The Worst Holiday Ever

I’ve been away from the world of the blog for a pretty significant amount of time. Well, the longest time since I started writing Greg’s China anyway. To start with this was very much down to a standard lack of creative mojo, but what followed was a clusterfuck of epic proportions, crossing international borders and leaving in its wake a shitstorm of despair, worry, fucked up timings and one ravaged bank account.

Initially planned as a combination of relaxing vacation and visa run, I began by catching the train up to Harbin to enjoy Chinese New Year festivities with my better half and her family. Everything went smoothly, and I had a great food and drink filled time for the second year in a row. After our time in her home town Siren and I flew to Shanghai for a night, caught up (albeit briefly) with some friends and prepared ourselves for our flight to Hong Kong the following morning.
When we got to the airport we handed in our passports at the check-in desk. I got my passport back with my flight ticket tucked inside, and Siren was handed back an empty passport.
“I’m sorry miss, you’ve applied for a tour group visa, so you cannot enter Hong Kong as an individual traveller.” said the woman at the desk.
At this point Siren and I looked at each other, hearts in our throats.
What. The. Fuck.
She applied for the correct visa, the mess up was an administrative fault. How could she not be allowed into Hong Kong like this?
“Is there anything I can do?” said Siren, choking back tears.” Can I join a tour group here in the airport?”

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing you can do.” came the nonchalant response.
My China visa was due to expire the next day; I had no choice but to leave my girlfriend at the airport and get on that plane.
So, Siren flew up to Beijing and I flew down to Hong Kong.

The plan was to get a one month bridging visa in Hong Kong and return to the UK for three weeks in March to apply for a longer term visa – I had the flights booked in preparation. However, once I arrived in Hong Kong and went to a visa agency to apply for my return back to mainland China, the agency employee flicked through my passport and said to me “You have so many China visas in your passport that there’s a very high chance of rejection. We’ll give it a try but don’t get your hopes up.”


So, on Friday afternoon I went to the agency with an entire rainforest of butterflies in my stomach.
Lo and behold, a visa-less passport was handed back to me. The butterflies turned to lead.
‘What the fuck am I supposed to do now?’ I thought.
After I got back to my friend’s place I called Emirates to cancel the flights I’d booked home from Beijing in March.
“Sorry sir, the flights you booked were special offer and are non-refundable. We can return the tax to you, minus our processing fee, but the airfare cannot be returned.”
“How much would that be?”
“One hundred and three pounds and fourty seven pence.”
The flights were £650.
“Right, I’ll umm… have to think about that.” I managed.
I hung up the phone and looked at the ceiling.
After a few minutes of deep breathing I decided I’d ask if the flight time and city could be altered, so I called back.
‘The Emirates Hong Kong office has now closed-‘
‘Don’t you dare fucking tell me office hours are Monday to Friday’
‘Office hours are Monday to Friday-‘
Not sure whether to laugh or cry at the fact it was 5.03 PM on Friday afternoon, I somehow resisted the urge to smash my phone on the floor, ended the call and put my face in my hands.
Once I’d calmed down enough to think straight I realised Emirates had offices all over the world and called the UK number.
One hour of being told my call was very important later I was informed I could change the date and departure city for a mere £350, baring in mind I have to fly back into Hong Kong and get another flight back to Beijing separately.
But then, what choice did I have?
1000 Great British Pounds for an economy class ticket home. Just peachy.
Luckily I’ve got my hands on a China visa here in England, although Siren has had to single-handedly find a new flat, move all of our possessions and spend Valentine’s day and her birthday without me there.

I go back this Saturday. Let’s just hope it’s onward and upward from here, because it sure as hell couldn’t have been much worse.


About Greg

A simpleton from West Yorkshire, England living in Beijing. I try to document the oddities, frustrations and funnies that happen to me whilst out here. Hopefully you enjoy reading these little episodes as much as I enjoy writing them.
This entry was posted in China Life, Rants, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Worst Holiday Ever

  1. Elyse says:

    What a mess. Good luck with it. But in the U.S., we would hope that your journey is downhill from here — it’s easier to just roll on down!

  2. maesprose says:

    Elyse is right – you want everything to go downhill from here….at least that’s what we say here in the U.S. – that might be the cause of your entire problem. You’ve been wishing for uphill and it has been! I’m making light of what sounds like the largest and most costly headache. I am wishing you “smooth sailing” from here.

    • Greg says:

      Haha, alright I’ll keep that one in mind next time things start to go pear shaped.
      It’s been horribly stressful, but three weeks home in England has gone a long way to remedying that.

  3. Kenneth Jobe says:

    That’s awful. I was wondering what happened to you, hopefully everything will be back to normal soon.

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