Our Home: Moving Day. As I sit and think back on this day, it is unbelievable to think that a year has passed since our move to our new apartment! Our move from one apartment to another was a very stressful ordeal. There were tears, and many worries! We hired a Chinese moving company, and of course, we had asked a Chinese friend call and make sure that the company was legit. We wanted them to know that they would be moving a foreign family, and that communication would be challenging. In the weeks before, there was much discussion on what we wanted, and how it should all happen.
On moving day, it felt like some random men arrived… and they knew NOTHING! The main “mover” was loud, angry-looking and very brash. The first time he came to the door, he didn’t even say hello, he just looked around and started shouting at me. It seemed like he was saying that there was too much stuff. Justin had popped out for a minute to sort out something at the new apartment. So that was when the urgent calls between us, and a Chinese co-worker, began. The movers started grabbing boxes and throwing them out of the front door of the old apartment. Immediately my stomach turned. There was absolutely NO CARE in what they were doing. If you know me well, you will know that I treat my belongings with much care! I tried to push the bigger items towards the door, knowing that they would need to pack those into the truck first. But they weren’t at all phased by what I was doing. They were grabbing boxes, in any order they liked, and throwing them out the door. Our Chinese co-worker – the designated communicator for the day – had called them, but nothing changed!
By the time that Justin arrived, I was close to tears. Elijah was only one years old, and I had him to take care of between shouting at the Chinese men to be more careful with our belongings. They were knocking over boxes of glassware, dragging furniture outside to the elevator, and bashing into items recklessly. There are a couple of Korean moving companies based in Qingdao, and they will move all your belongs without you lifting a finger. Every single item gets packed and moved by them – no stress or worries. That seems like the right option, right? Well, as you can imagine, those companies are not cheap!! In fact, they charge 7-8 times more than a regular Chinese moving company. Unfortunately, from the moments that these Chinese men stepped into our home, I was filled with regret on our decision!
Thankfully, as soon as my sweet hero arrived back at the apartment – things began to get a little better. Having Justin around always helps! He crapped on the men, and told them that he was not going to pay them if they kept on treating our stuff like garbage. They were acting like untamed animals who were being forced into manual labor. It was mind-blowing!
Once again, we had our Chinese co-worker call to find out what was going on. Apparently one of the guys was new and not so good. The “lead mover” was down at the truck, supervising the loading. He sent an order for the guy moving our stuff from our apartment to go downstairs instead. “Out of sight” often helps with the “out of mind” part, but knowing that this guy was now downstairs treating our belongings like junk, was not very comforting!
After about an hour and a half, the apartment was almost empty. Only the landlord’s furniture remained. One of the movers came in and shouted something in Chinese. He probably wasn’t angry, but often Chinese people look angry, but apparently they aren’t. Apparently this a cultural misunderstanding, but I don’t buy it! If you’re not angry, then your face would be kind and warm… well, that is often not the case here in China! We had to call our co-worker again, and we figured out that the men were saying that the truck was full. Of course, they didn’t leave us with a couple of easy to carry boxes… no, they left us with a rocking chair and a heater. How the heck were we supposed to move a rocking chair in a taxi?
We only had a few minutes to spare after everything was packed up, and we quickly had to find a taxi to take us to the new apartment before the movers got there. Our co-worker had called the new apartment complex to make sure the truck would be allowed in at the gate. But we had no idea that we were about to face more drama as the old apartment complex would not let the moving van OUT at the gate! It seems like it is quite common for people to pack up and move, without paying their bills. We were definitely coming back to our apartment and still had to meet our landlord to get back our deposit, but they wouldn’t let us leave! We were far from done with this moving process, but our language barrier caused much headaches for us as we tried to explain all of this to the apartment authorities.
When we finally had everything sorted – ie. we forked out a bunch of money and called to landlord to confirm everything – the truck was on it’s way. We raced ahead so that we could get to the new apartment before the movers. When we got there they were already unpacking the truck.
Knowing that these men – who worked fast, but recklessly – were now going to have to get all our stuff up hundreds of stairs, was a daunting thought!
The plan was for me to stay upstairs with Eli while Justin helped supervise at the truck. These men were loading way too much stuff up onto their backs, with a rope or two to stead the items, and then carrying it up like that. The problem with this was that they didn’t care what order the boxes were in. They would load two boxes of books onto a box of kitchen glasses! Even worse, they would get to the apartment and just release the ropes. Above right, a heavy duty juicer on a box of glasses laying on it’s side!! The boxes would go crashing to the floor and bounce off each other. We told the Chinese men that a pink cross, made with tape, meant “this side up”. Clearly these instructions meant nothing to them. One of the men kept scraping the paint off the entry way wall of our apartment, and since we had just done a lot of work on the apartment, this was quite upsetting! Above left, Justin on the phone. I was calling him, he was calling our Chinese co-worker and she was calling the lead mover. The complaining didn’t seem to help. Things got worse and worse as the movers got more and more worn out. All I could do was pray…. pray hard!
I prayed for patience, grace and compassion.
I put a movie on for Eli and he sat eating snacks and watching a movie as I tried to relax! In the lounge I could hear the men entering the apartment, and the boxes crashing down and falling over. I prayed for a while, asking for peace.
When I felt more calm, I began helping the men as they came in the door. I started to see how exhausted they were as they reached the fifth floor with a ridiculous weight on their shoulders (compassion kicked in). Slowly but surely, we worked together and I helped them by making them stop before the top step. They were then able to put their heavy load onto the top step, while I unwrapped the ropes. This made the whole system easier for them and me. While they went down to get another load, I would bring the boxes into the apartment one by one.
After a couple of hours, the men were gone and it was just us and all of our belongings in our new apartment.
Well, nearly everything…
Above right, Our treadmill didn’t fit through the front door, so after a lot of effort, we told the men to just leave it. Justin then got to work and removed the front door. This provided the extra inch or two needed into order to get the treadmill inside. We joked about me just leaving it on the steps so I could run “outside”. When the treadmill was in, we could finally sit down and breath a sigh of relief!
Above left, look at that blotchy red face! Yes, this mama was stressed to the point of tears. Little one had fallen asleep in the Ergo and thankfully, he was completely unaware. Not easy moving with a baby, but he sure is a champ!
A couple of days later we went back to our old apartment. With the help of a friend, we were able to transport the rocking chair, heater and a couple of small items the movers had not packed. We took a few moments to enjoy our last bit of time in this very special apartment. This was our first real apartment in China, our first home since getting married, and the place were we had brought Elijah home after he was born. Words cannot describe the bitter sweet feelings we had about moving. Clearly we had outgrown this little apartment, but oh how we loved it during those two years we had lived there!
It was where we became a family!
A finally family picture on the balcony.
As they say, “all good things must come to and end”. Even though we were sad to leave this wonderful home, with it’s beautiful views, amazing complex gardens, and an infinite amount of irreplaceable memories, we knew that it was time to move on.
And that’s life, isn’t it? Sometimes we want to hold onto all that feels comfortable, but as we grow, we need to say goodbye and move on. Thankfully the memories are there, and even though they will fade over the years, we have it all documented on this little blog!
Here are a few glimpses at some of the special memories made in our first Chinese apartment:
We Moved│30 Gifts for 30 Years│We are Pregnant!│My View this Week│First Braai in China
Diaper Shower │Our Apartment │Elijah’s Nursery│We are Home│First Time Alone│Our First Christmas
Next up: Before an After Pictures.