This blog is about my detention at Macau International Airport for one hour. Macau and Hong Kong was not the part of my itinerary earlier, but just two days prior to departure I added them in my trip, because they offer visa-free arrival to an Indian Citizen. That was my first international trip and I was completely unaware about the proceedings at the Immigration Counters of an International Airport. After little difficulty over Visa confusion, I crossed Bangkok Immigration easily and when they stamped my passport, nobody was there to stop me. Similarly, I had even crossed Macau Immigration easily and walked towards arrival gate of the airport in excitement of being there in Macau. Suddenly a Police cop stopped me in the terminal building and took me a cornered room, and when they started pouring questions, I just thought why the hell I was in Macau? I just wanted to run away from there anyhow, but I was unable to did so. They were very aggressive.I have travelled many places in my country, but there are no barriers like visa, passport, language etc. In India, I am free to go anywhere,I can ask for the help of any person without hesitation and I am aware of the rules of the land here.But, on a foreign land like Macau, I was not aware of any rules, I did not know anybody, I even did not understand their Cantonese language.I was feared, helpless and alone.
My flight landed at Macau International Airport at 2 PM. It was the end of the winter and starting of the summer in the Indian Subcontinent as well as in Thailand. So I did not expected any cold weather during my trip to Macau and Hong Kong. But my arrival at Macau from Bangkok was welcomed by very strong chilled wind with drizzle. Suddenly everybody around me was covered with pullovers and warm clothes. The weather was a big surprise for me. Luckily, there was a pull over in my bag as it was the end of the winter season in India. So I was able to keep me warm up to some extent.
I passed Macau Immigration without any trouble and got 30 days visa free entry in Macau. Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China But entry requirements, visa rules are different from mainland China. Most of the countries including Indian citizen has a 30-day visa free entry in Macau.
After Immigration, while I was walking towards the exit gate of the Airport, A police cop stopped me and asked if there were some other people with me. I informed him that I was travelling solo there. He asked me to follow him and another policeman joined us. They took me a room in a corner of the airport and offered me a chair, and then their questions started. He asked me that why I was travelling alone.I replied that I was on a vacation and my friends did not get leaves to join me,so I was travelling solo. Then he asked me to open my backpack and to keep all the luggage there on the table.I did the same.He saw my tripod holder and asked me to open it. I showed him the tripod and then he asked if that was a gun. He asked if I want to assault someone by opening the fire. I told him that it was a camera stand. He asked me to open the base of the tripod, but how the hell I could open that, so I told him that I could not open that.
Then He asked me to show all the money I had. I showed him 300 USD, 3500 INR and a Visa Debit Card. He told that such a small money was not enough to be there for 5 days as my return ticket to Bangkok was after 5 days.I told that I have the debit card, so I could withdraw enough amount to stay there. He talked with someone on the walkie-talkie in his language. I only understood the word Visa. Then he examined everything, searched inside my clothes, asked me to start my Laptop, checked my backpack thoroughly. There is a hidden pocket in my backpack, where I had 100 USD more and a set of all the travel documents, hotel reservations, tickets etc. When he saw that pocket he said to his partner that he got some secret thing and asked me to show all the papers. He did not see the 100 USD. I showed him the papers and those were irrelevant to him. He asked me if I had any illegal thing with me, but there was nothing.
That was my first encounter with an Airport Police Cop, so I was very nervous and a bit afraid. He pulled my purse from the pocket and kept all things on the table. I had at least 20-30 passport size pictures of myself and at least 5-6 photos of my wife. He asked that why I was travelling with so many photos and enquired about my wife photo. I told him that those were my wife’s photos. I did not know about his intention. Whatever was there in his mind, but I thought that he might be a con, who wanted to snatch my money. His partner did not ask any question. He was just standing in that room. Although I was having 3 more credit cards and 2 more debit cards,but I did not say anything about that. He asked me about my profession. I replied ” I am an Air Traffic Controller back in India”. He reacted “Traffic..You mean Human Trafficking”. He said,”you know I am a Police. Do you know Police?” I became very nervous by then and wanted to get rid of him as soon as possible, but there was no way.
Then he spoke with someone else on the walkie-talkie again and took me in front of an X-Ray scanner. He took the X-Ray of my whole body. Thank God, he did not asked me to remove the clothes as I heard they do in The USA. He went outside the room and I was still standing straight on a platform between the two plates of X-Ray scanner. He came after five minutes and said that there was nothing suspicious about me and showed me the X-Ray copy of my whole body and said, “it is nice, isn’t it?” I said, “yes, it is nice. May I Have a copy?” He laughed and said No. And that was the first time when I saw him smiling.He shook my hand warmly and said ” Welcome to Macau, Sir. Enjoy your stay here.”
Oh my god! what a big relief it was after the questioning of one hour. I said thanks to both the policemen many times and packed my bag quickly. I just wanted to get away from there as soon as possible. I came outside the airport and withdrew 1000 HKD from the ATM Machine there.
My earlier plan was to stay in Macau till the late evening and thereafter to catch a Speed Boat to Hong Kong. But the incident at the airport had frightened me and I did not want to stay in Macau any more. I enquired about a public bus to the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal of Macau, so that I could catch a ferry to Hong Kong. A gentleman told me the bus number and I boarded that bus. When I entered in the bus, I asked the driver about the ticket. He said me to either touch the smart card on a display near him or to insert 4.5 Macau Pataca in the gap provided for coin insertion. But I did not bring Macau Pataca. I only had USD, HKD and INR. I took a seat and asked a fellow traveller about the alternative way to get the ticket. He then informed me that in Macau, there is a smart card,which you can use in Public Transport for fare. The another way is to bring Macau Pataca. The important thing is that you should keep the exact amount because change is not returned by the drivers. But I did not have any of those options. So that guy suggested me to leave the bus at the next stop and catch a taxi to the ferry terminal. He too left the bus at that bus stop and arranged a taxi for me. The good thing in Macau is that You can use HKD as a currency at many places, so metered taxi dropped me at ferry terminal in 45 HKD and it took 20 minutes to reach there. This ended my two hours fear in the land of the casinos, which is famous as the Los Vegas of the East.
For Your Information, Entry Requirements in Macau:
Macau has a separate immigration regime from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. All travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries have to go through immigration and customs checks on arrival in Macau. Therefore, if you want to re-enter the Mainland from Macau, you’ll have to apply for another Chinese visa unless your earlier one is a multiple entry visa.
Holders of a Hong Kong permanent identity card or a re-entry permit can enter Macau visa-free for up to 1 year without having to present their passport. Holders of a Hong Kong non-permanent identity card can enter Macau visa-free for up to 30 days and must present their passport.
Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Macau visa-free:
For up to 180 days: United Kingdom
For up to 90 days: All European Union member states, plus Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Croatia, Dominica, Egypt, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and Tanzania
For up to 30 days: Australia, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Monaco, Namibia, New Zealand, Philippines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay
In addition, all foreign visitors who intend to enter Macau for less than 48 hours for the purpose of travelling onwards to another destination via Macau International Airport are exempt from obtaining a visa.
If you require a visa, it can either be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate or on arrival in Macau (Macau visas are separate from visas valid for travel to Mainland China). A visa on arrival costs MOP100 (individual), MOP50 (children under 12; per person for groups of 10 or more travellers with a collective travel document) or MOP200 (family passport). A visa issued on arrival is valid for multiple entries within 30 days of the issuing date. However, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Nigerian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese citizens cannot use the visa on arrival facility and must apply for a Macau visa at a Chinese embassy in advance or at the Commissioner’s Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong if they live there.
Minimum validity of travel documents
For foreign nationals, the maximum limit of stay in Macau is restricted to 30 days before the expiry date of the passport or travel document and the entry or re-entry permit.
For example, if a New Zealand citizen presents a passport which has a validity of 40 days when she enters Macau, she will only be allowed to stay for up to 10 days, even though in general New Zealanders can stay for up to 30 days in Macau visa-free.