I am heading back to China for what will be my fourth year teaching in that great country. Spending three weeks back home has had its highs and lows. Catching up with my daughter, family and friends are the obvious highs, getting fat on eating food missed over the previous 10 months is a given and the weather! Thats been a low point. Grey, rain, cold and miserable - hey welcome home!
But that time has gone already and in three days I'll be on a plane to Nanjing. So the focus of attention has to be my suitcase and what I'll be putting in it. I've been documenting my packing for China over the past few years so those of you who might be thinking of coming to join us happy band of teachers in China might get some idea of the things you need to take.
Most of us have to abide by the weight allocations provided by the airlines we travel with. Some of us might be lucky enough to be able to buy premium tickets that allow for more weight to be carried on the plane. Thats not for me though so most of the times I have travelled to China I have been restricted to the usual 21 or 23 kilos. Although one time, as noted in an earlier blog, Cathay Pacific did give me 30 kilos.
Obviously, as I knew I was not leaving China for good I left most of my stuff back in my apartment. There is no need to drag everything backwards and forwards if one has an ongoing contract. In most cases the school should allow you to continue to keep your stuff in your own apartment so you don't have to do that.
So when I travelled home this year I took the decision to travel light because I wanted to buy some new clothes that actually fitted me. I have written before about how difficult it is for us larger westerners to find clothes that actually fit us in China, outside of having them made to measure by your local tailor.
So coming back to the UK most of the 15 kilos I carried was made up of gifts for my daughter. I basically only bought with me a couple of shirts, a pair of trousers, underwear, a rain jacket (luckily) a tee shirt, shorts and a pair of trainers to complement the clothes I was wearing to travel.
So I have been on a bit of a spending spree. But I have been spending wisely. My point of view when buying clothes and other stuff to take back to China with me is most of the stuff will be left there, or it only needs to last around 10 months before I come home to buy new again. So price rather than 'quality' is at the forefront of my mind when shopping. That is not to say I am buying junk but I am looking for the best bargains I can.
So the following is my suitcase list for this the fourth year of teaching in China. Bear in mind I have lots of stuff back in China and if this is your first time you would do well to look at my earlier packing blogs here, here and here.
This year I am flying with Lufthansa via Frankfort. Their posted weight limits are as follows:
Economy class/ Checked in baggage - 23 kilos
Carry on baggage - 1 x 8 kilos
Also allowed in the cabin: another item of carry on baggage (max 30 x 40 x 10 cms, e.g. handbag, laptop bag).
Shirts - 2 - old bought with me from China but still good.
Shirts - new - all of my new shirts have been purchased from Primark and in the main cost about £8 each. This is cheaper than having them made in China. The quality is good. 5 of the shirts are 'work' shirts so are more formal and 2 are casual shirts. I will be binning some of my old shirts when I get back home.
Shoes - Leather brogues for work - purchased off Groupon.com for £39 - reduced from £149 (BTW Groupon are still selling cheap TEFL online courses)
Socks (usual shoe length) - 14 pairs - purchased from Sports Direct
Socks (trainer style - white) 8 pairs - purchased from Sports Direct
T- shirts - V necked - 2 - £2.50 each from Primark.
England Rugby Shirt - Old - I wanted a new one for the 2015 World Cup but at £50 plus even in Sports Direct to rich for me.
Trousers - Chinos - 2 - One Khaki, One Black - for work/leisure - £8 each in Primark. Good quality, but the pockets are a little shallow so I will get those replaced by the tailor in China - cheaply. (Similar M&S chinos are around £25 each)
Polo shirt - 1 - old still good
Polo shirt - Ralph Lauren - New - 1 - £8 in Sports Direct
Shorts - Old - Still serviceable
Swim shorts - Old - unused!!!
Underwear and socks - Old still serviceable.
Jacket - Harrington - New- from eBay - £24
10 x Black and White Ilford Films 35mm - from e-bay (around £45) - gift
10 x 35mm colour film from the £1 shop (£10) - gift
24 x cuppa soups - taken out of cardboard boxes (2 boxes of 4 for £2 in Tesco)
16 Lemsips - £1 per box in the £1 shop
10 x underarm deodorant - £1 each in the £1 shop - sometimes difficult to find in China and often expensive when found.
Acid reflux prescription medicine - 3 x 28 tabs from Doctor - but you can buy over the counter in China (I get free prescriptions)
Anadin Extra - 36 tabs - £1 for 12 at the £1 shop
Ibuprofen Tabs - 5 x 16 tabs - 3 boxes for £1 at the £1 shop
Diarrhoea Relief tabs - 4 boxes - £1 per box at the £1 shop - just in case!
1 Beconase nasal spray (tesco own brand) - Tesco - for post cold nasal drip
1 x Olbas Oil - Tesco - good for sinuses and bronchial problems - couple of drops in boiling water and steam tubes.
1 x Vaseline Lip Therapy with Aloe Vera - Tesco
4 x Neoprene knee braces - £1 each at the £1 shop - for running
24 x prescription medicine for Migraine - cannot purchase in China (Maxalt Melt - oral Lyophilisate)
4 x Dylon Wash n Bright Sachets - £1 each in the £1 shop - I have a cold water washer in China not good with whites.
1 x 250ml Shaving oil - I don't use shaving cream which you can get in China. 250 ml lasts me a year. From eBay £7.50
1 x Lomo camera - gift
1 x Perfume - Gift - purchased off a perfume website
1 x 20 meaty strips for Snooky - Lidl
1 x Dog Toy - £1 shop
1 x Body cream - gift
1x Hand cream - gift
1 x Braces - Primark - £3
1 x Plastic Garlic press - £1 shop
2 x Tin openers - £1 shop (impossible to find in China)
2 x Anti Mosquito wipes - £1 each pound shop
2 x bottles of Pholcodeine couch medicine decanted into plastic bottles as the glass bottles are heavy.
2 x English work books - £1 each at the £1 shop
2 x 240 tea bags - PG Tips - £3 per box at Tesco (Special offer) will be emptied into plastic carrier bags to save space and weight.
1 x 600gms Marmite Tub - Around £7 from Amazon.
This currently weighs in at about 22 kilos including the heavyish plastic suitcase. I have 23 kilos allowance. Everything I have purchased has been stripped out of its packaging to save weight including the medicines (not out of the foil of course just the boxes)
3 x English work books (2 @ £3 and 1 @ £4) from The Works
Spare trousers - Old.
1 x paper back book
Pair of Crocs
The backpack is around 7 kilos at the moment.
Books x 2
Glasses (sun and computer)
Phone external chargers x 2
This bag is close to 6 kilos
Plus I will have to carry my camera bag
This luggage is really pushing the limits of what the airline 'allows' al;though generally there is a bit of leeway. I will reweigh every thing on Monday night prior to going to the airport and post here.
Tuesday morning weights:
Suitcase: Just over 23 kilos
Carry on bag (rucksack): Just over 8 kilos
Computer bag: Just over 6 kilos