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Aphrodite


I lost my passport for the first time recently on a trip to Indonesia. I stood in the hotel lobby patting my pockets and searching my luggage over and over again, vainly hoping my passport would appear on the next round of prodding. Eventually I was forced to concede that I had misplaced it.

My mind raced backwards, the cab perhaps, or the ATM machine in the airport. I tried to envisage the last time I had it in my hand. I vaguely remembered slipping it into my back pocket as I stumbled bleary eyed out of customs.

"Shit" I muttered to myself. What the hell am I going to do now, I thought.

Luckily the hotel staff believed my story and accepted a drivers license as ID for my booking. They called the cab company and the airport for me to try and track down the missing document. I went to my room to lay on the bed and mull it over.

By the next morning my passport had not appeared. I had a week before my flight out of the country and so I had no choice but to start the process of getting a replacement.

I rang the Australian embassy. They gave me a list of what I needed and made me an appointment to come and see them.

Tip 1: Make an appointment with the embassy. This will be useful.

The first thing I needed to do was report it lost/stolen. This proved more difficult than I thought. Police stations are not common in Jakarta, and you need to find a decent sized one that has an administrative office. I was driven there by a friend who bribed them for me, even though it didn't seem necessary (how do you even know when bribes are needed or acceptable?).

Next step, straight to the embassy. Now you may or may not know, but embassies are officially foreign soil. This means that there are guards at the gate who are very suspicious about who they let in. When you don't have a passport they are particularly suspicious. In my case I was in trouble because I don't have any other Australian photo ID. I have a German driver's license, so they viewed me with a lot of suspicion.

Two things helped me here. First, I already had an appointment. It seems crazy I know, but that was viewed favorably (I guess spies don't make appointments when fleeing to safety at the nearest embassy).

Secondly, I have my passport number memorized, so they were able to check it in their system. By the look if it they were still using Windows 95, so I am not sure I would trust any information coming out of their computers, but I take my wins where I can.

Tip 2: Memorize your passport number.

Once I was into the embassy I was on the home straight. I just had to fill in paperwork, pay a hefty sum, get photographed and sign my name.

Two days later my emergency passport was ready for pickup. The only remaining thing was to visit the department of immigration and get an emergency exit visa. Without this they don't let you out of the country. The immigration agents will look at your passport and not know what to do, you are in their country without any apparent record of having entered.

That it is about it.

I don't recommend the experience, it wasted most of my spare time during my short stay in Indonesia. However, learn from my experiences and follow my tips and perhaps if it happens to you, the experience will not be as stressful as it could be.

 
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