Friday, November 14, 2014

Moving Within Beijing

When I moved to Beijing, I couldn't even have imagined that a little over a year later, I'd be moving my entire house into another Beijing home. Our landlord decided to sell our house, in the middle of our three year lease. I assumed we would be fine, the reality is that consumers (especially expats) are at the disadvantage and have little protection. We didn't want to handle all the showings of the house and potentially getting kicked out of our home without much notice so we decided to find another house.

The Search 

I enjoyed another depressing round of house of hunting in Beijing. The expat rental market is a bit ridiculous. The first questions a renter is asked is, "what is your budget and what company do you work for?" With these two questions answered, most agents then pigeonhole you and the landlords artificially raise the prices of their houses to match the housing budgets or make them even higher. The market is just crazy and so many houses have lots of problems, it is depressing. We were lucky and ended up finding a really nice home, but it took a lot of time, and a lot of step-sisters before we found Cinderella.

Moving Hell

moving in beijing
Check out the guy on the right, sitting on my furniture.
We hired a local moving company based on the recommendation of our relo company.  They came out to the house to give us a quote and after getting two quotes we decided on one company.

The day of the move, six movers showed up.  They asked to see the house, and immediately went outside and got on the phone.  While I'm not fluent in Chinese, between body language and picking up words here and there I could tell they weren't happy.  My guess was that they thought there was too much furniture.

After 2 hours of yelling between, the relo agent's assistant, the manager and the guy who gave us the quote (both via phone calls) and the movers, nothing was moved and the movers took a lunch break.  They came back an hour later, after being promised more money from our relo company and they started complaining again.

american expat in beijing
By the driver's door you can
see a guy's legs, he is sitting on my LA-Z-BOY.
One more hour into the madness, now 2 pm, not a single item has been moved and we fired them. They basically tried to extort extra money from us, and once things got ugly we were afraid we were going to lose items, or even have things purposely broken.

Our ayi gets on the phone and by 3:30 she has basically hired a local truck, driver and he's found 3 guys and they showed up at our house to move. So between 2 days, 6 trips and a lot of funny moments we got moved to our new home.

It was super stressful, the air was horrible on the second day but we got it done and only lost one side table. No clue where it went, no one knew.

Enjoy the pictures from our move, including the movers sitting on and in my furniture on top of the truck.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Starbucks crackdown?

After my post weeks ago about the new coffee shop Barkstars that opened in the neighborhood, Starbucks or Barkstars, I thought you'd all get a kick out of the fact that suddenly a few weeks later the sign came down and a new sign replaced the old version in a bright lime green. I'm hoping this means that Starbucks somehow logged a complaint against the obvious trademark infringement. There is so much of that here it is nice to see someone fight back and apparently win. Way to go Starbucks!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Beijing Tourist Tour

I've enjoyed some sight seeing in the lovely city I call home, Beijing.

We had some beautiful weather over last Chinese New Year which allowed us to get out and see some of the sights wit visiting family however the uploading of pictures is so slow here that often I couldn't load the pictures for my blog. Here are some of the beautiful pictures, better late than never.

National Stadium - Bird's Nest 
Water Cube

Mutianyu-Great Wall of China

Great Silver Pagoda - 

Silver Pagoda bell at the top of the mountain
Tianamen Square Subway crush