Passport To Adventure

I always think that the most valuable thing in my possession is my passport – not fiscally, but because of what it represents. My passport gives me the freedom to go anywhere in the world, at any time. Because of this, I get a bit nervous when it’s out of my possession.

When we investigated getting visas for our trip to Vietnam, it was recommended that we get them before leaving the UK, as there was no guarantee they could be acquired at the airport upon arrival in Vietnam. The instructions on the Vietnamese Embassy’s website stated that the visa application form had to be submitted to the Embassy along with one’s passport, and a photo. Either bring along in person or send by registered post, it said. Well, I wasn’t about to trust the Royal Mail with my passport, so it was going to have to be a personal visit.

The Embassy’s opening hours are, very inconveniently, 9:30am to 12:30pm, which required a morning off work, plus another morning a week later to collect the passports.

So off I went, armed with visa application forms, passports (for both me and Hubby), photos and payment to Cromwell Road in Kensington, where the Vietnamese Embassy in London is (and a very posh part of London it is too, I have to say). I found the Embassy without too much difficulty and fortunately there wasn’t too long a queue at the visa application window. I handed in my forms and passports, and was given a receipt to collect them in a week’s time. I was then sent to another window to hand in the cash (and it had to be cash – no cheques or plastic allowed), to a man who collected the money but who spoke no English. As I left, the man in the queue behind me was trying to explain to the man who didn’t speak English that his wife had sent four passports belonging to his family to the Embassy by post ten days ago, he hadn’t heard anything and could he check they’d been received please? So I was rather glad that I chosen not to entrust my precious passport to the Royal Mail.

But for seven days my passport was in the care of the Vietnamese Embassy. I have to say I was a bit anxious that week. While my passport is not in my possession I can’t leave the country. Even if I have no imminent plans to do so, this restriction makes me inexplicably nervous.

Fortunately, when I returned to the Embassy a week later, both passports were safely returned to me, undamaged and unmolested and with the Vietnamese visas in order and affixed securely inside.

Now I have returned from my travels, my passport is once again safely stowed in the drawer it lives in. It gives me reassurance every time I see it there, knowing that it’s waiting for me when I’m ready for my next international adventure.


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