SETTING OFF.

Setting off. The big day. Finally leaving to go travelling after a year of saying I would but not really thinking I would. Like when you boast to a friend you can do a backflip and they call you on it. Well in this case my girlfriend called me on it.  Forbes as she is sometimes affectionately known. I got drunk one night and she drove me home I ‘accidentally ‘ stated in the car “I’d love to go travelling lets do it”. She took me seriously.

So that is a brief recap of how I found myself sitting next to her and her bright pink backpack at 5am in Inverness airport. flying to Heathrow before a quick jaunt ( 8 hours) to Vietnam followed by a fantastic sleep on a metal chair for 13 hours in a busy airport before a cheeky 12 hour trip on a plane that seemed to be exclusively booked out by crying children before arriving in Sydney. The land of the criminals. The deported. Funny that, we sent everyone we hated there now we clammer to get over there ourselves.

20140904_034915.jpg
Forbez asleep at the airport.

The Journey was not without incident. The extent of my passport usage was a return flight to turkey a year before. Unfortunately since then I decided to use it as my I.D. every time I had gone drinking. This lead to both the passport being worn down to having no gold threading on the front. It also led to it being soaked in cider on more than one occasion.

Happy go lucky me did not think this is an issue- Hell the regional folks at Inverness airport barely even looked at it, London the passport control most likely felt to under-paid and bored to really look at it so it was not until we touched down in Vietnam I became aware of an issue. An Vietnameese Check in attendant took one look at me, one look at my passport, then asked me quite bluntly “Why is your passport destroyed?” To my utter shock at the time I responded “What do you mean? it’s alright is it not”

She then proceeded to list the flaws.

-Pages stuck together.

-Water damage to the pictures and text.

-bent corners and crumpled pages.

-binding coming loose through the passport.

To be fair, she was spot on right for each one of those. I slowly proceeded to crap my pants. Thinking of my options. I began to imagine my life in Ho Chi Minh airport. Forbez would travel on regardless. So i’d be alone, maybe over time I could master the language and marry one of the girls working at duty free. I could raise a family between the flight lounges and the toilets. Forever living on vending machine snacks and counting the planes coming in as they landed. It would be beautiful, like that Tom Hanks film.

Just as I warmed to the fantasy in my head she returned my passport to me.

“Don’t worry, its not a problem here… might be a problem in Australia though. Have a nice flight.”

Gee. Thanks. Have a nice flight thinking about how you might of just spent two full days trying to fly around the world to arrive at your destination and then be refused entry. Happy go lucky me was suddenly feeling a lot less lucky.

 

So the flight transpired to be 10 odd hours of crying children and anxious waiting. It reached the point as I looked out the window I thought ‘ Would it be so bad if the wing came off and we plummeted into the sea. could pull a MH370 and no one would ever need to know of my embarassment if I was refused entry.’

My luck was not in. We arrived safe and soundly at 8am Australian time. we disembarked and made our way though what seemed like a immigration maze of baggage and declaring goods.

Shaking with nervousness I turned the corner, I knew there would be no talking my way out of this, I’d seen Border Patrol. This shit was real.

Joy.Relief. Euphoria. They had an electronic gate right infant of me. All I had to do was scan my passports chip and i’d be through. Suddenly I was on form. I patiently cued, because thats what British people do.  I could see the machine displaying big green ticks and opening the gates for those in front. Forbez  ahead of me sailed through it, before I knew it I was next. Thrusting my passport over the scanner and went to walk forward, I walked into the gate.

IT DIDN’T FUCKING OPEN. Frantically I looked down to see a big red cross displayed were green ticks had greeted the others. Scanning my passport over and over it kept coming back up. I had to admit defeat.

I awkwardly walked over to the counter and explained to a plump Australian women who looked like could both drink me under the table but also body slam me through the table should she dislike something I said and prepared to make my case.

“Excuse me, my passport won’t scan on your machine, no idea why”.

She took my passport and arched her eyebrow. “Really, what happened to your passport? This looks like clear water damage to it”.

“Oh, I didn’t notice that, must of spilled a drink on it on the flight…” my voice shrinking as I talked

She made a grunting sound that was so full of disbelief I almost felt bad. She then said the words people everywhere hate to hear. “You will have to speak with my manager”.

Almost like she had pressed an invisible button, a guy popped up beside her. Like he had been waiting underneath the desk for this exact moment. He rounded the table and picked up my passport and put his hand on my shoulder. Staring at both my passport then my face. ” Alright mate, whats going on here then?” The thick Australian accent was almost hilarious as it was stereotypical.

“err, passport won’t scan on the machine, must of spilled a drink on it..’

Silence between us for a moment as he considered my words.

“Right mate, what about the pages, there pretty messed up. all bent and stuff. and the front.. its just brown, meant to be brown and gold’.

I crumbled. absolutely, “Been using it for I.D. clubbing and stuff, don’t have a driving licence so its seen better days…” My rush of words dying as I replayed episodes of border patrol in my head.

“Your gonna have to call the embassy and get a new one mate. this won’t do. ‘

It left me with a sinking feeling in my gut. I almost turned to make a final wave goodbye to Forbez and find a corner of the airport to make more homely and work on a cooler cover story before I got home when heard the stamp come down on my visa.

“Lucky us Australians like a couple beers to eh mate. Just get this sorted out by next time you fly” . I stood dumfounded. They were letting me in. THEY WERE LETTING ME IN. I had just entered one of the most secure countries in the word with what was essentially crumpled up soggy paper with a blurry picture of myself.

I practically skipped to meet Forbez.

Maybe this trip would not be a total disaster.

 

-End.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s