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Hanoi, Vietnam
June 6, 2007

I really need to do something about my passport photo. It is of a cute young man who is around 18 or 19 that does not look much like the rugged, bearded, and bald 26 year old who uses it. Yes, time and the road has not aged me well. But I smile alot, and have the creases around the eyes to prove it. Everytime I have tried to go through immagration this past year the inspector looks at my passport, looks at me, gets a funny look on his face, and then goes through the same process a dozen times over. I got detained for a while yesterday when I crossed into Vietnam. For a few minutes there I did not think that they were going to let me through. But I have a stash of ID cards which show my aging process in some what gradual steps that I keep at my easy disposale in case my passport photo is questioned. So I had to again take out this handful of cards and lay them out one by one for my immigration interagator to prove that the photo in my passport is really of me. I also have one of the old style laminated US Passports which has began to fall apart from the years of use. This also raises the eyebrows of clever imigration inspectors, because it does not look like most US Passports that they have seen, and they think that the corner where the lamanation has began to split up is a telltale sign that they need to make me sit in a chair for an hour while they look at it over and over. But, eventually, I proved that I am me and I was allowed into Vietnam.

So I rode into Hanoi around mid-day, got off the bus, and walked into the motor bike and moped circus that makes up the city’s streets.

I need to go to the US Embassy today to find out of I can change my photo, fix the lamination, or just get a new passport altogether. I think that I am going to try to apply for an additional temporary passport as I think that I will soon want to visit Isreal and a couple Middle Eastern countries- and an Isreali stamp alone means that many countries in the region will not let you pass through their border garrisons.

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Filed under: Asia, Border Crossing, Cities and Urban Development, Southeast Asia, Vietnam

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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