Just a brief post today. I have the week off and I'm heading down into the provincial capital for a few days. In fact I have to leave to catch the bus in about thirty minutes. All of which explains my brevity but has nothing to do with the post.
The post is about packaging. I have come to the conclusion that if there is ever an "International Secure Packaging" competition China will win it hands down. I first noticed it when I bought a packet of toffees in Yangshou. They were in a cardboard tube which appeared to have been sealed with something not unlike superglue. A sharp knife was required to dispose of it. Inside the toffees were wrapped in a foil tube. This defeated even the knife, eventually yielding to repeated stabbing with scissors. Inside each individual toffee was wrapped in a paper wrapper which could, with effort, be dealt with using fingernails.
Since then I've noticed it everywhere. Loaf of bread? Knife required. Packet of crackers? Scissors. Jar of jam? Careful application of boiling water to the metal lid followed by ten minutes struggle - no torque wrench being available.* Large pot of noodles? Stab through the lid with a knife, use scissors to cut a hole in it. Everything is so securely packaged that it is a challenge to open. Even a box of six eggs had to be opened on the "hinge" side of the lid with a pair of scissors. The best example was when my flatmate washed a pair of jeans with an unopened packet of tissues accidentally left in the pocket. They went through a vigourous wash cycle, an equally vigourous rinse cycle, a positively pounding spin cycle and emerged unscathed. The packaging was undamaged, the shape ws still there and inside, pristine, folded and dry the tissues were still as new.
Chinese packaging is probably the toughest in the world.
(* Actually, as I was writing this post my flatmate inadvertently found a new way to open jam. Unfortunately dropping it on the floor to let it shatter seems to leave rather too much glass mixed in for it to be considered very practical.)
I will do a full report when I return from Lanzhou.
The Economist finally comes around
6 hours ago