It's not every day you come up against a hurricane.

Mine came in the form of Chinese police in the most unlikely of places - an optical trade fair in Shanghai. I was there with my friend, Michelle.

We stood out more than a little - two Western girls among thousands of Chinese optometrists dressed in black, and wearing some very unadventurous glasses.

The trade show's PR man was MIA and with no Mandarin in our arsenal and no interpreter, we'd missed the opening ceremony and who knows what else.

It was China, after all, so we started to get a little paranoid, wondering if we were being overlooked on purpose. After a few hours of admiring everything from Chuppa Chup reading glasses to 18 carat gold frames, we were thinking of leaving.

That is, until there was a bit of a stir near the Paris Hilton exhibit. People started milling around, security guards began multiplying faster than amoeba and barking orders at one another.

Police arrived, too, and another layer of security that could have been bodyguards. It was clear someone was about to arrive, but we had no idea who. It really could have been Mao's favourite teapot designer for all we knew.

The name "Paris Hilton" was bandied about.

"Who's Paris Hilton?" asked a Chinese woman.
"She made a home video," said the French man next to her.
Then there was all sorts of yelling and shoving and a policeman with the sternest of expressions parted the crowd down the middle like he was parting split ends. Paris Hilton had arrived.

I held up my camera. I had it ready. I pressed the shutter.

There was more yelling and fierce jostling as Hilton swept forward like a monarch, until she was so close to me she was literally within arm's reach. I could see she was clearly rattled by the crush, and who wouldn't be - any Westerner would have been caught off guard by such ferocity.

I was about to ask how she was coping with it all when the next thing I know I was shoved sideways a couple of metres and carried right off my feet. The only problem was my handbag stayed where it was and threatened to separate my left arm from my body entirely. At the same time a policeman to my right was yelling something at me and shoving me in a direction I didn't want to go. My only choices were to let go of my handbag (not an option) or to try and get it closer to my body. So I went foetal, Dragging both arms inwards and desperately trying to protect my head from the passing stampede.

Moments later, I was shaking so hard I thought I was going to faint so I staggered backwards against the nearest wall, allowing the tide of Chinese humanity to wash past me. But only for a few seconds. The same policeman was still yelling at me, demanding I move. I did. Quickly.

My friend managed to find me and took me somewhere quiet to catch my breath, where we could look at my photos. But there were none. Not a single picture came out. Hers on the other hand - taken an adequate distance from Hilton's overzealous "protectors"-were fuzzy, but clear enough to make out who and what was going on.

Hilton was now inside the exhibit, looking serene and gorgeous as she launched her new sunglasses range (or so it turned out, according to her Twitter account). We knew we had around 15 minutes before the maelstrom began again. I took a deep breath. Prepared myself. This time I was ready - I was shooting video. The crush was just as bad as the evidence shows, and it was over almost as quickly.

In my defence, I've been in many a media scrum (Prime Ministers, the Queen, Bill Clinton, rock stars etc) and I've even held my own as a journalist against foreign governments on foreign soil, but I have never encountered anything like this. At 5'2'', I admit I was no match for the 60 or Chinese police, security guards and bodyguards all jammed within a 3m x 5m space and each one as serious as a heart attack.

My brush with Hilton - Chinese-style - was a bit getting caught in a hurricane: you see it coming from far off so you try and prepare for it, but in the end it's like nothing you can imagine. It's intense, loud and frightening, but then it's over in seconds.

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