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Travel Beggars in Hong Kong
I suppose when my son thinks back to our travels in Southeast Asia, probably the scariest moment he'll recall is...

...the time that, according to his perception, he was in mortal danger. Of course, he was fine after all, but from his point of view, the experience was, well, at least mildly terrifying.

My son was stopped by a person at the top of a stairway in Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong. Without a word to him, the lady just blocked his path and stopped him.

Our group of six was scattered out a tiny bit at that instant. Traveling as a big family in an airport often means walking in a single-file or double-file line, or an amorphous grouping, so that we can weave around slow-moving rolling suitcase packers and groups of soccer teams and families with strollers. So, neither my wife nor I immediately realized this stop had even happened; it was all very fast.

The lady just stepped up to him and blocked his path, and pointed a handheld device at him, holding it very still, about a centimeter away from his forehead. He froze.

After a moment, the device chirped, and she stepped to the side and waived him on. It was at about this time that I was arriving next to him to see what was happening. He joined me and I asked him, "What did she say to you?"  He made no reply.  We continued walking, trying to get to the immigration area before the other hundreds of people all heading that way.

As we walked, my wife and I began discussing what in the world that could have been about. We drew some conclusions about her likely purpose, and we just thought it was peculiar that anyone would do that to a young child without notifying the parents or better yet, asking for their permission and consent. We also wondered why they might have selected him while ignoring about 100 other travelers near us.

My son walked along in silence beside us for a few moments, and then as we were queuing up in the immigration line, he told us,


"I thought that lady was going to shoot me in the head."

Airport Thermometer
It is kind of gun-like, I suppose

So, lesson learned:  it might not be a bad idea to let your kids know, before arrival at the airport in a new destination, that it's always possible some authority figure there will take their temperature, with our without consent or discussion, with a handheld thermometer that looks a little bit like a gun.

When we left that country and got back to Thailand a few days later, we saw health warnings posted that travelers to certain parts of China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates may have been exposed to a dangerous form of influenza.

We again commented among ourselves that a warning before the forehead scanning would have been very much appreciated, and that it would seem that if anyone should be doing some scanning of foreheads, it's the airports receiving people from the affected countries, rather than the countries receiving uninfected persons to regions where the virus is already active.


H7N9 Virus Warning for 
Travelers Arriving at Thailand Airport

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