I woke up at 6:45 AM that morning after a mere 4 hours of sleep. Now much more hesitant about the fact that I was travelling without a passport in China, but still set on making it to Erdaobaihezhen, no matter what.
As I walked downstairs to check out of the hotel, my first surprise of what was going to be another long day. What can he possibly want now?, I thought to myself.
The cop from last night had come to pay me a visit….
After a short chat with the person at the counter, the cop only wanted to make sure that I got out of the hotel alright.
Both a nice gesture, and a confusing one.
In fact, he even asked to take a photo with me, so I obliged. After all, if it wasn’t for him, I might have never been able to find a hotel the night before.
I looked up the bus station on Google Maps, which was only a short 10-minute walk from where I was. Or so I thought…
As I approached the point on the map, I realized that there was no bus station anywhere near me.
I kept walking back-and-forth through the same streets, hoping that I had just missed the entrance to the bus station. But no.
The bus station did not exist. At least not in the place the map said it was supposed to be.
In fact, it was only after I asked around that I was pointed in the right direction….. 5 blocks from where I was.
So I missed my bus….. the only one going to Erdaobaihezhen that day.
Pissed off and tired, I headed back to the Baishan train station, not knowing that my bad luck had just begun again.
Kicked Out of a Hotel in Baishan
Baihe yī zhāng piào, qǐng (One ticket to Baihe, please).
(I take off my phone and show him my destination on the map).
Nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma? (do you speak English?).
Eventually, I would find out that the only train to Baihe, the train station at Erdaobaihezhen, was only leaving at 6:00 PM (10 hours later), and arriving at midnight.
Wanting to avoid a similar situation as the one from the night before, I was set on finding another way to get to where I needed to go earlier.
I somehow managed to get a bus leaving at 2:30 PM, and with 5 hours to go I decide to check in at a shady hotel nearby.
There was only a kid at the reception, and he asked for my ID. As I handed him my paper, he indicates that he must keep it until I check out later that day.
At that point I did not care, I just wanted to catch up on some much needed sleep.
It hadn’t been 20 minutes since I laid in bed, when there was a knock on my door.
It was the kid from the reception, telling me that I could no longer stay there. His mom had arrived and explained that they could not host foreigners without a valid passport.
They were nice enough to hold my bags while I went around the city, waiting for my bus that afternoon.
Same Shit, Different Day…
I got to Erdaobaihezhen after a 5-hour long uneventful bus ride and headed to the hotel I had reserved. An expression I had come to know very well greeted me from behind the counter.
It did not matter that I had a reservation.
And it didn’t matter how much I asked for an explanation.
The hotel was overbooked because of the Chinese holiday, and there was nothing I could do about it!!!
Was I cursed??? Was I just better off finding a bench in a park where to crash??? It definitely seemed simpler than getting a hotel!!!
I was tired, I was cold, and I was extremely frustrated. I could not believe this was happening to me again, twice in two consecutive nights!!!
The lady at the hotel saw this, and asked me to wait while she made a phone call. Once she finished it, she said something to me in Chinese, from which I was only able to understand “350 ¥”.
That was 3 times more expensive than I had originally booked for.
I did not want to accept whatever she had just offered, but the prospect of spending the next couple of hours scouting the city for a hotel did not seem that attractive either.
The lady walked me outside where she asked me to get inside a car which took me to another hotel. Once there, I was checked in by a young girl, who when asked me for my ID, looked perplexed at the sight of the paper I gave her, but still completed my check-in.
Relieved to finally be in a room, I showered and got ready to go out and find a place to eat. I was about to leave when suddenly, a knock on my door…
It was the girl from the reception with an older man (her dad), who handed me my money back.
What the fuck?
Using a translator on her phone, the girl shows me a message: “You cannot stay here because you don’t have a passport”.
So what am I supposed to do???
“We go to the police station. They will help you out”.
Knowing that I really had no choice, I went with them.
2 Police Stations in 2 Days
The cops, the guy from the hotel, his daughter, all start speaking in Chinese to each other while staring at my ID paper, with me waiting impatiently on the side.
I finally lose the last drop of patience I had, pulled the girl aside and asked her to translate what they’re saying on her phone.
I should’ve stayed sitting down…..
Finally, one of the cops decides to let me in on the fact that he speaks English.
“Where is your passport?”
It’s with your government. I’m applying for a residence work visa, and this is what they give while they keep the passport.
“Why are you travelling without a passport in China?”
They said that THIS is the same as a passport, and that I wouldn’t have any problems. You’ve never seen one before?
“Not many foreigners in this city”
While this is going on, I realize that the other cop is filming us with his phone.
Half an hour have passed, and everyone is still discussing the validity of my ID paper. It didn’t matter how much I tried to explain, they weren’t having it.
Finally, someone decides to make a phone call.
As I wait, all sorts of thoughts start filling my head.
What did she mean by “arrest warrant?”.
What if they can’t figure it out?
Maybe I should’ve just stayed in Changchun….
What a bad idea, this of travelling without a passport in China….. Never again.
As I drowned myself in self-defeating thoughts, the English-speaking cop comes to me and finally says, “you’re good. Let’s find you a hotel”.
They checked me into a hotel, a big one, too big for my budget, but what the hell. I felt I deserved it. As I grab my bags and “thank them”, I start making my way to the elevator to make it to my room, when all of a sudden, a voice from behind says “wait”.
“Can we take a photo?”
All of this because I decided to go travelling without a passport in China, can you believe it? Tell me about your most difficult travel story below.