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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Entering Hong Kong? Show your professional camera!!

I have shown flight tickets, hotel booking vouchers, bank statements, money, business cards, invite letters, income tax returns and even office ID cards to get a visa or an immigration stamp. After all, the Indian passport does not have the perks of some of the other passports of the world and hence the immigration or the visa consulate have to take additional precautions. But, today, when I was at the immigration counter at the Hong Kong International airport, I was asked for my camera. Here’s how the interaction goes. It is interesting and hence I am putting down the entire conversation for you.

Background: I have booked a room in a house located in Hong Kong’s residential area (Lam Tei) through Airbnb and hence am not staying at one of the hotels in Hong Kong like the other tourists who come here. Hence, my arrival form mentions this residential address.

Immigration Official : IO
Sankara: ME

IO: Why are you staying in Lam Tei?
ME: What?

IO: Who lives in the Lam Tei address?
ME: The owner of the house?

IO: Why are you staying there?
ME: I rented a room in that house through Airbnb.

IO: Doesn’t seem to make the connection. Ponders for a while and then asks “How long is your stay here?”
ME: 13 days

IO: Show me your return flight tickets.
ME: I show my return flight tickets to Hanoi, Vietnam.

IO: What is your purpose of visit here?
ME: Tourism.

IO: What do you do in India?
ME: I am a travel writer and photographer.

IO: What?
ME: Yes, travel writer and photographer.

IO: Can you show me your ID or business card?
ME: I showed him my business card.

IO: Show me your camera.
ME: This brought a big smile to my face and I showed him my big camera.

This finally seemed to appease his doubts and my passport was stamped for 14 days of stay in Hong Kong. When everything failed, my camera helped me get entry into Hong Kong. I am still smiling as I am unable to get the interaction with the immigration officer out of my head. The moment was so funny that the typical poker face immigration officer also broke into a smile when he saw me smiling and showing him my camera.

The next time when you travel to Hong Kong on an Indian passport, try to carry your camera and ensure you get entry Smile.

P.S. Please do not take the last sentence seriously.



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