My article might seem outdated, given the current removal of compulsory hotel quarantine for persons arriving in Hong Kong, but given that rules keep changing everyday here, I thought let me share our collective experience as a family when we decided to bring back my 75-year-old mother-in-law from India to Hong Kong.
Given the amount of preflight paperwork involved, I was quite adamant that either my husband or I accompany her on her maiden visit to HK. She’s actually a veteran at travelling, having endured multiple trips every year so that she could spend maximum time with us and our kids, and take care of other obligations and commitments back home at the same time. But the two years of enforced isolation and lack of travel would be enough to make the strongest of persons nervous, so she immediately complied.
So the efficient streamlined system in HK makes it quite simple for most residents to apply for a visit visa. Once the form is filled and submitted at the immigration department, they send an email with a payment link that’s valid for 6 months. Once the payment is done, the visa can be valid for 6 months from the date of payment. So we decided to make the payment just the day before we were to fly out, so that we can maximize the number of days she can remain in HK.
It is also prudent to invest in travel insurance before commencing the journey. Since the most efficient and cost-effective route from Chennai to HK was via Thailand, we travelled by Thai airways and had a less than 2-hour layover at Bangkok. This time was just perfect as it gave us enough time to freshen up and go through the security check before boarding the flight. One tip that I’d like to give here is to take the effort to arrange for a wheelchair, especially for elderly parents. Not only can they avoid walking about in huge sprawling airports, but immigration, security clearance and boarding a flight becomes super smooth and easy as you would be having an attendant who is very familiar with the ins and outs of that particular airport.
Since my mom in law was in a wheelchair, we, as a family managed to escape the long queues on arrival at Hong Kong International Airport and could just walk through the mandatory RAT and RTPCR tests. After completing all formalities, we were in the shuttle bus that took us to our quarantine hotel within an hour after landing. While a lot of residents like to take a cab to their quarantine hotel, I personally thought the free shuttle buses were quite clean, spacious, not crowded and managed to hold our entire dozen pieces of luggage in its hold!
Hopefully this is a relic of the past and now we would be able to bring our parents' home to Hong Kong without going through the hassles of finding a lab that provides RTPCR test results as per specifications and run the entire gamut of booking hotel rooms for quarantine, and then booking flights and praying that they align! We love Hong Kong for so many reasons, but as we have seen in the recent past consistency and logic in its regulations are not its forte!!