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Foreign tourist arrested

Popularity 8Viewed 4359 times 2017-1-15 20:12 |Personal category:Tourism|System category:Life| tourism, and, restricted, areas

China is very keen to develop tourism with its citizens, but more so with foreign travellers. However, many travel agents in China have little knowledge of restrictions to travel for foreigners. This can lead to worrying problems arising when a foreigner arrives at a booked destination only to find that they should not be there!
Several years ago I went with a Chinese tour group to Henan to climb a mountain. The agent that booked us knew I was a foreigner and even had a copy of my passport. On arriving at the mountain we all entered a large hall to get tickets and find our little bus to take us further up the mountain. I was immediately surrounded by police and soldiers. Much argument ensued between my Chinese colleagues and the police. My passport was taken away for examination. If you cannot speak Chinese it is very worrying when you ask what the matter is and get told not to worry!  It appeared that this was a restricted military area not open to foreign tourists. I was escorted out of the area and had a further very long trip on a bus to the nearest city. Our coach collected me on their way back. They said that the mountain views were amazing and they saw nothing "strange".
Last year some Chinese colleagues and I booked a trip with a travel agent to another famous and beautiful area of Henan. Once again it was made clear that I was a foreigner. Our first visit was to a mountain known for its spectacular waterfalls. It was indeed a most wonderful experience. We then went to some famous caves. On arrival, there were long queues of Chinese tourists waiting to go in. As soon as we were seen we were pushed to the front and into the caves! I thought it was because I was considered a foreign VIP!  These caves are the most amazing I have ever seen; enormous cathedrals of Stalactites and stalagmites. This place must be one of the wonders of the world (or should be). On leaving, I had time to wander around the park and look at the various stalls before meeting with my Chinese friends. We then took the coach to a mountain where we were going to stop the night before climbing it. Imagine my stress levels when I was not allowed out of the coach. It was explained that every place we had been to, and this mountain, was prohibited to foreigners! I could have been arrested at any time.  I had to spend the night and the following day in a hotel room out of sight, waiting for the coach to pick me up on the way home.
The resulting complaints resulted in full refunds of our money.
Chinese travel and tour companies do not always know where restrictions apply. Be warned.
If tourism is to be encouraged, particularly to such wonderful places, Chinese authorities and travel agents will have to sort these problems out.
The exact places visited etc. are not mentioned to protect those wonderful people who helped me avoid arrest.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

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Reply Report BlondeAmber 2017-3-16 14:20
Gayle: What is the reason that some hotels and motels would say "NOT FOR FOREIGNERS"?  I can understand if a place has military activities going on ...
5 star hotels in China are usually of about (at best) 4 star standard or less in Europe.

my research has found that the hotels in China that refuse foreigners are usually of 3 star (local) standard or lower.
It could be something to do with 'face' or the fact that allowing foreigners in requires a licence that they can not afford.

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