Tag Archives: journey

Trapped: The Meaning of a Passport

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Trapped: The Meaning of a Passport

A few weeks ago, I lost my passport.  In the past month, I’ve somehow managed to lose my passport, bank card, phone (although I found that again) and phone charger.  All at different times.  Only me.  (It’s like I’m still a silly fourteen year old drunk girl who loses everything).  While this is clearly not the end of the world, it is a huge inconvenience, and really, just a bit of an effort – especially my passport.

I’ve been to the police station and embassy to report it lost and apply for a new one.  This meant I needed a day off work (I’m only half complaining about that) and a trip back to Bangkok. And a small fortune (to me). This is not good for my already tight budget.

Even if it wasn’t such an enormous kerfuffle to get a new passport, it would still be the object I’m the most upset about losing.  The others don’t matter, but my passport was not just a thing.

To be honest, it was running out of pages anyway, so it wouldn’t have been too long before I needed to shell out for a new one, but it’s the memories my passport holds that I am sad to lose. Of course, my actual memories and the photos of the places I’ve been are much more exciting, but I liked my passport for more than just bragging rights.

Quite often I’d pick up my passport and flick through the pages, reading the stamps and visas, seeing the exact dates I arrived and left where. I’ve had my passport a while, and worked in three different countries with it, so it was full of more than just stamps, and it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t quite proud of it. The stamps reminded me of the airports, the conversations with the immigration staff, the excitement of the impending journey. The visas reminded me of waiting in queues silently, of friends I’ve made at embassies, being told off for talking while waiting to get my passport back, the rush, stress and money problems I’ve encountered with almost all of them and how worth it is always turned out to be, and mostly, the fear and uncertainty felt before a much bigger adventure began.

I also feel strangely claustrophobic without it.  I had no plans and wouldn’t have made any to leave Thailand within the next month – I am working – but I feel strangely trapped without it.  The freedom our passports provide us with is unrivalled.  We’re so lucky, as holders of a British passport, that we have these rights.  Now I’m without it, though, I feel as though I can not do anything at all.  I can’t suddenly decide I want to go to a festival in a neighbouring country, can’t apply for a driving licence here, can’t cross over the border to see a market, can’t hop on a plane to the other side of the world.  God knows, I really don’t want to, but I can’t even decided I want to give up and fly home.

So, it was on my bucket list to run out of pages before my passport expired, and I think I would have done it with this one. Never mind, though, it just means I’ll have to travel a lot in the next eleven years, something I am sure I really don’t need an excuse for and can’t complain about at all. With my little travel book all gone,I now feel doubly enthusiastic about my future travels, truly motivated to make this passport one to be even more proud of. It’s almost like a clean slate of travelling.

Miss L

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