Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dave Detained At Hong Kong Border

Dave and I have been skyping morning and night since he has been in Hong Kong. Yesterday, I was waiting and waiting for him to get online. I started texted him...but no response. I got a little worried about him...then he finally texted me! He got held at the Hong Kong/China border. Poor Dave! Here is what happened in his own words...

For the highlight of the day. On our way back to Hong Kong, we, of course, needed to pass through customs and immigration. No big deal, right?

At the third of three checkpoints, we (our driver, a factory manager, Randee and I) found ourselves waiting an awfully long time for clearance. The light ahead of us stayed red. Other cars on our right and left were being let through. Not us. Every so often, a customs agent peeked his head out of a small sliding glass window. The factory manager, a man named Michael, assured us nothing was wrong. Then, all of sudden, another agent came rushing up to the side of our car. A siren blasted behind us. The agent asked to board our van so he could escort us to another checkpoint area where we’d be searched. Randee – a bit unnerved as it was– was forced to practically sit in my lap to make room in the car for this customs agent, who didn’t speak English and didn’t have anything close to a smile on his face.

We arrived at this other checkpoint and were told to get out. Our belongings were taken out of the back of the van. By now there were four or five other agents walking around us. Imagine what I was thinking. They’re going to confiscate the camera, smash the memory card and break the tripod in half. Turns out my mind overreacted a bit. We were, though, taken to an X-ray room where all our things were put on a conveyer belt. That apparently wasn’t a convincing enough inspection because we were then taken to a small room with white walls, four chairs and a table. The agents again opened our bags. Poor Michael had everything inside of his suitcase taken out and displayed on the table.

After this part of the search was over, we were told our van was going to be driven through a giant screening machine. We were asked to sit in this little room and wait…and wait…and wait. Finally, handed our bags, were given the OK to leave. Everything was intact except maybe our sanity.

The entire screening process took 45 minutes and the agents thanked us for our patience. Of all of the hundreds and hundreds of cars passing through customs and immigration on this day OURS was the vehicle chosen for a thorough screening. We must’ve been part of a glorious training exercise. Lucky us.

At least I’ll always have a good story to tell – one that I’ll be sure to embellish over the years. Hey, how many other people can say they were detained at the China border? I’ll have much more on my trip tomorrow with coverage from the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair.


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