A Chronicle of An Elderly Traveler- A True Story, Part I


This is a story that describes an elderly person’s international travel experiences (and more). It is going to be a post like nothing I have written before, really quite an undertaking to recall the details of an unbelievable story of my BIL (brother-in-law) who at 83 years old is probably now dreaming of his next travel experience.

He was to be our summer house guest for a 3 week vacation in Hawaii, but instead stayed for 9 and a half weeks, or over two months! I became his appointed caretaker 24/7 in what was to become a totally unplanned adventure, as well as an ordeal in getting him back to Shanghai, China. BIL is a U.S. citizen who had chosen China to be his home for the past 16 years. He was last here in Hawaii in 2001 when he came home for his mother’s funeral. At that time he was living and working in Sacramento, California. He then went to China with new Chinese friends he had met in Sacramento in 2003 and subsequently married a Shanghai Chinese citizen.

On May 20, 2018, his wife passed away from cancer. She was a brave cancer survivor and cooked their meals up to the week before she died, as BIL related to me. Her lawyer, her husband (BIL), and her 3 brothers were at her side along with two witnesses when her Will was drawn up by her lawyer. Her death bed Will stipulated that upon the sale of their Condo, her brothers would receive her share or 50 percent of the sale proceeds. Within a few months after his wife’s death BIL’s Condo was put on the market by his wife’s lawyer who is also a realtor. She happened to have BIL’s Passport in her possession while doing legal work for the buyers of BIL’s Condo. Meanwhile BIL had been looking for his Passport for an October 2018 ocean cruise with a younger brother to Japan, Korea, and back to China. His lawyer found BIL’s Passport and returned it to him, but by then BIL, had reported it lost and had to get a Temporary Passport to go on his Asian trip. Before leaving for his cruise he went to the American Consulate in Shanghai to say that he found his old Passport that he had reported lost. He fully expected that he could still use his old Passport, but used the new Emergency Passport that was issued to him to go to Japan to meet his younger brother.

On May 20, 2019 coincidentally exactly a year of his wife’s death, the sale of BIL’s Condo was finalized and his 3 brother’s-in-law collected their half of the total $900,000 sale proceeds of the 2 bedroom condo that BIL and his wife had lived in Shanghai. His niece, the daughter of his middle brother-in-law placed BIL’s half (minus legal fees and real estate commission), into two bank accounts of which the larger account named her as co-trustee, to manage BIL’s funds. Her father helped Bill with his travel arrangements to Hawaii.

After staying 3 days in a hotel, on May 23, 2019, BIL’s oldest brother-in-law picked him up and drove him to China Eastern Airlines at the Pudong Airport in Shanghai for his long trip to Hawaii. At the time of his departure no one, including BIL, knew where he would be living when he was scheduled to return 3 weeks later to Shanghai on June 13, 2019. Even his lawyer friend and 3 brothers-in-law did not have any specific place in mind upon his return to China. BIL said the lawyer told him that she knew of available apartments nearby where she lived; his middle brother-in-law said there were apartments in his area. Would he stay in a hotel again when he returned to Shanghai? Or would he live with one of them temporarily while they went apartment hunting for him?

But BIL had an apartment to live in… well, that was before it was sold and he moved out on May 20th when the final payment for his condo was made. It was sold with all of his furnishings.

May 23, 2019 three days later BIL arrived at the Honolulu International Airport. It seemed like hundreds of arrivals passed through customs and immigration from incoming flights, but where was he? I looked for him from the waiting area for nearly two hours while my husband sat in the car outside of the arrivals area. BIL in the meantime was detained and questioned by Homeland Security and a ‘seizing officer’ confiscated his Passport, telling him that he had an invalid Passport and he needed to get a new one with a China travel Visa to return to back to China.


IF you report your Passport as lost, you can kiss it goodbye; it cannot be restored or reactivated; it becomes INVALID and the Feds will take it away because it is U.S. government property. It says this very clearly about all lost and stolen Passports on p. 5 of every U.S. Passport and that ‘It should be carefully safeguarded’.

There are online services that could possibly help retrieve a lost passport, but it is a lengthy process to go through and costly, and I question how reliable or successful they are. Somehow when BIL showed up with his ‘found’ passport at the American Citizen Services Unit of the Shanghai U.S. Consulate before his Asian trip last October 2018, he thought that his old passport would be good to go. Then when BIL left for Japan and Korea, he presented two passports, the temporary one and his old passport. He didn’t quite understand when told that for any later travel, ‘the U.S. government would be concerned with the original passport in your possession’. It was not confiscated then by the Chinese officials, but seized when he arrived in Hawaii.

In BIL’s case the loss of his old/original Passport was and still is a major issue even at this writing, and a terrible nightmare for a number of reasons. BIL’s Visa was stamped on his old Passport that he renewed every 3 years during the 16 years he lived in Shanghai as a foreigner. The lost Passport held BIL’s 3 year renewable China travel Visa.

BIL never registered for a permit to be a permanent foreign resident which would have provided him with a long term Visa. He assumed that since he was married to a Chinese citizen he could live in Shanghai indefinitely with his 3 year renewal Visa. The Chinese government is more amenable to giving permanent residence status to a homeowner which BIL then was, but no longer is. In fact, they like it a lot better when you are able to contribute to their economy and are entrepreneurs and business developers. If such, then a number of Visa possibilities become readily available.

Since 2014-2015 there have been changes in the way China issues Visas, which are now mainly 10 and 5 year multiple entry visas for 60 or 90 day entries. This applies to non-residents and foreigners, and non-green card holders. These are the Visas carried by students, workers and business people, and all visitors to China.


The first thing we had to do was to cancel his return flight home on June 13, 2019.

On June 4th, BIL sent an email to the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai describing what happened to him when he got to Honolulu; his concerns are as excerpted:

. . .’I am concerned about how I will be able to return to Shanghai for my return trip that I booked for June 13, 2019, which is less than two weeks from now. I think your office did not follow up to reinstate the status of my original passport. I would greatly appreciate if you could expedite and resolve the predicament that I am in so that I can return back to Shanghai. I look forward to a reply as soon as possible. Thank you very much…’

The reply came right away:

. . .’If you are traveling on your lost Passport #. . ., that is the reason you were questioned by Homeland Security. Shanghai ACS (American Citizen Services) office is not able to reinstate the status of your lost passport. Please follow up with Passport office in Hawaii for more passport service information. Thank you.’

(To be continued)

About Shofar/Liz

I have a Christian blogsite-'God's Enduring Love' at https://heulu.wordpress.com with 'Words of Encouragement from the Bible and Liz's Journal'. Also, an art blogsite-'Art with Aloha' at http://artwithaloha.wordpress.com 'A Journal About Art and Life. I use acrylic and oil paints, graphite pencils and pen and ink.

Posted on August 15, 2019, in About Me And My Family, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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