Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.
Q. Can you recommend an online florist who sells flowers in Beijing and will let me send them anywhere in the city with a personalized note?
Q. I’m new to Beijing and want to find somewhere to buy organic vegetable, fruits and healthy food. Delivery would be great. I’m also looking for organic skincare and hair care products and detergent. I prefer Johnmasters Organics, Chantecaiiie and Aasop. Do you know where I can buy these or any similar organic products?
A. The Metro supermarket near Sanyuanqiao has a very large organic foods section. If you are looking for an English website where you can order organic foods, try Tootoo, Organic Farm and Little Donkey Farm.
Most foreign supermarkets like Jenny Lou’s and April Gourmet have a small organic foods section.
As for organic skincare products, we would recommend you bring these from abroad. Expect anything you can buy here to be double the price or more.
Q. My husband is a big (by Chinese standards) guy. He’s 185cm tall and weighs about 95kg. We’ve been all through Sanlitun, H&M, Uniqlo and Jack Jones but can’t find any dress pants or jeans that fit him. Does you have any suggestions?
If you are looking to buy off the rack, your best bet will be Amazon.com or another US supplier who is willing to ship internationally. Shipping is expensive, but it can be worth it for high-quality items that you expect to be able to use for a long time. Stick with brands that have sizes you already know will fit, since returns won’t exactly be easy from here.
Alternatively you might consider hiring a tailor. Custom-made jeans, slacks and dress shirts are very cheap in China.
Q. I am thinking about getting a new tattoo. Do you know any tattoo shops with decent designers in Beijing?
A. There are numerous tattoo shops, but the good and the bad are intermingled. We can recommend HX Tattoo: its employees are careful, professional and helpful. Their lead designer is named Monica and she is passionate about her art.
The shop is near Caofang Subway Station on Line 6. You can call ahead to make an appointment with the boss.
Q. My girlfriend accepted my marriage proposal and we plan to tie the knot this November in Beijing. We’ve tried searching online but have not found any way to get a Hindu priest for our wedding ceremony. Do you know if there is such a priest in Beijing?
A. Congratulations! Have you asked your embassy? They will probably be your best bet for a contact. You may also ask at some of the older Indian restaurants like Ganges and Tadka, which offer catering services for weddings and similar events. They might have the contact information for a priest with whom they have previous experience.
Q. I’m entitled to S1 visa. Can you tell me whether I can apply for it in Beijing before my current visa expires in a month, or do I need to leave the country?
A. Careful there. The Exit and Entry Bureau will be the judge of just what you are actually entitled to or not.
The S1 visa is issued to people who intend to go to China to visit immediate family members who are working or studying in China. Sons and daughters only qualify if they are younger than 18.
If you think you qualify, you can apply for an S1 visa in Beijing. If you are given the S1 visa, you must re-enter the country within 90 days of the visa being issued and register at a local Public Security Bureau branch upon arrival. The police will replace the S1 visa with a China Residence Permit, which allows allow multiple entries for one year.
The S1 visa is not guaranteed even if you meet all the conditions. The Chinese Consulate may choose to issue you an S2 visa instead. Which you get is left entirely up to their discretion.