Stuck in China – Really!


Now I have made it out of China. Thanks to all the nice people that worked so hard to get me through the process! I appreciate it very much!

Calling in All Favors ??

So, I was supposed to fly out of China today to meet my family in New Zealand on Air New Zealand. When packing for the airport, I discovered my passport had been stolen! I can’t believe it… this has never happened and made me feel totally lame.

Now I am stuck here in Room 1716 of the XiangDa International Hotel (not the one where my passport was stolen). The problem is that it could take up to two weeks (or more!) to get a new Visa out of the country! Madness!

I have now experienced a new level of bureaucracy. Wait till you hear this.

I started at by finding my way to the US Embassy in Beijing because I figured the US Consulate could help get me home. There was a big picture of Hilary Clinton on the outside (seriously), so I knew I was in trouble from the start (seriously).

Outside the US Embassy were a ton of Chinese people. A ton. They seemed to be waiting for something while sitting on bags, shuffling about holding plastic sacks of whatnots, and this sort of thing. After wading through some (with all my luggage, mind you), I got up to a rather serious looking Chinese guard. They are all rather serious, really… they don’t hire guys that look like William Hung (of “She Bangs” fame).

Anyway… I have a VERY VERY long story to tell but I am mentally drained… After some serious form-filling-out and an interview with a very nice customs official, I was given a new 3-month passport.  So despite my worry about the US Embassy, I actually got my new passport in about 3 hours!  Great! But now, the problem is the Visa.

To get the Visa, it can take from 5 to 10 business days. This is infuriating because I already got a Visa, and I even have a copy of it. But this is useless. I don’t know why! It was just a sticker in my passport, and I have a photocopy of it. The Visa has a unique number, which happens to be the same on my photocopy! Anyway, I don’t know why it just doesn’t just key off the Visa number, and they can update their 1960’s system when I exit the country.

To get the new Visa, I need to visit Public Security Bureau (which was closed right at 5 PM when I arrived) and take: 1) The Lost Report issued by the Exit/Entry Department (a Department within the PSB), 2) a police report by the local police department, 3) One photocopy of the lost passport (thank Mao I have one!) 4) Temporary Residence Certificate (don’t ask… this is an annoying document to get), 5) an Introduction Letter by Relevant Parties (huh?) and 6) One 2-inch photo.

Now, I can get all this stuff, at major annoyance, but it’s confusing as to WHY I even need to do it just to leave the country! Why can’t I just use my existing Visa number? t’s just that I’ve never felt so trapped by absolute nonsense… especially while my family is waiting on me…

I promised the kids I would hug them in the airport when their plane landed in NZ… dammit.

Mid-Daily Photo: Hangin’ out in China

HDR Photo

  • The Hilary comment was hilary-ous! Sorry about your plight. Hang in there…

  • Have you tried bribery? I’m just askin’

  • Dan Henderson

    So democracy might be worth fighting for after all!! Sorry to hear you’re stranded by a tiny piece of stupid red tape…

  • yeah dude, hang in there. bribery usually works to speed things up! haha

  • Sorry to read this. Good luck for the next days. Will follow you to get fresh news on this.

  • I was excited to see a second post today, but not one with that news. Sorry hear that Trey. I hope it works out sooner than later. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • Oh dear! Will keep an eye out for someone claiming to be ‘Tley Latcriff’ 😀

  • Fate and some yet ro be realized opportunities have caught up with your web name! All the best and hopes that they can beat the estimated time to process the visa for you -;0)


  • Michele

    Sounds like the hoops we’re going through to get married in Spain. Try dealing with Spanish, Fijian, New Zealand and German bureaucracy as we try to get ALL the required paperwork which then has to be translated into Castellano, notarised and have the Hague Convention Apostille affixed. AAAAARGH!

    Good luck, Trey – if I could help with the skyhook, I would, but perhaps you could just ask Scotty to beam you up instead. ;.)

  • Wow! Bummer. Have you had experience having other things stolen during your many travels?

  • That’s some serious paper shuffling you’re experiencing there Trey.Hope it is sorted out sooner rather than later.Hang on in there,and I know you won’t waste your time,but will be shooting some amazing images during your extended stay.?

  • As infuriating and mind-boggling as the whole situation has become, it’s encouraging to see you’ve kept a sense of humor. Good luck, Trey. Btw, how long will your temporary residence be good for? Can you now say you are part chinese?

  • Michele

    You are finally living up to name of your site.

  • No way man, there’s nothing worse than being stranded in a place and having that horrible wait to find out what’s going to happen. I’ve been in a similar predicament when me and my friend got cleaned out in Latvia. Hopefully it can get cleared up as soon as possible and you can get out of there and get to see the troops.

    On a lighter note i like the caption of that photo – it brought back memories of the photowalk in London. I remember you standing on top of that bench shouting those very words – good times!

    Keep the chin up 🙂

  • Best. Post. Ever! “Help, help! I’m being repressed!” My head hurts just thinking about all the red tape you are having wade through.

    Have fun (might as well, right?) Looking forward to more photos from this fiasco.


  • Of all the countries to be stuck in, geesh. Why couldn’t it have been Brazil, France, or Spain? Countries you don’t mind staying a couple extra days. I’m hoping you only lost your passport and nothing more. Consider yourself lucky.

    I concur with the other posters. Time to resort to some good ole fashion bribery. Or see if you could get yourself deported. Walk around with a shirt with the Nobel Peace Prize winner. Good luck!

  • inc

    Maybe you can try to use this service, although I’ve never used it.

  • David Woods


    If you think China is bad try The Kingdom !! Best of luck resolving it all.

  • As annoying and frustrating as this is, you will remember this trip ALWAYS. It’s an adventure and will be good fodder for many future stories . . . . (doesn’t help now though, I appreciate that).
    Good luck

  • OMG. What an adventure!
    The positive thing is that you keep your sense of humour although you must be furious.
    There’s an old chinese saying that goes “better be pissed off than pissed on”….
    We’re all supporting you.

  • Steve Clarke

    Sorry to hear about your difficulties. Just look for a teller in the Exit/Entry dept that appears to be fluent in English and ask them “How much do you think this will cost me to get this done quickly?”. If they appear to balk or be offended just say that “you only want to know if there are processing fees involved in obtaining the replacement documents because you are running short of money.” That will turn this into an innocent question and give you an ‘out’ if needed. If on the other hand, they give you a knowing look, they will then tell you ‘their’ price or ‘expedited’ price and you should be out of China with your exit visa in pretty short order. It’s worked for me elsewhere.

    Just an observation (since you could probably use a laugh right now), but I’m kinda’ wondering if ‘casusan’ is involved in your missing passport. I noticed that she has gone AWOL, in that she missed being the first person to comment on today’s blog. Stranger than fiction… What are the chances of that happening?! Far too unlikely, I’d say…
    Gee, I hope she’s ok! That double agent thing can get risky.

  • AO

    WOW! I’m sorry to hear about this Trey. I almost didn’t get out of Germany because my passport got soaked. They said it would take two weeks for me to get a new passport, so I might as well try to get out of the country. You’re lucky you got your passport so quickly! Good luck my good sir. I hope you get to your kids soon!

  • Beau

    So sorry to hear about this! I hope you are able to get it fixed quickly!

  • Sorry to hear all that Trey. Let us know if you need us to send you a can of Spam or something else from home! 🙂

  • I am sorry about the situation. I wish you good luck and hope that you will be with your familly soon.


  • casusan

    Yes, Steve I am alive!! You’re funny-and sounding like me keeping up with everyone on here! I do feel bad for Trey – and the family that’s counting on him being there! I never thought of bribery – your suggestion was good. Good luck Trey and hope you get it resolved soon!

  • James

    now you are really stuck in customs…but yeah try bribery most of the times it works to make the visa processing move along faster…

    can you cross over to Hong Kong or Macau from where you are right now? I think it would be easier to get things going from there especially Hong Kong.

  • Good luck Trey. I had my ticket for my return flight stolen in China. I found that throwing money at the problem was the only thing that worked 😉

  • Bianca


    That is so awful. Seriously, try bribery tomorrow. Keep us updated, please…

  • Well, for a world traveler to have his passport stolen, it’s likely your lack of understanding of the absolute precautions that are needed to protect it is a factor in what bought it about. Care to share how it got stolen?

    Glad you steered away from Barcelona as you might be lacking a D3X and D3s with your passport safely locked in your hotel safe.

    Worse things have happened to tourists – death, rape and kidnap come to mind. Regardless, I sympathize with your blight, hope you learn from it, and are free to leave soon.

  • Rudy

    Great reason to stay home!

  • Hey Tray, hang in there!

    Its too bad you could not get “stuck” in a place like Jamaica. I would be less stressed and less intimidated about the process if the Carribean was the backdrop to all this drama. Good luck!

  • Andrea Boyle

    Kraap! I hope you get outta there soon. Hang in there (and hopefully not by a sky hook). I’m sure NZ will be worth it!

  • gernot

    trey, what a bummer! the problem with the visa is that it is directly linked to your passport and this is stored in their systems. if your passport is stolen they will also void your visa. in case someone wants to use your passport 😉 sad but true: welcome in the bureaucracy of china!

    @james: going to hong kong or macao are no possibilities, as these are special administration zones and you have to go through entry/exit at the airport/train station/port. 1 country 2 systems 😉

  • Ray

    Trey, go to the local CTS office. (China Tourism Service) They can handle all of that. I don’t remember why you are in China, but if you came on some kind of business then your sponsor can help you out. Failing those two options, you are just going to have to be patient and wait it out because the reason they want your original visa is as an anti-terrorism measure. Remember a couple of cultural things — do not get angry or raise your voice. You will lose face in the eyes of the Chinese and your application will go to the bottom of the pile. Two — yes means no. Rather then offend you, you may be told yes when nothing can be done quickly.

  • Progress is still good – I hope this pace of getting things done keeps up ! 🙂

  • Steve

    So sorry to hear that, Trey….Dont know what the passport can be used for by other people rather than you and even dont know why you are so sure your possport was stolen but not lost. Good luck!

  • That really sucks. I hope things turn out well at the end. I wish you all the best.
    Nice image.

  • jbscpa

    We forget…a totalitarian state has a vested interest in locking people IN…to keep them from escaping tyranny and oppression. This attitude spills over to their treatment of non-citizens.

  • Sorry to hear of all the hassle. Do you need any help on this end ( I mean NZ)?

  • Someone

    Any of you ever tried dealing with US VISA system??? If you have you wouldn’t be laughing at the Chinese “1960’s” system! :o)

  • LY

    maybe it lost?

  • Dorothyann Strange

    Hilary? Why do people make fun of really smart, dedicated women?

    .Good luck with the visa! I caught the woman who had my passport in her hot little hand on the subway in Madrid that she procured from my zipped, arm-secured, sweater-covered purse sitting on my chest! It happens! You will have a fun story to tell the kids (make it fun!) when you get to NZ.

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