A Chinese tourist set off from his home country as a tourist, wanting to take a walking holiday in Italy, but losing his wallet messed up his vacation plans.
The 31-year-old backpacker arrived at the Stuggart airport in Germany on July 4 and claimed that he needed help. He was taken to a reception center in Heidelberg, a nearby town, where instead of filling out a form for stolen items, he submitted an asylum request form.
The tourist, who neither spoke German nor English, soon wound up at a refugee camp, as authorities took his passport and handed him refugee documents instead. He was taken nearly 200 miles to Düsseldorf, and then a further 50 miles north to Dülmen.
After undergoing a medical checkup, having his fingerprints recorded and receiving some pocket money, he was put into a camp with other refugees. But Christoph Schlütermann, a Germany Red Cross worker, noticed this man was quite out of place.
"He 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."
Using a phone translation app to communicate with the man, he realized that the tourist really wanted “to go walking in Italy.” Red tape and Germany’s bureaucracy trapped this man trapped in refugee camps for 12 days. If it weren’t for the Red Cross worker, he might have ended up staying there indefinitely.
Although he did not lodge a complaint against the authorities, the Chinese tourist said, “It isn’t how I imagined Europe.” Luckily, he got to make his way to France and Italy once he left the camps.