Hong Kong II: The Canadian Visa Disaster

Travel Dates: 7-9 April 2008. This entry is from my 2008 RTW trip.

So my plan was to fly from Hong Kong to Vancouver, and Vancouver to Seattle. I still needed a transit visa for Canada but I figured it would be easy to get since I had a US visa an confirmed flight tickets. Big Mistake. Canada clearly has a point to prove.

I spent 3 days running in and out of the Canadian High Commission in HK. On the first day, they sent me away on a technicality. My photo was a few mm too narrow. Really! But the next day (8th), they took my passport and returned it with a red visa rejection stamp! They also gave me a piece of paper saying that my visa was refused because I did “not have sufficient reasons to depart Canada at the end of my stay”. I wanted 4 hours in Canada. That too in Vancouver airport!

The Forum. I spent a lot of time brooding at this very spot

'The Forum' A nice open place to hang out right between all those skyscrapers.


I walked around downtown in a daze, feeling angry to say the least. But the feng shui of the area had a calming influence on me. in fact, some believe that Hong Kong’s naturally good feng shui has a lot to do with its prosperity, and most buildings are built with their backs to the mountain and facades towards the sea. Anyway, I decided to head out for a CS meet that was happening that night. It cheered me up considerably, and I decided to try again the next day.

From "feeling down" to "getting down"

A night out in SoHo, Hong Kong


I went to the embassy again on the 9th, feeling a lot like Tom Hanks’ character Victor “You have one green stamp and one red stamp so I think my chances are 50-50” Naborsky from The Terminal. This time I had printouts proving the existence of every single paisa to my name. Indian accounts, Indonesian accounts, life insurance policies, investments, photocopies of my travellers cheques and even photocopies of the cash that I was carrying! I also had copies of my degree, my work experience, etc. in an effort to prove that I wasn’t the type to live illegally in Vancouver airport for the rest of my life.

But once again, my efforts were rewarded with yet another red rejection stamp! I was defeated. I felt horrible. This wasn’t just a significant derailment of my travel plans and a substantial financial setback. It was also a blow to my ego. I mean, what kind of a tramp gets rejected for a bloody transit visa?!

Most of the downtown skyscrapers are linked by these covered 'All Weather' walkways so you never really need to step onto the road!

"All weather" walkways that skirt around the buildings


I really didn’t do much sight-seeing in these three days, but I did manage to look around me and make observations when I was hanging around in the CBD.

More pics from these days in these albums: Days10&12 and Day11

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2 Responses to Hong Kong II: The Canadian Visa Disaster

  1. Sanjay says:

    Bureaucrats typically like to err on the side of caution……make that extreme caution. Here is a though experiment for you

    1. Let's you are an unknown scientific genius like tesla was before he entered the US. By not letting you in Canada becomes an also ran in the science department. But some other country lets you in and you make it a prosperous country. Now the canadian bureaucrat who refused you the visa. He will be fine. No body will do an enquiry and no body will fire him. His job is safe

    2. Suppose Canada let's you in. And suppose you enter and do an act of terrorism or commit a felony. They will have an enquiry and fire the bureaucrat who let you in. His job is gone. And being a bureaucrat he is unemployable.

    The point is nobody can know for sure what you are. And they process millions of these a year. So they always prefer to err on the side of extreme caution. Everyone acts in their self interest. Bureaucrats are no exception. He needs to keep his job and perks and feed his family. So he is playing it safe by denying you a visa.

  2. Your experiment is no doubt awesome.

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