Category Archives: Relocation

Back

Well, having spent a few months trying out Blogger instead of WordPress and acquiring a new iPad mini along the way, I think I’m back!
They say to embrace change but I wonder when I’m changing something just because I can, or to try out the latest ‘thing’ and when change really is to the benefit of me and those in my community.
Having struggled to access WordPress while in Vietnam I switched but it occurs to me that I prefer WP and now that I’m back in Europe there really isn’t any reason not to return.
So, here I am, back up and running and plenty to share from the last few months – about life, identity, family and a sense of belonging.
To be continued …!
Smiles,
Karen

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Keep Your Word

Last night was an important event in our family’s journey.  My husband’s firm hosted a Bon Voyage cocktail party for him at the fabulous Bridgewater Hall in Manchester which was attended by clients, contacts, colleagues and his family.  Our boys ages range from 25 – 17 years and their experience of ‘public’ events of this kind has been, not surprisingly, rather limited.  They did us and themselves proud though – networking and chatting like professionals.

As with so many social events of this scale, we all came away regretting not having had more time to talk to more people but in full agreement that the night had been a great success.  It was lovely for the boys to hear people talking about a man that they only really know of as ‘dad’ in such glowing terms and with obvious regret that he’s leaving Manchester coupled with admiration at the adventure we’re embarking on.

As we settled down together for the night and reflected on what a great evening we’d had, my husband became very quiet and started to list all the people who hadn’t made it, some of whom had accepted and not then sent any apology for their absence.  Oh how human – why do we so often reflect on what we don’t like or what didn’t happen?!  I made the usual platitudes about how many did come (far more than didn’t) and how we hadn’t managed to speak to everyone anyway so more guests would only have exacerbated the situation.  He was slightly mollified but still a little upset by some of the ‘no shows’.

This got me thinking though.  Hand on heart, not one of those people meant him any harm by not attending.  Some will have had cast iron, genuine reasons for their absence.  And for many they simply won’t even have thought that their presence would be missed.

What I’ve taken from the evening, in addition to the friendship and support of so many guests and a great sense of pride in our boys, is a reminder to Keep Your Word.  I am as guilty as the next person of saying I’ll do something (and meaning it at the time) and then changing my mind, often due to tiredness or lethargy rather than anything more acceptable as an excuse.  So, one thing I want to take to Hanoi next month is a commitment to keep my word.  If I commit to something, business or social, my aim is to keep that commitment and not assume that my absence won’t be noticed or missed.

Right, back to sorting the cookery books into piles to either ship or store!

A Paperless World

I applaud the move to a paperless world (except where novels are concerned and much as I love my e-reader, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in my hands) but …

We’re at the part of the process of becoming expats where we have to notify everyone of our change of address and/or cancellation of whatever service we previously bought from them.  Having enjoyed the benefits of being able to conduct my own transactions and manage my accounts on line, I’m now paying the price as I try to make changes remotely too.  Nearly everyone wants confirmation in writing, fair enough it is no doubt as they claim ‘for my additional security’ but boy oh boy, I’ve spent hours trying to find exactly who to write to and where and running off letters with all the correct references and account numbers on.  And these are just the accounts, services and utilities.  Direct mail is a whole other category.

Despite starting months ago and dutifully notifying Saga (I know, I know, I’m way too young but their stuff automatically kicks in on your 50th birthday), Pia Jewellery, Charles Tyrwhitt shirts and a zillion a.n.others I still get mail from 90% of them.  Once you’re on their database there is no place to hide.

Which leads me to my next gripe.  Health Insurance/Medical Cover.  Having been cossetted by the National Health Service in the UK, not perfect I know but has always done me very well, I now find myself needing private health cover as an expat. Trying to compare the Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels (or whatever equivalent title they’re given) with USA cover or without, with evacuation or without, with or without dental …  I don’t even know how to begin to decide.  But that’s not my real issue.  My real issue is with the brilliance on the part of all these environmentally friendly companies who no longer need to send a brochure.  Simply email the pdf and some poor sucker at the other end has to either print the whole thing out or spend half a day sifting through the pages that are actually needed in order to make an informed decision.

I’m exhausted and my head’s spinning.  Maybe it will all become clearer after a glass of wine?  Will I have to declare it on my medical application form?

You’re booked!

Flights booked – check

Fraser Suites booked – check

Furniture sorted – err, no.

Ho, hum, we’re making such a meal out of this ship v. store business that I’m tempted just to bring everything, wastepaper bins and all.  Actually, that reminds me, when we bought a house in Spain a few years ago I had a devil of a job finding wastepaper bins.  So yeah, I guess I will bring them with me!

Everything’s pretty much on hold now while we enjoy our final Christmas in the family home before everything gets removed and the house becomes someone else’s home.  The agent is coming on Thursday to take photos and is really confident about letting it quickly – hope he gives us time to move out!!!  What a strange day to take the photos though – Christmas tree and chaos everywhere but, his choice.

CELTA is finished – yippee.  I’m quietly confident that I’ve passed and will be gutted if I haven’t.  Speaking of passing things, my extremely clever little sister heard today that she’s passed her M.A. with a Merit – well done Zo if you read this 🙂

We had such fun booking our flights to Hanoi because I’d decided that I definitely want to go Air France because it’s the quickest journey time – 14 hours from Manchester to Hanoi with only the one stop in Paris.  Perfect I thought.  Perfect we thought – let’s book it.  And that’s where our problems started.  1st March, two passengers, one way to Hanoi.  Everything going smoothly until you actually click the button to confirm your purchase and then it broke us the bad news (rather brutally it has to be said):  No seats available.  Seriously?  For the 1st March next year?

Okay, we tried the following day, week, month, 6 months ahead.  Nothing would work.  We checked Singapore Airlines (and yes I was sulking at this point – 19 hours.  Quote of the evening from my husband:  Well, 14 hours, 19 hours, what’s the difference? (and him an accountant) – 5 hours I replied.  5 whole hours.  We checked Vietnam Airways, Qatar Air, Aeroflot, South China Air (oh okay, we didn’t exactly check the the last two, but they did come up as options).  The journey time was an issue, the excess baggage charge another ($50/kilo – are you kidding?) and not wanting to stop in Doha another.

After several hours and a lot of frustration I had the brilliant idea that perhaps Air France would work if we booked a return.  Eureka!  2nd March, returning 16th June (for aforementioned younger sister’s wedding) – all booked and paid for, and cheaper than a single flight.

Now it’s just my stepson and the dog to sort – Singapore Airlines here I come.  What’s 19 hours for a youngster getting a free holiday eh!  Actually, the real reason is that you need an airline that does the whole route whereas the first leg of the Air France journey is fulfilled by Flybe.

Paperwork

Well, we’re on Plan C regarding furniture shipment versus storage but at least we’re making progress (baby steps are still progress right?!).

There’s something so intimidating about official documents to my mind.  We’ve just got back our ACRO certificates of good conduct from the Police and, despite both being certified as 100% in the clear, we look like criminals on the photos and the document looks exactly as it would if we had convictions as long as your arm.  Couldn’t they put ‘good’ certificates on different coloured paper or would that be discrimination?  Okay, just a joke 🙂

We’ve got our visas sorted and were just about to send a load of paperwork off to be officially translated by an approved translation agency when it appears that can all be done in Vietnam provided it’s been notarised here, certified by the F&C Office and the Vietnamese Embassy in London.  Seriously?  I can’t help thinking that my husband’s firm is ‘doing things by the book’ but have a sneaky suspicion that 80% of people doing the same move wouldn’t be ticking quite so many of the boxes!  Ah well, we’re keeping a whole army of officials in business I guess!

The dog next – I need to sit my dog courier (okay, stepson!) down tomorrow and explain exactly what he’ll be required to do (as best as I can having never actually done it myself), including possibly needing some jabs himself.  Then I’m ready to get his visa and both their flights booked.

Interestingly, we were due to book our flights last week end and didn’t get around to it.  Not a great sign eh!!  I think  actually booking flights feels a little bit too real but we’re going to need to at some point given that everything else will be booked and sorted.  It would be  a shame to miss all the fun by not having plane tickets!

Procrastinating

Blimey, who’d have thought it was so complicated trying to decide what to do with various items of furniture and personal possessions?  First of all we decided (perhaps being a little cowardly) that we’d just ship most of it out to Hanoi and decide what to bring back when the time comes.  Then, after seeking advice from friends and people in the know, we decided to store stuff that we thought we’d definitely want back here at the end of our Vietnamese adventure.  And now …?

Well, the cost of storing it seems ridiculous and most of it is far too good to just give away but the second hand value of household things and furniture is almost zero and I can’t really be bothered trying to sell items bit by bit – surely life’s too short to go down that road?    I’m exhausted just thinking about it – mind you I am full of a cold and dosed up with Beechams Cold and Flu Remedy so that probably isn’t helping on the ‘clarity of thought’ front!

Think we’re going to end up shipping it out there and then deciding what to do when the time comes to return home – i.e. procrastinating 🙂

Moving costs and the dog …

Hugely mixed emotions today.  The first quote for transporting Sally door to door from Sale to Hanoi arrived into my Inbox this morning and I need a lie down.  Crikey – even if you say it quickly that’s a lot of money!  Okay, add to my already overstretched To Do List – get more pet transport quotes!!!

On the other hand, and when my heart has stopped doing double quick time, the first of the relocation agents is coming this afternoon to advise/quote on shipping/storing etc.  At least we don’t have to pay this bit of the move (well, the storage I guess is down to us) but still a little nervous based on the dog quote experience!

If anyone living in Hanoi has a dog can you tell me please – are there places to take them to run and play off lead?  Sally’s a lively whippet/lurcher – like a little greyhound so a very fast runner.  I think in the hot weather she’ll be a bit lazier than she is here and she doesn’t like the rain very much so that will keep her indoors a bit too but realistically she is going to need to run.  Here I take her out, off lead (leash to American readers I think?), for 40-60 minutes a day.  She’d need that twice a week I think and a regular long walk on lead the other days.

Phew, I feel like I’ve done 5 rounds with Amir Khan and it’s only 09.30 🙂

One down Eleven to Go

Yippee, we’ve agreed what we’re doing with all the items in one room of the house.  Okay, we haven’t done anything with them yet and I did pick the easiest room – the sitting room.  But, don’t knock it, for a hoarder this is amazing progress with 6 months still to go before we move!

I’ve devised a Ship, Store, Sell checklist; itemised everything in the room and then have a quickfire session where hubby gets to say what happens to each item.  Any that I don’t agree with we discuss before moving onto the next item.  I think this is called teamwork!

I haven’t quite worked out a prize system yet but really feel that something should be on offer to make a painful process a little more enticing! (Prize for me that is, Kevin (did I mention his name before – well, he’s the hubby!) isn’t sentimental about most ‘stuff’ and would happily get rid of 90% of it).

Ship and Store are pretty self explanatory but Sell actually means I need to give some thought to anyone who might want the item among our friends and family.  If not, whether it genuinely is worth selling, if it would better suit www.freecycle.org , the charity shop, local community furniture project, recycling or the dump.

Time for coffee and cake to give me the energy to tackle – the dining room 🙂

Changing Species

I’m considering changing species and registering myself as a dog because the lady who we’re talking to about moving Sally out to Hanoi sounds so lovely I’d rather like her to take care of me too!

More seriously though, of the three relocation agents I contacted last week only one responded promptly, one claims they replied and the other hasn’t even responded to my second attempt to get a dialogue going with them!

The one who claims they replied have now sent me a 5 page form to complete which entails me walking around the house ticking boxes as to how many of each item we’ve got, then specifying items of particular value and putting an insurance valuation price on it all.  Blimey, I’m bored just thinking about it!

On the 14th September someone is coming over from Leeds (from the first company – oh go on Karen, name them.  Crown Relocations) to talk us through the process and establish how best to move the contents of one quite large family home into a 20 foot container and ultimately a house in Hanoi and I’m quite excited.

Whilst on the subject of clearing the house – which I’m sort of talking about today aren’t I – having started to give away clothes to charity (and binning the stuff that I don’t think they’ll want) I’ve just come across clothesbank.co.uk who PAY YOU for reusable clothes, shoes, belts and handbags.  Alright, it’s only 60p per kilo but, they do collect and I’ll need that money to buy my own dog biscuits when the inter species transfer comes through!