– some stuff I want to write about…
A couple of years ago when I first travelled solo, I had a few pointers to share (http://wp.me/p1MQiU-3Y) since then I have travelled a bit more and came across additional things that one can do to ensure trips without too many hiccups
Here are some pointers which may help you in your trips:
As far as possible avoid it. Firstly its very time consuming. Once you land at a foreign country after crossing multiple time zones in a cramped up seat of an aircraft touching the ground after many hours of flying time, you really don’t want to be standing in the long queues for visa-on-arrival. This wait can be avoided by having a visa beforehand and its worth that effort.
Another point of irritation you can avoid is what I realized during my recent visit to Vietnam. So mine was an official trip with a couple of colleagues and thanks to Lunar New Year, the consulate was closed for a good 10 days and as a result we had no option but to opt for the visa-on-arrival. We had the pre-approved visa letter from Vietnam, however since that was in Vietnamese, it was a pain to convince the immigration officers at my home country that the pre-approval is valid for my trip and that all my colleagues together have 1 main letter and an attachment containing the names of all of us. Bottom-line, get a Visa before you start your travel.
After spending over 2 hours to get the visa-on arrival at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, we finally got to our bags and the only bags remaining close to the conveyor belonged to us. Gladly picking them up, we headed for our hotel to have a quick batch a meet up for lunch in an hour. after freshening up I opened up my bag to grab a change of clothes and behold… its not my bag. The bag looked identical to mine, almost weighed the same and I realized that at the airport, I didn’t check the airline baggage tag to confirm if the bag was indeed mine. What next, reached the airport and registered the bag as a lost and found item and got a complaint registered for my missing bag.
The name on the bag was searched for on Facebook and messages dropped for him to return my bag which he may have accidentally taken. Finally managed to get my bag after a day and a half and the first thing I did was to check the name tag.
Buying a good baggage identification tag seemed like a good idea and this one seemed apt.
When I had briefly lost my check-in luggage, I realized that I did not have anything apart from the clothes I am wearing. Then on, whenever I travel for a couple of days, I ensure that I have a spare set of clothes in my hand baggage. Also no leaving of any money or important documents in the check-in baggage, in case it goes missing. It always helps to carry some of the documents like tickets, hotel bookings, address etc. as an image on your mobile.
After the Vietnam part of the trip I headed to Singapore for which I had got a visa long ago. When I reached the immigration counter at Changi airport, the officer didn’t seem happy. He asked for my visa looked at it, stared right back at me and shook his head saying no, no, no. a confused me gaped at him and mentioned that although my previous passport has expired, the new passport is attached along with it and there shouldn’t be any problem. He directed me to read a statement on the visa – This visa is valid provided this passport is valid. Please transfer this visa to your new passport prior to your arrival in Singapore. It was written in bold right at the centre on the visa. Damn!
He asked me to wait in a separate room. After about 10 mins another officer called me and asked me to read the statement on the visa. I asked him if I can get it transferred there, or maybe pay a penalty and enter the country instead of being deported. I don’t know what worked, but she said that they will allow me this one entry only and next time I should either have a new visa or get this transferred to my new passport in order enter Singapore.
Whether its getting back your lost bag or narrowly escaping deportation, one thing that is most important is how you converse. Its not about flowery language, but just being polite in your communication can do wonders. It works. Take my word for it.