HORROR STORY TIME: This was my second time in China, October 2019 (the very eventful time). I was not there for long and I honestly did not do anything but I feel this is worth explaining in case this ever happens to you. There is a new thing in China- only in certain parts- where you can receive a visa on arrival. So I asked a bunch of my Facebook travel pages and a lot of people had already done it and were successful. As I was entering Beijing just for a layover to Malaysia-not leaving the airport- I was going to try this. I thought that a visa on arrival and transport visa was the same thing and it would be an easy process. So when I landed in Beijing to go grab my bags to sit and wait for my flight to Malaysia, I was told to fill out the visa on arrival. Waited in line for over an hour, handed my application and passport to the security guard and all I hear is, “Nope”, hands back my passport and says next…. um, WHAT?! What was that supposed to mean, what do you mean no?? I got no explanation, nothing given to me telling me what I could do, nothing. They told me to speak with the United Airlines flight attendant that was standing by the counter I was at, which I don’t know how she could help me if the security guard was telling me no. I got nervous thinking if I broke a law and didn’t know while I was here the year before, if because I had a visa within that past year I wasn’t accepted, I wasn’t even leaving the airport I was so confused especially walking off my 15 hour flight.
So now I speak with the flight attendant, and I basically asked every question in the book, “Can I go get my luggage and come back? Can I have someone bring me my luggage? Can I be escorted to get my luggage? Can my luggage be transferred to my new flight coming up?” No, no, and no. So I had zero idea what to do. She told me the only option was to book a flight and leave before midnight (my original flight to Malaysia was for 1 am). She told me I would get sent back to the United States and so will my bag if I did not leave before 12. It was now 4:00 pm there and I was panicking. There were no flights to Malaysia and I had no Internet service to look up a new flight. The flight attendant told me I could go to the AirChina desk and book a flight to wherever and that they could ‘hopefully’ transfer my baggage in time. So I asked to go back to Thailand-I felt comfortable there and knew I did not need a visa-it was also not on my travel plan for that trip so it could work out and not be forced to overlap my path. They told me the only flight to Thailand was $2,000 USD one-way business class….yeah, no thanks. So then they said they had a flight to South Korea for $200 USD that leaves around 6:00 pm. I said PERFECT BOOK IT! Then they hit me with, “Oh, your baggage may not get there in time because we need at leave 3 hours to move baggage from one plane to another.” Oh wow, of course, another thing that is holding me back, so I took the risk and bought that tickets just hoping that my bag would be there. While this is taking place, I called my parents when is like 3 am in the U.S. and they called the US Embassy. They were freaking out because they do not know anything about traveling and they were sleeping now on the phone with the embassy, (they must love me so much). The US Embassy basically told me that China was allowed to do that and that it could be for other factors. When I asked if I could come back in December for my return flight, they were unsure, the same as China….(please someone tell me if I can ever go to China again hahaha) I finally found a bar and had a few beers while I tried to book a hostel that night in South Korea. Now that I look back on it I laugh but at the time it was very stressful and scary to get kicked out of a country after a 15-hour flight, starting your 3-month backpacking trip. Some times I think it was a test, but at the time I thought it was a sign to come home. I eventually learned that sometimes you have to overcome those obstacles to have those amazing experiences and I am so grateful I continued my trip and stayed in Asia. (and I will definitely be trying to go back to China soon)