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A container story

Moving from Shanghai to Vancouver

Things never go exactly as planned when you do an international move, and our latest one is a good example of that. The Chinese moving company had told us that they had reserved space on a vessel that would leave Shanghai on March 2 and would arrive about 2 weeks later in Vancouver (our goods were packed and custom cleared 4 days before the shipment date already). But when we checked on March 5 it turned out that for some reason the container had not been loaded. However, the moving company told us that they would try to put the container on a boat to Vancouver on March 9.

So we waited until March 9, but did not receive a confirmation that the container had left China. After a call to our moving company we heard that some administrative documents were missing so the container again had not been loaded. Now I was getting a bit worried. Things sometimes go wrong with containers, and when it’s a container with all your personal possessions and you are already on the other side of the world you prefer to hear something different.

But what can you do? Fly back to sort it out yourself? That might help but it’s not guaranteed, so it’s more a last resort if nothing else works. At least the moving company was now focusing on the case and indeed a few days later we received the message that our container had been loaded on the Ever Uberty, a Singaporean cargo ship en route to Vancouver. I immediately started following the ship on and saw that it made good progress in the direction of North America. Our Canadian company told us that the vessel would arrive in Vancouver on March 29 and they sent me the confirmation that it had arrived on the 29th. So when I checked the ship’s status last Friday I was very surprised that the ship had sailed to Tacoma (close to Seattle in the US) instead of to Vancouver…

Memories of a similar experience with a container in the early 1980s came to mind, when I moved with my parents and sister from The Netherlands to Curacao (an island in the Caribbean), and for some reason our container ended up in New York. We had to live in a hotel for 3 months until everything had been sorted out…

Anyway, because of Good Friday the moving company was not working, so I could not check with them and would have to wait until Monday. This afternoon I checked MarineTraffic again, and guess what? The Ever Uberty had left Tacoma this morning at 2:33 AM and arrived in Vancouver about 10 hours later! Very happy to see that, so I don’t need to bother the moving company – although I will certainly ask them why they gave me the wrong info.

Now we have to handle the custom clearance in Canada, which should take a couple of days and then the moving company will bring the big container to our home. We’re looking forward to finally getting all our goods and to be able to decorate our new house.

Our container arrived in Vancouver on board the Ever Uberty

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  1. Hi Mac.
    Lei tu articulo en Cnn expansion, me parece muy interesante tu coolaboracion de tres empresas en un mundo de personas de una sola idea , que pena que señales las limitantes del gobierno chino frente a sus politicas de apertura, como experto ¿que perspectiva tienes del desarrollo de hong kong ante esta apertura de negocios de china continental? Y con relacion a la desaparicion arancelaria de china con una economia en desarrollo como la de mi pais mexico ¿que necesita la empresa mexicana en tu opinion para evitar que el flujo de mercancías y capitales entre ambas naciones sea en un solo sentido ? Agradecere tu respuesta y gran eleccion anteponer la salud de tu familia.

    P.D. ¿Alguna ves viviste en hong kong como es la vida.?
    Adrian (mexico)

  2. Adrian, thanks for your comment. The article on CNN Expansion was a translation of the original article (CNN translated it). I never lived in HK, although I traveled there many times over the years. I like the place, it has a nice vibe but it’s just not mainland China, meaning that ‘it’ does not happen there anymore. You can’t run a start-up focused on mainland China from HK. Regarding Mexico, it will be hard to compete on price against Chinese products, I guess export to China of (good quality) food products or natural resources may have the biggest chance of success. I never looked into this, so maybe I am totally wrong here.

  3. Ha international movers seems to be a bit of an artform.

    When moving from Hong Kong to Jakarta we contracted a company to help us sort everything out. Days in advance they did a pre-check. All was ok. When they were about to start packing, suddenly massive panic.

    My wife teaches Yoga and has a whole bunch of reference books for it. First the mover thought the books were to be sold in Indonesia (not sure where that came from), then suddenly it was religious..anyway we had to write down book title, isbn, print version etc of ALL books, cd;s and other media. Trying to get any background information on this from their Hong Kong office or the Jakarta office didn’t lead anywhere. Mainly because no one picked up the phone and if they did they didn’t bother to get back with a response. My wife was home alone and the time and effort required was going to be more than was available.

    Anyways, after them being difficult about pretty much everything and anything I decided to ditch them the day before moving. We then called Asian Tigers in, they rocked up the next day. Did a check and confirmed all was ok, packed the boxes, packed the container. From then the container went straight to the harbour on the boat without any hassle. We were kept up to date on progress along the trip. The handling in Jakarta went as smooth as could be and more importantly…nothing was damaged!

    Return trip went similar…everything was recorded and checked and went smoothly.

    Talking to lots of others.. it looks like that except the begin we had smooth experiences…