Authors: Xin Xu & Wies Westerhout
24th May was our last day in the city Wuhan, no official plan were arranged on this day so that participants would have free time to go sightseeing. I (Xin Xu) choose to visit a friend, while Dr. Yu went to his parents-in-law for his birthday. The Dutch students went to Guiyuan Temple and Yellow Crane Tower. I did not know what interesting things they had in the day, but I went through the most exciting story during the entire studytrip which happened in that evening.
As planned, we arrived the railway station for the train back to Beijing. We ate dinner inside the station and everything went fine until we stood in line for boarding the train. dr. Yu was happily chatting with others so that I became the only person who noticed the thrilling news from station broadcast: our train was delayed for at least 2.5 hours due to flood! I immediately told Dr. Yu, but he couldn’t believe at first. I pointed at the Chinese text on the screen saying delayed, then he believed and said, “Now we have a big problem!” Only under the condition that our train arrived on time in Beijing, we could take the flight, therefore 2.5-hour-late delay would result in 16 people missing the flight (and also a big hole on Mollier’s treasure)! Other 5 people would take another train (fortunately punctual) because tickets were sold out when the commission booked them, I was one of these 5 so I led these 5 people to the punctual train and left 16 people waiting in stress.
When I boarded the train, Babette answered a call: miracle, they boarded our train! The story was like following. Had known the delay, dr. Yu immediately collected everyone’s passport and rushed to the clerk at the boarding gate. That lady understood the situation and offered a solution that we refunded all tickets and bought standing tickets of the punctual train, so dr. Yu sprinted out of the station and reached ticket office. However, unlike Chinese can just buy tickets by scanning electronic ID cards, foreign passports must be manually inputted one by one! But luckily staff at the ticket office called several more helpers to do this job. When doctor ran into the station, the security let him in exempting any check. Thanks to all these kind people, all of us got on the train.
On the very early morning of 25th May, we arrived in Beijing at Beijing West Railway Station. Even though all of us were still absorbed in the excitement that we succeeded in catching the train to Beijing, we had no time for rest but proceed to Beijing Capital International Airport by subway for the flight back to The Netherlands. Fortunately, we weren’t trapped in heavy traffic and arrived at the airport earlier than estimated with nobody left behind. In our last day in China, the weather was also very pleasant.
Shortly after arrival at the airport, we stood in long queue to check in the flight. I was relaxed because I thought my role as the guide of study trip could officially end after checking in. dr. Yu and I were in the front so we completed soon and then waited outside. Gradually other people came and joined us but my dear friend, Mr. Jonathan Ezechiels wasn’t there. so dr. Yu went to him to see what happened. But doctor’s absence was so long that I realized that they were in trouble. So I went there and got told by doctor that there was problem with Jonathan’s travel document. I remembered that Jonathan couldn’t find his Dutch residence permit card on the morning we left for China, so he specially went to Dutch military police station (Koninklijke Marechaussee) at Schiphol Airport and received a piece of paper from the officer who said with this paper Jonathan could make the trip. Jonathan did pass the border control successfully when we transferred via Frankfurt, also when we entered China, but Lufthansa refused his boarding on his way back to The Netherlands. The rest of the group could not wait longer, so dr. Yu let me lead the group to airplane and he stayed at the check-in desk to solve the problem.
Rest of the group passed the Chinese border and security check, and then dr. Yu caught us up but Jonathan did not, then we were told that Jonathan cannot go with us but go to Dutch embassy for documents, which meant he had to stay in China for a couple of days. We were further informed that Lufthansa insisted that they only accepted uniform EU visa or residence card, later an immigration officer came and confirmed that Jonathan’s paper was not acceptable. Everyone was astonished by this news including me. Commission members soon started reaction: rear personnel at Mollier would stay in touch with Jonathan; someone would call Lufthansa to see whether there was possibility to change or cancel Jonathan’s seat on the airplane; I called Kitty, my girlfriend, to let her order a hostel bed for Jonathan so that he could stay in Beijing safely. However, we could almost do nothing effective but wait for update from Dutch embassy in Beijing. #WhereIsJonathan?
After an 8-hour-long fly we arrived in Frankfurt, I called Kitty again and got told that Jonathan had completed things at the embassy and he needed to wait at least one week for new travel document. Besides, unfortunately, Lufthansa refused to change Jonathan’s seat. Depressed by this bad news, rest people finished the flight to Amsterdam and dismissed at the airport.
The last of studytrip 2015 was very very long, not only because we flew to west, which made the day longer actually, but also one of us fell behind, alone in a city that he is not familiar with. To compensate the costs Mollier started a fundraising for Jonathan. If you want to support him getting back home soon, you can donate with the following link: