Damn you, faulty information online! Damn you!!
I choose to blame that information from the website belonging to the Chinese Embassy, on why I was denied access to China via Shenzhen. I had read there, that I could attain a Visa on Arrival, as long as I went overland.
So I spent my first three days enjoying Hong Kong and all the tourist attractions it had to offer. I wanted to make sure I checked everything off before I stepped foot into China, where I had these elaborate plans to train it to Xiamen, take a nine hour bus ride to hike Mt. Wuyi, and on my way back stay in some 12th century earth houses.
Hike to Victoria’s Peak, check. Ride the Star Ferry, check. Hike Dragon’s Back Trail, check. Check out Wan Chai, Walk of Stars, and the Occupy Central, did that. Stuff my face as if I was a chipmunk preparing for winter with dim sum? Maybe like 5 checks there.
Perfect, Im off to China, ready to leave behind the English language and really explore a small fraction of that mammoth country!
I hop on the MTR to the last station, Lok Ma Chau, exchanged all my Hong Kong dollars to Chinese Yen, and proceed to get into Shenzhen… I’m not too sure where to go so I ask a nice girl working at the station.
Wrong stop. Dag Nabbit.
Im supposed to go to Lo Wu. Off to a great start, I take the train back one stop then connect onto the right path. After all that I find myself standing in a very long customs line, not exactly sure when I will buy my Visa on Arrival. Is it the first customs checkpoint? Apparently not. I cruise through that with no hassles, and onto the next customs check, which holds a similarly long queue. The line dwindles down, and as I approach the man behind the counter, I realize I have already made it into Mainland China. Seems funny, but I had crossed the imaginary line dividing Hong Kong and Shenzhen inside the train station, without a visa on hand. But because we live in the modern, divisive world, I still had to approach the man behind the customs counter to officially “enter.”
“Sir, where is your visa?”
“Yeah I know, where can I buy my visa?”
After getting so close, I was turned back to go upstairs and purchase my visa on arrival. I walk upstairs, to find a relatively empty room, which looks great! No wait time. Before I can even get my passport fully out of my pocket, the guy behind the glass tells me I cannot get a visa here.
“Wait wait wait, the other guy said come here.”
“Citizens of the United States are not allowed to purchase a visa on arrival here, you must go back to Hong Kong and the office in Wan Chai, where the processing time is four days.”
Well, isn’t that something. Apparently we are one of a handful of countries that are not allowed to do this. At this point I only had six days left, so I decided to bypass the visa process. Getting back into Hong Kong took a little longer, as I had to pass through each customs stop, then get held up while they process my passport to make sure I’m not endangering the country. Then check my bags to make sure Im not smuggling anything BACK into Hong Kong.
All in all, it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I can’t complain though, I had a blast in Hong Kong, it truly is one of the most lively, beautiful cities in the world. As it was, checking off the touristy stuff beforehand left me with my finals days to explore like a local, which is how I always want to explore.
I’ll accept this rejection from China as a future invite to come in and explore. Can’t keep me out forever!