November 20, 2017

Travel Tips

All travelers’ nightmare: When it’s time for visa extension but your passport is not with you!

Hello to all, it’s Asti the 3D Academy LIVE reporter again. Today I will share a bit more of my story again. In my post about sending postage overseas , I wrote about how I sent my passport by Fedex mail to the Indian Embassy in Russia for my Indian visa application from Cebu, Philippines. Some readers might be thinking, isn’t it too dangerous? Having no passport with you while you are travelling? Yes it is! But I was left with no choice as they can only process the visa in your home country. So what happened next? Did I get back my passport safely? Today I will reveal my story of living as a foreigner in a country without passport!

Just right after my passport left Cebu, I read that there were some changes of rule stipulated by the consul in Russia. Basically the new rule just stated that it could take up to a month to review the documents before visa extension approval there. I sweat my pants hearing this news I swear! This is a big disaster for me because my visa in the Philippines only allows me to stay in the Philippines for one month. (Most foreigners get 30 days visa to stay in the Philippines when they first arrive. Thereafter they can extend the visa locally every 30 days). But.. How could I extend the visa with no passport? They can deport me from the country and this is no joke. If I get deported that would mean I might not be able to come back to this country again and there would be a record in my international passport which would cause a lot of trouble whenever I travel overseas! No… I immediately called the consulate in Russia to ask for my passport back. Yet the answer I got was that the documents were already in process and I could do nothing except for waiting.

My passport was ready for collection with visa 8 days before my visa of stay in the Philippines expired. But there’s still a risk because anything could happen during the mailing service. I ordered for the express mail in the postal office to send my passport back, only to find out that in order to send important document with Passport by mail overseas, special permission from the customs service is needed! Damn!!! I don’t have time waiting and my anxiety almost turned my red hair grey! Literally…

Here comes UPS my saviour!! It turns out that UPS would deliver items without checking the composition of the documents, as long as there’s no money/cash inside the document. Hooray to UPS. But it’s not a drama if some hiccups did not happen during the way. Just when I thought all my problems solved when the postage got sent via UPS, I was happily tracking on the location of my document every day. One day, I realised my documents went to Cologne! Cologne! What????!!! Why did they send my passport there! I’m in the Philippines. I called and found out that apparently the postal workers mixed that up, and as a result the delivery time increased!

Oh my goodness! The moment I got off the phone call, I couldn’t stop my mind from picturing how I would be sent home from the Philippines. The immigration officer would storm into the school and escort me out and then no country would ever give me a visa ever again. I couldn’t sleep by just imagining. Anyone who had been caught in my situation would know that.. Ahh.. the loss of freedom :((((

deport

I had no choice but to wait and track “Where’s my passport?” on the UPS tracking site everyday. I guess the site almost got crashed by me clicking on the refresh button every second. So on the screen I followed my passport flew to Dubai, then to China, then to Korea and finally flew in – to Cebu on November 17! The due date of my visa of staying in the Philippines! I was super panic on that day – November 17. I wouldn’t be able to forget that day for awhile.

The staff responsible for extending the visa of students at our academy – Loida had been asking me

 

every day about where is my passport.

Loida

I told her the story and I prayed to all the Dods that my passport could arrive on time. However, it seems the God had decided to make a joke with me. In the morning of November 17, Loida told me that if my passport could be presented before lunch, they would take it immediately to the consulate of the Philippines and I would be safe. So I kept on praying and waiting in the morning. Literally everyone that comes to the Academy I would run up and down to see if it is the delivery service sending my passport to me. No luck. Then I found out from UPS that the passport was passing through the Cebu Airport. And several airport employees did not go to work and everything was delayed. My prayer did not answer me on that day. The passport was hanging at the border, so near yet so far. I wish to take a taxi to the Airport and just yelled at them “Give me my passport!”

Only towards the evening, the call came to my phone. I happily ran to the courier of the postal service. Though it’s half day late, I really wanted to kiss both the courier service guy and my long-suffering passport. My emotions were pouring in. When I finally handed over my passport to Loya the next day, she laughed and said that I would most likely have to pay a fine. Of course! Fine! Sure! This is the first time I am so happy to hear that “I would need to pay a fine!” Really.. As long as I have my freedom (passport) back, I am more than willing to just pay them some fine! Loida laughed and everyone who was with me joked that “Why don’t you share the fine with us?!” Haha..

Through this incidence, I hope to share with you that money is really not as important as we thought. Throughout the whole event, I just wished that I could get away with just a fine, as long as I could get my passport and my freedom to travel back. Priority becomes really clear to me. My life story in Cebu is painted with different colours so far. Ups and downs are norms in lives. Come and join us for a laugh togethe.

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