Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Passing time

The other day I discovered that my current passport was, for all practical purposes, full. So I went to the police station to get a new one, and now I'm waiting for it to arrive. In the meantime, I'm stuck in Norway...

My passport number four will arrive in the mail in a few days. Until then I can only sit at home and read, blog and go for walks. I've finished today's walk, so here's a bit of blog for you. 

It's about my first passport. It may not have much interest to others than myself, but here it is.

That's what it looks like today. The poor thing. There's no reason to criticize it. Try traveling around the world and swim through flood water following a cyclone in Fiji, and see what that does to you. I guess you too would look a bit worn out after that.
Inside the passport I'm quickly introduced. There's no national ID number or anything. There's only one Bjørn Christian Tørrissen from Norway, so there's no need for it.

It's mentioned that abusing the passport is illegal and punishable. I wish they would mention a few suggestions for how one can abuse a passport.

I was in high school when I got my passport, but as I moved to attend the university in Trondheim, I upgraded my profession from "pupil" to "student". Oh, the vanity!

Apparently I was "dark blond" when I was young! If so, that's only because Norwegian by definition have to be fair-haired. And for some reason, I did NOT have any "special peculiarities". Harrumpf! I'm left-handed, AND I was/am a pretty skilled Minesweeper player!
Ah... The passport photo. Always so flattering. The photo in particular, shows me wearing a nicely patterned sweater, I'm smiling with my mouth open, the photo is taken not straight from the front and my face covers less than 25 percent of the photo. This would never be accepted as a passport photo these days.

Oh, and we forgot to include my fingerprint. Details, details. :)

I love how the passport is valid in all countries, with no exceptions. I just wonder what kind of exceptions anyone would ever have in a passport? "This man is a recovering alcoholic, and must not under any circumstances be allowed to enter Ireland or Russia!"?
Finally, we can see why there's no need for a national ID number. This passport simply claims that the carrier of the passport is the very same person as the one depicted on the photo. That should do it.

(I'm almost ignoring the fact that the authorities have managed to misspell the German word "bescheinigt".)

Most immigration officers will completely ignore the advice about adding visas and stamps in a chronological order. We can see this already on the first page.

My first stamp was collected when I entered the USA at the right here on 23 July 1995, well in advance of the Australia visit to the left. I was traveling more or less at random from the east coast to the west coast on a Greyhound pass, as a prelude to a school excursion to California.

The three other stamps are Australian ones. The visa to the left I had to send my passport to the Australian embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, to get. On a six-months long trip around the planet I entered Australia through Darwin on New Year's Eve 1996, following a Christmas in Bali. Six weeks and thousands of bus kilometres later I left the country from Brisbane.
Pages 10 and 11 are all about Nepal. I got my visa in no time straight from the consulate general, a rich man who took pity on me when I showed up at his office early on the same day that I was leaving Norway.

When I arrived in Nepal, I discovered that they had pretty steep mountains there, so I had to extend the visa (the right-side, sideways thing) with a week to be able to get uphill and back down completely. It didn't cost much money, but I spent quite a few hours in a queue to get it.
From Nepal I continued to Thailand. Four days before my visa there expired, I moved on to Malaysia. Two weeks of that seems to have been enough for me, as indicated by the Singapore visa here.

On page 13 I fly to Jakarta and Indonesia. Because they left lots of empty space on the page, the Fiji immigration control three months later hastily decided to stamp me out of their country on this same page. I suspect that this was partially because they were eager to get rid of me. I was all wet and smelly after having swam, using my backpack as a raft, to the airport through brown and muddy flood water.

The airplane from Fiji evacuated me to Los Angeles. If they had told me at check-in that the plane was stopping in Honolulu for fueling, I probably would have gotten off there. But they didn't.

Before I arrived in Fiji, I had been to New Zealand for two or three weeks, as evidenced by the stamp on page 15. And with that, the documentation of my around-the-world trip in 1996/1997 is finished.

At the bottom of the page there's a stamp from Germany. Back in the days before Schengen, we got those. I was going on a work trip, to Lotusphere, an IT conference in Berlin. I traveled on a cheap Widerøe flight straight from Oslo pretty much to downtown Berlin, the historic and now closed airport of Tempelhof.
And that's the entire contents of my first passport! A rusty paperclip scar (from the swimming through the flooding) and an old address finished up the document. My traveling, however, had barely started!

Soon I'll be back with another exciting blog entry about my second passport! :)
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