One of the most important tasks of our immigration is to ship my son’s piano to UK.
You may wonder why we did not buy a new one in UK?
Currently, a brand new Yamaha U1 upright piano costs about￡8000 to ￡10000 in UK. Instead of having complicated relocation arrangement and taking the risk of damaging it during shipment, getting a new one after securing a permanent accommodation is definitely a better option.
The Yamaha U1 we had in Hong Kong was about 20 years old. It was used by my wife’s niece for her piano training and subsequently passed to my son. It carried two wonder stories of learning and development in music and how am I supposed to leave it alone in Hong Kong!
As most of those international moving companies popular to Hong Kong families did not provide piano relocation service, we had to find other professional international moving companies like Santa Fe or Allied. Upon their onsite survey and a number of quotation runs, we finally picked Allied for it’s much superior service and relocation charge.
The one offered by Allied is a Premium End-to-end moving service. Professional staff will handle all the necessary wrapping, packing and collection at your home in Hong Kong plus all the subsequent UK home delivery, unpacking, unwrapping and final placement at locations you desired. In principle, you don’t need to do anything other than deciding what items to be relocated and optionally, packing of your own personal items. Premium service definitely came with premium pricing. For my case, it was roughly three to four times more expensive than those typical moving services.
現時一座全新的 Yamaha U1 鋼琴在英國的售價約 8000 至 10000 英鎊，與其作繁複的搬運安排及承受途中損毀之風險，在找到固定居所後才購置確實是一個更化算的選擇。
家中那座 Yamaha U1 已有差不多二十年歷史，是兒子的表姐年幼學琴時買的，數年前轉到我家，讓兒子學習及鑚研音樂。對於這個傳承著兩個音樂成長故事的好夥伴，你叫我們怎捨得離棄她呢！
由於一些頗受移居英國家庭樂用的國際搬運公司只提供個人物品運送，不設專業鋼琴裝箱及運送服務，我們只好找些較具規模的專業國際搬運公司如 Santa Fe 及好友推介的 Allied。經過一輪上門視察及報價後，我們選擇了服務及價錢較佳的 Allied。
Allied 所提供的是優質 End-to-end 搬運服務，搬運人員會上門包裝，入箱及收集至公司的倉庫；運抵英國，完成所有報關手續後便會送到新居，拆除包裝，放到指定地點。原則上，我們可安坐家中甚麼也不需要做。當然實情你還是要思考要搬甚麼及為你較個人的物品裝箱。相比起一般的移民搬運服務，價錢當然高很多，以我為例，相差有三、四倍之多。
Before shipping out the piano, I have arranged a tuning and inspection service to fix some issues observed by my son. The tuning technician was really cool and looked like the famous lyricist Calvin Poon Yuen Leung. Upon his inspection, it was revealed that the piano had a number of issues that fixing in the factory was recommended. However, knowing that the piano would be shipped to UK with us, the tuning technician did his very best to fix those major issues on-site and advised us to follow up the rest later in UK.
赴運前找來調音師先做個檢查，順便修理一些兒子早前察覺的問題。當日的調音師很 cool，外型帶點著名填詞人潘源良 feel，一輪檢查後發覺問題不少，建議送回工場修理。但知道鋼琴將要隨我們移民後，亦盡了他的能力，花了好幾小時把較嚴重的問題先行修復，其他的則待到步後再作專業維修。
By mid-March when the shipment schedule had been secured, Allied dispatched workers to pack and collect all our items including the Yamaha piano. What amazing was the highly skilled worker only took less than half an hour to wrap and put the piano into the tailored made wooden crate (The wooden crate was an separately charged item!).
Under the finalised schedule, our items would be delivered to UK by end of May which matched perfectly with our immigration timeline. However, how could we know that the blocking of Suez Canal by the container vessel “Ever Given” would seriously affect my plan. The departure of the items was rescheduled to late May and it was expected that arrival in UK would also be deferred to early July. Despite we had already moved into the new apartment in June, we had no choice but lived on those basic items we had brought along from Hong Kong.
In the early days of arrival, my boy felt bored and missed his piano. Instead of relying on mobile phone to spend the days, we tried our very best to find piano practice studio for him. However, the situation was quite different from Hong Kong and what available here were only shops selling pianos or professional recording studios. In the end, we managed to find a distributor of Yamaha Pianos in Wimbledon, A. Hanna & Sons Pianos, who also traded second hand pianos, provided maintenance as well as professional restoration works. As part of the second hand piano trading business, they also rented out the showroom for piano practice.
Despite the hourly rate is not low and it’s quite far from Kingston, we went to Wimbledon right away. My son immediately had a practice session and kept on visiting there nearly every week.
I also took the chance to discuss with the shop manager about the tuning arrangement once the piano was delivered. Due to difference in climate condition between Hong Kong and UK, it is recommended to let the piano sit in for a while and allowing it to acclimate to the new environment before the tuning works.
在沒有鋼琴的這幾個月，兒子當然有點悶及失落，與其讓他靠手機渡日，我們只好馬不停蹄地去尋找琴室讓他練習。但現實與香港相差很遠，找到的只是賣琴的店舖或專業的錄音室。在失意之餘，我們最終找到一間在 Wimbledon 的 Yamaha 鋼琴代理 A. Hanna & Sons Pianos，除新琴售賣外，亦有提供易手鋼琴買賣、維修及翻新服務。在他們的易手琴陳列室內，亦有提供鋼琴練習室租用。
Early in July, Allied informed us the shipment had already arrived in Southampton. All the items would be delivered to our apartment upon completion of the 10 to 15 days clearance works by HMRC.
七月初 Allied 通知寄運物品已到達 Southampton，完成十多天的清關手續後，在月尾終於送抵新居。
Dozens of boxes were moved into the reception room, clothes, shoes, books, my guitars … plus all our other belongings, making the once empty room nearly running out of space.
數十箱的物品被一一搬進家中，衣服鞋物，書籍，我的結他 ⋯ 及其他生活所需，把原本空空的客廳擠得差點無法走動。
Here came the star of the show, my son’s Yamaha U1. After removing the crate and the wrapping materials, the workers carefully moved the upright piano to the pre-assigned location in the reception room.
當然還有主角，兒子的 Yamaha U1。工作人員在門口拆除木箱及包裝後，便小心翼翼地把她搬進客廳預先安排好的位置。
Despite the shipping time of our belongings was seriously affected by some uncontrollable factors, the overall service offered by Allied was excellent.
By the way, subject to the physical environment of you accommodation in UK, for example, lots of steps, only has staircase access, or passage too narrow, more professional relocation service may be required for the piano delivery. In that case, additional relocation charge will be incurred.
雖然今次的寄運時間受到不能控制的因素所影響，但我對 Allied 的整體服務仍是非常滿意。
And lastly, for my beloved road bikes, all I could do was to leave them in the balcony … before space is available.
Another point to note was the insurance coverage during the international freight. As this cost would directly related to the extend of protection desired, I just included coverage for those valuable items like the Yamaha piano and my bicycles.
After a hard day’s work in settling all those basic items, I finally could relax and enjoy my cup of coffee the next morning. Seemed like my son’s Ikea outdoor table & chair set bought from Hong Kong, fitted perfectly in our balcony.
And for our settlement in UK, it’s glad we managed to achieve one more step.
執拾了整整一天，把基本生活所需物品安放好，早上起來終於可悠閒地在兒子從香港帶過來的膠枱椅享受我的咖啡。作為戶外傢具，這套 Ikea 枱椅亦算不錯！
After living here for nearly four month without our belongings, we gradually realised that living can be very simple and does not need much possessions.
Frankly speaking, those 20+ unopened boxes shipped from Hong Kong, that sat in front of me were not essential to us anymore. Maybe they will be the targets for the next clutter-cleaning exercise.
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