Our first trip abroad almost didn’t happen and yes, that would have been my fault. This fault stemmed from 2 things. A faith in our local postal service Australia Post, and a complete lack of understanding when it comes to the terms, diplomatic bureaucracy.
This first trip, an Asian Odyssey as I’d dubbed it, was to attend the wedding of Erin & Lachlan and, as I saw it, an opportunity to wet my travel feet in Thailand and its beautiful neighbour, Laos.
For the virgin Australian tourist, Thailand presents few difficulties, present a passport on arrival and receive a 30 day stay, no problem. The Lao Peoples Democratic Republic however (yes, they’re Communists) requires a Visa, which I figured we’d be best served getting in advance. Sarah then asked the question, do we use a travel agent and their hefty courier fee to send our passports & Visa applications, or… do we express post them ourselves and save us some cash.
We had over a week, express post will get there the next day, no problem, right? Well, a few days before our flight we thought we’d check the tracking number, and see how far off this Visa was and how clever I’d been to save us $80.00. Odd, nothing showing up for our return envelope. No problem, we’ll check our first tracking number… Still not received in Canberra!! WTF!
As panic set in, I re-assessed where we were at. No Laos Visa. No Passports. No idea where they were! Flight in 3 days…
We thrashed out a few plans, one even included putting Sarah’s mum on a plane to collect them from Canberra in person. To help matters, the Lao PDR Canberra embassy (at this time) had the helpful operational hours of 11am-1pm. We called, left messages, then called again. Nobody would answer. Finally on the Thursday, Sarah got through to a very amused Lao representative. “Yes, we receive your passport. They sent back to you Monday (2 days ago)” Then a small chuckle on the other end of the line “Perhaps next time you not leave it so late!”