My stuff, just waiting for my passport to arrive.

Today, I finally received my replacement passport!

This meant two things immediately:

1. I now have to go to Vietnam. Like, for realsies.
2. I now GET to begin my traveling adventure!

After ripping the passport out of the express mailer, Thought #1 made me momentarily light-headed. But Thought #2 rushed back moments later – the trip that I’ve been working on since November 2012 was finally – FINALLY – about to exit the planning stages and take off into the stratosphere!

To backtrack, for those of you I haven’t told directly, the USPS lost my first passport on its way back from the Vietnamese Embassy in D.C. Here’s a condensed (really, I promise) version of events:

Friday: I mail the visa application, money order, and return express mailer, but – CRUCIALLY – forget to include my passport. Oh no! It’s a Friday afternoon, though, so nothing to do for it now. I email the Embassy explaining the error and ask them to advise.
Monday: Embassy emails instructing me to express/priority/ultra mail the passport and a note. I do so.
Wednesday: I get a loose-leaf visa in the mail from the Embassy. (Note: Vietnam issues two types of visas, one in your book, or one on a separate sheet of paper. I wanted one in my book, and they issued me the other one in its absence.)
Thursday: The Embassy calls asking why I have sent my passport in. *ugh* Because you TOLD me to? I have to now pay more money to get them to express mail my passport back. Departure is still two weeks out, I’m not worried.
Next Wednesday: I get a note in my mailbox saying the package is at the Ravenswood Mail Facility. I’d already had a couple bad experiences there and I wasn’t relishing the trip.
Thursday (7 DAYS TO PLANNED DEPARTURE): The Ravenswood PO can’t find my mailer. I fill out a missing complaint. I remember being remarkably calm and polite.
Friday: Ditto. No time to panic yet, 37 items still on my todo list. I’ll panic tomorrow.
Saturday: Ditto. Can’t wait anymore. Make appointment at Chicago’s Emergency Passport services for Tuesday morning, seeing as how Monday is Memorial Day.
Tuesday: I apply for a replacement passport. Because I was always planning on getting a last minute flight, I don’t have proof of travel so they can’t issue it on the spot. Bummer! They’ve never seen a loose-leaf vietnam visa becfor, I guess. So I won’t be leaving Thursday, but Friday’s ok. I let my hosts in HCMC know what’s up.
Friday: NO PASSPORT. MYSTERIOUS AND CRYPTIC TRACKING MESSAGE. NO ONE HAS ANSWERS. MENTALLY EXHAUSTED.
Saturday: Hot damn, the thing is finally here, and only a day late! And to think, this new passport only cost me $207. *weak cheer*
So now here I am flight booked for Vietnam, land of dirty dreams and motorbikes. I’m still down a job or two, but I’m not too worried about that, for reasons I’ll detail in another post. I’ve got a safety net waiting for me, and I’m armed with awesome new tools for surviving and thriving.
It’s the start of something substantial for me, I can feel it down deep. It feels good to have a plan and the drive to want to see it succeed. My flight leaves Sunday at 10:15pm (I had actually thought I was booking for the morning, but this works too!) and I’m all packed and ready to go.
The moral I’m taking away from this? Have plans, but be flexible with the details. I used to suck at both making plans and being flexible, so this is a pretty marked improvement for me. True story.
I feel pretty good about how calm I was throughout this nonsense, though. As of now, I’m looking forward to crashing hard in my temporary room about 6pm on Tuesday, June 4th!
Talk to you soon!
Ben