We've all had holiday 'disasters'. Ever had your luggage lost? Oh how annoying. Hotel not quite as advertised on the website? Frustrating. Big tourist attraction closed for refurbishment? Very disappointing.
But thank your lucky stars you've never gone through the ordeal this guy suffered.
A Chinese tourist, a 31-year-old known only as Mr L, was visiting Heidelberg, in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region in South West Germany, when he was robbed and had his wallet stolen. So far, so bad, but when he went to report the crime, he went to the town hall in the mistaken belief that it was the police station. Upon arriving, and speaking no German, he was given what he thought was an incident report card to fill in - it turned out to be an asylum application.
He was promptly taken 220 miles away to a refugee shelter in Dülmen, fingerprinted, given a medical exam, food and spending money, and then stayed at the centre for 12 days until officials realised what had happened.
Christoph Schlütermann, an official with the German Red Cross, explained “He simply did what he was told. But he [also] acted so differently to other refugees, he kept trying to talk to people to tell his story but no one could understand him. He kept asking to get his passport back, which is the opposite of what most refugees do.”
After arousing curiosity for being very well-dressed, officials investigated his situation with the help of a translation app, followed by more detailed translation from someone who worked at a nearby Chinese restaurant. It was discovered that he was a tourist who simply wanted to travel on to France and Italy for the rest of his holiday. When he was 'released' he was seemingly not upset about his experience, but simply wanted to leave.
Schlütermann said. “He spent 12 days trapped in our bureaucratic jungle because we couldn’t communicate. Germany is unfortunately an extremely bureaucratic country. Especially during the refugee crisis I’ve seen how much red tape we have... It was an extraordinary moment for us all. He said Europe was not what he had expected. What would you expect if you had come to Europe as a tourist and spent 12 days sleeping on a camping bed in a refugee centre?”
[via The Guardian]