Monday, 9 February 2015

The mysteries of the Orient...

The world is full of mysteries. Today the mystery that arrived through my letterbox was a stainless steel watch strap, purchased on ebay, and sent to me from ChinaGuangzhou to be precise.

Guangzhou (also known as Canton) is a mere 5,907.622 miles away from my house. It’s the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in South China. Located on the Pearl River, about 75 miles north-northwest of Hong Kong and 90 miles north of Macau, it’s the third-largest Chinese city and the largest city in South Central China and has a population of 13 million.

Of course I’ve never been there, but I would imagine that it’s a very different place to my own road, a place of intrigue and mysticism maybe, of Chinese Tongs and street gangs, a teeming metropolis where anything and everything is possible. You see I told you I’d never been there.

Anyway, the watch strap.

The watch strap is for a watch I rarely use and displays the time in two places simultaneously. It isn’t an expensive affair and it had been hidden away in a drawer until I came across it a few weeks ago. I hate things lying idle and - once I’d replaced the batteries - it worked just fine the only problem being that the watch strap didn’t fit comfortably. In reality I don’t suppose it ever did and I decided to replace the strap from the original black leather to a stainless steel bracelet.

I trawled ebay and soon found what I was looking for with prices ranging from twenty quid plus postage to an incredibly cheap £1.63 post free from Hong Kong. Of course for £1.63 (including postage) it had to be a pretty poor watch strap. But, as £1.63 isn’t even the cost of a cup of coffee, what had I to lose?

I sent for it prepared to be disappointed and two weeks later (today) it arrived. Much to my surprise I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s a perfectly good stainless steel watch strap and, after a few clumsy attempts to get those pin things in place properly, it fitted both the watch and my wrist perfectly.

It’s a mystery how they managed to make the strap for the price, but there’s a bigger mystery to my mind concerning the postage. For me to send a small parcel across the road by Royal Mail it would cost me £2.80 second class. To send a parcel abroad (even to China) also costs £2.80 economy.

Firstly I can’t understand how it can cost the same to send a parcel 30 yards or almost 6,000 miles. Secondly how can postage be free from China given that the Royal Mail postman delivered my parcel and the cost of my purchase including postage was almost half the cost of UK postage alone?

Of course I’m not complaining, I got a good deal I think. But it does raise a lot of questions around the mysteries of our postal system and the mysteries of the Orient, eh?


  1. Sharon Taylor on FB
    you pose a lot of questions there! None of which I have answers to.

    1. Andrew Height
      It isn't the post office I remember Sharon. Perhaps the Chinese still have men in uniform on bikes.

    2. Sharon Taylor
      bikes yes!