a version which works if it is posted in Chengdu, even if there is a mistake in the address, and it arrives the next day because the Chinese sorting Office will ring and ask for clarification if they cannot deliver a letter (and they do ring the name and telephone number that is now included in my Pinyin address).
However, we arranged for a letter to be despatched from Beijing to me in Chengdu that was addressed in Pinyin 5 days ago. OK it is holiday week but it hasn’t arrived yet and it doesn’t involve Chinese Customs offices. Meanwhile it has been 4 weeks since an airmail letter (which doesn’t require customs clearance either) was despatched from the UK and that hasn’t arrived yet either. Even if there was a tax liability on a piece of paper with “Test” written on it did have a tax liability they could have rung the name and telephone number that is now included in my address as happened in the good old days when international air and surface mail used to work in China
My next step is to use International Track and Signed for so that we can trace it on the internet and the registration number will allow the Chengdu Post Office here in Chengdu to trace it’s location and hopefully find out what hoops I have to jump through to make the Chinese Postal service work for me. I am not optimistic.
@ Charlie – the price for a blood test at the major hospitals in Chengdu to determine acid level, including Huaxi, is currently 60 rmb. My wife is medically of the opinion that an annual test is normally sufficient at the same time as cholesterol and glucose. Each individual test is approximately 60 rmb.
@ drjtrekker – yes, you are correct that people under the age of 60 can contract gout and 2 year olds can suffer from heart failure but it is not the norm as gout is largely the product of an unhealthy lifestyle, typically revolving around food/drink. As we get older the chances of contracting gout/heart failure/renal failure etc increase as our organs deteriorate. At Charlie’s age, a general practitioner would not normally have reason to test without symptoms unless there was a family history involved.
@ drjtrekker – several years ago I was interested in renting/buying agricultural land. The general consensus was that I would need a Chinese partner. No real estate agencies responded to my posts.