I Guess It Couldn’t All Make It Through Shipping OK

One of the running jokes about having things shipped by the military is that you’re bound to have something get broken.  When I was a kid, we did a military move from Hahn AFB in Germany back to the US and the movers managed to lose a whole section of a German wall shrunk, as well as damage some other stuff.

German-Shrunk

This is an example of a German wall shrunk.  How do you lose even a section of something so big?

I thought I’d left that behind along with my service to the Army, but I guess mistreatment of shipped goods is a universal problem.  My HP F2120 All-In-One didn’t quite survive the trip.  The glass on the scanner bed was shattered in one corner.  It’s a shame too, because I was hoping to get started on scanning stuff and now I have to see about getting reimbursed.  I have no idea how to start the process.  I guess we’ll take the receipt and pictures of the broken device to an LBC office to find out what the procedure is.

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This is what’s left of my HP F2120 All-in-One. Thanks a lot guys!

The real issue is that there’s a huge price difference in these types of things between Singapore and the Philippines.  Even if we get a full reimbursement on the scanner, it wouldn’t cover the cost of the exact same scanner in Manila.  There’s a mark-up.  Singapore is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy electronics, so unless we get a one-for-one exchange where they give us money to cover the purchase cost of a new unit, we’re just SOL.

Can’t win ‘em all I guess.

Speaking of that, I’m still engaged in an e-mail battle with Philippine Airlines to get a reimbursement on the pet carrier that they damaged during the fiasco where one of my cats wound up running around on Changi’s tarmac and in the belly of the plane before take-off.

Tomorrow (or later today) I’m heading to the Bureau of Immigration in Manila.  I have to get my Visa taken care of before I wind up being here illegally.  Hopefully that all goes smoothly!

LBC and the Cat Welcoming Committee

Slowly but surely we’re making minor improvements to our living arrangements.  It’s something of an uphill battle and I’ve been trying to clean and organize as I go, with short dedicated periods of cleaning up every day.  Parts of the house seem to have not been used in months or years.  That was the case with the room we cleaned up during our first visit.

I haven’t gotten back to organizing the bookshelves on the second floor.  There are still books all over the place as well as files and random bits of paper that will probably wind up as tinder for the fire I plan on making to burn quite a bit of this junk.  I really want to get back to that, but other things keep popping up.

LBC Shipping Box

The day after we got here, the first box we shipped from Singapore arrived.

Cat Welcoming Committee 1

Cat Welcoming Committee 2 

After the welcoming committee finished using the outside of the box as a scratching board, we started to unpack it and bring everything upstairs.

Cats on the Gym

It was a pretty happy occasion for all of us, since there were things in it we could put to immediate use, like the cats’ gym, some cables I was looking for, clothes, and the tool that you have to use to remove a SIM card from an iPhone.

We’ve been doing a lot of shopping as well.  Living here is temporary, but it’s just not going to work if there’s no furniture, which there wasn’t.  Luckily, furniture is cheap in the Philippines, if you know where to go and shop around for good deals.  The problem we’re facing now is overcrowding, and we haven’t even received the 2nd and 3rd boxes we sent from Singapore yet, so we’ve been buying plastic boxes to organize everything.  We’ll put them on top of the dresser and under the bed.  That should help us utilize the space effectively.  When we move to Manila, pretty much all of this stuff will go with us and we’ll have more room for it.  For now we’re staying in my wife’s old room, so it’s understandable that there’s not much space.

Computer Desk

One lucky break is that I keep finding scrap metal everywhere.  I’m going to make quite a hefty sum when I sell all of it, which I can then reinvest into further renovations around the house.  I swear there are half a dozen unfinished projects in here and for every unfinished one I see, there are that many more that I’d like to start on.  I’m not willing to make that large of an investment here, but we’ll do what we can while we’re here.

Living Without Our Cats

Right now I’m in Singapore and my cats are in the Philippines.  We transported them there earlier this month by plane, but had to return to Singapore briefly to wrap up some loose ends.

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So, I thought to myself that this would be a great break!  No need to scoop cat turds.  No need to check their food and water.  No need to constantly sweep up cat hair and litter.  No cats on my head, or doing gymnastics and singing competitions while I’m asleep.

But, it’s just not the same without them around.

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There’s more to cats than just the drawbacks of having to look after them and every time we go somewhere on a trip I worry about them and miss them.  It’s even weirder now that I’m back here in Singapore, in a house where they used to live with us.

When I open the door I keep expecting to see them standing there waiting.  When I get in bed I keep checking to make sure I don’t accidentally kick a cat off the end of the bed while getting under the blanket.  In the morning I keep expecting to find a cat sleeping next to me.  When I see something laying on the bed or the floor out of the corner of my eye, I mistake it for one of my cats.

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For all the trouble and drama they create, I miss having them around.  I’m looking forward to getting back to the Philippines so I can play with them, brush them and torment them on a daily basis again.

Our cats really are part of the family.

Cat Export Preparations Update #7

Monday night the AVA health certification was approved, so I immediately got online and made my payment.  I didn’t want to run into any hang-ups with my card not working properly in some scanner at a government office.  I didn’t have time to take chances.

I did have time to sleep in a bit though.  Not intentionally of course, but I’ve been so exhausted from running around preparing for this move and from stress that I just slept for about 12 hours straight that night.  When I finally got out of the house it was around 2 PM already.  I went directly to Tanjong Pagar to pick up the certification.

I was expecting it to be pretty hard to find.  I actually had my iPhone out with the Maps application running.  It was kind of ridiculous though because there I was, walking down the street with my face glued to my phone, trying to figure out when I’d be close to the Ministry of National Development building.  The thing wasn’t reading quite right because when I looked up, there it was right in front of me.

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It’s a pretty massive building that’s hard to miss.  I could’ve seen it from the MRT station if I wasn’t so busy trying to use my iPhone’s Maps.

The process of picking up the health certification was painless.  I was in and out of the office in about 10 minutes.

It took a little more effort to find the Philippines Airlines office at Parklane Mall.  You have to show them your documents at least two days before your flight so they can fax them to the terminal office and, presumably, have proper arrangements made on the aircraft.

I’d never been to, or even heard of, Parklane Mall before so I had looked it up on Google Maps before leaving the house and, once again, I was walking with my face glued to my iPhone screen.  And… once again, I was standing there looking at that screen, trying to figure out where I was in relation to the mall when I looked up and was staring at the entrance.  In my defense, the entrance to Parklane Mall is kind of hard to pick out from the rest of the storefronts in that area.

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The entrance is between the DBS and McDonald’s signs in this picture.  Hardly the average mall entrance in Singapore.

Anyhow, I wasn’t quite prepared for what all the agent wanted to know at the office there.  He wanted to know the dimensions of the carrier, if it was IATA approved, its weight and the weight of my cats.  He wanted to see the credit card I’d used and of course he wanted to see the documentation.  He made copies of the export permit, import permit, and AVA health certification.

I wound up leaving their office at 5 minutes to 5 PM, which is when they close, so I made it, but barely.

If I could go back in time and reschedule this all, I would set it up so that my flight was on a Sunday.  Having that weekend, a holiday weekend no less, in the middle of the 7 days leading up to our flight, cramped our available time for getting things done for the cats.  Everything has to be done within a certain amount of time leading up to the flight.  Some of the documents are only good for 7 or 10 days.

Anyway, I’m glad that stress is over.  Now we just need to show up at the airport with them in the morning.

The next post you see on this blog will be published from the Philippines.  Hopefully I’ll have a happy tale to tell about our cats’ first trip on an airplane.  By then I’ll have all the information I need to complete my step-by-step guide on importing cats to the Philippines from Singapore as well.  I’ll be publishing that on my ‘Philippines’ blog.  You can find the link to it at the bottom of the sidebar.  I got it going but haven’t posted much to it yet.

Take care, and see you on the other side!

Cat Export Preparations Update #6

Things are going right on schedule.  We had kind of a hang-up on Saturday with taking the cats to the vet because it was a public holiday.  I didn’t even realize it!  The vet was closed.  Someone let me know on Friday night.  Coincidentally, it was the person that recognized me from my blog at Teadot.  She noticed the blog post and contacted me on Twitter.  Apparently, we’d chatted a bit on Plurk before I stopped actively using the service.  I guess social media paid off for me this weekend, because it saved me a wasted trip to a closed vet.

Thanks @_rasyidah!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The vet we were going to take the cats to wanted 104 per cat for the rabies shot and health certificate, but when we called around we wound up finding a vet that would perform the same service, including an application of Frontline to meet the “treated for external parasites” requirement for import to the Philippines, for only 84 dollars per cat.  That’s 60 bucks in savings.  Plus, the clinic was closer so we saved on taxi fare too.

I’ll list the places we went in my “roll-up” post on how to import cats to the Philippines from Singapore later, on my Philippines blog.

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We really had to get the cats to the vet over the weekend to fit our timeline.  Immediately after returning home from the vet, I filled out the online form with AVA to have the certificates converted to AVA certified versions.  That included scanning them and uploading them along with the application.

So, after this I still have to go pick up the certificates from the AVA, which will hopefully be available by tomorrow afternoon, and then take them to the Philippines Airlines office to present to the customer service officers there.  They require that you show them the paperwork before they allow you to board their planes with pets.  I suppose it’s a good policy, but it adds a bit more stress.  The health certificates have to be obtained within 7 days of arrival at your destination and you have to show it to the PAL office no later than two days before the flight.  It creates a sort of time-crunch that we’ll hopefully get over without issue.

As for the cats themselves, this trip was a little less traumatizing for them I think.  On their last trip to the vet we were in a much noisier area, with a lot of traffic and then to cap things off we got caught in one of Singapore’s flash rainstorms that left us pretty drenched.  They did panic a bit when a dog the size of Marmaduke came into the vet, but I don’t blame them.  That thing kinda worried me too.  I’m sure it outweighed me by about 30 pounds.  It was HUGE.

So, that’s it for now!

Total damages so far: 1075 SGD

Total to go (approx.): 260 SGD