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20 Easy Steps To Getting A New Passport

By: Anna Wills Posted: December-24-2011 in
Anna Wills

2nd Place winner in the Cash for Christmas competition

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Dear Canadian Friend,
I understand you’re moving to Phnom Penh – excellent choice! The grilled bananas are to die for. You’ll no doubt be dying to visit Vietnam too, and you’ll likely make plans to travel there not long into your stay.

On your way to the travel agent to apply for the visa, two men will pull up beside you on a moto and try to grab your bag from your bicycle basket. Being a street-smart and travel-savvy woman of the world, you will have tied it down pretty well (nice work!) in anticipation of just such an event.

So well in fact that it will wrench your bike around while they wrestle with it, throwing you off the bike and into weaving traffic, but not so well as to actually prevent them from getting it free before they speed off. Once you’re over the shock, you’ll ride like crazy after them, pointing and yelling "chow! chow!" (you’ll be pretty sure that means thief), but onlookers will just stare in amused bewilderment at a waving, pointing, yelling, butt-off-the-seat-pedaling barang on a bicycle trying to catch a moto.

You’ll even pass security guards and (you’ll later realize) a police station while yelling chow, but no one will help you. You’ll lose them after a few blocks.

Contents of bag:
• passport
• birth certificate
• credit card
• bank card
• phone
• $25

Shit.
Do not despair. Getting ID with no money and money with no ID is actually quite straightforward in Phnom Penh, especially for a Canadian. Just complete these 20 easy-to-follow steps, and you’ll be back in business in no time:

1 - Report credit card, client card, and passport stolen.
2 - Ask a police officer where to go to report the theft. He will direct you to the nearest police station.
3 - Officers at this station will tell you to go to the Tourist Police station.
4 - Officers at the Tourist Police station will tell you to go to the station closest to where the crime took place, the one you passed earlier while yelling "chow".
5 - Once there, fill out the police report (the one that says "Complainin Form" at the top), and return with it to the Tourist Police. They will ask for a photocopy of your passport and visa.
6 - Return later after fetching the photocopies, and pick up another police report to bring to the Canadian Embassy to get a new passport.
7 - Learn that there is no Canadian Embassy in Cambodia.
8 - Go to the Australian Embassy, where they provide limited consular services to Canadians. Pick up the application forms and take note of all the things you will need to get a new passport: $100 (+ $50 to courier the application to the Canadian Embassy in Thailand), birth certificate, two secondary pieces of valid ID, 2 passport photos, and a guarantor to sign the application who has known you for two years. You will not have any of these.
9 - Call your Embassy in Thailand. They will not answer. Try again. Leave a message. Try again. Punch in a random extension number and talk to a lady who will put you through to an answering machine.
10 - Call Canada. They will tell you to call Thailand.
11 - Call Thailand. Email Thailand. Call Thailand again. They will never answer the phone or return your call, but they will eventually return your email. They will tell you that you can get a two-year passport without a birth certificate - there's a form for that. They will also say that you can get a passport without a guarantor - there's a form for that. Both of these must be signed at the Australian Embassy for a fee. Your secondary ID will consist of a driver's license with an old address on it and a health card that expires in three days. You will have to cross your fingers on this one.
12 - You will now have everything you need to get a new passport, except money. Your new credit card will take a week to arrive.
13 - Luckily, you have a local bank account with $50 in it. You can use this to buy a new phone, SIM card, and some minutes, and to live on until you figure something else out.
14 - Talk to your local bank about transferring money from your Canadian account. They will say "no problem" and give you a form to fill out. When you return with the form, they will say "sorry, cannot".
15 - Try your bank in Canada. They will say "no problem" and tell you how to do it all online. Online!
16. Go online, log in, scroll through the countries. Sorry, cannot. Cambodia is not on the list.
17 - Call Canada again. They'll tell you to call back later and talk to your home branch so someone who knows you can authorize the transfer. Call back, talk to a nice lady, then spend two days waiting for the nice lady to call you back, but she won't call. You can stop waiting now.
18 - You will now have to admit to yourself that, like all young westerners learning about the real world and hard knocks in developing countries, mommy and daddy will fix it.
19 - Transfer some money into your mom's account, via the joys of online banking, Canadian account to Canadian account. Your mom will go into a bank in person and send a wire transfer.
20 - Thank your mom, and wait 4 days for the transfer to clear. Your new credit card (from your bank in Canada) will arrive just as you leave your apartment to pick up signed documents from the Australian embassy that you'll send to Thailand with your application.
And voila! No problem. Your passport will be ready for pickup at the Australian Embassy one easy passport-free month later.

Highlight of the week: filling out a “Complainin Form” in a one-room police station while the officer helping you lies on his back on the wooden table/bed beside the desk, topless and wearing only a krama tied around his waist, while he stares at the ceiling and smokes a cigarette which he ashes in an empty beer can.

Once all 20 steps are complete, you’re ready to move on to Stage 2: Five Easy Steps to Wearing a Moneybelt. (Correspondence forthcoming.)

Yours,
The Friendly Canuck

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