Sunday, 22 August 2010


Nerves! Decidedly one of my favorite world cities, Hongkong was our next stop on the way home. It beckons because it is home to many Chinese friends with whom we've spent many exciting moments including Christmas dinners on Lamma island and in the new territories, one freezing barbecue binge on Repulse bay, and Chinese New Year celebrations. It serves as our most convenient gateway to Europe, North America, or some parts of Africa and then back; let's not also forget airline loyalties due to frequent flier miles.

In the news recently was a legislator from our country belonging to a family of distinct notoriety who had been caught with prohibited drugs in his possession. His family bailed him out (luckily that was possible) and spun the tale that the situation was manipulated by some influential parties. In Hongkong?

Light, airy, and shopping-friendly: Hongkong's airport
I had my own sordid experience too when on entering the territory this time my passport was closely scrutinized by immigration authorities to the point that I was brought to their back offices where I came across people of various nationalities waiting for some dialogue with the Chinese officials. It was a horribly irritating 20 minutes of wasted time while Immigration scanned the pages of my passport, talked among themselves over it, and then asked me of when I shall leave the City. As I was eventually let go and escorted into baggage claim, I had not been informed about the reason for the brief incident which prompted me to demand for an explanation. We went back to the office because the escort agent could not communicate well in English.

There I discovered that I was detained because the letters bearing my first name on the passport's first page were somewhat smudged. That had to be since this document is almost four years old and went through the fingers of countless consulates and various immigration personnel in many countries. In the shadows of 9/11, we can only be wary of instantly arising situations (especially in airports) like that. Have you seen the movie Rendition?

It was recommended that I secure a new passport -- the digital type -- to avoid similar circumstances and which they say is "for my own good". Hmmmm. My stubborn nature tells me to diss that instruction and to keep using the current one until expiry. On exiting Hongkong, I hoped that Immigration would see that smudge again but they didn't in the same way that they hadn't on previous times which only proved my theory that the observation was subjective and defensible. But one could miss a flight that way! The other motivation for me to acquire a digital passport is the ease of checking in at airport kiosks (as opposed to check-in counters) which require this kind of identity document.

The visit to Hongkong was planned so as to meet Chinese friends and if only for that was well worth the anxiety and troubles. But yes, Hongkong will still be a favorite.


  1. i've never been there but everyone says it's a place you have to go to at least once before u die. pasalubong, peter! bring me a cloud from the plane. :)

  2. Hey Nyl. If not that (matutunaw yan), what else?

  3. Bring me a really hot Chinese guy. haha Brazilian or similar ancestry a bonus. j/k

  4. Hala ka. If and when I managed to do that, I don't want you to get cold feet.

  5. You can train him to warm them for me. lol

    Where is this conversation going?