I’ve been meaning to finish this post while my memory is still fresh – considering that it has been three months since this happened. Good thing I found the time and inspiration to do so. So here it goes…
Going through the immigration is probably one of the most nerve-wracking parts of every trip I’ve experienced so far. I actually have no idea how it started. Maybe because of watching too much shows on NatGeo like To Catch A Smuggler and Locked Up Abroad. Those scenes where the airport guards or immigration officers will ask you to open your bags and scan all your things; when they will ask you to strip down to check for smuggled goods or just deport you because of lack of travel documents. I also read real stories from two of my favorite bloggers when they were accused as smugglers and were almost denied of entry to another country. I mean, everything is set and then all of a sudden the trip won’t push through just because of a trouble at the immigration, here or in another country.
My own share of immigration misfortunes:
On some of my trips, I was asked by the immigration officers at NAIA to show my company ID and return ticket. Melvin, on our last trip to Singapore was even asked to show our hotel booking. Different requirements asked by different immigration officers. Depende yata sa mood nila. Haha!
On my first visit to Malaysia (and was also the first time I experienced going through a foreign immigration), all Filipinos were called by the airport officer. She looked at all of us then called the OFWs – maybe to check special documents. I was so scared because they might take all of us to their office for interrogation. We sighed deeply after we were all cleared. After this experience, we went through the Malaysian Immigration swiftly.
I had my most terrifying experience on my second trip to Malaysia and Singapore (when we braved crossing two countries by land). While exiting Singapore’s immigration, Melvin and I and four other Filipino passengers who were part of our tour group were called by the immigration officer. He asked us to come with him to their office. I WAS SO SCARED. We already did the best (I think) and safest way to cross the borders which is by a tour group and then we were still asked to go to the immigration office. I was so horrified thinking that they will interrogate us and do other nasty things. When we entered the office, it was very quiet and tensed. I was preparing myself for some interview (like how Melvin and I practiced just in case we get asked), good thing they only checked our biometrics (fingerprint). It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.
I didn’t know what I felt after – was I numb? nervous? or relieved? I just exhaled and breathed deeply when we reached our bus.
Most of the time, I travel only with friends and even though I consider myself as an experienced traveler some people still feel more secured by having a parent/s by their side just in case some mishap happens. What keeps me composed is the thought that I have the contact numbers of people I know in those specific countries and of course, the Philippine Embassy. Being knowledgeable will help you go through these things hassle-free.
Travel “misfortunes” can happen to everyone, even to the well-traveled. What should keep you at peace is being knowledgeable and prepared. Read travel blogs and tips, they are just a click away.