Saturday, June 10, 2006

Red Cornered

The slash of light from what I presumed would be my feeding window awoke me a slick on the rough concrete floor that could only have come from the room's sole occupant: yours truly. Whether that slick and the sweet sick twisting my mouth were one and the same I couldn't know, but that wasn't might biggest worry of the moment. Neither was reclining, for in a 1.5 meter by too short space I was bunched up against the wall no matter where I tried to lean.
I hoped they would be pushing something through that window soon, though. I was getting hungry. But I didn't hold my breath. Nor did I expect a fresh sorbet to clean that foulness from my palate.
The last thing I could remember before finding myself here was jamming my paw into the inside of my jacket. I vaguely remember hitting the floor after that. I don't really remember the blow to the head, but the after-effects were certainly present as cribnotes.
The ordeal took place at the border crossing: a hot, sweaty, crowded foci of confusion, angst, and ill-temperment. Making my way through as a sole speck of salt in a sea of saffron certainly solicited several sequential stares (alliteration! GENIUS!), and yes, more than the ordinary. But while exiting Hong Kong emersed the traveler in the pleasant bubbling mass I had become accustomed to during my time in the Mainland, re-entering threw me into an odd solitude.
Then it tured out I didn't have the proper papers, resulting in an even solitude. Of a cell. Preceeded by a beating.
Why did this all happen? I had a visa, recently re-newed. I should have been let in, for all I knew. But confusion erupted and I tried to make due with my Chinese, but I guess when I said "my friend will settle this matter" and reached for my cell phone someone thought my "friend" was a firearm and "settle this matter" meant kill anyone who opposed my point of view, which conveniently enough is the predominant understanding of the American attitude towards any international affair by most non-Americans.
Now i wish I could claim this was true, especially because then there would certainly be a happy ending (since I'm now in the glorious Commonwealth of Massachusetts) but the true story is not this interesting. To set the record straight (and cage my overactive hyperbolic tendency):

FACT: I was booted out of the mainland and back to Hong Kong
FACT: I did have a visa but apparently not the right one
FACT: I did reach (and use) my cell phone against the wishes of some officer
FACT: I was sequestered in a cubicle all by myself with no clear explanation
FACT: I did use my Chinese to get through this, but all was understood just fine
FACT: I was escorted out of the mainland by armed guards
NOT-FACT: I was beaten
NOT-FACT: I was locked in a cell of any sort
NOT-FACT: Paul McCartney's post-Beatles work exceeds that of John Lennon's

Turns out some genius (likely the same who left getting me the new visa TILL THE LAST MOMENT after I had set the wheel in motion 2 months in advance) gave me a visa to get back into China that wouldnt let me back into China. It wasnt an extension, it was a "zero-entry" visa. What good a "zero-entry" visa is, I dunno. Its not even thick enough to be a good coaster. And it certainly isnt good enough to get back into the Mainland. So I got booted back to the Fragrant Harbor for 3 days and 2 nights of chasing down visas and affordable accomadations. All in all, during that short period of time I was forced to spend the equivalent I would spend in almost 2 WEEKS in the mainland. I was pissed. Low point of my travel. And I do hold a grudge against the putz who fucked it all up for me.


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