6 hours in Xiamen

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April 30, 2017

With six hours for my layover, there’s NO way I’m staying in the airport. Almost all nationalities can leave the airport if they have a 24 hour transit. Some nationalities even have 72 hours (not for Filipinos). Since my layover is from 6pm to 12mn, might as well have dinner in China, right?

Immigration

There’s a separate lane for the 24/72 hour visa free entries. The girl at immigration speaks decent English, and that’s about all the English I encountered. I had a friend write some Chinese phrases, and boy were they helpful!

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My “script” has ~three sentences: 1. Please take me to xxx restaurant. 2. Please take me to Xiamen Airport and 3. I don’t have a visa. Can I stay here for 24 hours, and may I leave the airport?

Transportation

At the taxi stand, I talked to the lady helping everyone. She helped us hire a car for only CNY60. It took us 15 minutes (yes, I timed) to go to the restaurant another friend recommended.

Since the restaurant was full, my buddy and I decided to just walk around. We asked some people (they have a google translate-ish app they used to talk to us), and off to the lake we went.

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Sorry for the picture quality. We were rushing. Either way, you’re not missing anything.

Food

Near the lake is a restaurant. Of course we didn’t order the weird stuff. We paid CNY96 in total.

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This is one of those restaurants where you point and they cook it for you, I think. Since we don’t speak Chinese and these are probably expensive, we decided to just go with the normal dishes.
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This is streetfood. Of course we didn’t try it.
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At the airport, a drink is around USD0.15. That’s so cheap! In Japan, a drink is at least a dollar. O.O

Back to Xiamen Airport

We then flagged a cab, and it took us 20 minutes and CNY40 to get back. We were back to at the airport three hours before our flight, with the check in counter opening 10 minutes after we arrived.

It was a good two hours of experiencing Xiamen.

 

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Flying Xiamen Airlines

April 30, 2017

Leg 1: Narita to Xiamen

I don’t like long lines in Japan. Why? Because this is Japan. Except for themeparks, the Japanese just DON’T DO long lines. Unfortunately, Xiamen Airlines is Chinese, so wait I must.

Everything went smoothly afterwards.

Leg 2. Xiamen to Amsterdam

Once we got off Xiamen, we had to go through their immigration. Even if you are just transferring, you still have to pass through them.

We had to go through the entire check in again, but since we were the only flight in Xiamen at that point (we had the airport to ourselves!), it went quite smoothly. Everything was on time.

Oh, unfortunately they don’t have slippers, eyecovers or toothbrushes up the plane. And as most airlines, their earplugs suck.

Leg 3. Amsterdam to Zurich

I LOVE the Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport. They have a pretty cool and automated conveyor belt for the security check which facilitates the process. The guy handling it was pretty cool, even asking me to say hi to Manny Pacquiao (it weirded me out how he figured out I was a Filipino. In hindsight, he probably saw my passport).

Their internet is also free and fast. Plus we can access google, facebook, etc. (I never thought I’d miss them so much until I went to China.)

We had to pass through immigration here, and not in Switzerland. Apparently with the entire EU thingy, flights across member countries count like a domestic flight.

We used KLM lines, and they’ve got really good sandwiches. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ve got the best sandwiches, but I can’t recall a single sandwich that is as good. Or maybe it’s the European bread. Hmm.

Zurich Airport.

I lost my hair clip in the plane! I immediately went back, but they apparently were done cleaning when I did and there’s nothing they could do! Ugh!

Oh, and no free wifi! You need a phone number (which I don’t have) to register.

And this concludes my 30 hour-ish trip. I left my unit at 10am, Tokyo time, and arrived at Zurich around 4pm Tokyo time. Yep, that’s a loooong flight.


Offloaded.

May 6, 2017

Okay, so this just happened.

For whatever reason, the Philippines was added to the list of countries not allowed to transit through China without a visa. Here’s what happened as I could recall.

Around 12:30pm.

We got into our boarding gate. The staff was checking people’s passports, and when I showed mine, she led me to the desk where I was turned over to the desk lady.

Desk lady: Do you have a transit visa?

Me: No, because I don’t need one.

Desk lady: You need a transit visa to go through China.

Me: Oh, I don’t. I was just there a week ago (shows the stamp in my passport)

We then went to the entire You-need-a-visa/No-I-don’t repetitive discourse. The Desk Guy passes through, and they talk in Dutch.

Desk lady: Unfortunately, you need a transit visa. My senior says you are required to. So we cannot allow you to board this flight unless you have your visa.

Me: I don’t have a visa though. What can I do?

Desk lady: You can apply for a Chinese transit visa. I think it only takes a couple of days.

Me: I can’t leave the airport though, my Schengen visa is valid only for today.

Desk lady: Oh, then I guess you have to stay in the airport.

Me: …………

Me: Can I google the visa requirements?

Desk lady: Sure.

Me: (after googling, shows her my phone) See, in the embassy site, it is says that I don’t need a visa for 24 hour transits. This is the Philippine Chinese embassy site. Here’s the travel china immigration site. They all say I don’t need one.

Desk lady: I’m sorry, but we follow the communications we’re given.

Me: Can I talk to the senior guy?

Desk lady: Sure, we can wait for him.

The senior guy comes in, and shows me a list of countries that are not allowed to travel without visa. It’s a printed paper (no embassy logo whatsover) with “Philippines” manually written in blank ink at the bottom. The top countries are middle eastern, the bottom¬† Asian (I distinctly remember Malaysia). I told the guy everything¬† I told the desk lady, including the fact that I just passed through China a week ago.

Senior guy: I’m sorry, we follow the regulations given to us by the immigration. Immigration rules change by the day.

The desk lady and the senior guy then talk in Dutch, and based on the key words, it seems that the desk lady was telling him that based on immigration rules per embassy, I am allowed to transit. The Senior guy answers that their list is the official one, directly communicated by the immigration office of Xiamen. Again, they are talking in Dutch and I don’t speak Dutch. This is based on body language and key English words.

Me: Ok, so what do I do now?

Senior guy: I’m offloading you the flight now. But don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. Even if I have to book you a transit through KL.

Me: What about my luggage?

Senior guy: We’re offloading it too. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, but after I’ve finished boarding this flight. Go to the boarding area and wait for me.

Me: Ok, thank you.

I was in a panic. My friend called our flight organizer (abroad!) to tell them that I’ll need a new ticket. I don’t know what I should do – do I book a new one? All the tickets are expensive, and they go through countries where I would need a visa. AND I’m gonna miss my class. Haha. After AN HOUR of all these concerns going in my head at which I have googled the closest direct flight to Tokyo or flights passing through ASEAN countries, I was approached by the Senior guy.

Senior guy: Here’s your flight, direct to Narita in an hour. I apologize but I have to follow the regulations otherwise we will be fined.

Me: Thank you! (I was just glad I have a flight!) I understand.

Then I went off and got on the plane.

Then I arrived in Narita.

My luggage didn’t.