The End of an Era: New Passport

passport

Well, maybe just a 10-year era. The New Year brings a new passport. I hate to see this one go, but it was set to expire in September and with a 4-month multi-country round-the-world trip coming up this month, that would have created some problems with airlines and immigration in most countries.

Still I am sorry to see my old travel companion go. During the last 10 years I’ve had to get two inserts of extra pages, and as the Chicago Passport Agency decommissioned it with a hole puncher, it only had about 4 empty pages left. (No thanks to Isla Horno and their full-page treasure-hunt stamp they put in my passport without my permission. Is that even acceptable??)

isla-horno-passport-stamp

And there were a couple of stamps that, er, didn’t get put in there.

I sent this passport through the washing machine in Italy, frantically trying to dry it out with a blow dryer and iron it so that it would still be usable. (Did you know the old passport covers had fabric in them and could shrink? Who knew? Where’s the tag that says Permanent Press/Cold Wash only?) It never really worked in the immigration scanners after that. But only ONE person – an official stamping it at Gatwick about a month after the incident – made a sour face and warned me she could have rejected it and I needed to replace it. Never happened again in 8 years.

Tragically, the Chilean visa which I got in 2009 and is good for the life of the passport is now invalid. Ah well, when am I getting back there anyway?

So I’ve got my new passport (my third), the one that warns you not to bend it, get it wet, leave it in the sun, etc. because it has sensitive electronics in it. Yeah, good luck with that. My first entry in the newbie: a one-year Chinese visa. This next trip’s itinerary — as of today — is:

Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Turkey. Looks like I’m going to give the new passport a nice first workout.

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