Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chinese bag search

We entered China from Pakistan. Clearly they have smuggling issues at this border. Before we even got on the bus in Pakistan our bags were searched. The went easy on us, but the Pakistani guys (note all men) had their shoes picked at with screw drivers and their bags searched for secret compartments.

Finally we got to China and the fun began again. We were on top of a mountain, really I kid you not, Khunjerab Pass (google earth it) is about 4600m high. We had to unload the bus, even the rubbish from our lunch boxes and lined up to be searched. Then we had to wait outside while 2 people at a time were allowed into the searching container (like a shipping container). After about 30 mins of standing outside jumping around trying to keep warm from the wind, they took pity on me and Ailsa (my regional manager who happened to be along on the trip) as we were the last ones standing. They let us in out of the cold. The Chinese have really benefited from this Olympics business, they are so polite now!

Finally our turn came to empty our bags, everything had to come out and then they went through each item inspecting. Yes...shampoo (well, conditioner really, but not being one to split hairs...), clothes, dirty ones, don't smell them...oh yuk..., insect repellant...Rosemary doing buzzing mosquito noises and simulating a mosquito flying and then biting...I think he got it....Ailsa, how do you say contraceptive pill in Chinese...I don't know, how do you say tampon?

At this point I turned around to see a Chinese soldier holding up a tampon and inspecting it like would something that you are trying to figure out what the hell it is for. Ailsa was pointing at her stomach saying for women, for women. I think he got bored, but then my guy found mine and the whole funny thing started again. I actually believe that they knew what they were, but wanted to play with them, cause mine went through the tampon bag a second time!

My camera was a source of amusement for the man, he went through about 100 photos before he got bored, lucky they were in China.

Then Ailsa had to turn on her laptop and show them stuff, not sure what they were looking for and I had to put my memory stick in too. Finally after about 15 mins we were cleared and the other pax were saying why did you take so long?

You would think this was sufficient, but when we finally got off the mountain and to immigration (about 5 hours after we had been stamped out of Pakistan), they did it all again. Not so bad this time, asking if I had meat or eggs, but they took Ailsa's computer away and now her memory stick doesn't work, so who knows what they did to that. then after the search they put our bags in an x-ray machine, and then we were told to open them again and show them the books!

During all this we also had our temperature checked to make sure we didn't have bird flu.

I bet you are laughing yourself silly by now, but after 3 searches and an x-ray, it wasn't that funny anymore. Finally we were in China...and allowed to have beer! Yippee


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