Archive for July, 2012

27
Jul
12

Let’s play Courier, Courier…

Actually, let’s rather not play this game – it can get a bit complicated. And very exhausting. The rules seem to vary from one day to the next, depending on which courier service, which courier messenger does the delivery, if his mobile is working or not, what the customs official had for breakfast and whether the sky is green!

Over the last few months we have received a few parcels from overseas – varying from online shopping, to parcels of documents sent by clients and gifts from family members overseas. This appears to have stretched the capacity of the various courier services to the nth degree, or maybe it is just my nerves that have been pulled.

Most delivery companies have 3-letter acronyms for their names, but in my thoughts their names consist of 4 letters and lots of those characters at the top of the keyboard that you need a SHIFT key to access. The most consistent behaviour has been by the government postal service: +/- 10 days delivery from the UK to Shanghai via a sorting centre in Hong Kong or Guangdong province – except for one book that went via Beijing and arrived in its own special postal sack after taking a detour through customs and ending up in a locker in the back office of the local post office – Read more here!

Courier services are another matter. Sometimes they phone ahead to check if we are at home to receive the delivery, other times they just arrive and then phone in a sort of perplexed sort of way that no one is at home during office hours. Sometimes the service centre person can speak English, sometimes not. Sometimes they leave the parcel with the management office at our apartment complex, other times they won’t. Sometimes the office sends us notification about a parcel, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are happy to deliver after 18.00, others say they only work from 11.00 – 18.00.

“So sorry for you, you will just have to leave work early, not our problem.”

“Yes, you can change the deliver address to your office address, but you need to fill in a form.”

“And you need to put the company ‘chop’ (seal) on the form.” ~ But it is a personal parcel, addressed to me, not the company – why does it need the company chop on the change of address form?

“If you want it delivered to the company, the company needs to supply the chop to say they are happy that the parcel is delivered to the company during office hours.” Whatever!

My Mandarin is passable and if all is OK, I can get by tolerably well, but I have realised that problem-solving takes foreign language acquisition to a whole new level. I don’t can’t do problems in Mandarin, especially over the phone – time to admit defeat and hand over the phone to the nearest local speaker.

Last month I ordered some paintbrushes from the UK – the parcel went via customs and collected a fee for import duty.

No phone-call. Courier arrives at apartment during office hours. No one is home. No phone call. After 10 days I am wondering what has happened to my parcel. I track parcel on internet and see that a delivery attempt was made for the previous 3 days in a row.

Phone call centre. “Do you speak English”, I ask in my best Mandarin. Helpful call-centre person puts the phone down.

Skype message to staff member still at the office and ask him to phone call centre. Yes, have tried to deliver for 3 days, no one home. Can’t deliver after 18.00. Please deliver to office tomorrow.

Need form + company chop.

Next day at office: Download form from internet – chop, scan, email.

So sorry, please put address in English and Chinese. Download, chop, scan, email.

So sorry, please sign and chop. Download, chop, sign, scan, email.

Phone call from warehouse – trying to deliver parcel, no one is home. Have you spoken to service centre? We have asked to change the delivery to the office address.

O.

No, service centre and warehouse and delivery guy are not in communication.

Phone service centre. Email hasn’t arrived yet. Please phone the warehouse, they don’t know what is going on.

So sorry, please wait a moment. Email has arrived, must contact warehouse, maybe parcel will be delivered today.

Phone call from warehouse. Cannot locate delivery guy, maybe not today.

Delivery guy arrives at office at 14.30. Everyone happy…..and exhausted.

Fast forward 5 weeks….

Different courier company, different parcel, different rules. Phone-call. Some English: parcel has arrived, no one is home. Problem. Hand phone to staff member. No delivery after 18.00. Tomorrow 17.00, please. No problem.

Rush home from work early. Tell taxi driver to break more road rules than usual to make it home by 17.00. 3 missed calls while in taxi.

Phone call as I arrive at the door. Some of her English, some of my Mandarin. Anyone home? Can we deliver now? Sure, here I am! I came home early and stressed out at least one taxi-driver.

Phone-call 5 minutes later. So sorry, cannot contact delivery guy – maybe tomorrow? AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!

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P.S. Thanks for the parcel, Lilly!

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22
Jul
12

Navigating Shanghai Library and its rules to locate and check out gems in English — Shanghai Daily

Now I know why I haven’t become No. 1 loyal subscriber to the “local” library. Here’s my secret….pay careful attention to the secions on p. 2 about how to check out a book!

Navigating Shanghai Library and its rules to locate and check out gems in English — Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 — English Window to China New.

Anyone want to meet me at the library next week – looks like we might be there for a few days…..

21
Jul
12

Visit to Macau (2)

Some interesting contrasts in buildings and architecture – ranging from the Portuguese influence from the 17-1800’s and later, as well ancient and current Chinese influence, the rich and swanky side by side with the neglected and downtrodden.

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15
Jul
12

Visit to Macau (1)

A few weeks ago we spent a weekend in Macau – part of our “need-to-get-out-of-China-every-90-days” visa restriction. We decided to visit Macau as opposed to Hong Kong as neither my husband nor I have been there before. I didn’t have much time beforehand to research the trip but found a hotel with good reviews that seemed to be located in a fairly central location. We were far more interested in the historical sites than the umpteen casinos that liberally adorn the small peninsula and related islands, but we did stroll through some of the OTT gambling venues and hotel lobbies on the way to finding a good meal!

Haven’t had a chance to download the photos from my camera yet, but here are a few that I took with my phone. The subject is a carving from what looks like a tree trunk, and is displayed in one of the casino lobbies.

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Isn’t the detail in the carving incredible? And in such contrast to the garish surrounds in which it has been displayed.

More interesting (hopefully!) snippets about Macau to follow.




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