China resumed a post office at the Great Wall Station in Antarctica at 5 pm Beijing time on Friday, according to Wang Ou, an official with the Beijing Post Bureau.
Yong Gaoqian, a postal clerk from the Beijing International Post Office, has arrived at the Great Wall Station and will serve as the only full-time postal clerk in the post office, though he planned to train an Antarctic explorer as his part-time assistant, Wang told China Daily.
This is the first time in the past two decades that mail from China has been delivered to Antarctica, according to Chi Tao, an official with the Beijing International Post Office.
People can now send a letter or a post card to China's Antarctic Great Wall Station from any post office in Beijing and the Great Wall Post Office will send it back postmarked: China Antarctic Great Wall Station Post Office.
That service has been so far confined to Beijing since the postal sector has a limited delivery capacity, Wang said.
The returned letters, however, can be sent to any post offices across the country after they arrive in Beijing.
If people want to receive returned letters, they need to stick stamps on envelopes or post cards and then include them in a larger envelope and send it to the Great Wall Station.
For a single trip, each letter weighing 20 grams or less costs 7 yuan (84 US cents) and a postcard 4.5 yuan (54 US cents). Cost of letters weighing more than 20 grams will increase by 2.3 yuan (US$27 cents) for each 10 grams.
The deadline for delivering a letter to Antarctica by the first half of this year will be February 1.
Due to the vigorous weather, the mail route can only be open in the summer in Antarctica, so people have to wait for the next winter in Beijing to send letters to the South Pole.
All the letters will be sent collectively from Beijing to the Great Wall Station on February 4, Wang said. The mail will travel 17,051 kilometres via Chile.
But stamp lovers must be patient in waiting for the returned letters since the first batch of letters which left Beijing earlier this month haven't reached their destination in Antarctica yet, according to Wang.
(China Daily January 22, 2005)