Well, I spent the last four weeks on a vacation; went to Beijing and Shanghai in China and also a few tourist areas in the Luzon area, namely Puerto Galera and Tagytay. I must say that I was very busy during this time, hopping from place to place - one day, I'd be in a plane, the next in a train, and then the next on a boat! Whew! But it was really fun and exciting and at least a change from the grueling everyday cycle that I had gotten used to before my little break.
Anyway, my favorite part about being gone for a while is coming home to find wonderful surprises waiting for me in my mailbox! Four weeks' worth of mail is quite a handful and I literally had to ask for a plastic bag lest I drop any letters on the way home. There were many interesting finds in the small pile that I found in the mailbox, and I will share them with you little by little in my upcoming posts. It's very exciting, don't you agree? Hehehe
Hope you enjoy!
Here is an FDC that I picked up during my China trip. I bought it at the Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2. China Post has a neat little branch there to cater to the tourist rushing to send out last-minute postcards from his trip as well as philatelist itching to get his hands on some nice philatelic souvenirs. I was a bit of both, I must admit.
Thankfully, they had the FDC shown above available (they didn't have it at the Shanghai Postal Museum when I visited - or did the postal clerk just not understand what I was asking for?). I of course jumped at the opportunity to get one of these airport FDCs that I've been wanting to have since they were released on 28 Sept! Unfortunately, they only had two left so I wasn't able to buy any for my exchange partners. The other issues were not very interesting or expensive to the point of exploitation, so I didn't feel like buying them for me or for anyone else.
One thing that bothered me was that the clerk at the post office seemed to have overpriced me because, to the best of my knowledge, a regular airmail letter to the Philippines from China costs only RMB 4.50 (roughly USD 0.65), but the clerk insisted I pay RMB 8.50 (almost twice what I should have) and said that the stamps already on the cover could no longer be used for postage. I don't know if it's only because I got used to the Philippine system where the postage on the FDC is still valid, but I was under the impression that I could still use these stamps already on the cover for postage! Unfortunately, the clerk said I couldn't. Is anyone familiar with the Chinese postal system's regulations on such things?
To add to the confusion, the clerk spoke very very limited English, which I find surprising since he was working at the international terminal of an airport! I didn't want to argue with the guy, especially since he didn't seem to understand me, and I really wanted a Beijing Capital Airport postmark to be chopped onto my cover, so I just gave in and paid up. As you can see from the scan, at least I got what I wanted!
At any rate, a little bit more about the cover and the stamps:
The stamps show the three busiest airports in China based on number of passengers handled: Beijing Capital International Airport (first), Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (second), and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (third).
Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场) is the one on the left hand side. In 2007, it served 53,583,664 passengers, and became the 9th busiest airport in the world. There are three terminals. Terminal 1, the oldest (1980) handles domestic flights, except for HK and Macau and Taiwan; terminal 2 (1999) handles the international flights of China Eastern, China Southern, and Skyteam members; and terminal 3 (2008) handles all Air China, One World, and One Alliance international flights as well as other domestic and international departures. Terminal 3 is the second largest terminal building in the world, second only to the new terminal at Dubai International Airport, and is larger than London Heathrow's five terminal buildings combined. It was opened earlier this year, just in time for the Olympics.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (广州白云国际机场) is the one on the lower right. In 2007, it served 30,958,467 passengers. The current airport was opened in 2004 to replace the old, dilapidated airport with the same name. "Baiyun" (白雲) means "white clouds" in Chinese, and refers to Mt. Baiyun (Baiyunshan) near the location of the former airport. The airport is also referred to as "New Baiyun" to distinguish it from the previous version, but this is not a part of the official name.
Shanghai Pudong Inernational Airport (上海浦东国际机场) is the one on the upper right. As the third busiest in 2007 in terms of passenger traffic, it served 28,920,432 passengers last year. It opened in 1999 and a new terminal was added in March of this year. The name "Pudong" refers to the district in which the airport is located. The term Pudong is derived from "Pu" (from Huangpu river, which divides Shanghai into East and West) and "Dong" (which means East in Mandarin), so literally "Pudong" means "East of the Huangpu River."
As for the other stamps, the two RMB 0.80 stamps on the lower right hand corner along with the one RMB 1.50 stamp on the far left are probably part of the same set, which seems to celebrate earth (and/or the world or land - that would explain the green) and water. Unfortunately, I cannot read Chinese so all I can do is guess.
The RMB 1.20 stamp with birds is part of a definitive set and the larger, square RMB 1.20 stamp features Chinese traditional paintings.
Like I mentioned earlier, the cover was franked at the Beijing Capital Airport on 26 Oct 08, which was a Sunday, I might add!