…overstaying my visa by 2 days. Yep. Not exactly a cool reason but I figured it’d be best to be honest about it. My wife and I were going to Hong Kong by bus and have to go through immigration in Shenzhen. The line was short because no one takes the bus to HK because the bus sucks.
I give my passport to the officer and he flips through it for a while. Then furrows his brow, flipping back and forth between pages. He then uses his fingers to count. This worries me.
He asks, “Did you know you overstayed your visa by 2 days?”
Seemed like a stupid question to me. If I’d known I overstayed my visa I would have hired a fisherman to smuggle me into Hong Kong. But I guess that wouldn’t exactly put a stamp in my passport.
I’m starting to sweat a bit at this point and my wife is looking at me worriedly. The officer calls some other people to come check out my passport and they move me aside so he can start stamping the other people. It was a little embarrassing since all the other passengers were staring and trying to guess what kind of criminal foreigner they rode with.
Eventually the supervisor moves me to a “detainment area” which consisted of some metal benches behind a partition where I waited for about 15 minutes before a guy told me to follow him to the back. I started freakin’ out at this point. I was pretty sure they were gonna take me to a jail in Xinjiang and beat the bottoms of my feet with a baseball bat or something crazy.
They made me wait some more in a hallway where I could see into several offices. The majority of the local police were hard at work taking naps or playing internet games. A little policewoman came out, asked me some questions and went back into the office and I could hear her typing, jamming the keyboard loudly. She comes back out with a paper with my hilarious passport photo (mustache, beard, hippie hair) copied into the corner and a bunch of Chinese on it.
“Can you read Chinese?” she asked.
“A little,” I answered. I then put my finger to a random line and tried to read. “How now brown cow…”
She waved her hand and laughed at my pathetic attempt. Despite being a police officer, she was actually really nice and friendly. She explained that it was a confession of overstaying a visa and that I was just getting a warning since I haven’t caused trouble before and it was a minor offense.
I signed the paper, took my copy and said bye to the police. They all waved goodbye and I was blown away by their friendliness. Maybe they’d just never met a nice foreigner before. No idea. Anyway, don’t overstay your visa. Maybe the cops you meet won’t be quite so nice!
PS: Also, the same cops detained my wife later that day because they said her passport photo looked too different from her face which was insane to me because it looks the same. They took her away for about 15 minutes and almost made us miss the bus. So, if you’re traveling around China then make sure you plan on being inconvenienced by the pigs.