Friday, November 13, 2009

Traveling to the Lion City

Hi all. This is my first experience with this blog, and I'm not quite sure where to start. I'm also not sure who will be interested in reading this, but here it goes.

Why We Are Here
As some background, Elaine is working for Hewlett-Packard. A recent decision was made to transfer logistics work that had previously been done in Boise, Idaho (our home) to Singapore. Elaine was selected to help transition the operation here, and provide training to the new team. This is only part of her assignment, as she will also be working on new process development, with a globally-located team. Very, very busy.

I am tagging along on the journey, to provide morale support, a dry shoulder, good listening skills (OK, I'm working on those), and some non-work related conversation during her off-hours. It's going to be challenging for both of us, but clearly she has the better skill-set for her side of the tasks. What a great adventure!

Packing to Go, and 29 Years in One City
We first learned of the decision to move operations to Singapore in mid August 2009, and confirmation that Elaine had been selected to go in late August. HP's goal was to have Elaine on the ground in Singapore by the start of the new fiscal year, November 1. This didn't leave much time for anything. It required absorbing the impact of the move, a full comprehension of the relocation/compensation package provided by the company, and just what it means to move internationally.  None of this was successfully accomplished.

Apparently, you never realize what you have or how much you have until you have to pack it. In our case, we have lived in the house for 19 years, and both of us in Idaho for 29. The roots have gone pretty deep, and there is a lot of them (my tree analogy). In our case we are planning to rent the house while we are gone, which requires making it empty and nice looking. Packing a house full of furniture, household items, a very full workshop/garage, and everything else, AND have a comprehensive inventory of it all for the insurance is a daunting task. Furthermore, there are autos and a boat to consider, all of which needed a place to be while we are gone. By the way, there are many items which can neither be stored, shipped, or carried on an airplane, which means they have to go. He who dies with the most toys wins, but only if he doesn't have to move.

Thankfully, we have friends who have themselves experienced an international work assignment, and they stepped up to help when they saw our glassy-eyed gaze. (Thanks Keith/Candy-- couldn't have done this without your help). In all, our friends and neighbors went beyond the pale to assist us in launching our journey, and we are indebted to them-- thank you. (We only hope that our house renters will be nice-- but not too nice, such that you would be disappointed with our return)

Family and friends at my send-off from SF Bay Area
Chow restaurant, Lafayette, CA

Arrival in Singapore
Elaine departed from Boise for Singapore, and arrived on November 2, while I remained behind to try to complete the tasks of readying the house for renters and a two year absence. Elaine was immediately immersed in her new assignment-- hitting the ground running.

I arrived in Singapore a week later on November 9, departing from San Francisco after driving from Boise, Idaho to the San Francisco Bay Area. I delivered my Toyota for my nephew to use while we're gone, and was able to visit briefly with family and friends before leaving. It was a very hectic, and stressful period.

The plane flight from San Francisco went very well. There was some concern on my part that I would miss the connecting flight in Hong Kong, as I had only 45 minutes between landing and departing. However, Cathay Pacific Airlines did well, having an agent waiting at the gate of the San Francisco plane (arrival at Gate 2) who then led Singapore bound passengers, like the pied piper, through the Hong Kong airport to the connecting flight (Gate 32). All went perfectly, and amazingly my three bags of luggage also made the journey successfully. Elaine was waiting at the airport for me and we now begin our two years in Singapore.

As a sad post note, Elaine had learned, while I was in the air, that her step-father Ron had collapsed and had been rushed to the hospital on Saturday evening. It is difficult to cope with family emergencies, and more so when you are half way around the globe, so far from family. We are in contact with Barbara, monitoring Ron's condition, and hopeful for the best outcome.

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