Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Relocation Countdown

Very nearly three months to go.

It's amazing the number of things that need to be done when you're relocating to another country. My days recently have been filled with disposing of various items, either through finding a good home for them, selling them, or taking them to the dump. Unfortunately, eBay isn't the great site it once was as I've discovered recently. You have to pay them to even list things on the site nowadays, and if you wait for no-listing fee days, you're less likely to sell anything - too many competitors.

Trying to sell No. 2 son's guitars has proven fruitless. Two of the three didn't sell, despite having lots of watchers and the one that did sell was a false sale. The buyer emailed to say his daughter had bid without his permission and he couldn't travel to us to pick it up; would I accept half the price? I replied that it was okay, just to pay the selling fee and I'd forget about it. No sign of any fee yet. I think I'll try putting them on Gumtree, which seems to be free.

Other parts of my family's history are slowly being disposed of too. Books and dvds are selling from Amazon; a boy's ballet outfit (needless to say, in very good, hardly worn condition); a Chinese fancy dress outfit. It is sad but they have to go. How many things can you store for the rest of your life, just so that many years from now you can pull them out and reminisce?

This process of clearing out really brings home to you the relative importance of each thing that has been kept. Some things that I won't be getting rid of: photographs that record all of the people and places that are or have been important to me; items from my sons' baby years, such as locks of their hair, their first shoes, first scrawled drawing; a handful of books from my childhood; precious presents from family and friends; a few letters, some of which were written by people who are no longer alive.

It's strange how this decision to move away to a different life opens up so many unexpected things to the light.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


The beginnings began in discussions about where we would go if we were to move abroad. I've lived abroad before and enjoyed it. It's fun and interesting to live in new places, other cultures and environments and I wanted to do so again. So where to go? As we'd be taking our youngest child with us, we realised it would be a great opportunity for him to learn a new language, and what would be the most useful language for him to have as an adult? The answer to that was fairly easy: Mandarin.

We'd been to Hong Kong before and really liked it, but in Hong Kong they speak Cantonese, so that was out. China is still a little too rough around the edges for us, but then I discovered Taiwan. Its old name is Formosa, which is Portuguese for 'beautiful island'.

And contrary to its global image, Taiwan is very beautiful. I'm hoping to get the chance to visit some of its most beautiful areas and share those experiences with you. The main language (in the north at least) is Mandarin, and the country is more developed than China. The people will also tell you that they are far more pleasant and by all accounts this is true.

However, our big move is still some distance away and at the moment our lives are filled with preparations. So much to do and so many decisions to make. My husband Andy has been out in Taiwan arranging to open a branch of his business out there. While he was there he found that the school we'd been hoping to send Conrad to was now full and didn't have a place for him. This is a big disappointment.

The kind people at Forumosa (and if you're thinking of going to Taiwan you'd be a raging idiot if you didn't visit this site) have suggested a couple more schools to try. There is this one: The Yifang Elementary School; and The Guan Gong Elementary School.

We'll visit both once we're in the country and have our residency certificates because we can't enrol Conrad in a school without them. We just really want a small school (the schools in Taiwan are massive) in an unpolluted area. Fingers crossed.