Posts Tagged ‘moving’


The Big “Why?”

September 14, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

stone house ruins in the foreground, hills in the background open lawn area and large deciduous trees
three story building with ice palace restaurant building with scooters parked in front and laundry hanging from the awnings

Both in the United Arab Emirates before our move and in Shanghai after our move, we have been asked “Why?” Why would we want to leave the wondrous UAE? What brought us to China? The answers given depended on how well we knew the person inquiring, but mostly boiled down to “new job, better job.”

The laws regarding libel in the UAE are such that one can be charged with libel for publishing anything negative, even if it is true. Therefore, I cannot do a side by side comparison to show why we chose to move on and out. I can, however, tell you about my new job and new home city.

  • My salary is higher.
  • Housing is provided by the employer and we were driven directly to our apartment without any time in a hotel upon arrival. The internet was already connected and the air conditioning actually works.
  • Not once have I been warned that I could be fired at the drop of a hat for a minor infraction.
  • My coworkers are happy and cooperative and collaborative.
  • My library has a budget. A healthy budget.
  • I have two assistants to help with the workload.
  • Human Resources has been nothing but helpful and truthful.
  • Visa paperwork processes are being handled in a timely manner.
  • HR arranged for the bank and immigration to send representatives to campus for the convenience of new staff.
  • When I put in a request with I.T. services, they respond and get it done.
  • The cafeteria food is not like any cafeteria food I have experienced before. There are at least 6 different choices each day and a salad bar.
  • The curriculum includes multiple languages, music, art, theatre, sports, and character development.
  • The students are motivated to learn and to read.
  • Shanghai weather is lovely and frequently rainy. It varies from day to day. It actually cools off over night.
  • Shanghai people are polite and friendly. They wait their turn in line. Even crowds in touristy areas are polite. (While in Germany, I got so tired of being bumped into. No one made any effort to avoid collision or said “excuse me.” While walking down a crowded Nanjing Road, not once was I bumped into.)
  • Shanghai driving is crazy, but not aggressive, mean, or vindictive.
  • Our utility bills are WAY lower. There aren’t a bunch of hidden fines and fees related to housing.
  • Public transport is cheap and plentiful. (We traveled 20 stops on the Metro and it cost 5 yuan – $0.81 / 3 AED.)
  • We are serenaded morning and evening with music from the park next door. This morning it is lovely traditional Chinese flute music.
  • The cats, Oliver and Bert, seem to be happier here than ever before. They are frisky every day, multiple times a day. Oliver is living without his calming collar. We can’t explain it. We just appreciate it.

Are there negatives, of course.

  • The air quality is poor and sometimes enough to warrant wearing a face mask. (Although that has not yet happened since we arrived here.)
  • The tap water is not safe for drinking regularly, due to the likelihood containing heavy metals pollution.
  • Moving was an expensive and extremely stressful experience. My head might have exploded if it were not for the help of dear friends.
  • We had to leave our many dear friends behind, but they are welcome to come visit us here!

I predict that the thing that will get on my nerves will be the traffic. It is very difficult to safely cross the street even when there are traffic signals and a clearly marked crossing. The pedestrian simply does not have the right of way and you have to be totally aware of what is going on around you. You need eyes in the back of your head.


Ni Hao Shanghai

August 9, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Shanghai skyscrapers seen from the river

We have arrived in Shanghai, safe and sound. The cats were on the same flight. In retrospect, I would not recommend this. It would have been better if they had departed a couple of days after us. We touched down in the late afternoon and were taken directly to our apartment. In the evening, just about the time we are thinking of calling it a day (because I needed to get up first thing in the morning and head off to new staff orientation), we get a communication from our pet relocation agent that there is a problem with Oliver and she is heading to the airport to find out what his condition is. Long story short, our agent was at the airport after midnight having a vet called in to take care of Oliver and he spent the rest of the night under observation and getting medical treatment. Meanwhile, I laid awake most of the night worrying about him. The happy ending is that he survived. Both cats were moved to quarantine and are cooling their heels there for a few more days.

white cat on a metal surface with completely dilated eyes

This is not the face of a happy cat. Poor thing.

We have a lovely little apartment. It is an older building. We are on the second floor. There are two other newbie teachers living in the same building. Our apartment is located in a neighborhood that seems to be “gated.” Outside the gate, along the street is a park. We look out our windows and we see the trees of the park, hear music in the mornings, and see people doing tai chi.

view out the window obscured by trees

We have two bedrooms, a smaller room for an office, living room, bathroom, two enclosed balconies, and a kitchen the size of a postage stamp. (Been there, done that.)

The cidadas are in full “bloom” currently and are astonishingly loud. It is currently raining. We are loving the green, wet, living world we now live in.

Traffic is interesting, but nothing compared to the reckless driving of the United Arab Emirates. Everyone just seems to patiently navigate around each other with a small amount of horn honking. Pedestrians step out and trust that they won’t be run down. Most of the time, it works out. Bicyclists, scooters, and motorcycles travel down the sidewalk, honking at pedestrians. It is a short distance from our apartment to the school, so I may just get a bicycle. The school provides a bus to transport us to work, so I will get there one way or another.

For more photos, click here.


The Bad Thing About Living Abroad

January 12, 2013

Posted by Kanga.

bright yellow trumpet shaped flowers

The bad thing about living abroad is the transient nature of the expatriate community. One makes friends and then some of them move away, either going back to their home country or to another country. We’ll miss them when we gather with friends at our favorite restaurants. They will miss out on board game tweet ups. We’ll be watching for their cat and baby photos on Facebook. Consolation comes from the fact that we still have friends who have been in country so long that we can count on them staying.

The good thing about this is that we now have friends in multiple countries that we can visit during our vacations.  I wish we had more vacation time.


Cat Antics

September 11, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

It’s about time for some cat antics, don’t you think? It has been a busy and exciting two months for Oliver & Bert. Constant rearranging and unpacking of boxes meant lots of curiosity inducing movement.

two cats on top of kitchen cabinets

A recurring theme is to be as high up as one can get. Even as I write this, Bert is on top of the bookshelves in the living room.

two cats examining the new laundry machine

The arrival of the laundry machine resulted in a thorough examination, inside and out.

cat peeking out from a stack of boxes

And the boxes, oh the boxes! To be up high AND in a box, that’s the best.

cat in a cardboard box

two five foot stacks of boxes with a cat on top of each

cat wallowing on a laptop bag

Apparently, my laptop bag is made of catnip, because it inspired a great deal of excitement.

white cat sitting corner behind the refrigerator

Oliver frequently takes a respite in the corner behind the refrigerator.

white cat on top of a door with dirt on his nose

Even the door tops had to be explored and the air conditioning vents as well.

cat on top of door stretching up to look in a vent

The addition of several bookcases was a boon for the desire to be UP.

cat on top of a bookcase

And, of course, there is the daily lounging in the sunny window.

white cat laying on the window sill


Welcome to Oliver’s House

July 8, 2011

Posted by Oliver the Loud.

Mah-Woo, everybody! Kanga and DaddyBird are letting me guest post on their blog. So, I thought I would show you around my new home.

First, let me say that moving was TOTALLY traumatizing and I don’t ever want to do that again! Luckily, all my old stuff came along – cat toys, food dish, scratching pads, favorite napping chairs, Bert, Kanga and Daddybird, so it’s not so bad, after all.

The best, the very BEST, thing about this new place is the window sills. They are wide enough and long enough for Bert and I to lay/sleep/tussle on. Day or night this is my favorite place. You can see a lot from the 16th floor.

tabby cat sitting in a window sill

There are lots of cool tile floors to lie on. When I’ve been naughty, I run and flop down so that I look innocent.

white cat lying on tile floor amidst moving boxes

This is the room I have to share with Bert. Kanga and DaddyBird lock us up in there when they go out, and I don’t like that much. Really drives Bert crazy. But, I just curl up inside the old suitcase and take a nap until they come back.

white cat in small room with toys

My one complaint is that the sinks make it hard to get a drink.

white cat drinking out of a bathroom sink faucet

All in all, I am pretty happy.

tabby and white cats curled up together


What I’ve Learned While Moving

July 2, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

This is the first time that I have moved using the services of movers who did some of the packing. I have always done all the packing before and some of the carrying and loading, too. Luckily, I packed most of our belongings, especially the breakable ones, because the packing done by the movers was willy nilly and ruined a few things, like the toaster which is now soaked in liquid soap.

1. Remove anything you don’t want packed before the movers arrive. Throw out all garbage. Donate unwanted items. If you don’t, these things will arrive at your new home.

2. Pack things yourself. The movers will come with big boxes and throw things in randomly. You might find that the new box of Yorkshire Tea is under the leaky soap bottle giving it a whole new flavor.

3. Label every box with what is inside. The movers will be bringing boxes into your new home as fast as they can and putting them down randomly. If you want to find your dishes or silverware early… label, label, label.

We have yet to unpack all the boxes packed by the movers, but the weirdest thing so far is that they took the contents out of the two boxes of Monopoly that we had, dumped them into a packing box and left the game boxes behind. I’m hoping the Mad Magazine Monopoly set didn’t suffer the same indignity.

It was an extremely hot and miserable day, so I am very grateful for having all the carrying, loading, and unloading done for us. They were quick and got the job done in good time.


The Long Bathroom

July 1, 2011

Posted by Kanga.

We are now the proud renters of the world’s longest bathroom. Okay, probably not, but it is certainly a contender.

long, narrow bathroom, toilet & sink

We had many trials and tribulations in getting our moving arrangements ironed out, but in the nick of time, things fell into place. We still don’t have our new electricity account set up, so further trials may be in store.

If Americans change jobs, first of all, they do not also have to change where they live. They do not have to cancel their phone/internet line a month ahead of time. They do not have to go back to the phone company five times to get a clearance certificate to satisfy their employer. They do not have to give their government id cards to their employer. They do not have to turn in their health insurance cards. They do not have to give their employer money to cover their final electricity bill. They don’t have to cancel or transfer their residence visa. They also don’t have to wait weeks or months for their final paycheck. In fact, if one were to do some of this in America, it could be done with a phone call. Suddenly, I miss America.

American rent is also paid one month at a time. The worst case senario is that you will need first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit. The rent in the UAE is usually paid in one annual lump sum. At best, one can pay in four payments.

So, Americans count your blessings.

On Tuesday, the nick of time, we were able to finalize the apartment and on Wednesday at 8 am the movers came. We had packed up much of our belongings ourselves, but the movers finished packing everything else (including stuff I would have thrown away) and dismantled the furniture and wrapped it in plastic or pads. Once they arrived at our new apartment, they reassembled the furniture. I think is was about 7 pm by the time they finished.

I had left Dubai in the morning with the cats in the car. Oliver vocalized his distress all the way to the car, but settled down during the drive. He again howled horribly during the elevator ride to the new apartment, but once there, went nearly catatonic and didn’t loosen up until after the movers had left. Bert was distressed and wandered around the empty apartment meowing piteously when he wasn’t hiding in the litter box. As I had hoped, once the familiar furniture and belongings arrived and they inspected everything and every room, they have adapted. Oliver is back to his overly vocal self.

white cat laying on floor

As Oliver demonstrates, moving is very tiring.

Now, for those who want the details, we have a 3 bedroom, 3 1/5 bath apartment with a kitchen, living room, two small storage rooms, and a maid’s (cat’s) room. It is a nice layout. More pictures will follow. Perhaps after we get things unpacked and arranged.