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Asia CommentTaipan

So near, yet so far

Air China plane China airport aviation flight_alamy_26May22

In these tiring times, going home has never been more difficult

Things are finally looking up in Hong Kong. Social restrictions are being relaxed and the city’s borders are gradually opening. Being an old softy, I even shed a few tears at the reopening of my beloved Captain’s Bar. Words can’t describe the feeling of finally coming home.

Some of my friends though are far less fortunate and find the concept of being home somewhat alien.

Last week I welcomed back my friend, let’s call him Seb, after his two-month trip to the Mainland. I thought he had been back home to Shanghai to see his family. Little did I know that, while he did spend two months in Shanghai, he didn’t actually manage to go home.

You see, Shanghai was supposed to be a pitstop. Seb was going to complete his hotel quarantine there and attend a few meetings, before flying home to Beijing.

With limited flights and China’s strict border control, he thought making it to Shanghai and getting through quarantine would be the hardest part. But was he in for a nasty surprise.

His timing was so bad that a local outbreak of Covid-19 meant he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere after his quarantine finished. Half expecting the Covid situation to improve, and half because trying to leave the city was proving so difficult, he stayed in his quarantine hotel for two whole months.

Finally, he was allowed out — but only on the condition that he head straight to the airport for a one-way trip. He also had to promise that he had no intention to return to the Mainland in the near future.

But his adventure did not end there. At the airport, immigration officials asked him to prove that he had genuine reasons to leave the country.

Luckily, and like the true banker that he is, he never goes anywhere without his business cards. So he flashed his card, proved he was a big cheese at a foreign bank, and swiftly made his exit.

The guy in front of him, however, was not as lucky. A restaurant owner in Japan, he was apparently pulled aside for further questioning.

We all know the obvious perks of being a banker. But it turns out that it has other unexpected — but useful — benefits too.

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