Relying on hundreds of postcards, I heal the present and dream of the future | Xiao Hei


Some postcards sent by the author from abroad

The longer I stay at home, the more I miss the days on the road. When I was really bored, I dug out the thick stack of postcards with all kinds of stamps and postmarks and went through them one by one. I couldn’t help but feel the past time rushing to my face. It was a letter from me on the road to me at home, the tired but curious and excited me who wrote to the tired and frustrated me Text. The person far away warns the person in front of him to be calm, and when he feels hard, think about the characters, scenery and stories on the road, and maybe he can enjoy himself for a while. Now I want to say thank you to the me back then.

As I read more times, the hypocritical self-sadness mentioned above gradually receded, and the little stamps on the back of the postcard attracted my attention more and more. I couldn’t help doing a little research and comparison, and the stories related to postage stamps on the road also popped up one by one…

To send a postcard, in addition to the card itself, you also need stamps and a mailbox, and in many cases you need to find a post office. The most convenient time is when the small shop that sells postcards also sells international stamps, and the mailbox is right outside the door or not far away, which is super lucky. If you sell postcards and stamps at the same time, that’s not bad. If you can’t find a mailbox or post office, you can entrust it to the front desk of the hotel, and they are generally willing to help. It is the worst scenario to only buy bare postcards. It is not easy to quickly find the post office in a foreign country with a large schoolbag on your back. In extreme cases, I have already arrived at the airport, and the postcard with words written on the back is still in my hand. No, slices without a postmark and no flight are of little value. I can only try my luck, inquire about the price of international stamps, and then leave the cash to the airport staff to ask for help. There aren’t many such worst-case scenarios, and almost none of them will be disappointed, and will get in the mail after a while.



A postcard sent by the author from Doha, Qatar ten years ago

The only time I was brooding. It was in Brazil, and I have sent many pictures along the way, to friends, family members and myself, and the last one is also the most beautiful one—it is a tropical rainforest plant that cannot be hugged by several adults. The tree, I kept it for myself—I smashed it in my hand, and I went to Rio Airport to go out of customs, and I still needed a stamp. Worried, a young girl took a questionnaire and asked the passengers to fill it out. I filled it out carefully and returned it. I asked the girl to post it for me after she went out and left a full amount of postage (3 reais, usually up to 2.7 reais) ). Unfortunately I never saw this postcard again.

It is most convenient to buy stamps in Britain, the birthplace of stamps. Every stall and supermarket also sells stamps. I especially emphasized to the stall owner that what I want is international stamps, to China (to China), and while preparing the stamps, Big Brother Huayi answered loudly: to everywhere (to everywhere)! I laughed all of a sudden. It turns out that there is only one kind of international surface mail stamp in the UK. The postage to France on the other side is the same as to China in East Asia, 0.78 pounds, which is not expensive compared with the local price level, but it feels not cheap at the exchange rate at that time-it is still a “fat man” “(Pound, British Pound) was exchanged for the era of 15 yuan.



The most expensive postage is Italy, which costs 2.5 euros

These years have passed, and the postage in the UK must have risen. Anyway, the postage in continental Europe is rising. In 2014, it cost 0.98 euros to send a piece of film back to China in Paris. By the Spring Festival of 2020, it was already 1.4 euros. At that time, France also issued an interesting first day cover for the year of the rat—that was the last international trip before the epidemic. Germany is cheaper, from 0.75 euros at the beginning to 0.90 euros before the epidemic. Among so many countries in Europe, the most expensive postage is Italy, which costs 2.5 euros! But the stall owner also explained in a long way: there is a QR code on this kind of stamp, which allows you to track the progress of the postal route at all times, and I have a mailbox at my stall. If you are willing to go to the post office to buy stamps, it will be 30 euro cents cheaper… I can only admit it. It also costs 2 euros to send a letter from the Vatican – the “state of China” in Rome. On the contrary, in a country with high prices such as Luxembourg, it only costs 1.1 euros, and Finland is also okay, 1.5 euros. The cheapest is not Germany, probably Greece, which only costs 0.67 euros (2015), probably to encourage the development of tourism. Back then, the three of us traveled together in Greece, seeing that the postage was cheap, we bought, bought, bought, and mailed all the way. The strange thing is that my family received all of them later, but my friend’s house did not receive one, so there is no reason to go. Malta, a tiny country in the Mediterranean Sea, does not have the only postage, ranging from 0.63 to 0.77 euros, which is also inexplicable. The comparability in the non-euro zone is a bit worse. Sweden needs about 15 Swedish kronor, Switzerland costs 2 Swiss francs, Denmark costs 9 Danish kroner, Poland costs 5 zlotys, and the Czech Republic costs 21 Czech crowns. It is not difficult to see the complexity of European nation-states and the difficulty of advancing the European Economic Community in the currency unit.

The cheapest postage I’ve come across is an unexpected country, Ethiopia. As a member of the least developed countries, the municipal network of Addis Ababa, the capital of the country, has not yet been built. In the post office, you can see small numbered cabinets, all of which are mailboxes for citizens in need. , Correspondence requires citizens to pick up and deliver at the post office. Looking at this scene, I feel that the postage will definitely not be cheap. Unexpectedly, unexpectedly, it only costs 6.6 Birr (Birr) to send a postcard to Beijing! My colleagues and I did a quick calculation, and it was not even one RMB! We were all stunned, and confirmed again and again, no problem, it was 6.6 birr. For this little postage, if you don’t send it in vain, even if you go by water, it will be worth it if you arrive in three months. So, we called on the spot to ask our relatives and friends for the address, and couldn’t stop being excited. Two weeks later, the postcards all belonged to their owners, and they came by plane!


ethiopia postcard

This wonderful experience also buried a hole for me. That year in Marrakech, after buying the film, I found the post office in Plaza de Gama to buy stamps. After some gestures and communication, I thought that only one stamp—9 dirhams—would be enough. After some calculation, it was not too expensive. The experience of Egypt came to mind, and while lamenting that the least developed countries are also beneficial, they dug out the mobile phone address book and sent everything they could. A few days later, after comparing with my colleagues, I realized that I was wrong. The international postage requires two stamps, which is 18 dirhams, while the domestic postage is only 9 dirhams. The problem is that I have already proudly advertised to my friends and told them to wait for the postcards from Morocco, so I have to bite the bullet and re-buy and mail them. Make up your mind to learn a few more words of Arabic.

There are similar experiences in Palestine and Israel. It is said that Jerusalem is expensive and deserves its reputation. Postcards are expensive and postage is even more expensive. It costs 7.4 Sheqel, which is equivalent to 13.5 yuan at the current exchange rate. I sent a few carefully, to myself, to my daughter, to my girlfriends. When I arrived in Bethlehem (belonging to the Palestinian jurisdiction), when I visited the Church of the Nativity and found the post office in Manger Square to buy stamps, the staff told me that a postcard only costs 1.5 thanks (about 250 mils, the local currency of Palestine). I thought I heard it wrong again, so I double-checked—I want to send it to China, China, China. That’s right, it’s 1.5 thanks! Once again, my eyes lit up with surprise, I rushed back to the street to buy a few more, and returned to the post office. Afterwards, I still felt unsatisfactory, so I went out again and returned. Three times in and three out of the Bethlehem post office, the staff is also very happy, and they smile when they see me. But they also said that the stamps here are only for use in Palestine, and they are just a piece of waste paper when they arrive in Israel. Posted on the wall of the post office is the information that the United Nations provides support for the postal system in the region. It is thought that such cheap postage should be subsidized, and the purpose is to compete with Jerusalem for some tourists. Another example can be given. The same Jerusalem travel book costs 60 thank you in Jerusalem, but only 36 thank you in Bethlehem. The distance between the two places is only tens of kilometers. Having had the epiphany of this huge gap, I shopped for most of my planned souvenirs in Bethlehem.


Seeing the Iranian and Indonesian stamps again, I was still shocked by the huge face value. The postage for a postcard from Iran to Beijing is 30,000 riyals (Rial), which is about 5-6 yuan according to the exchange rate. The riyal is so worthless that even Iranians find it inconvenient, and a currency unit called “Toman” has been formed in private transactions, 1 Toman = 10 riyals. Therefore, when inquiring in the free market, you must find out which unit the other party is talking about, and you will regret it if you are not careful. From Bali to Beijing, it costs 10,000 rupees, about 5 yuan. The denominations of 10,000 and 100,000 rupiahs are commonly used in Indonesia, and it is very troublesome to carefully count the number of “0”s every time you pay. I remember that just after I landed at Bali Airport, due to the hasty transfer at Singapore Airport, the luggage did not arrive together, and the airline immediately paid for it. Holding hundreds of thousands of Indonesian rupiah, my heart is full of joy, which is actually only more than 20 US dollars.


Iranian postcard

When it comes to currency depreciation, Zimbabwe is second to none. Probably because of this reason, Zimbabwe’s stamps have no face value, I remember it’s about 1 US dollar—the US dollar is a hard currency in the country, and the old Zimbabwe banknotes were sold as commodities: 1 billion yuan of paper bills sold for 1 US dollar , 10 billion yuan for 5 dollars, etc., and I was lucky enough to buy a 10 trillion (13 “0” after 1), 20 dollars.


Last previous international trip, January 2020

Everyone’s postage is increasing, except for Japan: in 2004, it still needed 120 yen (Tsukuba), and in 2017 it only needed 70 yen (Tokyo), which is also cheap. In North America, the United States is about 1.05 U.S. dollars, while Canada is more expensive at 2.5 Canadian dollars (the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar is roughly 1:1); Australia in Oceania only needs 1.4 Australian dollars (Sydney) in 2010, and 2.3 Australian dollars (Cairns) in 2018. ), New Zealand costs 1.9 SGD… There is a postcard sent from Germany that went to Taiwan and flew back to me, which took twice as long; Because I asked the local tour guide to write it, I just wanted to see what their writing looked like; And write on it, to commemorate our successful completion of the task…

These hundreds of postcards comfort and heal the present, and the heart that dreams of a distant place is about to move.

Author: black

Editor: Wu Dongkun

Editor in charge: Shu Ming

*Wenhui exclusive manuscript, please indicate the source when reprinting.

This article is from:
This site is only for collection, the copyright belongs to the original author