Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Terrifying Trip of a Chinese Tourist

Odyssey of an accidental refugee


Odyssey of an accidental refugee It´s one of these stories, you know, that are funny to read but not so funny to live. The German news magazine "Der Spiegel" reported this story today. It reminded me a little bit on Franz Kafka's "The Trial", hence the picture.

It is about a Chinese tourist in Germany that gets trapped in the mills of bureaucracy. 

He just wanted to report a stolen wallet


A Chinese tourist spent two weeks in a refugee home because he accidently filled out an asylum application. He just wanted to report his wallet stolen. 


Travelling can be a real adventure. Danger and misunderstandings are waiting everywhere. Not entering a bar in the wrong part of town, not getting lost in the mountains, keeping oversight in the jungle. 

A Chinese tourist came to know an especially treacherous jungle - in the city of Dülmen. Germany. 

Nobody spoke Chinese when the tourist entered the office of an authority to report his wallet stolen. Someone accidently handed him an asylum application instead of the form to report a theft. He filled it out and started a machinery that was hard to escape. 

The 31-year-old Chinese man was put into a bus full of unregistered refugees and transported to a refugee home in Dülmen. "He was different from the others. He seemed so helpless and lost", said Schlüterman, an employee of the refugee home and the assigned caregiver.

"I want to walk in foreign country"

The man tried to communicate with the caregivers of the facility. And because he was so different from the other refugees, the caregivers sought the help of a translation program. It translated sentences like "I want to walk in foreign country.". 

It took a long time until they finally understood: This tourist from North China was not looking for asylum. He wanted to travel to France and Italy. Instead, he got trapped in the German jungle of bureaucracy. 

Help came in from of a cook from a nearby Chinese restaurant. He was able to translate what the tourist who only spoke Mandarin had to tell about his odyssey. 

Obviously, his wallet has been stolen. Instead of the police station, he landed at the office of an authority (not yet known) that presented him with an asylum application. 

They took his passport and visa away from him and took his fingerprints. Once he was in the system he has been treated like every other refugee. After the initial medical examination, he received his "Welcome to Germany" documents and was transported to Dülmen. 

"He did not show any resistance. He just did what he was told", said Schlütermann, the assigned caregiver of the refugee facility. 

It took 12 days to halfway investigate what has happened. Employees of the refugee home called embassies for days. Nobody knew anything about the Chinese tourist. It did not help that his visa had obviously been filed wrong and was nowhere to be found. 

By that time he already had to spend two weeks in the refugee home. Not exactly the Ritz Hilton and probably scary when you have no idea why and how long you will be kept there. 

Finally, he received the replacement for his lost documents and could continue his .... vacation. 


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