Moving in, out and around China
Accounts of our relocation experiences in China ⇔ (Clicking on photos reveals the entire caption and often makes them bigger.)
Xiamen to Hong Kong in 2015
Click here to see some summary FACTORS to consider the next time we want to relocate in Hong Kong (or China).
These entries are in chronological order, with newer entries first, so you might want to start “lower” and work your way up.
October 5, 2015
After being told there was “no way” that our belongings would arrive during the Oct 1-5 National Day holiday, the phone rang Oct 2, at around 6:15, saying our boxes would be delivered within the hour! At 8:30 the driver called, quite angry that he couldn’t find a parking space on a Friday night in one of HK’s most popular night-spots. (Go figure.) So, I headed for the loading zone in front of our apartment, and as soon as a space became empty, I stood in it, waving off angry motorists who wanted to illegally park there–I had to keep the space for the truck! Again, it was a one-man show, so Vivian stayed downstairs to keep the police from ticketing the moving van, while “the guy” and I hauled boxes to the sixth floor (PTL we have an elevator!). The driver seemed amazed that we had helped so much (upstairs and curbside); he spoke a little Mandarin, so we could exchange basic communication. The truck was empty by about 9:30(?), we paid 1800HK ($230US), and then started comparing the delivery to our list. We were shocked to find about 20 boxes missing! (You may recall that they had “lost” our boxes a few days ago.) After a bit of panic and prayer, I made some calls, mainly through a friend (angel?) who had helped to make all the arrangements. To make a long story short, our guy returned with a second load. We got the rest of the boxes up to our apartment by midnight, and it now looks like nothing is missing. We are grateful.
Yes, several things were badly damaged by water. Due to terrible rust, we had to throw away a nice metal bookcase that Vivian had used since college! We also had to throw away a large bulletin board I’ve been using for over 20 years, due to water-rot and mildew. But both had served us well for a long time–we bid them a fond farewell, and heaved them into a dumpster! So far, white vinegar and other cleaning solutions have let us salvage most of the other damaged items, but there’s no telling what further surprises await as we continue to unpack.
October 1, 2015
September 18, 2015
Our move from Xiamen to Hong Kong is just the next in a series of moves (see the bottom of this page for “previous experiences”) that always leaves us wishing we could have stayed put. As shown below (April 16), we packed many months ago; this week we came to Xiamen to get the boxes shipped to Hong Kong. On seeing our boxes again, the first thing we realized was that we had been too optimistic about the size of our HK apartment! But without time to completely re-pack, we just jettisoned the big things that were easy to leave behind: bookcase, desk, chair, fans, drying rack, ladder, stereo system… Then we noticed that pillows, etc, had mildewed during their humid confinement, so they went to the trash. Next, we were told that due to HK’s strict importation laws, we could not import any DVDs or CDs. Never-mind that most had been purchased in HK or the USA, and others (like previous church musicals) were irreplaceable–we had to dig through all our boxes to remove them. (Unwilling to throw away such an investment, we shipped them to a friend in China near HK, and will–over time–hand-carry them in on day-trips, which is legal in small quantities.)
Of course, by now, our meticulous packing record was really messed up, so we spent many hours (Thursday) moving boxes around, filling holes, fixing descriptions, sealing the boxes (Douglas and his friend helped with this difficult task), and then writing/affixing labels.
A man came to look at the pile, and said he would return at 9 am, which was music to our ears. After having a good moving experience, a friend (Katy) had arranged for this man’s company to help us. Friday morning, we expected a covered moving van and a crew of uniformed movers (like the famous SC movers: “Two Men and a Truck”). We got “One Skinny Guy and a Minivan”–and remember that the “skinny guy” had seen the pile of boxes Thursday, so he knew what to expect! I hadn’t expected to spend my morning in Xiamen’s humid 30-degree (86 Fahrenheit) weather, moving our boxes two more times–once to the courtyard and once more to a small truck.
As the “skinny guy,” myself and Douglas started to carry things down the steps, Vivian’s WeeChat read “Cry, cry. Goodbye things. Hope to see you again someday.”
Our new heroes are Douglas and Katy; Katy arranged for this company to get our things, and transfer them to a different company near the HK border, who will deal with export/import requirements. We had received a quote from “Tiger” (the famous international movers who damaged our things between Shanghai and Xi’an in 2002–see below–for $5000US to do this; Katy’s companies will hopefully charge only $800US). Douglas is a staff member at a local church; he is seen above helping the “skinny guy” and me to move all of our things from the second floor to the courtyard, and later into a second truck (not much bigger than the van). The second truck was uncovered; not to worry, they said, and they promised it would not rain. Right; as if that’s in their control.
It’s now Sept 19, evening, and it is raining up and down the coast–right where our uncovered truck is supposed to go.
[Cry, cry. Goodbye things. Hope to see you again someday.]
September 12, 2015
We have slept in our new apartment now for three nights (you can see the tiny floor plan in our 2015 blog). But we are glad we chose a home we can walk to.
After running around all week, looking for an apartment and learning about our new roles at JHF, we are just beginning to feel settled. But next week we are returning to China, to try to get our boxes shipped to Hong Kong. Of course, we’ll see old friends (can’t wait!), but the visit will be short since we have to be back for important meetings in a few days.
September 3, 2015
We arrived late, but safe in Hong Kong last Thursday night, and with all our luggage. On Friday we started visiting apartments with a series of realtors (all connected to one friend or another). Yesterday, we signed a preliminary contract on the 27th apartment we visited. Some were over an hour away from the office by public transportation, but this one is just a 15-minute walk–a major selling point! It is also a short walk from a major train/bus station that will make it convenient for our associates, when they need a place to sleep while coming from or going to China. The apartment is 382 square feet (about the size of the living/dining room combo in many American homes), and we talked them down to $1806US per month. That includes a good deal of furniture, while 24 of the ones we looked at were empty (for the same price). That’s all the time I have at the moment…
August 17, 2015
Next Wednesday, we fly to Hong Kong. Our first duty will be to find an apartment; then we’ll return to Xiamen to ship our books, clothes, papers, utensils, etc., to Hong Kong.
August 3, 2015
…And speaking of Hong Kong, I just stumbled on a short time-lapse video of Hong Kong harbor. We, of course, won’t have a view like this! But the “fragrant harbor” (that’s what “Hong Kong” means) has it’s beautiful moments. Enjoy:
April 16, 2015
Our bookshelves in Xiamen (Fujian) are empty; we’re still working on the closets. This has been “packing week” once again for the Kriglines, as we prepare to move to Hong Kong. Last weekend was full of tearful goodbyes as we participated one last time at our wonderful international church (XICF), and the other fun things we have enjoyed so much in Xiamen. Last Friday, several former students shared a meal with us on the XMU campus–exchanging more sad farewells. On Monday, we will take a train to Hong Kong, and then fly to the USA for Andrew’s graduation (and then the summer). In the meantime, I’d better get back to packing!
March 31, 2015
Since we will be leaving Xiamen (for good) in a few weeks, it is time to start packing, which also means it is time to start selling or giving things away. If you live in Xiamen, take a look at our new SALE page, which will probably keep changing until we leave in mid April.
March 25, 2015
Vivian and I are spending a week in Hong Kong, meeting with my new job’s Board of Directors and the office staff, as well as with old friends and associates. As a little kid, growing up in a small town in Georgia, I never dreamed that I’d one day work in a noisy, bustling place like this. And even though I’ve lived in larger Chinese cities, life on a university campus is quite serene in comparison to downtown Hong Kong!
March 7, 2015
This week, we got some life-changing news. After happily teaching English at Chinese universities for almost 15 years, we will soon be moving to Hong Kong with a very different job description. I’ve been appointed to be the next Executive Director (总干事) for JHF in Hong Kong. (See blog for details…)
Zhangzhou to Xiamen in 2012
Below is a montage of our move from the Zhang-zhou Development Zone to Xiamen.
The process began with visits to a number of apartments in Xiamen. If they weren’t too expensive, they were too small, too dirty, too noisy, etc. But the Hand of Providence finally smiled upon us and we found a nice, large (though still expensive) place near the XMU Hai-yun campus. In the next photo, students help us finish packing. Several even made the trip with us on moving day. What a great bunch of students!!
A student had helped us hire the Pigeon Moving Company, and they swore that they would bring an enclosed truck. I had insisted because things had gotten wet in a previous move. You can imagine our disappointment when this flat-bed truck arrived. They promised that it wouldn’t rain (who did they think they were, to make such a promise?), and since we really had no choice, we loaded the truck. (By the way, it DID rain, but very lightly and only for a few minutes. We thank God for that!!)
We didn’t want to trust everything to the moving company–again, due to bad experiences of moving in the past. So the next picture shows seven suitcases that went with student-volunteers via ferry, while Michael accompanied the moving vans on the vehicle ferry. Fearing that everything would not fit into one truck, we actually ordered two vans; when almost everything had been packed onto the flat bed, low and behold, an enclosed truck showed up! If they had sent that one first, I’m sure everything would have fit inside, and I wouldn’t have had to worry about rain. Oh well!
Below that, you see the flat truck on the ferry, also shown in the next picture. The movers were strong and professional, so it didn’t take them long to unload everything into our new apartment (during that light rain I mentioned). Yes, there were lots of boxes–many containing books and DVDs, including a large number that we loan out to students/friends.
With students so far away, and about to leave for the summer, we knew we would be on our own to unpack and clean–except for Ms. Huang, a “friend of a friend” who worked very hard to help us battle roaches and clean the dirty kitchen.
To see how the apartment looks with the boxes empty, scroll to the top of this page!
Xi’an to Kunming in 2005
蚂蚁搬家 (Ant Movers) moved our stuff from Xi’an to Kunming in 2005. They are an expensive (7000RMB), highly regarded company, so we were rather shocked to find that most of our furniture arrived marred and filthy dirty. These photos show some of the damage: marred surfaces, metal that was carelessly left to scrape along the rusty sides of their truck, bent table legs, and an unprotected cushion with long streaks of rust from the inner walls of the truck (even having it washed in Kunming didn’t get the stain out). Since all the damage was “little” we didn’t file for reimbursement. The damage to each item was too small to demand replacement, but it was just that there was SO MUCH “little” damage!
If you recall, Tiger moving company gave us problems with water damage coming from Shanghai to Xi’an. If you are ever moving inside China, I recommend that you avoid companies named after animals!
The damage seems to be the result of a combination of several things. We were told that they would provide sufficient padding materials, but they didn’t. Most of the padding was our own sheets and blankets. They also didn’t seem to care about the weight distribution, since heavy things were placed on lighter things, without any support or padding. The wheels on our microwave cart were completely crushed. Then there was the road–most of China’s highways are pretty smooth, but there are lots of mountains between Xi’an and Kunming, and things took quite a beating. The van was also apparently not air tight, because a thick layer of fine dirt was on everything. Once the dirt got onto the furniture, the poorly protected surfaces naturally scratched each other.
The photo below shows the power supply to our desktop computer. The university computer department said that (even though it was packed in it’s original padded box) the bumpy road likely ruined the device. Fortunately, the center helped me replace it without having to pay too much.
Soap was useless in removing the marks and mars shown on these photos (and on just about everything that was not inside a box). The blemishes remain as a permanent reminder of Ant Movers (蚂蚁搬家) and the damage they brought about in 2005 as they moved our things from Xi’an to Kunming.
USA to Shanghai in 2000
Someday I’ll edit and move this article here, but for now, you can read it at our old website: