2009 July 22-Our Thwarted Trip to Shanghai, China

Dimitri wrote a description of what happened when we tried to go to Shanghai for a month on July 22nd:


In our peripatetic lifestyle, we always expect the unexpected. However, our Wednesday afternoon arrival in Shanghai was a classic Donald Rumsfeld “Unknown unknown”. After much waiting, the Chinese immigration officials told me that my Greek passport was invalid. I was using my Greek passport instead of my US passport (dual citizen) simply because the visa fee is much less for a Greek passport (HK$220 vs HK$1020). After much talk and phone calls on their part, the immigration people finally came to the conclusion that the only solution is for me to return to Hong Kong (using my USA passport), get a new Greek passport and try again. I then managed to use my laptop and, with Skype, called the Greek ambassador in Beijing on her cell phone. She explained that indeed the Greek government, in order to comply with the international need for everyone to have electronically readable passports, had made all passports issued prior to 2006 invalid; they were assuming that somehow everyone concerned would get the news about this requirement. In my case, all I knew was that my Greek passport clearly states that it is valid until 3/10/2010. The Greek ambassador confirmed that the only solution is for me to return to Hong Kong and get a new passport. She didn’t even bother to apologize. We finally accepted this ridiculous situation, accepted the airline’s full-price tickets, and returned to Hong Kong.

I hope you got a bit of a chuckle out of all this. Perhaps after a while my anger and frustration might dissipate enough to also chuckle and to make me think about re-scheduling our visit to Shanghai for a later date.

So, US$1100 and about 15 hours later, we were back in Hong Kong. At 12:30 a.m. on the 23rd, we checked into the Regal Airport Hotel (9 Cheong Tat Road, Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong, Tel. (852)2286-8888, web: http://regalhotel.com/) and got a good night's sleep. The next day, after enjoying the huge (and included breakfast) we were able to negotiate a room and breakfast rate of HK$1815 for 2 nights (including tax and breakfast), resulting in an affordable US$117 per night rate. So we made a reservation at The Bay Bridge apartment/hotel in Tsuen Wan,New Territories, that we had previously identified starting on July 24 for a month. And we stayed at the Regal Airport Hotel and enjoyed the gym and pool for the rest of the day.