Thursday, May 2, 2013

Passionably late

I got my second passport in 1999. By then the passport issuers in Norway must have recruited some new talent, because now the document didn't look like something anyone with a laser printer and a stapler at home could create in a couple of hours.

At least the passport looked okay when I got it. After I had used it for seven years, it looks, at least from the outside, more like something someone has forgotten to remove from the pants before putting it in the laundry.
Inside, however, everything is nice and dandy. Possibly apart from the hairdo. But, hey, it's a passport photo. They're supposed to look that way.


Since my previous passport I have changed my place of birth from the specific town of Finnsnes to the larger county of Lenvik. I don't know why. Also, my passport now shows my national identitynumber, although I have removed it from this snapshot, because this is, after all, the Internet. It's not really a secret ID, but there's still no point in showing it around too much.

Although the person owning this passport hasn't turned into a grown-up since the last passport, at least the signature has changed a bit in a mature direction.
Learning from their errors, the guys in charge of making passports have wisely chosen to not include French or German translations of the phrases this time around. Now there's only Norwegian, New Norwegian and English to be found.

The order of the stamps in this passport is even more random than in my previous passport. On this first page, I have entered the USA. Some other time, much later, a dimwit at the gates of Egypt has tried to cover up my visit to the US. Not only has he stamped the page with heavy, black ink. He has even donated half his stamp collection to wipe out my history of American pilgrimage. 
In January 2001 I traveled via the Charles de Gaulle airport in France, if page 4 is to be believed. I think I was on my way to South America and Antarctica. Then, four years later, I went to Brazil to celebrate the carnival and to look for strange ants.

Page 5 is a journey to Thailand via Switzerland. Also, I'm popping by Botswana and entering Argentina. This single page in my passport has stamps from four different continents!
When you travel in Patagonia, this is likely to happen. Most of your time is spent crossing the border between Chile and Argentina, depending on where a passable road can be found through the narrowest and most mountainous part of South America. The result: Lots and lots of stamps in your passport.
Haha! A silly tourist stamp from the town of Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego, Fireland. Unfortunately I got the "End of the World" version, but I know there's a much funnier "Bottom of the World" version to be found as well.

In addition to that, the madness of numerous border crossings between Chile and Argentina continues. Also, the USA has added another stamp from one time when I went to San Francisco to for an IT conference.
Another peculiar mix. Here are some stamps from various Argentinian and Ukrainian research stations in the Antarctica, plus a mini visit to Mexico (tittillating Tijuana) and Swaziland. It's a fairly atypical travel pattern, I think. 
Again the US imperialists try to occupy a full two pages during a single entry to the country (to Florida via Chicago this time). Fortunately none of the other countries seem to care about the attempt.

Then there are some more Chile stamps, a visit to Botswana and then actually two stamps from Norway (Sandefjord and Gardermoen)!  This is from back when I was young and cute enough to be able to cry my way to stampings upon returning to Norway. They generally don't do that any more, unless you're a suspicious foreigner and/or tanned. I don't remember the occasion for the Gardermoen visit, but I did travel with Ryanair to and from Sandefjord to go on a three week railway trip all over Great Britain.
The third middle-of-the-page stamp from the USA! Is this something they do on purpose?! This time I was on my way to a roadtrip through Texas with my parents. Fortunately, no one checked my mother's bag when we landed in Chicago. It was full of bananas. Big mistake, if you're caught! We quickly ate the evidence when we arrived at the hotel and deposited the dangerous peel in a safe way.

Apart from that, there are a few stamps from Namibia and Zimbabwe, as well as a one day permit for going into Zambia to enjoy the view of the Victoria Falls from their side of the border. 
Here's another batch of African stamps. I collected them on an overland trip starting in Cape Town, South Africa and ending in Johannesburg, South Africa, after traveling through not just that country, but Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia, including a short jaunt into Zimbabwe/Zambia for the Vic Falls.
The Egyptian stamp collector strikes again! Plus I've been on a whirlwind tour of Croatia (six different places to sleep in seven nights). 

I've also gone on another quick trip across the border to Mexico, from Texas, on 2 April 2003, accompanying two slightly nervous parents. And finally I found space for another trip to Brazil.
Hooray! I got a visa to Russia, although it took quite a while to arrange. It looks as if they think my name is  B9ern Hristian Terrissen, so I can really understand why they were reluctant to let me visit. With a name like that, even I would be worried about having the person come by. It was a weird, but somehow still pleasant trip. I took a plane to Vladivostok in Far Eastern Russia, and then I spent a month traveling mostly by train , making lots of stops, back to Moscow, along the route of the Transsiberian Railway.

On page 21 there's a flight via Frankfurt, Germany, but the more interesting bit are various border crossings by train. I traveled through Eastern Europe in 2005, when several of the countries had not yet joined any EU border agreements. I think these stamps are from crossing between Hungary and Romania.

Before Christmas in 2005, I took a tour of South-East Asia. I flew into Bangkok, Thailand and quickly moved on to Siem Reap, Cambodia, followed by a banana-shaped trip up Vietnam and back to Bangkok. There's a small Angkor Wat in my Cambodia stamp!

To the right you can see proof of the rare occasion when someone voluntarily visits Moldova. To enter the country, I had to spent quite a bit of time on the border explaining in Russian English that yes, I really actually wanted to go there, while a busload of passengers patiently waited for me to succeed. To be allowed to continue to Transdniestr, I even had to pay a bribe or two.
Yay! Another tour of Brazil! This time I traveled in the north-east, enjoying the sand landscapes of beaches and deserts.

And then there's the lovely visa to Cambodia. I got it upon arrival at the Siem Reap airport. A well-groomed line of uniformed officers with Lego hairdos efficiently issued it, all participating eagerly in registering and handling me. I'd love to see the photo they took of me, using a 320x320 pixel Webcam from Logitech. 

More South-East Asia, this time with Vietnam doing its best to impress. I wasn't really required to get a visa in my passport, because Scandinavians visiting for two weeks or less are welcome without any paperwork. Still, the consul general in Sihanoukville, Cambodia was so semi-drunk and charming that I gladly handed over 10 dollars to get this piece of paper in my passport.
Hm. It appears that I have visited Tunisia. I think...
There you go. My passport number two as it lived and died.

Now there's only one passport left for me to show off! :)
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