Cousin Winnie's Unforgettable Visit To Tokyo (2009-01-12)

Every time cousin Winnie visits Tokyo, I feel like I VISIT TOKYO.  Since she and her sons Phillip and Porsche didn't join any tour this time, I became their tour guide the entire time they were here albeit an ineffective one!

It was relatively smooth sailing for the three days we were together although I did lead them through a goose chase when we went to Yokohama, a place I hadn't been for nearly10 years.  But then on the last day when Winnie and Porsche were to leave for Osaka to continue their trip, and Phillip for Hong Kong on 8th, there's MAJOR DRAMA.  BOTH their sons lost their passports!!!  Of course there's a safe in the room which they neglected to use!!!  Just because Japan is a safe country doesn't mean there're no criminals, boys.   3 」3

Winnie went on a panic mode right away, freaked out on the phone with me and I freaked out myself!  The problem is Phillip was to start school on the12th in Los Angeles and Porsche later in Melbourne, which also means both have to redo their student visas once they get back to HK!  But it only took her a few minutes to collect herself and started fixing this mess.

Can you imagine the insane number of phone calls Winnie had to make?  There's police reports to be filed, embassy calls, flights cancellation, hotel in Osaka cancellation, even a helpline number in HK, etc etc.  I tried to stay calm on the phone and gave her all the info and advice I got from KL (yes, KL has a much clearer head dealing with emergency situations than I ever can) and rushed to their hotel.

The police were really helpful in this case, they even drove them and a hotel employee to the police station in two trips.  Afterwards, Winnie and Porsche who holds a Chinee passport went to the Chinese embassy accompanied by the hotel staff, and Phillip who has a special British HK passport (BNO) and I went to the British embassy to do our work.

A number KL got for Winnie to call in HK proves to be a life saver.  The staff who dealt with Winnie was incredibly efficient and faxed all relevant info about Porsche to the Chinese embassy immediately.  Before Winnie arrived, they had already got the process going, and in just two hours, Porsche got a brand new passport!  For this, even I'll have to take my hat off to the Chinese.  However, Phillip's BNO passport received no such privileged treatment.

When we met with the consular at 1:45pm, we were given an application form and told to bring it back filled together with photos the next morning since they were closed in half an hour. (nice working hours for those consulars!)

Back to the hotel in the evening, a totally frazzled Winnie had more work to organize including arranging for Phillip's room and everything.  The next morning they went to the embassy again, and with Winnie's superb begging ability and free-flowing tears, they were able to get a nice and helpful staff there to make it her top priority to process Phillip's passport.  Winnie then made her son to go back to the embassy in the afternoon and waited right in front of that staff (to give her pressure).  Sure enough, he got his passport at 2pm!

I'm sooooooo relieved the saga's over surprisingly quickly.  Winnie is the star in this mess, her quick thinking and organizing skill efficiently got the problem solved. It was her and her alone who was able to put Phillip on a plane back to Hong Kong with just one day's delay.  Anyway, this will be a trip none of us will ever forget!

Update: It's later found out the passports weren't stolen, they were buried in the rental phone packs which means they were in the two brothers' possession the whole time!! All that running around getting temporary passports, missed flights and extended stays and hysteria were FOR NOTHING!!! MAAANNNNN...

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