I've made up Asian holidays before in order to squirm my way out of customer commitments. This time a real Asian holiday screwed up my travel plans, and I am an experienced enough traveler to be a little embarrassed about it.
In order to get into Mainland China, American travelers need a visa. These are usually applied for before leaving the states and take 2-3 days to get turned around. However, for those who are forced to make last minute travel arrangements (which I had to because the CEO kept changing the schedule), there is an expedited, same-day visa application that you can do at the Hong Kong airport.
Since I was forced to leave the U.S. without a visa in hand, my plans were to:
- Get to the Hong Kong airport from Taipei at 8:30 in the morning.
- Drop off my visa application by 9am in the morning
- Get my visa back by 3pm that same day, and head into the city for some shopping while I waited.
- Take a flight to Shanghai that evening (they have an hourly shuttle and I could have just hopped on the one that is most convenient at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, etc.)
I thought this was a pretty good plan, and one that many business travelers have done before. But I didn't know that today is the Chinese Mid Autumn Moon Festival, so there is no one around to process my visa application (ironically, the holiday I made up in the above link was the Buddha Harvest Moon Festival, which I made up based on holidays I really knew about over here).
At any rate it means that I am stuck in HK for 24 hours. And if one has to be stuck in any city in Asia, this is definitely the one to be in.