Trading my Passport for a Can of Soda

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hanoi Rendezvous Hostel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 1 - Trading passport for Soda
Flight ended up being delayed because it seems that some people werent allowed to fly for some reason and their bags had to be removed from the plane. In order to do this the bags were unloaded and we all had to go out on the tarmac to identify our bags. Am guessing that all bags not identified didnt end up making it back onto the plane. All in all this took about 3hrs and so the flight was 3 hrs late into Hanoi.

Once in Hanoi went to the ATM, as always, to get some cash which went into my passport wallet. Didnt really need to break any big money (unlike normal) but have gotten into the habit so went and bought a soda can before heading off to get a shuttle bus into the city.

While usually I carry cash in my passport wallet (since my back pant pocket always seems to get a hole in it and have lost some money because of this in the past) I usually dont bring out the passport wallet when I buy something. Except at the airport.

Heaed out and ended up deciding on the airport shuttle bus which cost me a bit more than expected. Found out later that this was because I was getting charged double since they were dropping me off at my hotel rather than the designated stop at which I would have been happy to get off at.

10 minutes into the trip I felt my pockets and found my wallet missing. Unfortunately we were on a main freeway whith nowhere to turn and I wasnt sure about being able to get out, cross the road and find transport back so stayed in the car. 

Had originally started paying for my drink with a 500,000 note but changed it to a 100,000 note when it seemed that this was to big for her (still wasnt sure how much $1 was worth). Believe this is where I made my mistake.  Even remember thinking it was not a good idea to let the wallet out of my hand when doing this but cant remember what happened next. At this point can only guess that I ignored my better instinct (thinking I would remember noe that I had thought of it) and left the passport wallet on the counter of the kiosk while juggling wallets and drink. All I can do is blame my stupidity on the fact that I hadnt slept the night before when I was at the airport and only had had a few hours sleep on the plane.

Shuttle took 1 hr to get into town and the driver charged me $12 (taxi fee) for taking me back out to the airport. Wasnt holding out much hope of finding it but was holding out some. No luck though. Also found that the airport didnt really have any security (beyond controlling access to gates) or a lost and found so no help to be found. Someone though did suggest checking bins but unfortunately these seem to have been cleaned out recently.

Am guessing that I might have had a better chance of finding the wallet if I had headed straight back but given I am in Vietnam am guessing there is a good chance I would have found it anyway.

Headed on another shuttle into town but paid the cheaper price without the extra drop off service. Walk to the hostel I was staying at. Hanoi on first impression seems like a busy town. Lots of people on the streets and lots of bikes zipping around. A bit chaotic to be more accurate.

At the hotel was able to check in without a passport and then with a photocopy. Since it was now to late to contact the embassy I instead went online to see what my options were for passports, flights and future plans. Started to consider what I would need if this was the end of my trip. Also rang the bank to cancel the card I had lost and get a new one sent out to the hotel since my one remaining card was going to expire at the end of October and without a card I would definately have to go home earlier than planned.

In the evening headed out one last time into the busy streets to look for some dinner. Lots of people selling meals on the side of the road with people sitting on small plastic stools by small plastic tables eating there meals. At this point though I decided to eat in a restuarant before calling it a night.

Day 2 - Old Quarter, Aussie Embassy Area
Rang the Aussie embassy and even though the passport had been lost and not stolen was told I would need a police report in order to get a new visa from Vietnamese immigration. Since I had no idea where to find a police station or whether I would find any english there I approached the girl at the hotel reception desk who was kind enough to help me out.

Headed out to the fist ploice station which was basically a small building with someone in a uniform reading a paper behind the desk. Unlike home you dont just get a form to fill out. Once the problem was explained, that is I lost my passport at the airport, the officer siad it wasnt his problem since it wasnt in his area. Am guessing he couldnt be bothered going through the paper work and was trying to pass us off onto someone else.

Ended up walking about 500m in another direction to another station and this time lied and said the passport had been lost while in transit to.from the hostel. This time managed to get a form out of the guy to fill out and told to come back at 2pm. Headed back to the hostel where I filled out the english half of teh form and told the truth. Ended up having to refill a second form with the actual story we had given the officer. After that left the form with reception and headed out to the embassy.

didnt want to catch a taxi since the meters on most of these are extremely dodgey and since I had just arrived wanted to see a bit of the city streets. Walked for a while before getting approached yet once again for a moto ride and the guy wanted 100,000VDN given the distance a taxi was likely to be 70,000 but with a bike I expected it to be cheaper and offered 50,000VDN. While he didnt want to accept this at first he eventually did and took me to the embassy.

Arrived here just after 12pm to find out the consulate was closed for lunch til 1pm so wandered around the nearby streets for a bit getting lots of moto, moto calls from people selling rides on bikes. Oh well at least I wont have anytrouble finding a ride back.

While wandering managed to find a bakery to grab some food and a lake to hang out by and kill some time.

Around 1pm headed back to the embassy where I picked up a form and found that while the documents I needed (birth certificate, photo id and some other forms of Id) could be presented to the passport office in Oz and a copy forwarded to the Hanoi embassy I would need to somehow get an endorsed photo.

Headed to a passport phot place nearby and while waiting for the phot was trying to work out how to get the photo. Sending one home and back I decided would take to long and there was no guarantee it would make it through the post anyway. In the end decided to scan the passport photo and email this home. My brother could then print it, get it signed and post it to the hotel I was in. That was the plan anyway and would mean I could get the photo within a week or so (though it was 2-3 weeks) depending on how long it would take my brother to do something.

After getting the photo headed back the hotel for 50,000VDN (no argument from bike rider for once) and headed to the police station. Found a different officer behind the desk and it took a few minutes to convince him to do something with the report and put the all important red stamp which I would need to get my new visa from immigration.

Given the both photo and police report were sort of sorted my next problem was finding my birth certificate and photo Id. Havent been home in a while and since everthing was packed by other after I left no idea where to find it. Looking online I found an on birth certificate application site and so had the option of getting a new one if my brother couldnt find the one I had. As for photo Id if that wasnt found then I had no hope of getting a full passport since there was no way of getting a replacement made while overseas.

Scanned the photo (which Iater found was at a to low resolution) and sent it to my brother along with a scan of teh relevant page of the application form. Pretty much then spent the rest of the day trying to work out how to get all the things for the application form and what kind of options I would have if I got the emergency visa which didnt require the documentation.

Given that this passport only has 4 pages and 7 months validity it would really let me do both cambodia and laos before heading home. One because you need 6 months validity in order to enter all these countries. Could definately do one with this since I could delay getting my passport until I was ready to leave vietnam but probably not both. In the case of doing both the problem wouldnt be the validity period but rather the number of pages since I could do 2 weeks in cambodia first then enter Laos with still 6 months validity. Problem is that the vietnamese, Laos and Cambodian visas are all one page and even though that leaves an extra page for stamping a stamp on the wrong page in Cambodia would mean I couldnt visit laos which Im more interested in visting.

Having lost my passport has been a real pain and the fact my last credit card expire at the end of October an even bigger one. Thankfully though I have til the 21st Nov till my Vietnames visa (3 month visa) runs out which will hopefully be enough time to sort everything out. That is provided the things thatt get mailed out arrive as expected. In the end if worse comes to worse I will have to end up with an emergency one and not visit all the countries I had been hoping to though even if things to get sorted I am going to be wasting a fair bit of time stuffing around rather than travelling in Vietnam. Guess my hope of getting through here quickly in order to have more time elsewhere isnt going to happen.

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