Other than suddenly remembering that large stash of class-A drugs you've tucked away at the bottom of your suitcase, being called aside by the bird flu inspectors upon arrival at Hong Kong airport has to be one of travel's most-dreaded passport control experiences.
It happened to me a couple of days ago. A doctor has since explained that either an insect bite or a tiny scratch on my face got infected and somehow, rather than simply making a small, pus-filled sore on the surface, infected my sinuses and glands. The result: on the 11-and-a-half hour flight from Auckland my face swelled up and I started to look like the Elephant Man.
The very nice mask-wearing lady at Hong Kong Immigration took me aside, checked my temperature, declared I had a fever and popped a mask over my face. She sent me to see a nurse. I thought I was about to be put on a plane back to Auckland.
"Auckland" was the key. Having landed from a place not associated with bird flu, I was deemed all right.
The next day, that nice doctor filled me with antibiotics, which stopped the infection.
Three lessons: when in trouble at a border, always cite your Kiwiness, it seems we are mostly harmless. Keep smiling, even beneath a bird flu mask; and keep your travel insurance number on you.