When my husband Jun and I first met each other in China, the last thing I expected was to navigate a long-distance relationship with him.
Fast-forward a couple of years to when I was in Shanghai, and my company decided to post me to their Taipei office. Just as I jumped at the opportunity, a part of me struggled. At the time, it was nearly impossible for mainland Chinese to travel to Taiwan. This chance to work in Taipei meant we’d be separated across the great Taiwan Strait – and also forced to celebrate Valentine’s Day apart for the first time.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day – this ever-important holiday for lovers – when your boyfriend or girlfriend is in China? How do you manage the distance and still make the holiday something special?
Here are 3 of the ways Jun and I survived our first Valentine’s Day apart:
#1: Make a virtual date
If Jun and I had been together in Shanghai, we’d have gone out for a romantic dinner for two at one of our favorite vegetarian restaurants, such as the Jujube Tree.
Of course, it was impossible for us to dine together, with him in Shanghai and me in Taipei. But we could do the next best thing – make a virtual date to talk with each other.
Back then, our only choice was the phone. But nowadays, video chat means you can have your loved one beside you (well, virtually) while you’re enjoying your Valentine’s Day dinner or evening (or anything else…hint, hint!). If you have a tablet, you could even set it up across from you at your table, turning it into a virtual table for two!
#2: Write them a romantic message
During my stint in Taipei, e-mail became my best friend – because it was one of the best ways for Jun and me to stay in touch every single day. E-mail was also how I sent Jun a romantic (and kind of cheesy) poem I drafted just for him.
Nowadays, with messaging apps (such as WhatsApp and WeChat) it’s even easier to send your loved one a romantic poem or message. You can even add some cute stickers, photos or images to let them know just how much you miss them.
#3: Send your loved one a care package through online shopping
When I was living in Taipei, Taiwanese style mochi – soft rice cakes stuffed with sweet fillings – became one of my favorite snacks. Because I had never had them in Shanghai, I decided to send Jun some mochi to share a little local flavor while reminding him how much I loved him.
This was a great idea in theory, but a lot of trouble in practice. I had to find the nearest post office and give up one of my lunch breaks to get there. There was also the hassle of packaging everything, getting Jun’s address written correctly (in traditional Chinese characters, which I wasn’t used to), and spending more money than I anticipated. Ouch.
Fortunately, Jun received the package. But goodness knows, it could have been lost or snarled up in customs (both of which still happen when people send things to me in China, even today). Let’s just say I was crossing my fingers and praying to the postal deities that it would arrive. 😉
Nowadays, online shopping has made shipping your Valentine’s Day care packages to China a breeze.
If you already have a Taobao or Tmall account, you don’t even need to hassle with customs. Just browse your favorite shops and buy! This is by far the least expensive option. I’m impartial to Tmall’s online supermarket (天猫超市), which guarantees next-day shipping in most major cities and has loads of delicious gifts for your loved one, including imported chocolates and wine. Also, if you choose a reliable provider like Tmall’s online supermarket, you can be confident your package will arrive on time.
But of course, Taobao and Tmall are all in Chinese, and require users to have a Chinese bank account or credit card to use them. Can’t read Chinese? Can’t open an account? No worries.
One option is to find a Taobao agent, such as Taobao Focus, who will shop for you for a small fee. But if you’d prefer to do your shopping on your own, in English, you can still send a romantic care package to China through Gift Baskets Overseas.
Gift Baskets Overseas offers a variety of Valentine’s Day gift baskets – yes, including chocolates and wine – with listings in English, all backed by their 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. (If you’re not 100 percent satisfied with your order, they will either make it right or refund your money. How cool is that?) Gift Baskets Overseas takes care of everything and ships to 317 locations in China, covering just about anywhere your loved one would be.
(As a full disclosure, I am an affiliate for Gift Baskets Overseas. But I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t absolutely believe in their products and service.)
If you’d like to make a Valentine’s Day purchase through Gift Baskets Overseas, I’m offering my readers a special 13% discount off all Valentine’s Day gift baskets (including those with wine and chocolate). Just use the code VAL13 when you’re checking out.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, wishing all of you a wonderful Valentine’s Day!