Last few days in China were a hectic attempt to get everything in order. The main problem was that every time we thought we have everything figured out, another problem reared its head.

First, it was my passport which was held with the Chinese authorities until the very last moment. Then,  understanding my last salary isn’t going to come into my account until… well until now. After that, we learned that RMB is not that easy to convert to USD and feared that will be a problem (turns out it really wasn’t. Not for small amounts at least) It was all quite stressful.

It wasn’t all bad, to be honest. Had a few goodbye events, all were really good. It’s sad to make friends and them leave them behind. It’s a very old story for any expat though. A veritable cornerstone of the lifestyle.

We are now in Hanoi. We’ve been here since yesterday morning and have been walking about, not too impressed. Maybe it’s the sticky weather, or maybe just that we are tired. We should have started all this Asian wandering roasting on a beach, moving for no one but the pineapple salesperson. Travelling is a learning experience, we are bound to get the hang of it as we go along. We’ll just have to wait and see. Next destination: Sapa.

A major annoyance

China visa issues can be difficult to handle; language sometimes being a hurdle to overcome. But I had no idea going out could be as troublesome as coming in!

Having given my resignation 3 months in advance, I assumed no bureaucracy could be slow enough to cause problems delaying my departure. Least of all did I expect the problems to be caused by HP. Boy was I surprised.

The HP termination process starts one month prior to the leaving date. And indeed, one month prior to the due date I received an email with a checklist of items for me to go over. Nothing out of the ordinary: give your PC and access cards back and tell the union you are no more. I was told nothing has to be done until my last day. Oh, by the way, the document is mainly in Chinese, so I kind of had to accept what information I got.

Last weekend, I revisited the list and made further inquiries to make sure I’m not missing anything, eventually speaking to the law firm HP uses to deal with visa issues. To my great surprise I was told I need to cancel my work visa. A process that takes 6 working days and has to start on my final working day. During this time my passport will be held by the Entry-Exit Bureau, meaning I cannot make my flight to Hanoi! I thought getting my work visa was the only thing I had to be worried about, it turns out that cancelling it is an issue as well!

The law firm is trying to expedite things for me so i’ll go and give my passport and other documents in today, making it a tight schedule to get my passport before the flight. Hope it goes well. Human Resources really dropped the ball on this one. I hate to get stressed in general, and it’s even worse when I’m not the blame (or is it the other way around?….)




On the trailing edge of China

Last days of work, last days of life here, and it’s getting to the point where i really want to leave it behind me.

I don’t like these periods in life, when you are just waiting for something to end. I’d much rather get it over with quick and clean: like removing a band-aid. But i guess I will have to endure.

It’s not that I don’t like SH. Quite the opposite! But it would be good to just disappear tomorrow morning. Especially as this is the time of year when people are starting to float away anyway – traveling, visiting home and the like. And Rugby is pretty much done too, so that’s another focal point of my life that isn’t really there.

In the mean while, shipping our stuff is almost over. The post office branch near my office agreed to send suitcases instead of boxes. They just pop each suitcase into a mailbag. Hope our stuff reaches Israel…

Two more weeks, to the day, until we land in Hanoi. Two more weeks of Shanghai. And, undoubtedly, a few more hangovers lurking in my immediate future.

Packing and shipping (ourselves included)

After spending a long-ish time looking for a moving company that doesn’t charge a fortune, we settled for sending our stuff by Chine Post.

We went to the post office with 3, 20 Kg suitcases, only to be told we can only send objects in boxes and not in suitcases. That was quite annoying… mainly because we’re going to have to send at least 10 such boxes, which is going to end up more expensive than sending the same total weight in fewer containers. But, to be honest, at this point i don’t care – i just want to ship everything out as soon as possible.

In any case, 3 boxes have been shipped and we’re going to get a few boxes a week through. Some things are going to be left behind of course…. Our beloved vacuum cleaner being the first casualty of the selection process. If anyone’s looking to buy an as-good-as-new vacuum cleaner, give me a call.

On a slightly more exciting note, preparations for shipping ourselves are also in progress! Two tickets from Pudong to Hanoi have been booked! Leaving SH on July 26th, 22:10 and arriving to Hanoi at 1 am on the 27th. Feels like this is really happening, watch this spot.