A Twisted End to 2015: Losing my passport in Malaysia
I work at Wingify. For those who don’t know, Wingify offers a paid annual trip (among other perks) for all its employees to a beach destination every year. This year the destination was Langkawi, an island off the coast of Malaysia. Beaches are great at this time of the year: great weather, beach parties, good crowd. All the ingredients for a fun time!
An interesting bit about Langkawi: the whole island is duty free. A can of beer costs INR 30 whereas a bottle of water costs INR 50. If you are someone who likes good glass of scotch, no better place than this.
We stayed at Bella Vista Resorts in Kuah which is near the southern tip of the island.
Day 1: Like everyone else, we set off by exploring the island. Finding a good place to eat in Kuah can take some getting used to. The local food comprised of seafood, chicken curry and rice/noodles. After having a sumptuous lunch (pun intended), we grabbed a couple of scooters and explored a bit of the island. The hotel is very close to Jetty Point where you can get a ferry to nearby islands. The Jetty Point is also famous for the Dataran Lang (Eagle Square), one of the main attractions of the island. It’s also a must-go place for all sunset shutterbugs.
For everyone “else”: A normal day at Langkawi. Waking up to a nice sunrise, breakfast, island hopping tour on the cards.
For me: LIGHTNING STRUCK!
If you’re someone who is very careful with his/her belongings (or not), I repeat myself: never lose sight of your passport when in a foreign land. Always keep it in a safe location in your luggage and ensure that it’s secure in a locker once you check-in. Remember it’s ticket out of the country as well!
The sudden feeling of being without a passport in a foreign country is crumbling, I realized that I’m no longer a legal tourist visiting the country. I admit, the first hour after the realization was one of fear and panic. I decided to assess my situation and find alternatives (didn’t want to end up like Daniel Crusoe, stuck on a far away island).
Here’s what you should do if you ever lose your passport in a foreign country:
- Breathe. Anxiety and panic are normal in such situations but you need to get over it and react quickly.
- Start off by remembering the last time you saw your passport. Visit these places and check with the locals if they found a missing passport.
- Do a thorough search of your belongings and your room. Inform the hotel staff so that they can help with your search.
- Check with your friends or partner if you accidentally gave it to them for safekeeping.
- Once you have established that it’s too late for search, contact your local Embassy. As suggested by a friend of mine, every embassy has an Emergency contact number for any queries. Mention your details including the passport number and explain the incident to the right personnel.
- The next important step is to a file a report at the nearest police station and get a copy of the police report. Remember that the police report is an important piece of evidence to claim that you’ve lost your passport. Ensure that you have multiple copies of this and can produce it any time.
- You must go to the local embassy and submit your documents to get a travel pass or Emergency certificate back to your country. Depending on the nature of your emergency, a travel pass is issued between 24 hours-48 hours. It is however recommended not to have any fixed travel dates as this may even take up to 2 weeks in some cases.
The rest of my trip was pretty much subtle in comparison. Of course the word spread like wild fire and I had a couple of days to kill in Langkawi since the embassy was closed for the weekend due to Christmas. I decided to let go and enjoy my trip till Sunday with my friend Deepak Lamba. We spent our last two days in Kuala Lumpur where we visited the Petronas twin towers.
Till next time and more adventures!