I did this on purpose, I had a plan:
One day in China
Why would I NOT take advantage of this under-utilized loophole in international travel: The Transit Visa
You see, at large international airports some airlines only have once a day flights to many destinations. If you happen to arrive after YOUR airline’s once a day flight leaves, you won’t have any choice, but to wait until the next day to get your connection. This is very common, and to accommodate travelers, most countries offer what they call a Transit visa.
There is typically no fee, no application, and your checked luggage remains under the care of the airline when you are issued this short term Visa. Though, every country is different so please make sure to double check local laws. The average Transit visa is between 24 and 48 hours. You get to explore as much as you want, outside of the airport, as long as you are back through security and at the gate in time.
Sure, there are risks. For starters, I did not want to bring my carry on bag outside of the airport because it had my laptop, a two cameras, 6 lens kit, and every rechargeable battery and battery pack that I had. This bag was heavy and expensive and that is NOT how I wanted to wander around Beijing.
I have a tiny daypack that I store in my carryon for such occasions. The plan was to stash my carry on into an airport locker, put my camera and a jacket into the daypack and go explore.
So why didn’t I go?
Well, being fairly new to solo international travel, I overlooked an important detail of my visa when entering the Philippines alone: you are only granted 30 days unless you are accompanied by a citizen, dual citizen, or former citizen that was naturalized by another nation AKA someone who was born in the Philippines.
It turns out that I had overstayed my visa by nearly 60 days.
The options were to pay a fine or be detained. While expensive when compared to a parking ticket, a nine thousand peso ($180) fine is not a bad alternative to sitting in a detention center in Taguig. I found an ATM, paid up, and was allowed to leave the country.
Sounds simple, but the entire ordeal actually took about two hours of standing in line, stalking to immigration employees, and fighting ATM’s for money. I got to my gate with only 5 minutes to spare before they closed the doors to my Beijing bound flight.
The stress of the whole ordeal, in addition to the extra expense at the end of an 84 day trip was enough for me to just want to relax for once. I took the 24 hours in Beijing to photograph the beautiful airport terminal and catch up on writing some blog posts like this one.