A travel and photography blog by Loke Chee Meng
About the title shot :
In the autumn of 2009, I found Little Bugsie, of all places, on a toilet sink in the Days Landscape Hotel located at the foot of Changbaishan, Jilin, China. I invited Bugsie into the room. I gave it the 'red carpet' welcome and took the shot above with a Panasonic DMC-LX3.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Travel tip #7 - Watch what you say and do!

When you travel overseas, whether on departure or arrival, there is a very powerful person you have to come face to face with.  He is not highly educated, not highly paid, not high up in the organisational structure, does a very simple job, yet very powerful.  He is the immigration/customs officer.  Please respect him,  observe the rules and don't say or do anything usual.

You might have heard of the case of a family which was travelling overseas for holiday.  At the security gate, they like all the others were having their luggage scanned.  The child asked the father,  'Why are they scanning our luggage?'  The father replied, 'They want to see if we have any bombs inside.'  On hearing the word 'BOMB', the security team activated the emergency procedure, locked down the area and detained the family for interrogation and a detailed search.  The family's holiday was ruined.

Very often we do not say the right things and/or use the right words.  This is a case of a person not using the right words at the immigration.   This person was sent on a business trip by his company to its subsidiary in Denmark.  The immigration officer asked him what was the purpose of his visit.  He dutifully replied, 'To do some work.'  On hearing the word 'WORK', our innocent visitor was invited to a special session with the immigration officer and I believed he was eventually turned back!

Yet there was this case of a colleague who was visiting our company in Shanghai.  She wrote on her health declaration form that she was 'coughing'.  At the immigration, she confirmed with the officer that she was coughing.  She was duly led away by immigration officers and people in white coat.  I found out later that she was given a free medical examination.  Satisfied that she was no health hazard to the country, they eventually let her in. But she got a fright of her life and precious time was wasted.  She did in fact had a slight cough, a throat irritation that a cough drop would have done her good, not SARS or HxNy!  (I say 'x' and 'y' because I have lost track of how far the numerals have run.) But we Singaporeans are very honest people.  When you have a cough, you declare that you have a cough.  You cannot say otherwise.

There was one trip when I arrived at the airport in a East Asian country and was proceeding towards the baggage claim area.  Then I noticed an immigration/customs officer approaching a lady who was brandishing a copy of the Lianhe Zaobao in her hand.   The lady was duly whisked into a room for a chat with the officer.  Well you might not be aware that in many countries, you are not allowed to bring in foreign publications!  This lady has certainly violated a customs regulation.  So, please don't bring with you those complimentary newspaper you read on the plane when you alight.

Oh, yes, before I forget, please remember that while you are queuing up for immigration clearance, DO NOT use your mobile phone or take any photographs.  It is STRICTLY PROHIBITED.  Don't incur the wrath of the very powerful person/persons.

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