New Zealand does not exist for Kazakhstan
Monitoring Desk: A New Zealander traveller was detained in Kazakhstan after immigration officials refused to acknowledge her passport, telling her New Zealand was a state of Australia, reports nzherald.co.nz.
According to report, Chloe Phillips-Harris, 28, had travelled many times to central Asia, and arrived at Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan in May to work on farms and explore the rugged terrain.
Phillips-Harris told the Herald she prepared for the trip by consulting with the New Zealand embassy, who assured her she’d be able to enter the country on her Kiwi passport.
“I landed in Kazakhstan on the last flight of the night, and I got to an immigration booth and they asked me for an Australian passport, and told me I couldn’t come in without an Australian passport.
“They said New Zealand’s clearly a part of Australia.”
Barred from entering the country, Phillips-Harris was told she’d have to board a flight to China.
“They chucked me on a plane but luckily I knew someone who could help, in those countries it’s all about who you know, and so I got off the plane but by that stage I’d raised lots of alarm bells and way too many people got involved,” she said.
Phillips-Harris was taken to a tiny interrogation room where there was a large map of the world stuck up on the wall, one that did not include New Zealand, meaning she couldn’t point out where she was from.
“Plain-clothes policemen got involved, immigration police got involved, airport officials got involved … and at that stage it was a bit late to bribe my way out, which apparently is what I was supposed to do from the beginning, but being a New Zealander we’re not familiar with that.”
After being interrogated for hours she was locked in a guard room for a day and a half.
Phillips-Harris said she has “travelled a bit off the beaten path before”, but has never experienced anything like her misadventure in Kazakhstan.
A new visa, an American passport and a quick exchange of cash meant she was able to escape her temporary accommodation.
“The people I knew in Kazakhstan got me a new type of visa and paid the right people and got me out, that’s probably the easiest explanation.
“I think there was no better feeling than walking out of the airport, and I think you do worry because you hear disaster stories about people just disappearing and that part of the world is pretty notorious for its corruption.”
She ended up staying in Kazakhstan for six months before returning home to the Bay of Islands three weeks ago.